Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Tres: Day 131
Sun. June 9, 2013
“Lips like Sugar (Orchestral Reworked Version: Live at Union Chapel 2013)”
Echo and the Bunnymen
If you ever wondered how Echo and the Bunnymen came up with their timelessly majestic sound, guitarist Will Sergeant shared the secret with The Chicago Tribune in 2012 when he said, “We used to spend hours trying to create guitars that don’t sound like guitar. But I just start playing, and it’s a bit of trial and error, really. Generally, the first thing you come up with is the best. You’ve got to keep the tape recording, or the computer recording. I don’t sit there thinking about it too much. It just kind of appears.”
I’ve always loved Sergeant and singer Ian McCulloch’s unique Liverpudlian song Echoes so when I heard that The Bunnymen were going to re-record some of their vintage hits with an orchestra I was skeptical. Ian eased my worries when McCulloch explained why Echo and the Bunnymen would augment their classic sound with an orchestra when he said, “It was like, something’s happening here that you might want to document. The fact that it was so spontaneously decided we’d record it was lucky, because on the night I’d more or less forgotten. Usually you’re too aware of everything being mic’d up and all that, but this time, after the first chord had been hit, I was in a world of me own.” McCulloch was so moved by the experience he invited producer Youth and fellow Liverpudlian—former Echo & The Bunnymen producer and Lightening Seeds mastermind Ian Broudie to join the festivities while the band recorded their show with orchestra in tow at the Union Chapel in London.
Talking about recording Holy Ghosts with producer Youth, Ian said, “In years to come, if there was something I’d listen to of me own, it would be this live album, because, yeah, that’s me, that’s the fella I always thought I was. And the lyrics – all that beauty and poetry and melancholia – it’s right there. Youth’s achieved what I always thought I had. It’s what I wrote the lyrics for in the first place.”
McCulloch also talked about the internal transformation occurs while singing Echo and the Bunnymen’s most celebrated hits reworked on Holy Ghosts when he explained, “For me, anyway, there were nights where I was just lost in time, back in Rotterdam in 1980. It’s kind of like doing, instead of doing a compendium of stuff or snippets of Shakespeare — To be or not to be — it felt like we were performing kind of plays or something. Those soundtracks to my life, anyway, and Will’s [Sergeant, guitarist]. Bringing them up to date. They invigorated me or reinvigorated me and pulled me at the start of the DNA again. That felt great and strange at the same time. It’s good to feel that strange sensation. It wasn’t just doing an album back to back. It was the first two, and it was lovely. All of those moments kind of seem to flash through [my] mind when I was doing them.”
My favorite renewed version of all The Bunnymen hits, Echo recorded live at Union Chapel has to be “Lips like Sugar.” Ian McCulloch once said, performing “Lips Like Sugar” is great to do.” I bet performing this new rendition must have been exhilarating. Echo and The Bunnymen’s 2013 reworking, taking the art pop beats of the 1987 original and transforming “Lips” into a majestically seductive sensation. McCulloch sounds like a lothario poet whispering his lyrics over the eloquent strings from Union Chapel.
Talking to Under The Radar, about the evolution of the Echo and The Bunnymen sound, Ian McCulloch said this, “It’s evolved. It’s just moved from one song to another. It’s not like the ascent of man. It’s songs that we write. But yeah, I always thought we had a wide spectrum of the kind of song we can write anyway. I think the first album had different types of songs on it. So I don’t see it as changing from album to album necessarily, but as from song to song. I’ve always felt that. I’ve always liked the slower, I guess you could call them ballads, I suppose that’s what they are. But I enjoy them.”
You need to experience Echo and the Bunnymen rework some of their most vintage songs in this orchestral setting called Holy Ghosts. Ian’s voice sounds so naturally eloquent with those elegantly cinematic strings. It sounds like Ian is turning into a classic crooner. Best of all, Ian helped Echo and the Bunnymen resurrect 1987’s “Lips Like Sugar” turning this one hit song into an irresistible lullaby. Get ready for the kiss, you will definitely fall for this 2013 version of “Lips Like Sugar.” Even though McCulloch once sung, “Nothing Ever Lasts…” still, I believe the string filled rippled rhythms from Echo and Ian’s sugary lips will last forever.