Friday, March 8, 2019

And Then There Were Three: Revisiting the Furs 'Mirror Moves'!

As a fan of the murky and brooding six-piece Psychedelic Furs line-up that turned every second of their first two albums into a dark and claustrophobic mind movie. One wouldn't have thought it possible to thicken the impenetrable sonic fog of their self-titled 1980 debut, but 1981's Talk Talk Talk did just that.

We now know it as the album that has the original version of "Pretty & Pink" on it, but, at the time, first impressions of the album was that "Into You Like Train" would be added to my party playlist ASAP. Stuck among the usual forceful requests for "Freebird" and "Sweet Home Alabama",imagine a lone DJ sticking in the original version of "Pretty In Pink". 

Some nights it sank, but other nights it gave you license to drop some weird-ass shit on an unsuspecting audience of strobe-lit teenagers in various stages of "the dance".

Many of us watched with some bemusement as the song began to take on a life of its own even before it was such a big part of a certain John Hughes film and '80s pop culture.

Can you imagine the career boost of a major movie studio building an entire film around one of your songs? Lucky bastards.

Back in those days, it was how a lot of careers were made: Simple Minds, anybody?

Thing was, it came at a time when the sextet that had actually made the original had been reduced to a trio. Agreeing to re-record the song was both the right and the wrong thing to do.

Was it not bad enough that the Todd Rundgren-produced Forever Now had seen the exit of original members Roger Morris (guitar) and Duncan Kilburn (sax) with no one hired to replace them?

Hey, we knew how it was in the eighties: Even brilliant drummers like The Cars David Robinson and Blondie's Clem Burke were losing work to the drum machine. The Furs would be no different, forcing Vince Ely to pursue a production career that included Ministry's With Sympathy and Go-Go Jane Weidlin's quirky first solo record.

1984's Mirror Moves could just as easily have been named "And Then There Were Three" with the Furs reduced to a core trio of Richard Butler, Tim Butler and John Ashton. It also could just as easily have sucked, but strangely enough, it didn't.

Those of us who played the labels off our Rebel Yell tapes and "Don't You (Forget About Me)" single had been looking forward to hearing what his involvement would do besides scare off the band's drummer.

The first time this writer heard "The Ghost In You", He turned to his brother and said "I bet they wish they'd written this in time to record it with Rundgren". Turns out it was the one that they and the Runt had been chasing all along.

"Here Comes Cowboys" sounds like an outtake from the Talk Talk Talk sessions, which we will gladly take take take.

"Heaven" follows and, if we can be honest, as great a song as it is, it sounds just enough like "Here Come Cowboys" that you almost wonder if the band didn't take two stabs at writing the same song and then decided to put them on the album right next to each other.

Not that I'm complaining. After all, I am a sucker for eighth-note chugging bass lines and Richard at his raspy, cigarettes-and-alcohol-soaked best.

"Heartbeat" was a song that marked the beginning of a very special era for a certain Chicago musician, Mars Williams, who plays Liquid Soul these days.

"My Time" begins with one of Richard Butler's better couplets:

"You've got rain in your eyes and a head full of stars/All the tears you could hold in your hand/And a roomful of sleep and a promise to keep/Isn't it just like love?" 

So good that one almost wonders how it wasn't picked as the first single. By the time Butler leans into that first chorus with just enough of a Bowie Swagger, for a moment you're convinced he is this generation's Sinatra.

"Like A Stranger" is a career-maker buoyed by a jubilant horn arrangement that is beautifully Beatle-esque, yet it didn't get released as a single either.

What is it about "Alice's House" that makes it the sleeper hit of Side Two ("What's that, grandpa?") and filled with more nervous tension than most horror films of the time?

"Only A Game" might be the odd man out among a trio of songs that set the mood for the album closing mood piece "Highwire Days".

And then it was over. Only nine songs.

Granted, eight were solid single contenders.  

No comments:

Post a Comment