Echo & The Bunnymen – Evergreen (2xCD/Vinyl Reissue)

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Maybe it was their nonsensical name, but Liverpool’s Echo And The Bunnymen never reached the heights that their early career promised. It may seem a trivial reason, but in the world of pop culture, where any depth is ironed out, such trivialities mattered. Whatever. After the musical misstep that was 1990’s Reverberation, the band went on hiatus only on to reform six years later, and Evergreen, released the following year, marked a triumphant return. Refocusing the spotlight to their songs, it was an album that took the band back to the Top 10, and won the hearts and minds of their loyal fans.

There was always something ethereal and otherworldly about The Bunnymen’s sound; it wafts from your speakers as if piercing a thin veil that separates this world from the next, and that’s none more evident than on opening track ‘Don’t Let It Get You Down’. The Velvet Underground jamming with Heroes-era David Bowie, it swirls like cigarette smoke and casts a dark spell over the listener. Evergreen is one of those very few albums (think Back In Black or Nevermind) which gives the impression that any one of its original 12 tracks could have been released as a single and caused serious indentation on the charts. In reality just three singles were culled, and on an album that shimmers, it’s one of those 7” inch slabs of vinyl that sparkles the brightest: ‘I Want To Be There (When You Come)’. It contains all the band’s essential ingredients from Will Sergeant’s neo-psychedelic guitar to Ian McCulloch’s deadpan delivery via the lithe rhythm section, and it’s this rhythm section which gives each track a unique flavour. It has a multifaceted nature which means that Evergreen still blossoms every year, and it’s never sounded better than with this 25th anniversary reissue.

The transparent green vinyl (1,000 copies and only available at Rough Trade shops) presents the original 12 track album while the double CD collects a host of bonus cuts (21 in total). Many of these extras have already been released on previous reissues, and feature the usual suspects; b-sides, radio sessions and live cuts, so it’s the four unreleased tracks that make this an essential purchase. Recorded contemporaneously for the BBC at The Kilburn National, these live tracks evidence a heavier Echo & The Bunnymen. When recording Evergreen the band were influenced by American groups such as Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins, and that really shines through on the hard-hitting ‘Baseball Bill’ and ‘Altamont’, yet there’s still plenty of shade to be found, especially on the dream inducing ‘I’ll Fly Tonight’. Some tracks only bear a tenuous link to Evergreen, such as 1999 live version of ‘Lips Like Sugar’, or a ‘97 radio spot for ‘The Killing Moon’, so it would have been nice if some 1996/7 demos could have been unearthed and inserted in their place to make this reissue more Evergreen-centric.

Reforming bands is often a hit and miss affair, but in the case of Echo & The Bunnymen, Will Sergeant and Ian McCulloch still had their old chemistry, and they produced an album that could rival their early efforts. And this timely reissue perfectly illustrates why Evergreen shall remain eternally perennial.

Track List:

Vinyl:

Side A

  1. Don’t Let It Get You Down
  2. In My Time
  3. I Want To Be There (When You Come)
  4. Evergreen
  5. I’ll Fly Tonight
  6. Nothing Lasts Forever

Side B:

  1. Baseball Bill
  2. Altamont
  3. Just A Touch Away
  4. Empire State Halo
  5. Too Young To Kneel
  6. Forgiven

CD1:

  1. Don’t Let It Get You Down
  2. In My Time
  3. I Want To Be There (When You Come)
  4. Evergreen
  5. I’ll Fly Tonight
  6. Nothing Lasts Forever
  7. Baseball Bill
  8. Altamont
  9. Just A Touch Away
  10. Empire State Halo
  11. Too Young To Kneel
  12. Forgiven

Bonus Tracks:

  1. Watchtower
  2. Polly
  3. Hurracaine
  4. Colour Me In
  5. Antelope
  6. Jonny

CD 2:

  1. I Want To Be There (When You Come) *
  2. Rescue *
  3. Lips Like Sugar *
  4. Bedbugs And Ballyhoo *
  5. Nothing Lasts Forever **
  6. The Killing Moon **
  7. Baseball Bill ***
  8. Just A Touch Away ***
  9. I’ll Fly Tonight ***
  10. Altamont ***
  11. Lips Like Sugar ****
  12. I Want To Be There (When You Come) ****
  13. The Killing Moon ****
  14. Forgiven *****
  15. Nothing Lasts Forever ******

* Live At The Improv Theatre, 1999

** Radio One Jo Whiley Session, 1997

*** Live At The Kilburn National, 1997 (Previously Unreleased)

**** Whyt Radio Acoustic Version, 1997

***** GLR Robert Elms Acoustic Session, 1997

****** Radio One Live Lounge Session, 1999