on 11 August 2008
When I first bought this album in 1983 I was struck by how unmemorable the songs were. Don't misunderstand me - I loved hearing the album but it was the uncatchiest record I had ever heard, apart from the two obvious singles, Back Of Love and The Cutter, which still sound superb and fresh in 2008. The Bunnymen had expanded their instrumentation beyond the basic guitar, bass and drums set up and this is captured brilliantly in the production. There's a clarity, edginess and impact to the recording which in later years was lost, never to return.
Ian's vocals soared and dived, Pete and Les were as solid as ever on drums and bass and Will's guitar alternated between soft and crashing. I love the acoustic opening of Heads Will Roll, followed by loud electric guitar and strings. Ripeness is a corker of a song but took a lot of listens before I could remember any of it. Clay and Gods Will Be Gods are slightly catchy but Higher Hell and My White Devil are dark and moody though still great songs. The title track, Porcupine, is the most unusual song with its change of tempo and dark (again), mysterious feel. In Bluer Skies begins and ends with the sound of waves and is another gloomy, introspective song but is brilliant for it.
This album, to me, represents the Bunnymen at the peak of their creativity. Later albums had catchy songs but smooth, slightly bland productions. Listen to the raw impact of this album and enjoy Ian's powerful vocal at its best.
Echo & The Bunnymen: Masters of the sacred art of album making.
Porcupine is volume 3 in the possibly greatest succession of albums ever... Crocodiles to Echo & The Bunnymen... and it is a worthy installment.
Following 81's dark and atmospheric Heaven Up Here, Porcupine is ready to progress accordingly and shows the growth of the Bunnymen as artists. In Crocodiles the sound was aggressive with a focus on drums. Heaven Up Here put the guitar in the spotlight with better (and quite frankly awesome) pipes from macca. Porcupine takes this and, looking back, bridges the gap from Heaven Up Here to Ocean Rain, whilst still being a quality record on its own. There are times where you can really feel the cold of its predecessor (with appropriate artwork), paticularly on Higher Hell, Porcupine and The Cutter with familiar lyrics and vocals. Difference comes with the sound which has been refined from the rawness of the two albums before, incorporating a greater range of instruments like strings and various percussion, whilst flexing some serious production muscle. However its important not to get carried away with Porcupine being a paticularly dark record as its just not. It is, like the cover, reminiscent of a snowy, blizzardy day (paticularly with the xylophony-bits) that is magical and wondrous but not exactly heart-warming. The songs are stuctured with real Bunnymen sophistication and mystery, but at the same time retaining just the right amount of accessibility as displayed on Back of Love. Its easy to see where they went from here, taking a little bit of the chilliness into 'Nocturnal Me' and twisting into a bit of eccentricity with 'Thorn of Crowns' on the following album.
Porcupine is solid and sophisticated. It is chilly and cool without being morbid or depressing. The instrumental arrangements are spot on without being showy or extravagant. This repackaged issue is actually pretty good, with polished sound and, interestingly, alternative versions of tracks which in some cases are better than their album equivalents. Not to mention Fuel and Never Stop which have typical Bunnymen quality all over them.
Despite all of this goodness... its still fourth in the pecking order. Never mind that though, just buy it anyway.
on 25 April 2000
My favourite song of all time opens this sometimes, misunderstood and underrated album. `The Cutter` is a remarkable song as so is another of this albums singles `The Back of Love.` Many Bunnymen fans have suggested that this album lacks what the first two albums had. I disagree, instead I think each album should be juged on its own merrit. I do suspect however, that unlike the Bunnies first two albums, the tracks on `Porcupine` work best, when listened to together. With the possible exception of `The Cutter` and `The Back of Love`, the entire album best works as a whole; not as a concept album but a collection of songs that I personally believe are as an album, the Bunnymen`s best. The dark mood of the title track `Porcupine` is possibly one of the Bunnymen`s greatest ever moments. The whole album is an emotional rollercoaster ride, managing to be both dark and uplifting. `Ripeness` and `Gods Will Be Gods` are other highlights. The album`s finale, `In Bluer Skies`, I believe acts as a message of hope. This is a difficult album, but only insofar as Bunnymen fans tend to prefer the rawness of the Bunnymen`s first two albums. This album saw the Bunnymen become competant musicians and fine song-writers.
on 29 September 2009
Ian McCulloch's tendency to christen everything that Echo And The Bunnymen released as "The Greatest Album Ever By The Greatest Band Ever" is the sign of a man with supreme confidence in his own ability or a masochist begging for a beating.
Porcupine is the album where the Bunnymen finally got around to defining their style and sound - For all McCulloch's prior braggadocio there is something much more confident and assured here. There is something of the Middle East about the music, conjuring up visions of crowded souqs and bazaars.
After "My White Devil", "Clay", "Porcupine" and "Heads Will Roll" the album trails off slightly, but not to any major detrimental effect.
