Significantly, this collection of 21 Echo & The Bunnymen tracks are from the very beginning of the bands existence…

Echo & The Bunnymen

Such was the mutual love-in between Echo & The Bunnymen and John Peel that the band used to write songs just so they would have something new to play on his radio show. Thus it was that classics like The Back Of Love were previewed on Peel’s show before Ian McCulloch had finished the lyrics: it’s here in its original title of Taking Advantage, one of three songs which later changed its name.

You can frequently hear The Bunnymen excited by each song’s possibilities and their own brilliance. If you’d ever wondered why McCulloch is such an arrogant swine, have a listen to Seven Seas taking shape in front of you. It’s quite something.

While their first Peel Session was released as an EP in 1988, these 21 songs are the first compilation of all The Bunnymen’s work for Peel in their formative years. Revisit that first session, and the swagger is backed up from the start with a thrilling Read It In Books. They were even able to create a song as playfully sinister as An Equation for Peel and never release it properly. The skittish No Hands, meanwhile, was only previously available on the Crystal Days boxset.

As well as CD and standard black vinyl, there’s a limited run on red vinyl in honour of the band’s beloved Liverpool FC. That seems appropriate in the wake of the club’s Champions League win. The Bunnymen were experts at self-sabotaging their career but free to relax and experiment for their teenage hero, versions of The Killing Moon and Over The Wall are from pretty much the best band in Europe. According to Will Sergeant: “Peel rating us was more important than any chart position or Top Of The Pops appearance.” In those early years, The Bunnymen repaid Peel handsomely. 

8/10

John Earls

 

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