PSYCHEDELIC FURS, THE: Beautiful Chaos Paperback – 25 Jun 2004
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From the Publisher
I can't believe there has never before been a book on one of THE greatest, THE coolest, THE most groundbreaking, THE most talented lyrics-wise, generally most mind-blowing groups of the 1980s. Well, now there is, and about time too! Put on TALK TALK TALK, crank up the volume to max, and revel in the Beautiful Chaos of The Psychedelic Furs
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Talk Talk Talk was our best album for me, John Ashton enthuses..It definitely showed a band that had been playing together for a while,and had honed itself to the point where it had created a unique sound.Whereas the first album
some of the songs had existed in one shape or form for a while,the next album was all written with everybody in the same room at one time or another.For that,I think its the best journal of a band in progress that I can think of.
It was very English,all guys together,it was just a really fun,fun time.It was crazy, because we were kind of broke still, but it was more than wed ever got before,
so it was just this great way of being,getting a weekly wage,playing our shows,writing songs,meeting people,and having a great time doing what we wanted to.We became friends,did a lot of hanging out,and thats how Talk Talk Talk became the album that it is.Because we all got on really well,musically it just somehow locked all together.The first album was just the first album,you just do it.But the second one,for me,it was great,we felt very comfortable making that album. Ensconced within John Henry s rehearsal studio,dividing their time between
playing and visiting the pub round the corner,the band had learned how to write songs.Tim Butler explains,Talk Talk Talk is still aggressive and passionate,which the first one was as well,but the songs are more sculpted,more songlike,theyre not jams.Things like India and Blacks/Radio you go into a studio and jam them..
Whereas on Talk Talk Talk ,we spent some time actually formulating the structures. Once we had the structures,then we said,"lets go for it," did two or three takes of
each one,and that was it.So,its got the aggression of the first album,but moving towards the melodic sort of songs that we peaked with on Forever Now.
His brother agreed.A full year earlier, Richard told Zig Zag ,I wanna do songs that are about something more definite,like when John Lennon brought out an album with songs like "God " and "Mother." They were really to the point,more
positive. On the first album,he reflected on a later occasion,it was more a case of just liking the words,liking the image they created,liking the way the words fittedthe music, then jotting them down in his notebook,without really worrying whether they meant anything.
For Talk Talk Talk ,he focused on substance more than style,on meaning rather than motive.And if,occasionally,the listener yearns for a return to the open-ended imagery of The Psychedelic Furs, still the new record had some magnificent moments,lyrically and otherwise.
We really dived head first into that album and got lost in it, says Ashton... Musically,it just somehow locked all together.Talk Talk Talk comprised a diverse set of songs,but they somehow shared a unifying sound,from She Is Mine and Pretty In Pink, which effortlessly operated on a personal,poppy level;to a fresh rerecording of Mr Jones, which was simply a full-tilt charge;and I Just Want To Sleep With You a roughshod sexual lyric draped over a seething instrumental known as This Girl. We were highly prolific,everybody had ideas,and it worked well.And Steve [Lillywhite ] had become seasoned in the studio from working with a lot of bands over the last two or three years.So it was a really good mixture,he was up-and-coming,and so were we. Received wisdom today paints Talk Talk Talk as the Psychedelic Furs masterpiece,the touchstone by which their entire future output should be judged.In fact,it really isnt the first and third albums are,overall,far superior.But its certainly an easy mistake to make.Talk Talk Talk does indeed pack an energy and
excitement which none of their other albums can match,while simply placing the needle on the opening tracks,the relentless punch of Dumb Waiters, the insatiable
beauty of Pretty In Pink, leaves you wondering whether any other album could start with such an immortal one-two.
The American magazine Goldmine once called Pretty In Pink perhaps the best dark-pop song ever composed.A perfect guitar riff,sublime keyboards courtesy of Kilburn,and an unforgettable melody made this song a classic. It was also the most archetypal song on the record;possibly of the Psychedelic Furs entire career,edgy
and rough,but sleek and sophisticated;hopelessly romantic with no romance in sight. And it was also was one of those magical flashes of inspiration which tend to arrive when they are least expected in this instance,at the end of a long and fruitless day in the rehearsal studio,when most of the band had already given up, and gone to the pub to seek liquid inspiration.Richard Butler and John Ashton alone
stayed on at the studio,simply messing around,talking half-heartedly about trying to capture the kind of effortless vibe that made the Velvets Sweet Jane such a
jewel.What was it,a guitar line that simply rolled along,a vocal which simply tripped off the tongue,it sounded so easy and suddenly,there it was.We were just hanging out, recalls Ashton..I was playing the riff,Richard started singing, and there you have it. The entire exercise was completed in 10 minutes..
The title,of course,refers to nudity;the lyric to the loveless self-abasement through which the protagonist,Caroline (revisited,perhaps,from the first albumsIndia )searches for romance.But it has a lazy sensuality which words simply cannot replicate,and an tight melodic swagger which defies all attempts at
categorisation.It does indeed share a mood with Sweet Jane, but other people have compared it to The Year Of The Cat and,if you can dismiss the more mawkish
connotations of that,they have a point.The same sexuality,the same inevitability,
and an opening line (and a titular chorus)which grabs the attention from the outset.
Top Customer Reviews
It is a story which charts from the formation of the band to where they are now and the influence that they had in paving the way for other groups. With the right promotion and backing they would have been massive. Ultimately, they are a group cherished by their fans and the fact that they never achieved huge commercial success makes them all that more special.
Older and wiser they are still regularly touring in the States and probably enjoying palying live more than they ever did. They are truly one of the best live bands and I can only hope for the day that they tour Europe again.
I found the book so compelling that I read it from start to finish in one sitting. It is a fascinating read and thanks to all those involved with the book it provides a valuable insight into one of the most underated groups ever. BUY IT and ENJOY!
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I've read quite a bit about the Furs in interviews over the years but this book dredges up some little known information. For instance, producer Daniel Lanois was all set to produce "Midnight to Midnight" but the Furs were not ready for him, and, according to Mills, treated him badly. He finally left only to produce U2's mega hit "Joshua Tree" instead!
The book slightly falters towards the end. The post "Midnight to Midnight" album-period is hardly given an in-depth look. In particular, their last LP, "World Outside" is barely given a single page of information. The author admits this was a good album and was critically acclaimed yet why is there so little written about the LP and the tour that ensued?
Perhaps an updated edition is needed...
Kudos for the Appendix which has a bibliography, US/UK release discography w/ excellent notes and covers all band members' post-Furs projects, videography and even a list of artists who have covered Furs songs. The book does need an index, though, as in the end I spent most of the post-Talk Talk Talk era just flipping through and not reading it line by line.
I don't know if it's just that bands touring or the details of studio battles bore me now or if the writing of such is just not good, but it's not exactly a page turner. I think it's more a book to have if you're into the minutiae of this band.
One thing I appreciate is I finally have learned the line that is impossible to decipher on the track "The Fall"--it's "Needles on a beach at Goa." Thank you for that alone...it only took 25+ years top figure that out.
Also, I could find no explanation of why Richard Butler was at times referred to as "Rep" Butler which is what I've always called him after reading that in Trouser Press or NME or some such.