In the misty, faraway '80s—with their vital radio breeding ground dubbed "college rock"—Echo & the Bunnymen were among the most revered of British imports to the U.S., along with suc

In the misty, faraway '80s—with their vital radio breeding ground dubbed "college rock"—Echo & the Bunnymen were among the most revered of British imports to the U.S., along with such peers as the Smiths and the Cure. Echo also proved to be an influence on later bands from the Flaming Lips to Oasis. Photogenic but with an ambitious edge, psychedelic yet possessing a classic pop sensibility, the Liverpool quartet—singer Ian McCulloch, lead guitarist Will Sergeant, bassist Les Pattinson, and late drummer Pete DeFreitas—put forth music of equal parts shimmer and sinew, drawing on influences from the Doors and the Velvet Underground to Leonard Cohen and Television. This thoughtfully produced four-disc boxed set does wonders in collecting the band's best, surveying such pinnacle albums as 1983's Porcupine and '84's Ocean Rain. Moreover, the set includes almost a whole disc's worth of rare, rocking live material, including takes on such top album tracks as "Do It Clean" and several excellent covers, among them the Stones' "Paint It Black." Also here are latter-day hits like 1987's "Lips Like Sugar" and items from Echo's recent comeback discs. Plus, the warts-and-all liner notes by band intimate Mick Houghton are a tonic.—BB