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Heaven Up Here

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Heaven Up Here
An album cover showing four men in silhouette standing on a wet beach. There are dark clouds in the sky and the sun is low on the horizon. The album's name and the band's name is in white letters in the top centre of the album cover.
Studio album by
Released30 May 1981
RecordedMarch 1981
StudioRockfield Studios, Monmouth, Wales
GenrePost-punk, neo-psychedelia
ProducerHugh Jones, The Bunnymen
Echo & the Bunnymen chronology
Heaven Up Here
Singles from Heaven Up Here
  1. "A Promise"
    Released: 10 July 1981
  2. "Over the Wall"
    Released: 1981

Heaven Up Here is the second album by the English post-punk band Echo & the Bunnymen, released on 30 May 1981. In June 1981, Heaven Up Here became Echo & the Bunnymen's first Top 10 release when it reached number 10 on the UK Albums Chart.[1] It was also the band's first entry into the United States albums charts when it reached number 184 of the Billboard 200.[2] Heaven Up Here released the singles "A Promise" and "Over the Wall".

Recorded at Rockfield Studios near Monmouth in Wales, Heaven Up Here was co-produced by Hugh Jones and the band. A generally well received album by fans in the United Kingdom and by critics, Heaven Up Here won the "Best Dressed LP" and "Best Album" awards at the 1981 NME Awards. The album has also been listed at number 471 in Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Background and recording[edit]

After the public and press interest garnered from Echo & the Bunnymen's debut album, Crocodiles, the band released the Shine So Hard EP which maintained their profile. Work then soon began on their second album, Heaven Up Here. Following musical differences between the band and Crocodiles producers Bill Drummond and David Balfe, Hugh Jones was brought in to produce Heaven Up Here.[3] Jones had previously engineered Crocodiles and co-produced Shine So Hard with Drummond. Jones would later go on to produce the band's 2005 album Siberia. The band were also given an additional producer credit.[4] The album was recorded at Rockfield Studios near Monmouth in Wales during March 1981.[5]

In the liner notes to the 2003 remastered version of the album, lead singer Ian McCulloch said that he constantly had the American rock band The Velvet Underground's song "What Goes On" in the back of his mind. He also stated that the band wanted to record a soul album.[3] In the same liner notes, bassist Les Pattinson said that the band was often lazy and hence had hired rehearsal space at the Ministry in Liverpool. He said this made them work harder and develop "language" in the rhythm.[6] According to guitarist Will Sergeant, McCulloch considers Heaven Up Here to be Sergeant's album because he was bossy and a control freak during the recording.[7]


In 1981, music magazine the NME described the album as darker and more passionate than 1980's Crocodiles. The Record Mirror also said that the band sang the blues and devoted themselves to existential sadness. They went on to note that the album offered "an anatomy of melancholy, resplendent with the glamour of doom".[8] Melody Maker disagreed when in 1981 they said "the Bunnymen are continuing to play majestic, uplifting music that will shine through the dark days ahead of us".[8] In the 2002 book Turquoise Days: The Weird World of Echo & the Bunnymen, author Chris Adams said that in 1995 McCulloch had said, "That spikey edge [of the album] still stands up."[9] In relation to their style of music, in 1980 McCulloch had said, "I always say 'We're a rock band'. Because I'm proud of that." He added, "I like rock music [...] I prefer being good or great within that basic format [...] I just prefer basic songs."[10]

In his 2005 book Rip It Up and Start Again: Post Punk 1978–1984, British music journalist Simon Reynolds described the sound of Heaven Up Here as having been filled out with "guitar overdubs, keyboard glints, vocal multitracking and atmospheric vapours".[11] Comparing Heaven Up Here with Joy Division's 1980 album Closer, Reynolds said they are "harrowed by the same things [...] hypocrisy, distrust, betrayal, lost or frozen potential". However, he said that "Closer shows Ian Curtis fatally mesmerized by his own dread visions, Heaven Up Here ultimately turns its face towards the light" with the tracks "No Dark Things" – which he describes as renouncing "death-wishful thinking" – and "All I Want" – which he describes as "a blasting celebration of desire for desire's sake" and "pure intransitive exhilaration".[11]


