on 3 October 2005
Echo and The Bunnymens spectacular Television inspired debut "Crocodiles" was part 1 in an installment of the best run of albums of the 1980's, even better than U2's "Boy" To "Joshua Tree" and one record longer than The Chameleons "Script of the Bridge" to "Strange Times".
Spikey, raw and punkified in places yet pyscadelic and acidic in others "Crocodiles" effortlessly meshes pounding rhythms, choppy guitar and the youthful but authoritative vocals of Ian Mculloch.
Highlight "Stars are Stars" is the epitome of a cold starry night perfectly capturing its sense of claustrophabia and despair and marks Mcullochs first of many lyrical masterpieces'.
Although Guitarist Will Sergent would only reach artistic maturity and achieve genius on the bands follow up "Heaven up Here", his minimalism is very poignant and his echoey tones on "Monkees" make for another stand out track.
"Villers Terrace", "Pictures on my Wall" and "Do it Clean" (available on re-issues) are counter anthemnic, post punk perfection and early Bunnymen favourites. Macca's Bowie meets Iggy vocals and the musical mastery of the Bunnymen eleavate "Crocodiles" way above there peers U2 and the Teardrop Explodes' debut offerings. The Bunnymen would better this record twice, firsly with the swirling, brooding forever autumn briliance of "Heaven up Here" and then with the ice cold "Porcupine" but its still stands the test of time.
on 13 April 2007
Faultless! The inclusion of 'Read it in Books' on here as a bonus track makes it outstanding. Still this is the debut album that had everything and still does. See you at the barricades. When I got this to replace my vinyl and got that dark brooding vibe with its hint of malice and threat it was flashback time. Revolutionary stuff and all of that young man angst and insecurity. It all happens at 'Villiers Terrace'.
From the opening bars of 'Going Up' you actually feel that you are - right up - until the extended outro on 'Happy Death Men'. That's how the vinyl finished anyhow, but then you have the bonus tracks. The inclusion of the 'Let it Shine' EP Live stuff is a dream. I'd never heard 'Simple Stuff'! This is a great reworking of the original album.
on 16 April 2000
Debut albums don`t get much better. If you enjoy your music dark and melodic, this is for you. From the opening track, Going Up, this album never fails to impress, with 8 out of the 10 tracks being superb, with the other 2 only making brilliant status. Crocodiles and Rescue are obvious favourites, while Stars are Stars, Monkeys, Villiers Terrace, Pictures On My Wall and All That Jazz, are Bunnymen classics. The only downside to this album is that it has to end. Buy it and be better for it.
on 5 November 2003
Lover come back to me. Oh those heady days of pop/rock passion. Echo and the Bunnymen with their fantastic debut album. ‘Going Up’, ‘Stars Are Stars’, ‘Rescue’, ‘Villiers Terrace’. All stunning songs and dark urgency of purpose. “I caught a falling star. It cut my hands to pieces.”
The follow up ‘Heaven Up Here’ (also part of this series of digitally remastered Bunnymen albums) was enjoyable enough but I think the band were already, slowly, losing their way.
The inclusion here of the deliriously good ‘Do It Clean’ and the vitality and power of the four live tracks from the Shine So Hard EP emphasise that these early years were the peak of their output and make this the best reissue I’ve bought in years.
on 26 August 2003
Few bands have produced as great a debut; literally as good as please please me or the stone roses. In many ways the record has since haunted the band because they were never quite able to equal it. whilst others have produced many lesser records and yet have become bigger by chance or persistance (notably u2), the bunnies have cruely faded into obscurity. Their greatest hits cd was superb, and proves that this brilliant introduction was not all the group achieved. This psychedelic record is amazing, what would oasis or the strokes give to produce this kind of record?
Crocodiles in undoubtedly one of the greatest debut albums ever, easily as great as any you could name, e.g. Horses, The Stooges, Music from Big Pink, Marquee Moon, Roxy Music etc. It remains my favourite Bunnymen album, though Ocean Rain (1984) is probably more accomplished; the influences of Bowie & Television are apparent, but advanced on with considerable aplomb (especially if you hear the earlier takes of songs like Pride here, or the drum-machine assisted Peel Sessions). Where Ocean Rain takes advantage of strings, Crocodiles defines the band sound- the tight rhythms of Pete De Freitas & Les Pattinson, the angular guitar of Will Sergeant & the vocals of Ian McCulloch. Follow-up Heaven Up Here (1981) would be too much of a self pitying whinge for me; Crocodiles is perfect though- autumnal & melancholic. I didn't get into the Bunnymen till the late 80s (my introduction was the brilliant compilation Songs to Learn & Sing), so this album (as the Teardrops' Kilimanjaro) reminds me of autumn 1989, a Proustian location evoked by this album!
