Album: Forever Now
. . .
In the aftermath of Talk Talk Talk, The Psychedelic Furs nearly imploded.
First off, two founding members left (or were tossed out of) the band: guitarist Roger Morris, whose speaker-to-speaker duels with John Ashton drove the debut and enhanced the follow-up, and — more crucially — saxophonist Duncan Kilburn, who not only anchored songs like “We Love You” and “Dumb Waiters,” but also was a huge reason they were so unique in the first place. Which is why, 30 years later, John Ashton called it a “big mistake.”
Secondly, they were unable to get their regular producer, the awesome Steve Lillywhite — and after flirting with the record company choice David Bowie (!) — they decided to lean in to their changes and go with Todd Rundgren, who was actually surprised that he wasn’t going to be working with a six-piece, but who also had enough multi-instrumental chops and connections to help the Furs make some sense out of the chaos surrounding them.
The resulting album, 1982’s Forever Now, isn’t as epochal to me as the previous two, but it ain’t bad, and has a couple of songs I love as much as anything they ever did, and — in the U.S., at least — lead off with the stellar title track, which mixed Vince Ely’s solid beat, John Ashton’s fuzzy guitar with squealing keyboards no doubt provided by Rundgren.
It was closer than any of their previous music to what the kids used to call “new wave” save two very important things: Richard and Tim Butler. The former, while edging his voice ever closer towards tuneful respectability, retained enough of his scabrous voice to not alienate the old fans, and the later just kills it, whether he’s pumping up the chorus or even taking a solo in the middle.
Also helping a lot: a great, hooky chorus.
You and I are walking past, yeah
Having lost our way
We don’t count our money
We are giving it away
Yeah, giving it away
That chorus also featured the most WTF element on Forever Now, the backing vocals of Howard Kaylan & Mark Volman, aka Flo & Eddie, who made their names fronting The Turtles, their nut singing vocals for the likes of Frank Zappa and T. Rex, and eventually, their infamy by suing De La Soul.
In any event, the high-pitched vocals of Flo & Eddie shouldn’t have worked at all with Butler’s deep-throated rasp, but Rundgren did a genius thing by mixing them incredibly low and — in this case, at least — not singing any words, almost like they were another instrument instead of true backing vocals. The resulting counterpoint added just enough frisson to “Forever Now” for it to stick deep inside of my head.
In the end, Butler asks over and over “let it stay forever now,” and while you might have been in agreement with the sentiment, you also kinda knew that wasn’t really going to happen, either.
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