Echo & the Bunnymen

The Killing Moon

Song Review by

The centerpiece track of 1984's Ocean Rain, the epic "The Killing Moon" is the point at which Echo & the Bunnymen turned from second-string post-punkers into members of the pantheon of heroes to the mildly alienated suburban teens of the mid-'80s, up there with Depeche Mode and the Cure. (This is as opposed to those who preferred the starker despair of Joy Division or Nick Cave, whose music was considerably darker and not nearly so pleasantly melodic.) The song opens abruptly, with a Spanish-style guitar intro from Will Sergeant over a doomy, bass-heavy setting, fading into Ian McCulloch's portentous intoning of the first verse. Crucially, the band made an atypical move in the arrangement of this song by modulating upward for the chorus; historically, the upward modulation is used to signify happiness or the release of tension, and its use in the midst of the minor-key melancholy of the verse melody makes a huge dynamic shift in the song. The smart use of strings -- one of the key factors that makes Ocean Rain Echo & the Bunnymen's most satisfying album -- amplifies the elegance of the tune, bringing both a musical richness and a sense of quiet dignity to the tune. "The Killing Moon" may not be their "best" song, but it's certainly Echo & the Bunnymen's biggest.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Ocean Rain 1984 Sire 5:45
Songs to Learn and Sing 1985 Sire 5:48
Never Mind the Main Stream: The Best of MTV's 120 Minutes, Vol. 2 1991
Various Artists
Rhino 5:45
Start: The Best of British Rock 1994
Various Artists
Dino Entertainment 5:47
Just Can't Get Enough: New Wave Hits of the 80's, Vol. 13 1995
Various Artists
Rhino 5:46
This Is the 80's [Alex] 1996
Various Artists
WEA International 5:45
Grosse Pointe Blank -- More Music from the Film 1997
Original Soundtrack
Polygram 5:44
Ballyhoo 1997 Teldec / Korova / WEA International 5:46
Sound of the Suburbs [#1] 1998
Various Artists
Crimson Productions 5:46
Rage the Album 1999
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 5:45
Dark Pleasures (Gothic Rock Collection 1979-1986) 1999
Various Artists
Hip-O / Hippo 5:48
Doubleshot: Modern Rock 2000
Various Artists
K-Tel Distribution 4:35
Number One 80's 2000
Various Artists
PolyGram 5:42
Crystal Days: 1979-1999 2001 Warner Archives / Rhino 9:13
Atomic 80's: The Definitive Eighties Album 2001
Various Artists
Universal Distribution 5:42
No Image 2002
Various Artists
Sony Music Distribution
Dark Side of the 80s 2003
Various Artists
Telstar TV Records 4:26
The Girl Next Door 2004
Original Soundtrack
Lakeshore Records 5:48
I Want My New Wave 2005
Various Artists
Razor & Tie 5:45
British Legends 2006
Various Artists
Rhino / Warner Music 5:50
The Very Best of Echo & the Bunnymen: More Songs to Learn and Sing 2006 WEA International / Korova 5:45
Life Less Lived: The Gothic Box 2006
Various Artists
Rhino 0:00
The Best of Echo & The Bunnymen 2007 Rhino / Warner Bros. / Warner Music 5:48
Smash Hits 1984 2009
Various Artists
Rhino 5:47
12" Dance: 80s Pop 2016
Various Artists
Rhino
The Killing Moon: The Singles 1980-1990 2017 Rhino 5:46
13 Reasons Why: Season 2 [Original TV Soundtrack] 2018
Original Soundtrack
Interscope 5:45
80s Symphonic 2018
Various Artists
Rhino
100 Greatest Classic Rock Songs
Various Artists
Rhino 5:50
Born and Raised in the 80s
Various Artists
Rhino 5:48
Hits of the 80s [Rhino]
Various Artists
Rhino 5:50
Kill Your Friends [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]
Original Soundtrack
Parlophone 5:46
The Best Ever Road Trip
Various Artists
Rhino
The Killing Moon [Transformed] Rhino 4:54
Top 100 80s
Various Artists
Rhino / Warner Music / WSM 5:50