The production largely comes from Dave Balfe (Teardrop Explodes) & Bill Drummond (KLF), though Pride & Rescue were produced by Ian Broudie (Big in Japan, Lightning Seeds) back in Liverpool. Going Up is the potent opening track, building up from a wall of guitars to a pulsing guitar driven anthem- it's coincidental that The Stone Roses (1989) had a similar opening & that it was recorded at the fabled Rockfield studios in Wales. Stars are Stars, moving beyond the Bowie-isms of the Peel version, is an absolute highlight- up there with Ocean Rain & Pictures on My Wall as my fave Bunnymen track. Seemingly infinite who can but be blown away by those pulsing guitars & McCulloch's poetry "I caught a fallen star- it cut my hands to pieces..."? It has the same vocal style as the Kilimanjaro re-recording of Sleeping Gas- as if the lead singer is duetting with himself. U2's Boy is like the teen version of this- so odd that the Bunnymen aren't the biggest band in the world!
Pride does the teen angst thing ("daddy says, sister says, "D'ya mind if we laugh at you?") predicting such bands as Nirvana, Radiohead & The Smiths, who can not love the wild part where the guitars go into overload & McCulloch hollers "DO IT!!!!" Monkeys is even better, as great as anything by such peers as The Chameleons, The Cure & Joy Division, & again clearly an influence on the joys that were early Ride. The next album would use Monkeys very much as a template, though this song fills me with euphoria, where many of the Heaven Up Here tracks make me want to sulk & do Thom Yorke impersonations...The title track is another rapid angular slice of joy, "listen to the ups & downs, listen to the inbetweens...", classic post-punk stuff displaying Mac's ego, "met someone just the other day, said 'Wait Until tomorrow'...I said "Hey, what you doing today?- I'm gonna do it tomorrow!"-
Rescue remains a chiming anthem, that opening riff always mindblowing, as is the part where Mac wonders, "Is this the blues I'm singing?". Villiers Terrace has more keyboard on (courtesy of Balfe)& details that teen plain of hedonism and exploration, the "mixing up the medicine" & the way everything at that age takes on a mythic quality (or at least that's how I feel about the song/album!). Debut single Pictures on My Wall is re-recorded, one of the strongest songs in an album of the strongest songs; simply, you have to listen to it- if it doesn't blow your mind, check to see if a cortex has been dislodged! All That Jazz takes us back to the angular-guitar thing, a part of it even sounding a bit like Joy Division's Digital! The album proper closes on Happy Death Men (another Camus reference alongside The Fall & Killing an Arab: a Happy Death being the original title of the earlier version of L'Etranger), which stands out against the rest of the album, due to the trademark Teardrops-brass (Julian Cope's Head On reveals his irritation that it first made a Bunnymen record, rather than a Teardrops one!). A great conclusion to one of the greatest albums ever...
A wealth of bonus tracks are here- though why two versions of Simple Stuff & early takes of Pride & Villiers and not classic single The Puppet is beyond me? It seems that The Puppet has been largely written out of Bunnymen history, not being found on the Ballyhoo-compilation either- which means you have to fork out for an import of Songs to Learn & Sing or the Crystal Days box-set. Shame, as the tape version of this I grew up with had 'Do It Clean' listed as the second track, but was in fact The Puppet- so I miss it! Of course there is Do It Clean, another of the greatest Bunnymen singles- a pulsing surf-garage organ (reminding you of Camera,Camera or Better Scream)- very much their take on early Doors, who can not be blown away by the lines "I've been here there everywhere/here there nowhere/iszy bitzy witzy everywhere...I did it clean- know what I mean?" Such style! & it's nice to have the best version of Read It In The Books (aka Books) that McCulloch co-wrote with Cope- it's much better than the take on Kilimanjaro or the strange version Cope did in 1988 on Charlotte Anne's 12". The final bonus tracks stem from the Shine So Hard e.p. and see the early Bunnymen in their primal glory performing epic takes of All That Jazz and Crocodiles, along with two of the best songs from Heaven Up Here: Over the Wall & Zimbo (aka All My Colours).
Crocodiles remains one of the greatest albums ever, at this price & with these bonus tracks it's a must-purchase; even if it misses out The Puppet!
on 17 January 2004
This release contains the original album released in 1980. Barely clocking in at 30 minutes the album was fantastic but too short. This was remedied by the release of a seven inch containing “Read It In Books” and “Do It Clean” which appeared on the American album. The tape version which I bought in the 1980s had the A and B sides the wrong way around and contained “Read It In Books” and “The Puppet” (mis-titled as "Do It Clean"). Import cd and vinyl releases in the late 80s also included those two tracks.
