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Book of Days

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Album Review

Having gotten a much needed recharge with the excellent "All That Money Wants" single and further helped by the reappearance of Vince Ely on drums, the back-to-a-quartet Furs came up with an album that erased the misfire of Midnight to Midnight almost completely. Book of Days also benefited from a great producer — Dave Allen, whose work with the Cure is partially echoed at many points on this textured, strong collection of songs. Richard Butler's voice isn't remarkably different than before but he sounds better all the same, Allen letting his voice through the mix while John Ashton's rich and ringing guitars fill out the mix instead of keyboards. The Tim Butler/Ely rhythm section, if not always as frenetic as in early days, shows a partnership well reestablished, and the end result can often rival the early Furs at their best. Perhaps the slight difference — and the reason why it's not a perfect success — is that there aren't as many instantly grab-your-attention songs as there could be, something the band never really had a problem with before. Often the best moments aren't the individual songs but their differing approaches — the heavily distorted bass rumble of "Entertain Me," the stripped-down blend of acoustic guitar and cello of "Torch." If anything, Allen's work with both the Cure and the Chameleons gets useful and understandable echoes here, heard on finer songs like the slow, queasily unsettled title track — Ashton's guitar is some of his finest — and "I Don't Mine." There is one truly killer moment, however — "House," which far from being a nod to the U.K.'s acid house explosion is prime Furs through and through, with a wonderful Ashton introduction, one of Butler's least cryptic lyrics on the whole album, and a soaring, strong chorus.

Customer Reviews

The lost Furs album...and a lost 80s rock classic?

From the word Go, the Furs had crossed over into the mainstream. You can hear a trace of PiL in the Levene-like clanging-metal guitar tones, and Lydon-esque delivery on their debut album, but they were already re-packaging punk for the 80s. By 1989, the Furs were sick of what they'd become, and - in a deliberate rejection of 80s production - made a comparatively lo-fi, effects-free rock album. The lyrics are Hellishly bleak in places - the "party-girls" the Furs sang for on early albums have grown up, and are watching life slip by; nonetheless, tracks like "House" remain phenomenally powerful, and though there's a hip grittiness to the sound, there's no bombast in its sky-opening sound. Elsewhere, the Furs were prescient in their decision to bring in a particularly mournful cello and kick out the sax on all but one track, to darken up the sound (cellos wouldn't really be hip again until grunge). Commercial suicide the album may have been, at the time, but the result is probably the most listenable British rock album made between the end of The Smiths, and the arrival of Radiohead. An historic footnote: the Furs guitarist taught Eldritch (of the Sisters of Mercy) everything he knew about production, and it shows: if the Sisters (or Cure) had managed to rein in their own production excesses, this is the kind of classic they might have made.

Biography

Formed: 1977 in London, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

The Psychedelic Furs, whose name was inspired by the 1966 Velvet Underground song "Venus in Furs," were formed in England in 1977 by brothers Richard Butler (vocals) and Tim Butler (bass), along with saxophone player Duncan Kilburn and guitarist Roger Morris. By the time they released their self-titled debut album in 1980, the group had become a sextet, adding guitarist John Ashton and drummer Vince Ely. That album, featuring Butler's...
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