Thursday, 20 September 2018

The Psychedelic Furs - The Psychedelic Furs (1980)

Sister Europe....

  

Released March 1980

TRACK LISTING

1. India
2. Sister Europe
3. Imitation Of Christ
4. Fall
5. Pulse
6. We Love You
7. Wedding Song
8. Blacks/Radio
9. Flowers                                                              

This is a leading example of a "post punk" album - full of influences from David Bowie's late seventies work and German "Krautrock" bands Neu! and Kraftwerk in places with a little bit of early Roxy Music thrown in. Funnily enough, vocalist Richard Butler's gruff, sneering tones were very punk as opposed to "new romantic" haughty. The latter style hadn't really taken off yet, so a funky PIL-esque tone was still de rigeur. The album was produced by Steve Lilywhite, who went on to produce U2. You can see that this influenced those early U2 albums in places.

The opener,  India starts with about two minutes of background electronic bleeps and noises before kicking into a post punk rocker with the vocals I spoke of earlier to the fore. Sister Europe has a deep, sonorous saxophone sound straight off either the first Roxy Music album or David Bowie's  Low and "Heroes" instrumentals. It is a marvellously brooding, atmospheric track, although its debt to Bowie's material is huge. Imitation Of Christ has an appealing saxophone intro. The Furs were unusual amongst their peers in their use of the saxophone. Duncan Kilburn was the player of it here.


Fall stars with an upbeat, almost Northern Soul-style thumping beat before the post punk vocals and searing guitar licks take over. Pulse is one of the punkier tracks on the album, a frenetic drum, guitar and saxophone-driven X-Ray Spex type of song, particularly in the screaming saxophone breaks. We Love You has Butler name-checking various people he is in love with - Sophia Loren, Frankie Sinatra and Diana Ross & The Supremes among others in full-on John Lydon leering style.

That Bowie sound is back on the beguiling, haunting The Wedding Song, with its PIL meets Joy Division feel and, notably, a proto-rap bit on the vocals half way through. It has a superb big, rumbling bass sound on it too plus some funky guitar at the end. Blacks/Radio suffers from a dense, indistinct sound as does the sonic assault of the Velvet Underground-ish Flowers. A pity as they are potentially better tracks than they sound. The bonus "demo" version of Flowers is actually much better, one of the best cuts on the album.

The bonus track, Susan's Strange is a mysterious and insistent with great guitars, an early Roxy Music wailing saxophone underpinning it and a new romantic "sha-la-la" chorus. Soap Commercial is a good one too. Very post punk. Their take on Mack The Knife  is excellent, totally unrecognisable.

The sound is a tad muffled (comparatively) on the album, however. It could do with another remastering.

C+

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