The official site of author Ed Lin.

Echo & the Doppelgängermen

Posted by on Dec 12, 2012 in Music | 2 comments

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No Mac, but packed.

It’s taken 25 years but I’ve finally gotten over the traumatic Echo & the Bunnymen split of 1988.

Sure, everything’s fine now (sort of) but signer Ian McCulloch leaving guitarist Will Sergeant, bassist Les Pattinson and drummer Pete DeFreitas was such a bitter event that not even the subsequent death of DeFreitas in a motorcycle accident was enough to bring the three survivors back together. I remember hearing on the radio that the split culminated in a fistfight between Ian and Les and I thought, “I’ll bet those were rabbit punches!”

Just this year I’ve decided that I was ready to listen to Reverberation, the album that Will and Les as the Bunnymen released in 1990 with a new singer and drummer.

I like it!

So much has been made about how Les and Pete were the premiere rhythm section of the 80s UK rock scene and I agree. But what about the interplay between Will and Les? Will is known for his “silver” sound but I would point out that silver was originally mined by separating that metal from lead. And lead is exactly how I would describe Les’ bass sound. Heavy and steady like lead bullets coming at your legs. Will and Les have that perfect bond when playing. It is exactly that sound that the Bunnymen’s recent Les-less albums have been missing and suffer for it. The album’s better than the typical stands-on-its-own-but-it-just-isn’t-quite-what-you-wanted variety, but that didn’t help much and the public seemed to side with Ian’s work (competent solo albums Candleland and Mysterio) over Will and Les’. Reverberation‘s been out of print for years (it wasn’t included in the remasterings of the rest of the band’s catalog) and isn’t available digitally.

Well, you know the story. The Bunnymen called it a day and Will and Ian teamed up again as the lackluster Electrafixion. Les came back in the fold and they relaunched the Bunnymen again. Les had a falling out with Ian after one reunion album and Will and Ian carry on to this day.

But what about the ore, the core of the Bunnymen sound? Silver and lead bonded together! Guess what. I’ve just learned that Will and Les have joined hands to launch Poltergeist so now you can hear what the Bunnymen might have become if the Ian-less lineup had lasted. Even if you haven’t checked out Reverberation yet, go listen to what Poltergeist has been up to. You’ll like it.

How could you not?

2 Comments

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  1. Heidi Hedeker

    Hey, this is a really smart look at Les’ style. Thanks for these thoughts….just went to the E&B show in Chicago, they are sounding very good, but Les was brilliant with Will and your description of their sound in alchemical terms gives it the beauty it deserves. He just put a bunch of memorabilia up for auction…check their facebook page for details…..which again underlines the tragedy of their breakup for me….just looking at those items is hard to put into words. Best, Heidi H

  2. Ed Lin

    heidi, echo & the bunnymen one of the best rhythm sections ever in les and pete. i remember their 1988 gig at radio city musical hall where pete hit those fills in “bomber’s bay” and it sounded like gunfire from all around the building. irreplaceable drummer. my other big thrill was seeing the surviving three perform at a small club in 1997 when they had first reunited with les in tow. it certainly is alchemy when the ingredients are right. thank you for reading and for writing in! -ed

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