Run Out Groove, the new vinyl arm of Rhino and Warner Music Group, has continued its winning streak with another top-notch presentation - this time from the Liverpool-bred post-punk band Echo and the Bunnymen. The limited edition It's All Live Now is a newly-curated title with ten tracks - mostly cover versions, from Bob Dylan to The Velvet Underground - performed in concert between 1983 and 1985, as originally released on singles and/or the band's 2001 retrospective CD box set Crystal Days 1979-1999. All ten tracks are making their vinyl debuts here.
All but two of the songs on It's All Live Now date to April 1985 when the band was performing in Sweden, and find Ian McCulloch (vocals), Will Sergeant (guitar), Les Pattinson (bass), and Pete De Freitas (drums, replacing the band's original drum machine) tackling an array of classic rock favorites, both familiar and unfamiliar.
The group's rendition of The Doors' 1967 "Soul Kitchen" channels Messrs. Morrison, Manzarek, Krieger, and Densmore's murky blend of eerie calm and fiery tumult, anchored by Pattinson's hypnotic bass. The band brings razor-sharp edge to The Rolling Stones' darkly psychedelic "Paint It Black" and play it relatively faithful on Bob Dylan's deliciously acidic "It's All Over Now Baby Blue" in tribute to The Chocolate Watchband's arrangement of the song.
Among the lesser-known gems here is the band's take on "Action Woman" as originally released by late-sixties garage band The Litter. The original's distorted guitar and heavy-rock sound (influenced by The Who and The Yardbirds, among others) could clearly be seen as a precursor to Echo and the Bunnymen's own sound; the same, of course, goes for the proto-punk of Jonathan Richman's 1972 Modern Lovers song, "She Cracked." The spiritual godfather of proto-punk might be the late Lou Reed, represented here by two songs. Both "Run, Run, Run" and "Heroin" first appeared on The Velvet Underground's 1967 debut The Velvet Underground and Nico. That album may have been released in the months prior to The Summer of Love, but its ethos couldn't have been any more different. Both songs detailed drug use (and abuse) in frank terms, particularly for the era in which it was written and recorded. McCulloch's dark-hued vocals and the band's tight, combustible interplay do the Velvets' groundbreaking works justice, particularly on the fiery, full-throttle "Heroin."
Tom Verlaine's "Friction" was drawn from the 1977 debut of the band Television, a key album for the punk age (and a favorite of Will Sergeant's) but more for its attitude than its sound - hard-edged, garage-inspired guitar rock from the New York/CBGB's scene with unusual jazz-influenced instrumentation and voicings on guitar.
Just two tracks are from Echo and the Bunnymen's own songbook: an extended version of "Crocodiles," complete with McCulloch's Maurice Chevalier impression plus additional band members and string players; and the furious, searing "Do It Clean" with an ironic interpolation of the romantic standard "When I Fall in Love." Both songs are from the band's 1980 debut album also titled Crocodiles, although "Do It Clean" initially appeared only on the U.S. LP version and U.K. cassette version, not the original U.K. vinyl edition.
Run Out Groove's release, attractively designed by Steve Stanley, is housed within a glossy Stoughton tip-on jacket, with the LP stored in its own protective sleeve. A two-sided insert is included which offers Will Sergeant's candid remembrances as well as full credits. The heavyweight 180-gram black LP, emblazoned with two beautifully-replicated, unique Korova Records labels (one on each side) is quiet with powerfully crisp sound as remastered by Paul duGré. It's All Live Now captures Echo and the Bunnymen at the height of their powers, tackling indelible songs in their own singular fashion. Run, run, run - don't walk - to give it a spin.
It's All Live Now is available at finer independent record stores everywhere, as well as at Amazon U.S. / Amazon U.K. / Amazon Canada !
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