Review: The Psychedelic Furs - Greatest Hits
The Psychedelic Furs are my favorite post-punk new wave band. I like their cut and paste lyrics, the sax work on the early records and both Richard Butler’s hoarse voice and Bowie mannerisms. I saw them in their original lineup and twice more, the first show a classic, the second really good and the third a waste of time. For that last show they had a full row of lights at the stage level directed into the audience's eyes. No fun.
A few others and I sat in a bar with Richard Butler after the second show. He was funny, he listened, he didn’t hold back and for the autograph he gave me he wrote “love” twenty times in a row because I had said he uses the word a lot. Fun.
I own all their records but I listened to the Greatest Hits CD to see how it works as a package. Right off the bat it earns brownie points by opening with “Sister Europe” from their classic first LP, the album a very logical progression from The Velvet Underground to the post yet still very much punk era. People who bought the disk thinking the Furs wrote “Don’t You (Forget About Me)” would expect it to open with “Pretty In Pink”. BTW, the John Hughes movie was titled after the song, not the other way around.
It’s almost mandatory to own the debut and Talk Talk Talk. Forever Now and Mirror Moves lead into a more commercial sound but are both more than fine albums. Midnight To Midnight, Book Of Days and World Outside yielded a few good songs each but that’s about all. By that point the Furs became like The Kinks and Iggy Pop – surrounding a few good tracks with the musical equivalent of packing peanuts.
The tracks are “Sister Europe”, “Mr. Jones”(single version), “Dumb Waiters”, “Pretty In Pink”, “Love My Way”, “President Gas”, “Here Come Cowboys”, “Heaven”, “Heartbeat”, “The Ghost In You”, “Heartbreak Beat”, “Angels Don’t Cry”, “All That Money Wants”, “Sometimes”, “Until She Comes”, “There’s A World Outside” and Only You And I” (live). The single version of "Mr. Jones" is not as good as what's on the LP.
By the time of “Heartbreak Beat” the Furs were running on fumes, repeating the same mid-tempo beat in any new way Butler could dream up. The cd ends with a live version of “Only You And I”, from the third album. It’s there almost to rebut the last few songs, reminding one and all that the Psychedelic Furs were, at one time, the poop.