The photograph used on the front and back cover of the album was taken by photographer Brian Griffin.[5] The picture shows the band on a wet beach in the south Wales seaside town of Porthcawl;[12] there are dark clouds in the sky and the sun is low on the horizon causing the band to be silhouetted. The picture was taken on a day off from recording the album.[13] The original album's cover art was designed by Martyn Atkins.[5] According to Griffin, they used buckets of fish offal to entice the gulls to fly into shot. He also stated that both Drummond and Rob Dickins, head of their record label Korova, hated the pictures from the shoot, and that he and Atkins had to fight for them to be used on the sleeve.[12] The cover received the "Best Dressed LP" award in the 1981 NME Awards.[14] Reynolds said that the band's manager Drummond saw them as representing "cold, dampness, darkness".[15]

The front cover picture of the original album was kept for the 2003 reissue. However, the design was altered slightly by graphic designer Rachel Gutek of the design company guppyart. The release contained an expanded booklet written by music journalist Max Bell giving the background to the album. The booklet also contains a number of photographs which are credited to Sergeant and Pattinson.[5]


The album was originally released as an LP by Korova in the United Kingdom on 30 May 1981. It was then released in the United States by Sire Records on 24 June 1981.[5] It was released elsewhere on Korova although with a different catalogue number. Side one of the LP contained five tracks and side two had six. The album was first released on CD on 16 May 1988.

Along with their first five albums, the album was remastered and reissued on CD in 2003 containing five bonus tracks – these releases were marketed as 25th anniversary editions. "Broke My Neck (Long Version)", which was recorded at Tistedal Studios in Norway on 7 June 1981, is the B-side of the 12-inch single "A Promise" – an edited version was used as the B-side of the 7-inch single. The other four bonus tracks were recorded live at the Manly Vale Hotel in Sydney, Australia on 11 November 1981. The reissued album was produced by music historian Andy Zax and producer Bill Inglot.[5]

The only single from Heaven Up Here released worldwide was "A Promise" on 10 July 1981. The single stayed on the UK Singles Chart for four weeks and reached number 49.[1] Later that year, "Over the Wall" was released as a single in Australia only.[16]


Professional ratings
Review scores
AllMusic4.5/5 stars[17]
Blender3/5 stars[18]
The Guardian5/5 stars[19]
Mojo5/5 stars[20]
Q4/5 stars[22]
The Rolling Stone Album Guide2/5 stars[23]
Smash Hits9/10[24]
The Village VoiceC[25]

Heaven Up Here was generally well received by the music press and critics. In a 1982 interview with the band for the NME, rock journalist Barney Hoskins described the album as "one of the most superior articulations of 'rock' form in living memory."[26] Later reviews have continued to receive the album well: Allmusic reviewer Aaron Warshaw said that McCulloch "sings with soaring abandon and passion throughout the album" and that Sergeant's guitar playing was at its "angular finest".[17] Not all reviews were positive: Robert Christgau, giving the album a C rating, said that he held "no brief against tuneless caterwaul, but tuneless psychedelic caterwaul has always been another matter."[25] In his 1999 book From the Shores of Lake Placid and Other Stories, the band's manager Bill Drummond said "The album is dull as ditchwater. The songs are unformed, the sound uniformly grey."[27]

Heaven Up Here sold well in the United Kingdom, staying on the UK Albums Chart for a total of 16 weeks and reaching a peak of number 10 in June 1981.[1] The album was the first release by Echo & the Bunnymen to make it onto the American charts when it reached number 184 on the Billboard 200.[2]

In 2003, the album was ranked number 471 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[28] The NME has ranked the album number 39 in its list of the 50 greatest albums of the '80s and number 51 in its list of the greatest albums of all time.[29][30] The album also received the NME's 1981 best album award.[10] Reynolds described the award as "essentially an anti-New Pop protest vote by post-punk's silent majority".[31]

Track listing[edit]

All tracks written by Will Sergeant, Ian McCulloch, Les Pattinson and Pete de Freitas.

