The Psychedelic Furs – Talk, Talk, Talk (1981): Review

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Produced by Steve Lillywhite
Label – Columbia

Richard Butler, front man of The Psychedelic Furs is apparently one of the hundreds who was inspired to form a band after witnessing The Sex Pistols play at The 100 Club. To him, the music may not have been the catalyst, but undoubtedly the aggressive energy would strike a chord in his ambitions to experiment with a modernistic art rock that took more hints from Roxy Music and David Bowie than any of the musical luminaries of the punk explosion. Butler’s dreary, monotone slur vocal delivery may have lacked the significant melodic panache to break the band commercially, but just occasionally they could crack out a song that had the necessary brooding melodrama and pop sensibility to propel them to an audience that was probably appreciated greater Stateside than their home nation. With the help of Steve Lillywhite at the helm, “Talk Talk Talk” is a mix of a couple of firecrackers and a lot of insignificant premeditated mulch.

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The record will be remembered for “Pretty In Pink”, which of course featured as the title for the John Hughes movie five years later. It’s panoramic in its layering, a wonderful mess of noise and comfortably the highlight of the collection. By contrast, “Dumb Waiters” is an example of why saxophones and new wave are strange bed fellows and should be mixed sparingly and most importantly rarely. The grotesque sound of the incessant off key sax “melody” becomes a major irritant that Lillywhite, Butler and even the instrumentalist (Duncan Milburn) should have noticed before committing it to tape.

The music press of the time greeted the album’s arrival with less than glowing admiration.
For example…
MELODY MAKER – “…a dull, disappointing album”
SOUNDS – “…this is a really terrible album. Psychedelic Furs give being bad a bad name”
RECORD MIRROR – “there is some fundamental re-thinking to be done, and the Furs will have to find a way of writing stronger stuff than this”
NME – “can easily think of ten reasons why I wouldn’t have it in my home”

It’s amazing how the success of one song can bring about the reviewers rose tinted spectacles, and for the most part it isn’t as bad as these initial reactions. That said, it’s mainly acceptable, has all the right ingredients, but lacks basic originality and individual style (other than that overbearing saxophone).

6/10

Track Rating
1 – Pretty In Pink (8)
2 – Mr Jones (6)
3 – No Tears (7)
4 – Dumb Waiters (4)
5 – She Is Mine (7)
6 – Into You Like A Train (6)
7 – It Goes On (6)
8 – So Run Down (6)
9 – I Wanna Sleep With You (6)
10 – All Of This And Nothing (8)

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7 responses to “The Psychedelic Furs – Talk, Talk, Talk (1981): Review

    • I may well investigate later albums. With your tip and other hints online, their later works are far superior to this.

      • I hate to say it but with these guys, you might be able to stick with their “best of” collection.

      • lol, thanks for the advice…I guess it’s “Pretty In Pink” and some other tunes not quite as good.

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