segunda-feira, 23 de julho de 2012

Crocodiles: a different review

No, I'm not going to talk about those huge reptiles that almost everyone's afraid of, but I am going to talk about one of the many masterpieces that the 1980's gave birth to, so that young people all over the world could still have some faith in the humanity.
Oh, I'm sorry, I gave the credit to the wrong 'thing', it was Echo and the Bunnymen who 'gave birth' to this wonder. Ian McCulloch and his mates were still in their early years, young and unstoppable, influenced by bands as The Rolling Stones, David Bowie and The Doors (anyone can notice their influences in this album, the sharp sounds, groovy rhythms and little sadness/melancholy in their songs, which was something that usually would mark its presence among anything, in most of the post-punk records of the time).
 Echo and the Bunnymen were somewhat far and close to their characteristic sound in this album. Some people may say they sounded too much like a 1970's rock band, some say it sounds a lot like post-punk. Personally, since it was released in 1980, it is in between those two aspects. The psychedelia is there, the whole sense of dance into the songs is there (it is an album that you can easily dance to, but not like nowadays' dance), but the despair, cynical ways, the 'dark' side is there too. I'm sure that the person that is reading this will easily agree with me if it takes a 'listen' to "Stars are Stars", "Pictures On My Wall" and "Happy Death Men".

 This album is very very hard to decode, the lyrics are somewhat abstract. Ian probably wrote them when he was drunk. But I guess trying won't do any harm, even though it might turn my head upside down. So I guess I won't talk much about the lyrics in this review, they are not very concrete, and the meaning of them is incredibly difficult to find out.

 «"Going Up" is the first track, and they chose the first track very cleverly. It sounds like the beginning of an album so much! I guess this song talks about life and its ups and downs. There's a curious part of the lyrics that says 'D'you want to know what's wrong with the world? Everywhere there's people with no flowers in their hair'. I guess flowers kind of mean purity or 'innocence'. I can easily connect this whole 'flowers' meaning to children. People need to think more like a child, with clear and clean eyes. The flowers in their hair, kind of means the mentality of innocence. Like I said, the mentality of children.
And then, "Do It Clean" starts. It's almost as if I could travel, not only in time but in space too. Suddenly, I'm in an english pub, in 1979. Everyone is wild, young, beautiful, and I'm surrounded by great minds. The atmosphere is almost impossible to describe, it's like the smoke in the air is magical and the dancing of the people around me is part of a ritual. And Ian's voice singing is part of the spell that the whole crowd is casting. The whole environment is composed by magic, mystery, strangeness and charm. You are scared, but you don't leave because you're hypnotised by the music, the singing, the dancing, the smoke, the lights, the choirs, the guitars, by everything that's part of the scenery. And soon, you join them and now you're part of the spell. There's no tomorrow, just tonight. Just that night of hypnosis, illusions and mirages. It is a small desert inside a club, the smoke and the lights take place of the sun, and the people and music are so wonderful and out of this world that you think this is all an hallucination. 
There's a sense of fear, desperation and anger in the air, because we're all young, and we all act like there's no tomorrow, but there actually is. And everyone is terrified of it. Everyone is terrified and desperate about the future. But we close our eyes and we lie to ourselves and tell ourselves we're going to be young forever. 
The guitars and basses keep playing, they continue to hypnotise you, Ian continues to sing his spells. You're trapped in his voice and words, and you don't want this to ever ever end. The crow sings along with all of you and you all dance in a sensual way, and the bodies touch themselves. It feels like an orgy because it's all so so hysterically wonderful, but you're all dressed. No one is naked, but everyone wants to be naked. Everyone wants to be naked, but no one is brave enough to take off the first piece of clothing. So everyone keeps dancing as if they were making love to everybody, but they continue dressed. 
From the second track, we've already gone to the 10th: "Pictures On My Wall". The fear rises and everyone stops dancing in a sexual way, and everyone moves in a frightening way. In obscure moves. No one could get any more frightened. The crowd feels haunted. The ghost that haunts them is fear, fear of the unknown future. They scream, they shout, they twist, they shiver. But no one goes out. No one goes out there, everyone remains inside. Because even though they are all so scared, they love it. They love and embrace their fear and despair. They think of them as friends, close friends.

