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

Posted on: Jul 5th, 2011 By:

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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Kool Kat of the Week: Back to the Eighties with Becky Cormier Finch of Denim Arcade

Posted on: Jun 8th, 2011 By:

Photo credit: Jayne Cormier.

Today many people make fun of music in the Eighties when pop stars sported ultra-teased mullets, super-wide shoulderpads, leg warmers and cut sweatshirts. Coming after the hard edge of punk, the sugary exuberance of Top of the Pops UK bands today seems quaint and something we sometimes like to forget we actually thought was rebellious at the time. Yet it’s easy to forget that for a lot of the ‘80s, only handful of Brit hits makers made the US Top 40, like Flock of Haircuts—excuse me Seagulls—, The Police, Human League, Soft Cell and Tears for Fears before John Hughes movies made at least one song by Simple Minds and a de-angrified Psychedelic Furs temporarily cool.

On the other hand, our charts were loaded with big-haired hard rock and metal bands from Van Halen to Bon Jovi, Cinderella to Motley Crue. Michael Jackson was the King of Pop. Billy Ocean crooned “Caribbean Queen,” Rick James undulated to “Super Freak,” Huey Lewis claimed the “Heart of Rock n Roll, Prince spawned an fleet of protégées, and Madonna seemed to spawn an entire genre to herself.

While many cover bands play ‘80s music, Atlanta’s Denim Arcade tries to capture both the decade’s sense of fun and unique sound using similar equipment from guitars to keyboards—the signature instrument of synth pop. Made up of seasoned musicians out to have some fun, Denim Arcade includes Wade Finch (lead and rhythm guitar) and John Christopher (bass), who first played together in the alternative band Noise Dot Com; Andy Womack, who has drummed in a wide variety of bands for more than 20 years including Atlanta-based Renaissance Festival phenomenon, The Lost Boys; and lead vocalist Becky Cormier Finch, best known for Three Quarter Ale, a fast-growing popular Celtic rock band that was a finalist recently on the GEORGIA  LOTTERY’S ALL-ACCESS MUSIC SEARCH show.

ATLRetro caught up with Becky to find out why these talented musicians decided to go back to the Eighties, what to expect at their next show this Saturday starting at 10 PM at @tmosphere, and what’s up next for Three Quarter Ale.

I understand Denim Arcade actually grew out of another ‘80s cover band called Great Scott. How did the band get started and get its name?

Both bands got started because of friends with a shared love of ‘80s music and a love of performing. “Great Scott,” of course, is Doc Brown’s signature phrase in BACK TO THE FUTURE. We had a line-up change, and decided that with a female lead singer, “Great Scott” didn’t really fit. No one in the band is named Scott, anyway! I believe a group of friends was at Manuel’s Tavern, having a conversation about quintessential ‘80s things, and my friend Bettina just blurted out “Denim Arcade” and it stuck!

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