Longtime fans of the beloved atmospheric '80s British post-punk band Echo & the Bunnymen have no doubt been long aware of one of the key secret weapons within the band's 1987 recording of "Bedbugs and Ballyhoo." However, the rest of us relative neophytes may just be discovering - as we continue to mourn the untimely passing last month of Ray Manzarek, keyboard wizard for '60 psychedelic rock legends The Doors - that his organ work plays a major role in the majesty of that aforementioned single. Strains reminiscent of the Doors classic "Touch Me" lend a haunting sonic layer to the already complex arrangement on this track, not that the impressive E&B lineup particularly needed an assist. Rather, Manzarek - a champion of fine underground music during the '70s and '80s even when his own musical ventures were a bit few and far between- simply appreciated Echo & the Bunnymen as a music lover. Having contributed his keyboards to the band's cover of The Doors' "People Are Strange" for The Lost Boys soundtrack during the sessions for 1987's Echo & the Bunnymen LP, Manzarek remained available and enjoyed the additional opportunity to work with a band he admired.
Perhaps as much as his central significance to one of America's most revered classic rock acts of all time, Manzarek is being remembered in the wake of his death as a musician's musician across the ages. Obviously, his discovery of L.A. punk band X and his production of their early records stand as Manzarek's primary '80s calling cards. Even so, the fact remains that in the face of the tragic dissolution of his own band more than a decade prior, this is a music figure who always retained an uncanny sixth sense for identifying performers that greatly deserved to be heard. In the quarter-century following the release of this week's noteworthy unsung track, Manzarek never stopped functioning on some level as a respected ambassador for cutting-edge alternative music. In that sense, it's always a good time to remember the legacy of a true rock music craftsman. Unfortunately, we'll be doing so with considerable sadness for the immediate future.
- Sample or download "Bedbugs and Ballyhoo" here.
- Compare prices on Echo & the Bunnymen CDs here.
- Top Songs from '80s Punk Rock Band X
Album Cover Image Courtesy of Sire/WEA