Writing this short series of pieces on non-LP singles has brought home just how few established bands do this sort of thing these days. Almost exclusively non-LPs now seem to be trailers for greatest hits collections. Which is a bad thing because twenty odd years ago though they were things that happened regularly.
In their early days Echo & the Bunnymen used to release non-LP singles fairly frequently. First off was ‘The Puppet’ which has subsequently all but been disowned by both Ian McCulloch and Will Sergeant, which probably explains why it wasn’t on the recent reissues. Released after debut LP ‘Crocodiles’, I actually think it’s OK but it’s not a Bunnymen classic by any means. Ironically the B-side is somewhat better known, a little ditty by the name of ‘Do It Clean’ although the recorded version is nothing like the full on freak-outs that the song was to mutate into in a live setting.
The Bunnies’ next release was another non-LP single, ‘Shine So Hard’ a 12” live EP which actually tickled the Top 40 and featured 2 songs which would appear on the shortly to be released 2nd LP, ‘Heaven Up Here’. With a five minute version of ‘Crocodiles’, ‘Shine’ actually demonstrated the Bunnymen starting to stretch out some of their songs . The EP seemed to have been almost forgotten as it didn’t feature on the ‘Crystal Days’ box set of rarities but the 4 tracks were remastered for the 2004 reissues.
‘The Back of Love’ was the band’s only release in 1982 and it gave the Bunnymen their first Top 20 hit. But despite the lengthy delay of almost a year it was eventually included on 1983’s ‘Porcupine’ LP so doesn’t qualify.
Less than 6 months later however ‘Never Stop’ was another new Bunnymen single, again reaching the Top 20. Recorded after ‘Porcupine’ its non-inclusion on 1984’s ‘Ocean Rain’ was probably down to its contrast with the lush orchestral production of that LP rather than a perceived lack of success.
The final non-LP single of any note that the band released was ‘Bring On The Dancing Horses’ although it was recorded as an extra track for the ‘Songs To Learn and Sing’ compilation so it doesn’t really count.
What I find interesting is that ‘The Puppet’ is the only example of the failed single here because ‘Never Stop’ and ‘Dancing Horses’ both still feature in the current live set.
Which I suppose omits mention of ‘People Are Strange’. The Doors cover was done for the film ‘The Lost Boys’ and was originally a B-side. To be honest it sounds a little too cabaret for me, but the 12” is worth tracking down for the live covers, including Television’s ‘Friction’.
Here are a couple of the tracks:
Echo & The Bunnymen – The Puppet (included on ‘Crystal Days 1979-1999’)
Echo & The Bunnymen – Never Stop (Discotheque) (included on the reissue of ‘Porcupine’)
Buy the Bunnymen’s 25th anniversary reissues here.