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The Psychedelic Furs: Should God Forget...a retrospective (Colombia/Legacy)

Weighing in at a hefty thirty-three tracks spread over two CDs, this is probably the definitive Furs compilation on the market. It certainly has the edge over 88's 'All of This and Nothing' by virtue of including tracks from the band's final two albums and excluding the near-unlistenable 'Dumb Waiters'. The Furs carved out a critical name for themselves with an excellent series of uncompromising, innovative albums in the early 80s. The opener 'India' is a choice example of the early Furs style: John Ashton's griding guitar noise acts as an abrasive backdrop to Richard Butler's monotonic gravel-throated croak. The early tracks were low on melody without being lifeless, thanks in part to Butler's witheringly scarcastic, jaundiced lyrics. Butler has an ear for a striking image, with rain and cigarettes, fading and forgetting, creating a series of settings with no (surface) explanation or moralising. This approach was used to fine effect on 'Pretty in Pink' which gave the band their first hit. Also worth a mention is a brace of rousing sharking anthems midway through CD 1, 'I Just Wanna Sleep With You' and current Sampson favourite, 'Into You Like a Train'.

Minor chart action beckoned, and the Furs' harshness was smoothed out on 83's Mirror Moves, which spawned the hits 'Heaven' and the excellent 'Ghost In You'. Major chart action then beckoned. On the sleeve notes Ashton accurately describes the subsequent Midnight to Midnight as "Big Budget, Big Hair, Big Production". "Sell Out!" screamed the fans, with some justification, and the bland Heartbreak Beat actually charted in the States. Judicious use of the CD programmer is recommended around half way through the second disc.

Switch back on for 88's excellent 'All That Money Wants' single, which signalled a return to the band's early sound, though by this time the Furs were undergoing a crisis of confidence. Rarely has a band fragmented so beautifully; 'Torch' and 'Get A Room' from the 'Book of Days' long player are both exquisitely melencholy. Sales fell through the floor, and following a further album, World Outside - high on inspiration, but again low on sales - the band split. As a valedictory statement 'There's a World' hinted that Butler was looking for a way out: "Why wait?/There's a world outside/Why wait?/For the reason why." These days, Butler is again spitting out his gorgeously twisted world-view with Love Spit Love, but it's with the Furs that he makes his claim to counter-culture fame. Neatly spanning a decade, the Psychadelic Furs sounded like little else from the Eighties, or any other time. But I have one complaint: Butler, you didn't leave me anything that I could understand.

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