The Ultimate A To Z Of Album Reviews By Gary Steel – E

May 15, 2021
3 mins read

The Ultimate A To Z Of Album Reviews By Gary Steel – E

Gary Steel is slowly compiling all his album reviews in one place. This is a work in progress, or what we call a “live document”. Today is the letter ‘E’.



Steve Earle – Exit O (MCA)

1987/Evening Post

Steve Earle (and his band The Dukes) is one of the much-vaunted new kids on the country block, but taken on the evidence of Exit O, I can’t see a major talent bursting forth.

Sure, he’s less blinkered, less nostalgist than many of his contemporaries. It’s good to hear a country rocker who’d rather be a mongrel than a monkey, who isn’t stuck on style as in a straitjacket.

Earle could easily be interpreted as a breath of fresh air in country circles, but I can find little to get excited about; just a competent singer and player with a slightly quirky lyric approach and adequate storytelling abilities.

Lukewarm if not stillborn. 5/10

Echo & The Bunnymen – Songs To Learn & Sing (WEA)

1986/Wellington City Magazine

Bunnymen songs are a rare thing indeed in the world of rock and pop. They’re made from simple but exquisite parts which match into a seamless, beguiling, compulsive, addictive and human whole. They’re wedges of emotion with all the complexities of mind over matter, all the ironies and pains and victories of life and love. There are overtones and undertones in this lovely, glorious music, bass lines that could break your heart under thunderous drum figures and spellbinding guitar flourishes. This collection brings together some highlights from beginning (1979) to present. The entire first side is a delight, although an unassailable peak is reached with the almost classic melancholy melodicism of ‘The Killing Moon’. The final three songs show a marked decline, ending with the comparative predictability of the current single, ‘Bring On The Dancing Horses.’ 8/10

Echo & The Bunnymen – Echo & The Bunnymen (WEA)

1987/Evening Post

Former Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek was hauled out of retirement to play his famed pencil-thin cheap organ lines on the latest Echo & The Bunnymen album (creatively titled Echo & The Bunnymen).

In a recent interview, leader Ian MacCullough was asked what he has been up to in the three-year absence of new product. He’d had a song, and watched lots of daytime television, it transpired.

The new album sounds like it. Where have the soul-searching and propulsive rhythms of the first few albums gone? Where have the incandescence and lushness of the past few albums gone? All their colours have been sapped, along with whatever motivations took them to such heights on previous excursions.

The only echoes of olden times can be heard on ‘Lost And Found’, and getting better, the philosophically-inclined repetition of ‘New Direction’.

Okay, all you Bunnymen and Bunnywomen out there… if I’m wrong and I change my mind about this album, I promise a full and ingratiating apology! 5/10

Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine – Let It Loose (Epic)

1987/Evening Post

Percolating salsa-based rhythms and inventive percussion add interest to an otherwise standard vacuous popular dance record. The odd bit of life and invention among the cliches. 5/10

Everything But The Girl – Baby, The Stars Shine Bright (WEA)

1986/Wellington City

Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt forsake the tepid cocktail jazz of their previous outings for full big band and orchestral backing on Baby, The Stars Shine Bright. At their best, quiet introspection meets highly personalised lyrics about realistic relationship situations. On ‘Cross My Heart’, the affair is over, but she still wonders where he spent last night, and on ‘Fighting Talk’, a man regrets his inarticulate, hurtful marital bickering. These scenarios are well expressed, but the music’s lush inflexibility doesn’t flatter the sentiments.

Elsewhere, Thorn tries to be Connie Francis-come-Julie London on soppy stuff like ‘A Country Mile’ and ‘Careless’, and can’t quite hold the notes.

Everything But The Girl are attempting something ambitious and different, but it doesn’t quite hit the mark. One wishes they woul concentrate on their obvious strengths. 5/10


Everything But The Girl – The Language Of Life (Blanco Y Negro)

1990/RTR Countdown

More love tales sung in the smoky, cocktail ambience familiar to fans of the duo’s sound. Only the top American session musos are new to the formula. 6/10


The Exploited – Punk’s Not Dead (Secret)

May 1982/In Touch

Punk’s Not Dead is basic punk noise. It lectures itself. The Exploited undoubtedly are. So are their fans. The Exploited barely warrant a mention, but this music for rejects has a captive, sink-head audience, so go to it boys! Hey, FUCK-FUCK-FUCK! Shocked? 3/10

Steel has been penning his pungent prose for 40 years for publications too numerous to mention, most of them consigned to the annals of history. He is Witchdoctor's Editor-In-Chief/Music and Film Editor. He has strong opinions and remains unrepentant. Steel's full bio can be found here

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