Crystal Days 1979-99
Box Set, Remastered
|New from||Used from|
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Echo & The Bunnymen - Crystal Days 1979-1999 collects 72 tracks, including 14 previously unreleased tracks and 23 cuts never before available on CD. This Rhino Records box set spans the whole of the Bunnymen's career, from their very first recording ('Mon
Though a much-ballyhooed phenomenon that influenced modern bands as diverse as Pavement, Hole, and Flaming Lips, Liverpool's Echo & the Bunnymen tellingly had their biggest American successes ("Lips Like Sugar" and a cover of the Doors' "People Are Strange") just as they were beginning to come apart at the seams. With frontman Ian McCulloch wailing his impressionistic/expressionistic lyrics (occasionally so obtuse it was hard to tell which adjective applied) over Will Sergeant's fevered, jaggedly hypnotic guitar lines like a shamanic voice in the wilderness, the Bunnymen didn't so much push rock's boundaries as redraw them entirely to their own grand specifications. Compiled with a fan's zeal and the frank circumspection of hindsight, this richly annotated (including running track-by-track commentary by McCulloch and Sergeant) four-disc set documents the Bunnymen from their awkwardly determined '79 tracks and singles through highlights from their '80s albums and a gratifying late '90s comeback. Sprinkled generously throughout are singles, B-sides, Peel Session outtakes, and live tracks that add insightful details to their compelling, if decidedly star-crossed tale. Disc four will be especially welcomed by the faithful, containing mostly live tracks from '83 to '87 and an unlikely, eclectic array of covers ranging from Dylan's "It's All Over Now" and the Stones' "Paint It Black" through the Doors, Lou Reed, and Television that suggest these were impossibly ambitious musicians who made their mark first and discovered their roots later. --Jerry McCulley
Showing 1-6 of 24 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
CD 4 of the dopey all-covers Swedish tour is kind of junk if you've heard other boots before. They would have been better off releasing some of the great live stuff during the "Lips Like Sugar" period when they did much better live versions of most of that self-titled album (ya know, the one with the grey cover of the band).
The booklet alone is fascinating although I don't get why anyone would think Ocean Rain is the best LP. Heaven Up here is the best album of their career and probably the entire '80s.
Unlike H & S, all of the studio cuts from the original albums are not included; obviously Joy D. had only two studio albums opposed to the original Echo's five. The shuffle runs in chronological order, and for my money the value emerges most in the Heaven Up Here through Ocean Rain period-- you hear the band toughen up for HUH considerably, recalling similar shifts in their peers The Cure, whatever Julian Cope was doing in and after the Teardrops, Siouxsie's more experimental period, and the more commercial yet still indie-ish U2 and Psychedelic Furs offerings.
I mention these peers to point out a common feature. While Robert Smith, Cope, Siouxsie Sioux, Bono, and Richard Butler shared with Ian a dramatic, attention-getting, and doomy sensibility expressed with ear-catching and off-beat singing styles, the post-punk aura of all these bands was enhanced by the tight rhythm sections and restless guitar work each of these artists were able to convey powerfully, if rather awkwardly or self-consciously at times, as they matured and maneuvered between post-punk, poppier hits, and darker excursions in the early 80s. This compilation places the Echo tracks familiar and novel into this context where they fit into the evolution of the whole British indie-rock scene, shoving away from the strictures of punk but also skirting the mainstream of pop. They rock, but they also haunt and moan-- usually convincingly.
This musical attitude can be heard emerging as early as Monkeys and Fuel on disc one; these both sound like other Northern English bands at the time, but you can feel the four Bunnymen clawing their way towards truth. I read a quote from Moby recently that echoed the observation either from Simon Reynolds in his recent Rip It Up and Start Again: Post-Punk 1978-84 or Dylan Jones' IPod, Therefore I Am (both reviewed by me, and if you're reading this review, you'd like both books) that Heaven Up Here was an astonishingly crafted and unfairly neglected masterwork. The cuts here reveal the band cutting into the harsh beauty, wrenching out the grotesque from the dazzling, in the wake of Ian Curtis' suicide: an event that marked the existential shift of many of the bands I mentioned above. The earlier cuts from the Crocodiles era show here more of a Doors' influence than I have heard on the original album in context, but you cannot doubt that the young band means it, man, and will never be content with mimicry or imitation.
I wish all of Porcupine was here; this remains my favorite Echo album; its lushness angled against its bleakness makes wonderfully chilling art. Disc 2 blends this trenchcoated and windswept period of the band, bookended between their more accessible debut and their lush fourth LP, well, and is the most successful of the four discs in its cumulative clout. Ocean Rain and the s/t fifth album on Disc 3 share the obvious choices, and while they fit well, Disc 4's live and rare cuts are more hit-and-miss than their wise choice of covers might lead you to expect. Still, the Velvets' inspiration is heard to better effect here to balance the Doors' perceived influence, and the former band's feverishness feels more organic for Echo than the fervor sometimes overly gnomic Jim Morrison-ish lyrics that Will confesses have baffled even him!
Yet, at the end of Disc 3, too much (even if not that much in comparison) is given to the late-90s efforts. These are uneven, and while none are embarassing, they feel as if placed here to fill out the twenty-years-ago today sub-titular dates of the anthology. If Crystal Days had ended at the fifth album, more room could have been given to including the left-out cuts from the earlier fine run of LPs. This, to better effect, would have served as a commemoration of the band's signature work.
What's promising for Ian, Will, and mates if not for the limits of this collection is that their post-99 Live in Liverpool, Flowers, and Siberia all feature appealing original songs, and it's too bad that the band could not have waited another five or six years for a 25th anniversary collection that could have shown off to better effect the recent reenergized period of (half at least, in the fashion of what today bills itself as The Who) the band's masterminds.
About the packaging: the book's cleverly laid out, with commentary by Ian and Will (Les is quoted to sparing but good effect) mixed as side-bars with Mick Houghton's narrative. Good for the compilers to list a bibliography that credits one-time "rival" Julian Cope's "total recall" autobiographical account of the era, Head On. The Crystal Days "book" is bound within the box, and this creates a handsome library effect for the package to rest on the shelf. It also makes the box's spine more fraught, and the plastic trays for the four discs grip the CDs tightly, and they do not pop out easily when pressure's applied. This is dangerous, as they risk pulling out the plastic trays from the glued backing to the box ends. This problem made Heart & Soul a mess, as they feature the same flimsy construction. Come to think of it, Downside Up by Siouxsie & the Banshees also has a (suitably?) taut and rigid presentation. Maybe it's a post-punk aesthetic.