THE BLOG
07/15/2011 04:07 pm ET | Updated Sep 14, 2011

Comeback Surge of the Psychedelic Furs

Beautiful Chaos unfurls in the devastating wake of the Psychedelic Furs' stirring "Talk, Talk, Talk" tour.

Born in Britain, Richard and Tim Butler founded the Psychedelic Furs before, during and after the Punk revolution swept across the music industry with the force of a sonic tsunami.

Inspired by the energy of the new musical movements crashing against the backdrop of fervent artistic creativity churning out of Andy Warhol's Factory, where the founder of Pop Art incubated the mysterious and unforgettable Velvet Underground, the Furs produced a stunning series of albums that have stood the test of time to define the Anglo-American birth of the Modern Rock movement.

Upon their arrival in New York, Andy Warhol proclaimed the Psychedelic Furs, "The greatest band in the world." With a driving bass line and eloquent guitar riffs, Richard Butler's inimitable voice catapulted the band to stardom and captivated the momentous artistic transition from classical stadium rock to Punk to the New Wave and beyond to Modern Rock. Fulfilling Warhol's prophecy, the Furs would make a commanding impact on many rock musicians who came after them from Nirvana to the Arctic Monkeys.

In a steadily accelerating progression, the Furs released their stream of classical Modern Rock albums: The Psychedelic Furs; Talk, Talk, Talk and Forever Now - three albums that firmly established their creative credentials with audiences from Europe to America and even unto the Pacific fastnesses of New Zealand. Talk, Talk, Talk featured heavy artistic influences from Andy Warhol whose phantom has hovered over the Furs like a guardian archangel even inspiring Richard Butler's student days at the Epsom School of Art in England.

On their fourth album, Mirror Moves, the Furs boldly ventured into the political sphere and composed the most powerful attack on Ronald Reagan in the history of music: "President Gas" an anthem warning of the dangers of propaganda-fueled tyranny that is still a heavy favorite with the crowds attending their concerts today. Butler's lyrics for "President Gas" reveal a grim truth: "It's sick the price of medicine," a truism that became a mantra that led to Michael Moore's, Sicko in 2007.

Over the years, the personnel have changed behind the dynamic duo of Richard and Tim Butler.

On the keyboards, Amanda Kramer provides vibrant technical virtuosity with a scintillating spectrum of compelling electronic arpeggios.

On the drums, Paul Garisto lays down one of the most formal and striking beats in world music.

On saxophone, Mars Williams growls with an incandescent fury mesmerizing audiences everywhere.

Echoing the ghosts of guitar geniuses of the past, Rich Good is an amazing original talent launching riffs that soar upwards to create towering arches of phantasmagoric mystery.

Tim Butler plays base with the sorceric virtuosity of John Entwistle at the height of his powers.

Richard Butler's rasping voice cuts through the surface tension shielding the psyche, while his shamanic delivery of the lyrics pierces the psychic matrix and transforms the mind.

At the Cat's Cradle in Carrboro/Chapel Hill, North Carolina the packed house moshed, swayed and sang along to every word of the now classic album, Talk, Talk, Talk. The crowd transformed into a sea of electricity surging backward and forward to the incessant onslaught of the driving beat. The Furs sent wave after wave of sonic energy rolling through space and jolting the minds of the crowd.

"Pretty in Pink," the theme of the John Hughes brat pack movie excited the audience. The song reached number five in the U.S. charts and remains the band's top selling single.

When Richard Butler extended his arm in a fascist salute and launched into "President Gas," many in the audience were struck by the political immediacy of the lyrics. It seemed as though the shade of Ronald Reagan still inhabits and inhibits American society through some sort of evil and demented form of supernatural power.

Many in the audience were veterans of Furs concerts. Some camp followers have seen them perform over one hundred times.

Relaxing in their luxurious tour coach after the show, Richard and Tim expressed their concerns for America and the world.

"It seems like everything is spinning out of control from the weather to the economy to the way people expect everything to happen over night." Richard reflected.

Deeply concerned about the self-destructive attitudes of the middle class who robotically respond to the incessant Reaganite mantras of the right-wing media, Tim Butler emphatically insisted that, "There is nobody who can beat Obama, because he's delivered across the board and even killed Osama Bin Laden."

While Tim lives with his American family in Kentucky, Richard Butler lives in upstate New York where he paints portraits that are now transforming the fundamental ideas at the basis of representational iconography.

Richard Butler's voice has often been compared to David Bowie, one of his major inspirations and an old friend of the Furs. At the same time, Bowie is one of rock's most accomplished artists with a growing catalogue of triumphant paintings that easily eclipses the artistic efforts of other rock musicians who paint seriously: Ron Wood; Grace Slick; Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney and Iggy Pop.

I vividly recall Bowie's inaugural exhibition on Cork Street in London in the 1990s. David Bowie has inspired Richard Butler in more ways than one, but in many respects it might be said that the apprentice has finally surpassed his master. Infused with magical sigils and exquisite infinity enigmas, Richard Butler's haunting portraits of his daughter, Maggie, definitely place him near the pinnacle of post-modern painters demonstrating a technical mastery and an artistic originality that no other artist-musician has ever achieved.

The sell-out audiences on the Talk Talk Talk Tour prove that the Psychedelic Furs are just as relevant today as they were when Andy Warhol presided over their first concerts in New York. Warhol conferred major artistic recognition on the Psychedelic Furs, a formal transcendence that other bands can only dream about with wishful thinking. Warhol handed the Furs a hand-signed and gilt-edged proclamation of their ascension to the throne of Modern Rock, a great gift from the multifaceted master of modern art.

Empowered by the indecipherable but unmistakable aura of artistic and musical authenticity, the Psychedelic Furs are on a cosmic roll. After all the years of ascent, stasis, setbacks and resurgence, the intriguing excitement of the Psychedelic Furs is still totally intact.

The Furs' musical momentum is surging through America like a thunderbolt in a long hot summer. Unmissable.

Subscribe to the Entertainment email.
Home to your favorite fan theories and the best movie recs.