It’s 2014, and a more youthful and naïve me would be sitting at home trying to pass the time by pretentiously searching the top 100 cult films on IMDB. I’d eventually come across Donnie Darko, and whilst I’d sit after the credits not having the slightest clue of what plot I was supposed to be following, I did know that the movie had an immense soundtrack: notably, the opening track ‘The Killing Moon’, which set up the disenfranchised notion of fate and will with moody perfection.
Fast forward to now and Echo & The Bunnymen have released a compilation of not remastered, but ‘transformed’ hits. The Scouse duo divulge into a selfish amalgamation of tone changes, tempo reductions and “strings and things” with The Stars, The Oceans & The Moon.
The problem with transforming their classics begins with the first song ‘Bring on the Dancing Horses’, which is pretty much swapping them with a more mature, nicotine-weathered sound that you’d expect from the 59-year-old.ch a cover of the original produced in better quality. It misses out on that raw nostalgic charm that an 80s song is recorded with, and the Bowie-esque vocals a young McCulloch would parrot, inst
Two new compositions have been added, and ‘The Somnambulist’ fits in perfectly with any of their older tracks, proving the pair can still write songs like they used to. The second track, ‘How Far?’, is a victim of configuration suicide, being placed between two of the band’s biggest hits, ‘The Cutter’ (whose psychedelic guitar opening overshadows it entirely) and ‘The Killing Moon’. The only reason you would find yourself listening to this ego-driven song is if you forgot to hit next on Spotify. ‘The Killing Moon’ has been reimagined from a psychedelic anthem of fate and will into an even more sombre and ghostly, piano-led apparition, giving new life to this classic.
The album serves as a good intro into the post psychedelic-punk roster, whether you’re already into bands like The Psychedelic Furs or just like rocking about with tucked-in Joy Division T-shirts. It should be said, though: listen to the originals straight after you listen to the new versions, as there’s nothing that quite compares, no matter how good of a job McCulloch thinks he’s done.