Talk, Talk, Talk About Psychedelic Sex: The Furs Thrust into the Masquerade Like A Train Wed. July 6

By Philip Nutman, Contributing Blogger

“If music be the food of love, play on…”
– Some old geezer named “Shakespeare.”

An Evening with the Psychedelic Furs; two sets, including TALK TALK TALK in its entirety; The Masquerade, Wed. July 6, 7 p.m.

For me, The Psychedelic Furs are one of the sexiest bands in the world.

No, I don’t have a decades long crush on Furs’s main man, Richard Butler, like so many of my gal pals, and no, I’m not a “groupie.” I’m just a hardcore lover of the body of music the band has produced since the late ‘70s (although taking gal pals to early Furs concerts has often resulted in interesting sensual experiences… [say no more]).

For mainstream American audiences, The Furs were largely off their radars until the late “Brat-Pack” writer/director, John Hughes, immortalized the band  by using the title of one of their songs, “Pretty In Pink” (from their second album, 1981’s TALK TALK TALK) as the title for one of his cotton candy bittersweet cinematic confections back in the mid-‘80s. Of course, the movie PRETTY IN PINK devolved the original metaphor of the song “Pretty In Pink.” According to singer/front man/chief lyricist Richard Butler, it was about being “naked” – not the message Hughes was trying to convey.

Promotional photo of lead singer Richard Butler for the TALK TALK TALK Tour.

THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS, the band’s first LP, was released in 1980 and became a cult album in the UK, but failed to score in the slow-to-catch-on US except among music rebels. Channeling The Velvet Underground, glam-era Bowie, heaps of mood and post punk, European-flavored sturm und drang, the lack of American mainstream love was not a surprise. In other words, there were no radio-friendly singles.

When TALK TALK TALK hit the following year, a sea change started. The atmosphere of the eponymous disc transformed into an aggressive post-punk fury which radiated more punk energy than “post.” This was a disc which burned up your turntable and could make your stylus melt. Take “I Just Want To Sleep With You,” a song filled with a manic passion that screamed, “I want to f*** you now!” backed by a propulsive Velvets’ discordant arrangement of clashing guitars, backbeat and Duncan Kilburn’s wailing sax. The opening rumble of “Dumb Waiters” blasts into the original incarnation of “Pretty In Pink” – the first song which proved THE FURS could create a real post-punk pop song with hooks that barbed the listener’s flesh and wouldn’t let go. “PIP” is/was, perhaps, the first true post punk pop song. In other words, John Hughes was hipper than his personal style indicated; he knew something great when he heard it.

Make no mistake about it: TALK TALK TALK is an album that takes no prisoners and is filled with an unrestrained passion. “Dumb Waiters” was the opening salvo, “Pretty In Pink” was the seduction before the no-holds barred growl of “I Just Want To Sleep With You,” followed by the powerful dismissive, “No Tears.” Then The Furs assault the listener with the obtuse, but Bob Dylan-inspired roar of “Mr. Jones.” And if you didn’t get the message, girls, The Furs wanted *YOU* as they plowed “Into You Like A Train.” The rest of the album just keeps hitting you with an emotional brick and never lets up: “It Goes On,” “So Run Down” keep moving the listener through an aural photo album of lust misspent, of hearts broken and the bad guy trying to be good but incapable of escaping his basic instinct – it goes on, indeed. Guitars chime against Tim Butler’s powerful bass line as original drummer Vince Ely’s back beat pounds you into submission making you feel “So Run Down,” culminating with Butler seemingly remorseful about the emotional damage inflicted with the still soaring but more plaintive “All Of This And Nothing.” (N.B. Track listing refers to the original UK record release which was totally resequenced by the A & R idiots at CBS records  for the US release.).

There’s so much that could be written about how terrific this transitional, second LP is, but tomorrow night, July 6, at The Masquerade, you can discover just how intense the album was/is when the current line-up of the band (core, founder members Richard and brother Tim Butler minus former long-term guitarist, John Ashton, who joined the band for the sophomore disc and has been replaced by Rich Good) will perform the entire disc before playing a second set of songs spanning the group’s 32-year recording career. If you’ve never listened to TALK TALK TALK – shame on you! Go buy it now and prepare for a concert that if it lives up to the original will – like the recent Echo and the Bunnymen tour recapping their first two albums – remind you of the raw visceral energy of those early days. This is a passionate record, and it’ll be interesting to see what the band do with it live.

Be at The Masquerade Wednesday night or take a musical vow of celibacy. This is one sexy show you don’t want to miss.

 

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