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McCulloch & Sergeant's mid-90s grunge project
on 24 April 2007
Electrafixion might be one of the worst names for a band in history (..., but is an overlooked project from Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant from the mid-1990s. The Bunnymen famously came a cropper in the late 80s, with the exit of Pete De Freitas around the eponymous fifth album and the epic tour that followed. De Freitas returned, but the Bunnymen of 1987 appeared to be going through the motions - one listen to the BBC concert of that tour against live Bunnymen releases before & after will confirm that. McCulloch eventually left the band, recording the charming `Candleland' (1989) and the patchy `Mysterio' (1992); De Freitas sadly died in a motorcycle accident - leaving Sergeant and Les Pattinson to carry on a new psyched out version of the Bunnymen with members of St Vitus Dance. Electrafixion was a bit of a surprise then, definitely a Bunny-take on the grunge rock sound of the era, it was no doubt based on Bob Mould's Sugar-project.
Their sole album `Burned' is reissued here with most of the b-sides and extra tracks released under the Electrafixion moniker over the singles `Zephyr' e.p., `Lowdown', `Never' & `Sister Pain' (only the `Baseball Bill' single released after the band ceased to exist is missing). `Burned' feels like a blend of the Bunnymen circa `Heaven Up Here' and the psychedelic grunge of Screaming Trees' `Sweet Oblivion' (a record that was probably partly inspired by `Heaven Up Here'?). McCulloch had infamously recorded a third solo album with a post-The The Johnny Marr, though this mysteriously was lost in transit - a few of the tracks made it onto here, the best of which was `Lowdown' ; the worst Marr-McCulloch work was yet to be released, the dire Spice Girls/World Cup song `Top of the World' from 1998!
The initial e.p. `Zephyr' was probably their most consistent release, perhaps Electrafixion would have been better off released e.p.'s rather than an album? `Burned' is probably too long and a bit samey in terms of the grunge sound - which is why the psychedelic/acoustic versions from the `Sister Pain'-single on the second disc are probably more interesting (more in common with `Porcupine/Ocean Rain'). `Rain on Me' sounds like classic Bunnymen, while `Burned' is a rockier variant on material that feels akin to `Crocodiles' - much of the album sounds a bit like `Ragged Glory'-Crazy Horse (which is no bad thing). `Who's Been Sleeping In My Head?' is probably the catchiest song here, a shame that the live acoustic version from the three-part single isn't included, well worth tracking down! The best song here, and one that the reformed Bunnymen should add to their live-sets, is `Sister Pain' - material worthy of the band who recorded such classics as `Show of Strength', `All that Jazz' & `Over the Wall.'
The two disc budget price collection of most output of this is worth tracking down, though I'd look out for the triple cd single with all of those great live versions on. An improvement over the 5th Bunnymen LP and the most rocking material since 1981. McCulloch & Sergeant would begin to play Bunnymen material again when promoting this, shortly after drafting Les Pattinson back into the fold and returning with the `Evergreen' album.