Side one
  1. "Show of Strength" – 4:50
  2. "With a Hip" – 3:16
  3. "Over the Wall" – 5:59
  4. "It Was a Pleasure" – 3:12
  5. "A Promise" – 4:08
Side two
  1. "Heaven Up Here" – 3:45
  2. "The Disease" – 2:28
  3. "All My Colours" – 4:06
  4. "No Dark Things" – 4:27
  5. "Turquoise Days" – 3:51
  6. "All I Want" – 4:09
2003 reissue bonus tracks
  1. "Broke My Neck" (long version) – 7:22
  2. "Show of Strength" (live) – 4:41
  3. "The Disease" (live) – 1:53
  4. "All I Want" (live) – 3:09
  5. "Zimbo" (live) – 3:52


Echo & the Bunnymen


  • Hugh Jones – producer, engineer
  • The Bunnymen – producer
  • Martyn Atkins – album design
  • Brian Griffin – photography
  • Andy Zax – producer (reissue)
  • Bill Inglot – producer (reissue), remastering
  • Dan Hersch – remastering
  • Claes Neeb – engineering on "Broke My Neck" (long version)
  • Rachel Gutek – album design (reissue)



  1. ^ a b c Roberts, David, ed. (2006) [1977]. British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: HiT Entertainment. pp. 177–8. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  2. ^ a b "Echo & the Bunnymen > Charts & Awards > Billboard Albums". Allmusic. Retrieved 3 April 2008.
  3. ^ a b Bell, p. 4
  4. ^ Heaven Up Here (LP cover notes). Echo & the Bunnymen. Korova. 1981. KODE 3.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Heaven Up Here (CD booklet). Echo & the Bunnymen. Warner Music UK. 2003. 2564-61162-2.
  6. ^ Bell, p. 5
  7. ^ Bell, p. 7
  8. ^ a b Adams, p. 71
  9. ^ Adams, p. 72
  10. ^ a b Adams, p. 74
  11. ^ a b Reynolds, pp. 440–1
  12. ^ a b Griffin, Brian (2 November 2017). "Pop: The music photography of Brian Griffin". Retrieved 31 October 2018.
  13. ^ Bell, p. 8
  14. ^ Adams, p. 73
  15. ^ Reynolds, p. 450
  16. ^ "The Ultimate Echo and the Bunnymen Discography". Villiers Retrieved 20 May 2008.
  17. ^ a b Warshaw, Aaron. "Heaven Up Here – Echo & the Bunnymen". AllMusic. Retrieved 13 May 2008.
  18. ^ Harrison, Andrew. "Echo & the Bunnymen: (various reissues)". Blender. Archived from the original on 16 February 2009. Retrieved 16 May 2008.
  19. ^ Sweeting, Adam (31 October 2003). "Echo and the Bunnymen: Various". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  20. ^ "Echo & the Bunnymen: Heaven Up Here". Mojo. London: Bauer Media Group (121): 129–30. December 2003. Retrieved 18 August 2009.
  21. ^ Tangari, Joe (2 March 2004). "Echo and the Bunnymen: Crocodiles / Heaven Up Here / Porcupine / Ocean Rain / Echo & the Bunnymen". Pitchfork. Archived from the original on 19 February 2009. Retrieved 18 August 2009.
  22. ^ "Echo & the Bunnymen: Heaven Up Here". Q. London: Bauer Media Group (209): 149. December 2003. Retrieved 18 August 2009.
  23. ^ Gross, Joe (2004). "Echo and the Bunnymen". In Brackett, Nathan; Hoard, Christian. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide (4th ed.). Simon & Schuster. p. 271. ISBN 0-7432-0169-8.
  24. ^ Ellen, Mark (11–24 June 1981). "Echo and the Bunnymen: Heaven Up Here (Korova)". Smash Hits: 29.
  25. ^ a b Christgau, Robert (30 November 1981). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. ISSN 0042-6180. Retrieved 19 August 2009.
  26. ^ Hoskins, Barney (20 February 1982). "Echo and the Bunnymen: A Promise of Rock Re-Born". NME. ISSN 0028-6362.
  27. ^ Drummond, Bill (January 1999). From the Shores of Lake Placid and Other Stories. Ellipsis London. ISBN 1-84166-000-0.
  28. ^ "The RS 500 Greatest Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone (Special Collectors Issue ed.). November 2003. ISSN 0035-791X. Archived from the original on 27 April 2010. Retrieved 5 May 2010.
  29. ^ "The 50 Greatest Albums of The '80s". NME: 19. 25 September 1993. ISSN 0028-6362.
  30. ^ "Greatest Albums of All Time". NME: 29. 2 October 1993. ISSN 0028-6362.
  31. ^ Reynolds, p. 441