At the time of release, Bunnymen lead singer Ian McCulloch declared, along with his usual broadsides at U2 and Simple Minds, Ocean Rain as the best album of all time. OK, so he probably wasn't being totally serious, even if he did believe his band to be the best in the world (with considerable justification before the emergence of the Smiths), but in retrospect, it's not hard to see where his confidence was drawn from.
While the Doors (a key influence) went with horn/strings on their The Soft Parade album, the Bunnymen took a similar direction. While the first three albums had seen the band keep a spartan musical setting to their songs, Ocean Rain brought in the orchestras. Doubtless the Bunnymen fan used to the bare production of say, Rescue or The Back Of Love, got a surprise on opening track Silver when after a introductory brush of guitar, strings swept to lift the song from the bedsit into the orchestra hall.
It was on this album that McCulloch finally shed his image as king of the raincoats, inherited from Ian Curtis. The Killing Moon, Ocean Rain and My Kingdom painted imagery far away from the rain swept streets of Merseyside. Better still, Thorn Of Crowns contains some of the most wonderfully bizarre lyrics ever heard on record: "C-C-C-Cucumber, C-C-C-Cabbage, C-C-C-Cauliflower!". They don't write 'em like that anymore.
Throughout, the other Bunnymen see their frontman's challenge and rise to it. Guitarist Will Sergeant further staked his claim as one of the top guitar heroes of the 80's with his unpretentious, but always emotive playing while the bass/drum team of Les Pattinson and the late Pete De Freitas continued the work that made them at least one of the best rhythm sections around.
By the time of the final track, Ocean Rain (the sort of song for which the word "anthem" was made), you get the impression that maybe, just maybe Ian McCulloch had a point. And to think, the people chose U2 instead. But then again, they choose Thatcher as well, so what do people know?