Echo and the Bunnymen lead singer Ian McCulloch was known for his grandiose statements to the music press, full of ego and bluster – for example, he once called the band’s Ocean Rain “the greatest album ever written.” So naturally, when his ego and clashes with band members caused him to go solo in 1989, people were watching…some hoping for greatness, others to see him fall flat on his face. What we didn’t expect was a continuation of the Bunnymen’s increasingly mainstream, MOR-ish direction.

“Proud To Fall”, the first single from Candleland, sounded suspiciously like “Lips Like Sugar”, the Bunnymen’s 1987 breakthrough single in America. It’s been said Ian had troubles with the Bunnymen going in a more pop direction, but that doesn’t make much sense when you listen to most of Candleland and realize it’s even more accessible than previous Echo efforts. In fact, it sounds so much like the band’s much-maligned self-titled 1987 album, you keep waiting for a patented Will Sargeant one-note guitar solo to pop up.

Guitars were just about the last thing to be found on Candleland’s second single, “Faith And Healing”, represented here in its single mix, all New Order sequencers and drum machines a’kicking. Longtime fans scratched their heads and wondered when Ian decided to move from Liverpool to Manchester, musically speaking. The 12″ mix gets even more New Order-y, if possible.


Turn this WAY up – encoded very quietly.

Candleland yielded a third single, a very nice ballad duet with Liz Fraser from the Cocteau Twins – sorry, I’m holding that one for a future entry! Ian recorded another solo album before rejoining Bunnymen guitarist Sargeant for a one-off Electrafixion project in the mid-90s, with the two finally reforming the Bunnymen in 1997. Ian continues to record both with the group and solo to this day.

One day, I may fire up Lost in the 90s to talk about the Echo & the Bunnymen album the group recorded without Ian…

“Proud To Fall” peaked at #1 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks Chart.
“Faith And Healing” peaked at #10 on the same chart.

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Ian McCulloch