So, what did you expect me to do? I could have stayed home yesterday to write a blog entry, or I could spend the afternoon watching The Avengers: Endgame with my younger son Seth. Well, family is so important to me, that I chose the latter. The movie was AWESOME, but I’m a huge sucker for superhero movies. Now, is the movie another Dark Knight? Heavens, no! But, I found it a very satisfying way to end this era of the Marvel Universe. Plus, the whole weekend was a nerd’s dream! What with Game of Thrones and The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, this was a pretty good weekend for the old visual arts. Hey! Did anyone else who watch the RRHOF Induction Ceremony think that The Cure stole the show? I thought they came out and took no prisoners, winning over a crowd who was there to see Stevie Nicks (not bad) and Def Leppard (Sorry! But Joe Elliott is a studio concoction), while Roxy Music and The Cure had the best performances.
Now, that we’ve gotten that stuff out of the way, let’s get to the audio arts. By now, my readers know that I came of age during the 1975-1984 decade of AOR, punk, new wave, funk, post-punk, MTV and great pop music. And, I will go down with a fight saying that from the years 1981 through 1984 might have been the greatest years of popular music when the best music was the most popular. During that time period, even the underground music was a rich area to mine. Now, in the Spring of 1984, I was finishing my junior year in college. I was at the height of my “coolness,” if there was ever an era when I could have been considered cool. My musical tastes were in tune with a generation, and, generally speaking, I was at my most irresponsible moment in life. I played on an intramural basketball team that unexpectedly won the campus championship when I had the game of my life against the defending champions. Then, I rode in Ball State’s version of Indiana University’s famous Little 500 team bicycling race called Bike-A-Thon (we’re not very original at old Fruit Jar Tech). Plus, I was still a couple of months away from meeting the love of my life, my future wife Jill.
During that Spring, it seemed as though that every building or store that I would go into, I would always hear two songs, Talk Talk’s original, and definitive, version of “It’s My Life” and The Psychedelic Furs’ outstanding “The Ghost in You.” In both cases, I was smitten with the lush sounds each band had recorded. So, after a payday, I went down to The Village, to cash my check, took my usual $40 to live on for the next two weeks and bought both albums. At the time, the cognoscenti loved the lushness of Roxy Music’s 1982 album Avalon, so it came as no surprise that you would begin to hear that album’s influence by 1984. What caught me off guard in both cases was that both of these bands confidently incorporating these textures in their music.
Today, let’s focus on The Psychedelic Furs. Back in 1980, the band debuted as a punk-influenced pop band, straddling the worlds of punk and pop, in a brand new world known as post-punk. They were edgy and energetic and totally different than anything getting played on rock radio here in the States. For me, I loved their post-David Bowie’s Berlin period sound they were occupying. However, in 1982, they hooked up with my man Todd Rundgren to forge a new musical soundscape on their brilliant Forever Now LP, which is known for the single “Love My Way,” which has pop’s greatest use of a xylophone ever.
As, The Furs moved into Roxy Music land a bit on that 1982 album, their follow-up, Mirror Moves (1984), finally merged the whole colliding worlds of influence of Bowie and Roxy into a confident and mature musical statement all their own. Sure, the melancholy sound of “The Ghost in You” caught my ear, and found its way on numerous mixtapes of the day, but it was songs like “Here Come the Cowboys,” “Life Is a Stranger,” “Alice’s House” and “It’s Only a Game” that made this album stand out to me. Mirror Moves is definitely The Furs’ high point, as well as their most musically satisfying album that keeps me coming back to it all these decades later.
Unfortunately, few of my friends have ever heard this album, yet those who have given it a spin have all purchased it. Now, whether they still own it all these years later, I know not. All that matters to me is it still sounds fresh today. And, like all great music from your youth, it still takes me back to that moment in time, bringing back all the sounds and smells of the day. Funny how music does that, when the more popular art of this era, television and the web, cannot evoke such vivid memories. Instead, those evoke taglines that reduces speech to an Orwellian series of someone else’s thoughts instead of inspiring us to develop our own critical thinking, as music has always done for me. Thankfully, The Psychedelic Furs have enriched my memories.