Life at 33 1/3: Bowie reincarnated

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Psychedelic Furs, Forever Now (CBS)

*From the vaults of Carl Meyer, and original album review written in October 1982.*

The sound of Psychedelic Furs, led by  Richard Butler’s rickety, world-weary voice, is David Bowie reincarnated.  An updated Aladdin Sane surfacing from a thick, electric stew.  Irresistible.  I have to admit that.



The xylophone intro and Butler’s cracked voice turns “Love My Way” into an “Ashes To Ashes” overlap, but Psychedelic Furs are so skilful they get away with it, and it’s impossible not to get hooked, that’s how brilliant they are, the copycats.

Electrifying ambiance, cunning arrangements,  a pumping rhythm section that is both fat and focused, clever song structures that accelerate you into the choruses, and there’s a battalion of guitars snapping at you, cursing and humming and blasting off into the high heavens like epic fireworks, overwhelming. And then there’s Bowie’s vocal doppelganger, Richard Butler.


Their third album, “Forever Now”, is all this and more.  It shakes you up, its sucks you in, it gives you the shivers, it puts you in a trance-like celebration mood.  And even if the Furs have vanishingly little of interest on their minds and despite Butler’s obvious, brazen thefts (his phrasing sometimes is even more Bowie than the master himself), you don’t feel disappointed.  OK, Bowie writes much better songs and lyrics, so what?  When a record sounds as great as this, it deserves your attention.

Released: September 25, 1982

Produced by: Todd Rundgren

Contents: President Gas/Love My Way/Run and Run/Merry-Go-Round/Sleep Comes Down/Forever Now/Danger/You and I/Goodbye/No Easy Street

Personnel:

Richard Butler – vocals

John Ashton – guitars

Tim Butler – bass guitar

Vince Ely – drums

Additional personnel:

Gary Windo – horns

Donn Adams – horns

Ann Sheldon – cello

Flo & Eddie (Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan) – backing vocals

Todd Rundgren – keyboards, saxophone, marimba