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Porcupine Extra tracks, Import, Original recording remastered

4.4 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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Audio CD, Extra tracks, Import, January 27, 2004
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Echo & The Bunnymen Porcupine UK CD album
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (January 27, 2004)
  • Original Release Date: 2000
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Extra tracks, Import, Original recording remastered
  • Label: Imports
  • ASIN: B0000E2PY4
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,650 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
'Porcupine' is the "difficult" third Bunnymen album, which saw them moving away from the open spaces of their previous records into a claustrophobic sound. A dense guitar mesh is laid over every track, augmented by Shankar's electric cello. Listening to these songs is like taking a machete to a jungle of vines -- every slash reveals something new, but you risk getting trapped in the foliage.
There are five vinyl b-sides from this period, all included on the boxed set. Sadly, only one is present here, the wonderfully moody 'Fuel', which in sonic texture is more in keeping with 'Heaven Up Here' material.
Then follow five alternate versions of album tracks, one of which was issued in the boxed set. (The sleeve says only three are previously unreleased, but this is an error I believe.) I was excited to hear these, as the Peel Session versions and the b-side 'A Drop In The Ocean' show a group coming to grips with an sound even darker than what made it to the final album. Sadly, the versions here on display are similar but weaker to the album takes, though 'Ripeness' does make it more obvious what McCullough is singing about -- nothing too uplifting I can tell you!
Finally, the Discotheque version of 'Never Stop' is tacked on the end of the CD. Which means that the very different 7" mix is neither here nor on the boxed set.
What is missing from this disc is the monolithic 'The Subject', the 'Summer version' of 'Heads Will Roll', the fascinating live recording of 'Zimbo' made at WOMAD with The Royal Burundi Drummers, and the wonderful 'Way Out And Up We Go'.
It is criminal that we can re-purchase these albums (the third time over for many of us) and *still* have to buy a boxed set for a handful of tracks. They belong here, in proper chronological sequence. Maybe on the fiftieth anniversary?
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Format: Audio CD
How you liked your British new wave probably influenced your thoughts on "Porcupine" when it first came out in 1983. If you liked the brooding, near gothic sound of Echo via Heaven Up Here and the pessimistic bands that flourished at the time (think earlier Cure), you likely viewed "Porcupine" as a sell out. On the other hand, if you were into anthemic driving songs with choppy guitar (ala U2 and the Edge), the "The Cutter," "The Back Of Love" and "Clay" probably had you frothing at the mouth.

You can put me in the later camp. I was disappointed by "Heaven Up Here," thinking that Ian McCulloch's Doors obsession and ego had sunk an OK album. But "Porcupine," with the addition of Shankir as influence and guest dynamited the Bunnymen out of their quagmire and made the first half of this album almost overwhelming in its desire to prove its greatness. (I often thought the similarities to this album's glacier cover photo and U2's "War" were completely intentional.) McCulloch was determined to prove that he and his mates were as good as anything proclaimed godhead in the ever fickle British press.

The remaster bolsters a lot of their bravado. "The Cutter" and "The Back of Love" have got to be two of the hardest rocking singles the band (or any other band of the period) ever produced. For sheer youthful energy, "Porcupine" rates with Crocodiles.
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Format: Audio CD
...that most reviewers here don't really acknowledge most of the songs on PORCUPINE, concentratng on the bonus tracks and the singles "The Cutter" and "The Back of Love". All well and good, but there are many more reasons to enjoy this very fine collection of Bunnymen songs. Personally, I rate this as BY FAR their best album, well ahead of popular favourites like OCEAN RAIN.

Why? Because this album is probably the best harmony between the disparate elements that the various early Bunnymen albums represent. The towering pretension - lyrical and vocal - of Ian McCulloch is in abundance here, but there are flashes of brilliance, too. I felt Mac kind of took himself too seriously sometimes, but there is an air of play that mitigates it on PORCUPINE.

The music, although symphonic and powerful, is not as overtly so as on OCEAN RAIN and the influences that overwhelmed earlier cuts are harnessed and transcended on this album.

"The Cutter" is a Beatlesque romp complete with brass and Eastern-sounding synths that sets an upbeat tone: "The Back of Love", a choppy piece of angst takes that beat and kicks in into the middle of next year. A gorgeous hazy interlude complete with gliding electric violin provides a nice break in the hammering, rhythmic feeling that these two songs create.

"My White Devil" is a little less strident - it has a Wild-West bassline and strange honking, whining guitar figures as McCulloch enthuses about Elizabethan dramatist John Webster.

"Clay" is chirpier, but it is here, I think, that the 'orchestral' impulse surfaces - with the guitar sounding at times like a string section.
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