THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS

James Chance_Artist Bio

Molly spinning and Duckie strutting….THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS continue to soundtrack the hormonal confusion of youth the world over. Channelling the joyous upsurge of Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ with a kaleidoscopic swirl of love, confusion, sexual desire and vulnerability, ‘Pretty In Pink’ ranks as one of the greatest songs of all time, a definitive work that has transcended the era it so clearly defined to become simply an exhilarating and pop classic.

The early 80s was a time when any British kid with pluck and ideas had a chance of being a pop peacock, and with a background in the visual arts – frontman Richard Butler trained as a painter; their name came from The Velvet Underground’s Venus In Furs – THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS were a band with a vision. Formed in 1977 after seeing the Pistols play the 100 Club, they took what Bowie, Roxy Music and punk had given the world and created something they could call their own. Having worked on early material with Martin Hannett, they hit their stride with their self-titled 1980 debut, produced by Steve Lillywhite – a pairing that pitched them as rivals with fellow newcomers U2.

Of all the bands to emerge during those fertile salad days when punk shattered into a thousand different creative directions, THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS trod the tightrope between underground credibility and pop stardom with style and aplomb. Marrying melody with lyrical narratives that explored the struggles of modern life in unflinching detail, anger, bitterness and confusion ran through their sound. Richard Butler’s nicotine rasp meanwhile was one of music’s most instantly recognisable vocals. THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS’ contemporaries were not the pithy end of pop music, but the cerebral end of the wedge (The Cure, The Teadrop Explodes et al). Their quarrelsome nature meanwhile ensured internal debates, and fights, about creative direction.

They hit a creative peak with second album Talk Talk Talk, whose key track ‘Pretty In Pink’ was later re-recorded as the soundtrack for the aforementioned John Hughes film of the same name. Legend has it that fan Molly Ringwald had asked the director to write a film around the song – though to the band’s dismay the darker-toned original version was deemed to feature guitars that were out of tune). “The idea of the song was, ‘Pretty In Pink’ as a metaphor for being naked,” Butler told The Quietus in 2010. “The song was about a girl who sleeps around a lot and thinks that she’s wanted and in demand and clever and beautiful, but people are talking about her behind her back. And John Hughes, bless his late heart, took it completely literally and completely overrode the metaphor altogether!”

No matter: though the trans-international post-‘Pretty In Pink’ success came in 1986, by the time of its initial release The Furs had already arrived in fine style. They hit a purple patch. For Forever Now (1982) they decamped to upstate New York with Todd Rungren, while Mirror Moves (1984) and Midnight To Midnight (1987) each scored higher chart placings than their predecessors. Later described by Richard Butler as “hollow, vapid and weak”, the latter nevertheless capitalised on the band’s new-found position in the hearts of lovelorn, cynical and acerbic teenage romantics the world over. Go figure.

Though they quietly went on hiatus in 1991 after two more albums, THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS’ legacy lives on, their influence heard in a plethora of bands who emerged in the intervening years, including The Killers, Interpol and others. They reformed in 2000 and continue to tour.


AUDIO

THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS > ‘Pretty In Pink (Original)’ from Pretty In Pink 2×7″