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The Psychedelic Furs shake up Spanish Television , February 19th 1984

By 1984, The Psychedelic Furs had moved decisively beyond their experimental post-punk origins and were enjoying wide-spread adulation based on the appeal of their fourth album “Mirror Moves”, a carefully polished collection of big shiny tunes like “The Ghost In You” and “Heaven” that set many a teenage heart a flutter. This bid for commercial acceptance would reach its apotheosis with the re-recording of “Pretty in Pink” for the John Hughes brat pack film of the same name two years later, but after that it was pretty much downhill for Furs – their moment in the spotlight had come and gone.

But here they are in their glorious heyday, appearing on Spanish television in February 84 to perform a sixteen song set that has only recently emerged from the vaults of the Iberian public broadcaster. If you were to stumble upon this clip without knowing its provenance, it would take but one glance at lead singer Richard Butler – he of the high cheekbones, affected gestures and billowy black trousers – to ascertain the decade in question: Butler’s teased hairdo and preening, prancing manner fairly scream EIGHTIES!

But set aside the fashion crimes and take in this splendid version of “India”, the seductive six-minute long opus that opens side one of the group’s 1980 eponymous debut album. The song begins in a spooky, smoke-filled swirl, punctuated with echo chamber effects and a droning guitar line which in turn introduces the thunderous drum and bass attack that sets the tempo for the rest of the number. Duncan Kilburn’s saxophone intertwines marvelously with Butler’s raspy lead vocal, and while the lyrics don’t make a hell of a lot of literal sense, they are powerfully impressionistic, suggesting a romantic power struggle between two lovers or perhaps two entire cultures. Listening to this track, it’s not hard to detect the influence of Joy Division knob twiddler Martin Hannett, who engineered many of the band’s early efforts.

Butler has always endured a certain amount of flack for aping the style of other British pop stars, namely Low-era David Bowie, Krautrock-obsessed Brian Ferry, and perhaps most tellingly, Johnny Lydon and PiL. But it’s fair to say that he and his band mates managed to carve something unique out of this mesh of musical references, even if they played it safe in later years. Given the paucity of live performance video from the Psychedelic Furs, this concert document stands as an important audiovisual testament to a band at the top of their game.

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La Edad de Oro - Spain, 1984

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