ECHO and the BUNNYMEN – ” Heaven Up Here ” Classic Albums Released 30th May 1981.

Posted: July 30, 2019 in Classic Albums, MUSIC
Tags: , ,

The overcast skies on the cover of “Heaven Up Here” is the second album by the English post-punk band it accurately reflect’s the gloomy post-punk of Echo & The Bunnymen’s . Co-produced by Hugh Jones, Recorded at Rockfield Studios near Monmouth in Wales the 1981 Sire Records set has a disconsolate vibe akin to Joy Division but leavened with what frontman Ian McCulloch termed a “spikey edge.” While such songs as “Over the Wall,” “A Promise” and the title track may be less familiar than later hits, they nonetheless helped make the collection a Top 10 success in the group’s native U.K.; the album also reached the Billboard chart in the U.S., a first for the band.

Following their more psychedelia-based debut, “Crocodiles”, the band released the “Shine So Hard” EP and subsequent “Puppet” single which maintained their profile. Work then soon began on their second album, Heaven Up Here. Following musical differences between the band and Crocodiles producers Bill Drummond and David Balfe.

Echo & the Bunnymen returned in 1981 with the darkest and perhaps most experimental album of their career. “Heaven Up Here” lacks the signature hooks and melodies that would make the Bunnymen famous, In 1981, music magazine the NME described the album as darker and more passionate than 1980’s Crocodiles. The Record Mirror also said that the band sang the blues and devoted themselves to existential sadness. They went on to note that the album offered “an anatomy of melancholy, resplendent with the glamour of doom”. The Bunnymen are continuing to play majestic, uplifting music that will shine through the dark days ahead of us”, showcasing instead a dirge-like song writing approach built around the circular rhythms of bassist Les Pattinson and drummer Pete DeFreitas

In the notes to the 2003 remastered version of the album, lead singer Ian McCulloch said that he constantly had the American rock band The Velvet Underground’s song “What Goes On” in the back of his mind.

In this setting, the band remarkably flourishes, although they would go on to greater heights by scaling back the album’s extremism. “Heaven Up Here’s” strength is the way in which the Bunnymen seamlessly work together to shape each song’s dynamics (the tension underlying the crescendo of “Turquoise Days” being a prime example).

Ian McCulloch, having found his trademark confidence, sings with soaring abandon and passion throughout the album. Similarly, Will Sergeant’s guitar playing, notably freed from verse-chorus structure and pop riffs, is at its angular finest; his playing on “No Dark Things” is pure Andy Gill-esque skronk. The album’s opening troika of “Show of Strength,” “With a Hip,” and “Over the Wall” are particularly effective, establishing the theme of distrust and restlessness which continues throughout the album. Indeed, even the album’s lone single, “A Promise,” is hardly light, pop material.

But the message underneath that darkness, especially in McCulloch’s lyrics, is a call to overcome rather than wallow, as the album ends with the relatively euphoric “All I Want.” Sitting comfortably next to the pioneering work of contemporaries like Joy Division/New Order, and early Public Image Ltd. and Cure, this is a rather fine — and in the end, influential — example of atmospheric post-punk. Having reached the British Top Ten, Heaven Up Here is highly regarded among Echo & the Bunnymen’s fans precisely for the reasons which, on the surface, make it one of the least accessible albums in the band’s catalogue.

Echo & the Bunnymen
  • Will Sergeant – lead guitar
  • Ian McCulloch – vocals, rhythm guitar, piano
  • Les Pattinson – bass
  • Pete de Freitas – drums

The Deluxe Edition of “Heaven Up Here” adds a long version of “Broke My Neck” marketed as 25th anniversary editions recorded at Tistedal Studios in Norway on 7th June 1981, is the B-side of the 12-inch single “A Promise” and four live recordings were added to the original, which was named by both Rolling Stone and NME as one of the 500 greatest albums of all time. The album was originally released by Korova Records in the United Kingdom on 30th May 1981. It was then released in the United States by Sire Records.

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