Top 102 Albums⁺ No 31
Crocodiles - Echo and the Bunnymen
It's difficult to explain the depth of the relationship between a fourteen year old music obsessive and his favourite band. It is as if you have to carry the flag for some battalion in a Kafkaesque war without weapons other than sarcastic smirks. Who could possibly think that (insert band name here) were the equals of the Bunnymen? And then there is the hunger for every scrap of information. And it gets confused with your actual identity. Mac said something somewhere about not smiling, so I gave up smiling for a few years. Mac said he loved Leonard Cohen. Time to raid the parents cassette collection. Thank God he didn't have a fetish for Country 'n' Irish music.
The Bunnymen are playing in Dublin. Time to wrap a chain around my belt and after much practice whipping it free and whirling it without injuring myself I was ready to face the unknown and vaguely threatening demi-monde that was the Dublin gig scene.
My most abiding memory of a Bunnymen gig is missing the last train home because of the encores and staying on the living room floor of some acquaintance of a friend. It was mid-winter. There was a hole in the glass of the window. It was cold, It was limb threateningly cold. We got up as soon as there was any light and set off for the city centre to catch the first train possible and hoping that movement would reverse the progress of our frostbite. Just before we left we noticed, sitting only feet from where we had been sleeping, a two-bar electric fire. Aagh. But you need to suffer for your convictions and freezing to death in a ratty student flat would have been a very Bunnymen way to go.
"I've been up to Villiers Terrace
To see what's a-happening
There's people rolling 'round on the carpet
Mixing up the medicine"
Of course, at the heart of it all was the desperate hope that this identity would be the passport into a totally threatening demi-monde where the cool boys and girls lived a life of impossible sophistication. "I don't know what I want anymore / First I want a kiss and then I want it all." Of course all this has some clarity looking back but at the time everything fused and this music seemed the most important thing in the world.
(When looking for this picture I even found a bookmark that I had in school on which I had doodled the band name, album titles and some quotes. I was going to scan it in but thought that to reveal its existence would show what a sad, pathetic person I
My desire to be a guitarist foundered on an astonishing lack of natural ability but I did manage to work out one small piece, the opening bars of Stars are Stars. I still give in to the temptation of playing it whenever I pick up a guitar. One day I may have to buy a Telecaster in order to deliver all four seconds with greater sonic felicity.
I still listen to this album regularly, more so than any of the next three albums, although I like all four. There is something more urgent, spare and metallic about the sound of this album that I like. The confusion and despair never overwhelm the energy of the songs.
It is pointless for me to try to excavate any lyrical or sonic themes from this album. All are overwhelmed by the drifting detritus of my teenage years. Above all my regret at not going to the Crystal Day, a full day with the band culminating in a concert which they organised in Liverpool for the day after my seventeenth birthday. Instead I chose a bicycle. I could have stolen a bicycle.
The influence of The Bunnymen on The Knocking Shop is probably most clear on this track.