Echo & the Bunnymen's 1987 album was supposed to be the one that would shoot them into the big time, the one that would transform them from cult stars into major rock stars, the one that would push them past rivals like U2 and the Cure.
Instead, the group's seventh album "Echo & the Bunnymen" prompted singer Ian McCulloch to quit the band that he'd co-founded a decade earlier.
"The fact that we did the album twice was a warning sign," the deep-voiced Liverpudlian said during a recent visit to Los Angeles to remix a single from his solo debut LP "Candleland." "We spent 2 1/2 months on it the first time, and did it again similar length, and it was still the worst album."
"Echo & the Bunnymen" sold well enough, and the group undertook a high-profile U.S. tour with New Order. But McCulloch knew it had all gone stale, and he took a cue from his hometown soccer team.
"The Liverpool football club have always had managers that know when to change the side a little bit and lose one of the key players and move on," he said, sitting in an office at Warner Bros. Records. "It always looks dignified the way it's done. It's not like a team that ever ends up strugglin'.
"I didn't want to be seen to need it that badly, to look desperate. The risk of doin' another album that didn't have somethin' special to me, I'd be in danger of never bein' able to pick meself up confidence-wise after that. . . ."
Leaving the Bunnymen wasn't the only transition the 30-year-old singer encountered in '88.
As McCulloch prepared to play his final show with the Bunnymen in Osaka, Japan that April, he awaited news of his father, who'd been hospitalized in Liverpool with a heart attack.
"An hour before the last gig I found out he'd had a second heart attack. . . . I went on stage and kind of composed meself and did this gig that was very weird, very emotional. . . ."
By the next morning, McCulloch and the band were on the last leg of the journey home, on the one-hour flight from London to Liverpool.
"It was about a half hour before the plane landed he must have died. It was weird. I seemed to be the only one awake. Me mates had fallen asleep, and something seemed to come and brush past the plane halfway through the flight. At the time I just thought, 'Maybe that was me dad kissin' me goodby.' Maybe it was. I like to think it was.
"It was funny. It was like a week of mournin' and feelin' weird and bad, and then one day I went to the toilet and I thought, 'Me dad's here, kind of watchin' me. . . .' I always had this thing when I was younger that someone was watchin' me. And now it's me dad, so it's kind of a nice, benign force."