Ocean Rain is the fourth studio album by the British post-punk band Echo & the Bunnymen. It was released on 8 May 1984 and reached number four on the UK Albums Chart, number 87 on the United States Billboard 200, number 41 on the Canadian RPM 100 Albums and number 22 on the Swedish chart. Since 1984 the album has been certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry. Ocean Rain includes the singles "The Killing Moon", "Silver" and "Seven Seas".
The band wrote the songs for the new album in 1983. In early 1984 they recorded most of the album in Paris using a 35-piece orchestra, with other sessions taking place in Bath and Liverpool. Receiving mixed reviews the album was originally released as an LP and a cassette in May 1984 before it was reissued on CD in August. The album was again reissued on CD in 2003, along with the other four of the band's first five studio albums, having been remastered and expanded. The artwork for the album was designed by Martyn Atkins and the photography was by Brian Griffin. Echo & the Bunnymen have scheduled a number of concerts for 2008 where they will perform Ocean Rain in full and with the backing of an orchestra.
After spending some time in Liverpool writing new songs for the album, the band recorded their sixth session for John Peel's radio show on BBC Radio 1 on 6 September 1983. The songs recorded were "Nocturnal Me", "Ocean Rain", "My Kingdom" and "Watch Out Below", which would all later appear on the band's fourth album Ocean Rain – "Watch Out Below" was later renamed "The Yo Yo Man". When the band's John Peel session was broadcast on 10 October 2008, the punk zine Jamming said, "[The songs] hint at a readjustment and a period of new positive recovery."
Echo & the Bunnymen were booked to headline a two-week youth festival at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon on the evening of 23 October 1983. Due to a high demand for tickets a matinee performance was added. The matinee concert at Stratford-upon-Avon saw the live debut of "The Killing Moon", "Seven Seas" and "Silver". With representatives from the band's record company and lead singer Ian McCulloch's mother in the audience, the performance was nervous and uncertain; although the evening performance, without the record company representatives and McCulloch's mother, was much improved.
At the end of 1983 Echo & the Bunnymen recorded a live special called A Crystal Day for the Channel 4 programme The Tube. Ignoring their old material, the band played "The Killing Moon", "Nocturnal Me", "Ocean Rain" – which had now developed into a ballad – and an early version of "Thorn of Crowns" called "Cucumber".
Continuing the band's prominent use of strings – which began with the 1982 single "The Back of Love" – they recorded Ocean Rain using a 35-piece orchestra. Lead guitarist Will Sergeant said, "We wanted to make something conceptual with lush orchestration; not Mantovani, something with a twist. It's all pretty dark. 'Thorn of Crowns' is based on an eastern scale. The whole mood is very windswept: European pirates, a bit Bun Gunn; dark and stormy, battering rain; all of that. During recording De Freitas used xylophones and glockenspiels in addition to his usual percussion, bass player Les Pattinson used an old reverb machine at des Dames and Sergeant's solo on "My Kingdom" was played using a Washburn acoustic guitar which he distorted through a valve radio.
The picture on the front cover 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. This release contains an expanded booklet written by music journalist Max Bell giving the background to the album. The booklet contains a number of photographs which are credited to Sergeant and Pattinson.
Along with the other four of the band's first five albums, Ocean Rain was remastered and reissued on CD in 2003 – these releases were marketed as 25th anniversary editions. Eight bonus tracks were added to the album: "Angels and Devils", which had been recorded at The Automatt in San Francisco, was the B-side to the single "Silver" and was produced by The Bunnymen and Alan Perman; five Life At Brian's – Lean and Hungry tracks ("All You Need Is Love", "The Killing Moon", "Stars Are Stars", "Villiers Terrace" and "Silver") which had been recorded for the Channel 4 program Play At Home; and two live tracks ("My Kingdom" and "Ocean Rain") which were recorded for A Crystal Day, a Channel 4 special for The Tube. The Life At Brian's – Lean and Hungry track, "Silver", and the two A Crystal Day tracks had previously been unreleased. The reissued album was produced by Andy Zax and Bill Inglot.
There were three tracks from the original Ocean Rain album which have been released as singles. The first of these was "The Killing Moon" which was released on 20 January 1984. The second single was "Silver" which was released on 13 April 1984. The final single to be released from the original album was "Seven Seas" which was released on 6 July 1984. This was the first time Echo & the Bunnymen have released more than two singles from one album.
Pitchfork Media described the album as being "stuffed with queasy midtempo tracks and bizarre orchestration" although they did say that the album was not impenetrable. Rolling Stone described the album as "too often a monochromatic dirge of banal existential imagery cloaked around the mere skeleton of a musical idea". Saying that the album had some nifty choruses and nice atmospheres, the review went on to say it "evinces too little melodic development and too much tortured soul-gazing". In his 1984 review for NME, Biba Kopf said, "... Ocean Rain has been designed to buttress the notion of the group's importance. Not unnaturally the results have the opposite effect." He went on to criticise McCulloch's lyrics, which he described as "tired juxtapositions of mysterious buzzwords, nonsense, and banality", and the music, "mellotron-style wash of strings and bleating wood winds".
Ocean Rain reached number four on the UK Albums Chart in its first week of release and stayed on the chart for 26 weeks. In the United States it entered the Billboard 200 at number 172 on 9 June 1984 and stayed on the chart for 11 weeks, reaching a peak of number 87. It entered the Canadian RPM 100 Albums chart at number 89 before it reached a peak of number 41. Staying on the Swedish chart for three weeks the album reached a peak of number 22. As of 1984, Ocean Rain has been certified gold by the British Phonographic Industry for having sold more than copies. Of the singles from the album; "The Killing Moon", which was released on 20 January 1984, reached number nine on the UK Singles Chart and number seven on the Irish Singles Chart; "Silver", released on 13 April 1984, reached number 30 on the UK Singles Chart and number 14 on the Irish Singles Chart; and "Seven Seas", released on 6 July 1984, reached number 16 on the UK Singles Chart and number 10 on the Irish Singles Chart.
In December 2007 Echo & the Bunnymen announced that they would play a concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 16 September 2008 where they would play the album with the backing of a full orchestra. Since then two further concerts have been scheduled to take place – the first at Radio City in New York City on 1 October 2008 and the second at the Liverpool Echo Arena on 27 November 2008. For the Radio City concert it has been announced that the band will use a 10-piece orchestra which is to be conducted by Rupert Christie. The posters being used to advertise the concerts have the image of the band from the cover of the album overlaying an image of the venue.