'No matter how you shake your fist you know you can't resist it' - Everyone sings this at the same time. And everyone goes fully insane. Until the end of the album. Everyone screams and howls. The crowd has gone insane. No one exits the club, no one wants to. They are all blinded with the music's madness, so much that they all became mad. And the night is endless. And there is no sunshine. The sun won't rise again. They are all trapped in eternal night. In a night of pure insanity. And so, the crowd dances eternally, and forever they will remain hypnotised. Forever they will remain young. »

So this is what I picture in my mind when I listen to 'Crocodiles': madness, despair, fear. The perfect sound for, well, I woudn't call it a horror movie, but for a movie like 'Donnie Darko'. Mysterious, insane, desperate.
I really hope you guys don't think I'm on drugs (although this album makes me feel like I am). I hope you enjoyed it (and I'm sorry that I didn't analyse the album in itself).

from the 2003 Remastered version of 'Crocodiles'

terça-feira, 3 de julho de 2012

The Echoes of the Bunnymen

I have GREAT news to all of you, my loving readers.
Last Saturday night I went to see Echo & the Bunnymen live, expecting to see a closer glimpse of Ian McCulloch and Will Sargeant, maybe a guitar pick or a setlist (which I did), and, guess what? I met Ian McCulloch himself!
The show was amazing, although many people complained about how 'they were disappointed' and how 'Ian wasn't in shape' and how 'the had seen better days for that band'. I've got one thing to the people who saw them live and didn't like them: Echo and the Bunnymen are over 30 years old, Ian McCulloch is 53 and so is Will (I think so), they don't have to be in shape and it's normal that they're not, although I think Mac is still able to give a very good show! Anyway, these words were said by youngster (curiously, older people than me).
Songs like 'The Cutter', 'Bring On The Dancing Horses', 'The Killing Moon' and 'Lips Like Sugar' (to summon everything up, the main singles and popular songs) were the highlight of the night, when everybody went crazy and danced and jumped and sang as loud as they could (I know I did). 'Going Up', 'Do It Clean' 'All My Colours' and 'Over the Wall' were also part of the setlist, as well as 'Nothing Lasts Forever', 'Stormy Weather'. Personally, I was wishing badly that they would play 'Stars are Stars', 'Bluer Skies' and 'Higher Hell', to be honest, I did want them to play more songs from 'Porcupine'.  Maybe next time I'll get a little more luck on the setlist!
Once the concert was over, I waited everyone else to leave the place and then I watched the staff packing everything up. There was one boy in particular that caught my attention (didn't know if he was portuguese or not, so I started talking to him in english), and I decided that I should ask him if Ian McCulloch would sign some stuff. So, I shouted at him: «Hey, call Ian!». There was still music playing, so he didn't hear me quite right, and I had to negotiate properly with him if I wanted to meet Ian. So, I shouted again: «Hey, if you call Ian, I'll give you a kiss!!». The young boy was quite surprised as soon as I promised that, but he got closer to me and I repeated what I promised before. I also asked him if he was english (he nodded). Then, he told me to go to some kind of line and to wait right there, and so I did.
Twenty minutes (or so) later, my turn was arriving to get to know Mac himself!! I was so excited, I could only stare at him (although I didn't know if he was staring at me too because, once again, he was wearing his sunglasses, even though it was at night). He saw me with a generous amount of cd's and stuff that he'd sign up and was quite surprised: «That's a lot material you've got there!». He also liked my camera, don't know why, since it's not that special, but he said he never saw mine in any store.
Ian McCulloch was so so gentle and polite to me, he thanked me for going to the gig, but I told him he didn't have to thank me because I'd do anything to go anyway! I also apologised because he had to sign a lot of stuff, but he was kind and it didn't bother him. And then, after taking pictures and a small chit-chat, I have had the courage to do something that usually I wouldn't, all the hesitance and shyness were erased from my brain and I asked him for a kiss. He wasn't expecting such request, he kind of was surprised, but then, he gave me a little kiss on the cheek, which made my whole week. I guess what media usually says about him is a complete lie (even though he told me that Echo and the Bunnymen was the best band in the world). He's a very kind person and really sweet, at least he was to me!

This is the epic picture of me and Ian McCulloch. Please do ignore my face!