Of an apparently generous ten extras tracks (although this is testament to the brevity of the album’s original form) “The Puppet” does not appear. Apart from that criminal omission, fans can programme what I think is the best sequence, namely the second side followed by the first side with "Read It In Books" inserted immediately before “Pictures On The Wall” (which is not as good as the original single release.)
I cannot believe that I am the only person in the world to have listened to the album in the reverse order but in any event I feel wholly justified in believing, first, that the classic opening riff of "Rescue" makes a better introduction to the album than "Going Up"'s more drawn out opening and, secondly, that the blistering "Crocodiles" itself is a more climatic and complete album end than "Happy Death Men" whose fade segues perfectly into "Going Up" if programmed in the way I suggest. Try me!
The extras include the “Shine So Hard” ep in its entirety. Maligned by the band at the time, "Shine So Hard" shows what a fantastic live group the Bunnymen were and was a showcase for the versatile drumming of the late, great, Pete de Freitas. Of the remaining six tracks only three have not been released before and these are early versions of songs which appear on the rest of the disc in not particularly altered form.
These technical and value issues aside, the quality of the songs is beyond doubt. Les Pattinson’s bass was the most prominent it would ever be, the mood mature beyond the band’s years and, although not as brilliant as “Heaven Up Here” or “Ocean Rain”, "Crocodiles" announced the Bunnymen as the major force in the post-punk British rock scene.
on 5 September 2015
In my opinion 'Crocodiles' is a classic of the post punk era. There's a potent blend of melody and power here and not a single weak song on the album. My personal favourites are the wistful 'Stars Are Stars', the brooding 'Monkeys', the blistering title track and the plaintive debut single 'Pictures On My Wall'.
on 20 October 2013
This was the Bunnymen's debut album and one of the best debuts of all time. Produced by Bill Drummond (of future KLF fame) and David Balfe the songs are keep tight but a little rough around the edges (which is a good thing here). The band were going to go on and do ever better albums but this one always has a special place in my collection. Favourites include Going Up, Villiers Terrace and Crocodiles but I don't think there is a bad track on the album.
The vinyl pressing on 180g orange vinyl is perfect and another quality vinyl reissue from Vinyl180. Album and vinyl highly recommended.
on 29 September 2009
A wise man once noted that what we call 'originality' is not newness - for nothing is new -- but only genuineness.
Perhaps that is why CROCODILES sounds as fresh and 'original' today as it did thirty years ago. From the moment the first song, Going Up, comes charging out of the ethereal mist like a conquering army (and promptly metamorphoses into muttered incantations from the blasted heath) it's plain the Bunnymen are neither the latest corporate product nor the garage band from down the street.
Part of this is sheer instinctive ability; these young novices sound as if they know what they are doing. The rhythm section (Les Pattinson on bass; Pete de Freitas on percussion) provides a strong, steady anchor, while remaining innovative and vibrant throughout. Will Sergeant's guitar and Ian McCulloch's vocals weave through the songs like brilliant threads in a tapestry. McCulloch's voice on CROCODILES is not yet the marvel it would become a few years later, but it is strong and distinctive, and he sings with as much self-confident panache and dignity as a man proclaiming: "Rusty chalk-dust walker" can muster.
They do things their own way, understanding that music should have beauty, and that beauty requires variety. CROCODILES moves (sometimes within the same song) from surging river to gently lapping tidal pool to tumbling cataract, all interspersed with the occasional muffled explosion, eerie scream or exhalation from the depths of a dank cave.
Solid melodies and sing-along choruses stay in the mind. Villiers Terrace (which is apparently about Adolph Hitler, not chemical dependency) bowls along brightly, swinging into multipart harmonies and a tumultuous close. The majestic cadences of Monkeys invest the song with a grandiosity wonderfully out of proportion to the lyrics. With the deliberate pace of a ship taking the rolling swells, Read It in Books unfolds a narrative dialog, rising and falling with the progress of the story, until McCulloch writes finis with a succinct "That's all". Happy Death Men, a blackly merry little ditty, achieves its own wild and kooky grandeur before it - and the album -- suddenly evaporate into that stuff which Boschian dreams are made on.
The key to CROCODILES lies in its edgy juxtaposition of bold, assertive music with McCulloch's lyrics, which speak movingly of confusion, self-doubt and the tender ego of youth. The title track, like its protagonist, jitters with pent-up emotional energy, as McCulloch encapsulates fear, bravado, and one of life's ignoble but totally satisfying desires:
CROCODILES is a coming-of-age album, full of the vigor and uncertainty and splendid daring of youth.