Echo And The Bunnymen may be something of an acquired taste but, once acquired, that taste is very addictive
on 23 April 2010
I bought 'Porcupine' the day it came out, spurred on by the 2 excellent singles that preceeded it. I think I played it twice, thought it was a dirge, and put it back in my L.P. box (remember those?). It was months before I played it again, got through the dense layers, started letting the hooks get under my skin....
If I could only save one album from a burning house, 'Porcupine' would be it. It's a difficult album, full of odd changes, self-doubt, even bombast maybe. But it is an album, not a collection of singles, it's a set of songs that belong togther and mesh to make a whole.
The Bunnymen made a good album after this, and poked their way a bit further up the charts, but never again wrote an album as complete, emotionallly bare, artistically provocative as this.
Mac called Ocean rain 'The greatest album ever made', but in my opinon, that title belongs to Porcupine.
The blast of The Cutter and Back of Love, the drama of My White devil, the slow sustained drag of the title track, the headlong rush of Heads Will Roll, the dizzying climax of Gods Will be Gods, the hint of sunshine after rain in In Bluer Skies....
The last great album I bought was Funeral by Arcade Fire, but great as that is, it's no Porcupine
I've loved this album for over 25 years... I hope my marriage lasts that long!!!
on 20 June 2008
Its easy to review Albums when they start off with such a blast as this. Quite simply 'The Cutter' and 'The Back of Love' are two of the best songs written by the Bunnymen. It was the 80's. Everyone was looking for big, brash and beauty. We had it all here in these two tracks...twas the reason the B's were lumped in with the likes of you know who. Fact is, these two songs are quite simply brilliant and come alive even more so when played...err...live. Most Bunny enthusiasts will rate 'HUH' & 'Crocodiles' before this...but hey not me. From such an incredible start things couldn't really get any better but we take a turn in a different direction. Some songs on the Porky are almost operatic. Fact. 'My White Devil' being one; and none the worse for it. The title track races along with an acoustic melay of such you would not have heard. It sounds dour..I'm sure glass is broken at some point...but...I luv's it. The second side could never had matched the first but it contains the Desert Island Disc that is 'Higher Hell'. I must of sat with headphones on...mimic-ing the 'just like my lower heaven...' hundreds of times. Friends beware this is better than pharmaceuticals. Elsewhere, we have the classic 'Gods will be gods' where the Bunnymen realise that they are perhaps not immortal after all...we fall asleep to the 'In Bluer Skies' and smile to the reverb of some magnificent waves.
on 14 December 2012
While not as immediate as 'Crocodiles' and 'Heaven Up Here' , this record is the Bunnymen at their most resolutely strange . There is simply nothing else like it anywhere. Sadly they opted to go more progressively more mainstream on their subsquent releases . This , however , deserves a place in the canon of rock albums that are regarded as 'great art'. Listen to the epic neo-psychedelia of 'My White Devil' or 'Heads Will Roll' as examples ,better still listen to the entire album from beginning to end , but be sure to play it LOUD (!).
on 14 April 2000
This is possibly my favourite overall Bunnymen album; it's certainly the darkest. The heavy-handed production lends the entire affair an oppresive air of claustrophobia that really works well with this set of songs. It doesn't hurt that Mac's singing is at its most histrionic, and that his lyrics, oblique as always, don't offer much in the way of hope--the closing track In Bluer Skies comes closest, but even that's kind of a desperate hope. The first four songs are, I think, the best, starting with the great singles The Cutter and Back of Love and culminating in the classic album tracks My White Devil and especially Clay. After that, it does become a bit muddled and, I must admit, at times tedious, but once you get used to it you'll probably have some fun. I recommend this album to all, and in particular those who've only heard the intolerably mellow Bunnymen mkII albums and want to know what the band was REALLY all about.
on 6 January 2006
Never has there been an album whose title or cover were more appropriate...porcupine is by far the most difficult, claustrophobic bunnymen lp to listen to, but that doesn't mean it's not worth it. It doesn't have the obvious emotional ache or talking heads-esque rhythms of heaven up here, it's just very bunnymen, inspired by nobody else. It seems a bit frosty at first, creeping on too quietly,, but once you've let it into your head it stays there. The icy little rhythms are class and mac's vocals are subtler than they've been before, but they really get under the skin. Of course the back of love is here and thats just rockin' so no more needs to be said on that. Glacial, spiky, precarious and aching with restraint that makes the occasional outburst all the more powerful...buy!
on 20 January 2004
I remember clearly going to see the Bunnymen in Leicester during the Porcupine tour. I had been unimpressed with their Top of the Pops outings but seeing this album reproduced live made me aware of it's gothic drama and power. McCulloch pilfers a number of lyrical influences to produce a meisterwerk which can only be described as epic. Highlights are, of course, the plaintive and manic Back of Love, the exotic Indian Violin, courtesy of L. Shankar on the Cutter but my favourite has to be Clay - driven along by the sadly departed Pete De Freitas' drums and an impassioned existential lyric, and for sheer unmitigated doominess it has to be Porcupine. For Bunnymen devotees doom has never been so much fun. An essential addition to your Bunnymen collection...enjoy the Darkness!