Psychedelic Furs - Midnight To Midnight
One thing you could always be sure of was the fact that the band's line-up would change with every album. And "Midnight to Midnight" proved to be no exception. By now, the Psychedelic Furs had gone from a six-piece to a three-piece band. The only ones remaining now were the Butler brothers and guitarist John Ashton. Everyone else had been replaced by session musicians. Now while pop outfits - for that was what the Psychedelic Furs had virtually become by now - had always relied on session musicians to plug gaps in line-up or ability, there seemed to be little excuse for the mistake that was the album cover. Three guys in black leather with Richard Butler preening in the middle was not a good idea, guys. But then, I am not going to judge a book by its cover but by its contents, and the same goes for this album.
Many would argue that the quality of the Psychedelic Furs' music had decreased as the size of the band had shrunk. In general, I would agree with that, though unlike many people, I happen to think that this album bucks the trend. This album comes in for a right hammering from a lot of people who regard it as the worst thing the Psychedelic Furs have done. To my mind, that accusation is a massive injustice. Okay, I will agree, it is nowhere near their best but it was not their worst either.
For a start, Midnight to Midnight was more post punk than pop. It was almost as if the band was trying to re-assert their roots with this album. The production was heavier and stronger in the same measure that Mirror Moves was lighter and weaker. This was a much better offering than its immediate predecessor - rockier and with more punch to it. This made a welcome change from its immediate predecessor which had been rather limp to say the least.
Of the tracks on the album, three stand out, though a fourth gets an honourable mention. "Hearbreak Beat" may not have had the most original title for a Psychedelic Furs song (there was a "Heartbeat" on Mirror Moves) but it has a lot more get-up-and-go than anything on that album and gets Midnight to Midnight off on a reasonable footing. "Torture" is one of my favourite Furs tracks if only because its striking off-beat is deliberately anti-dance in its effort to throw you off. And it works. Finally, "All of the Law" is a return to the driving rock songs which defined the band's sound on Talk Talk Talk. The real difference is the production - this is just too smooth and slick. All the rough edges, together with the distinctiveness in sound, have just been smoothed out by over-zealous pop production.
And that leaves the honourable mention. "Pretty in Pink" had undoubtedly been the band's defining moment, forever cementing their place among the greats in my eyes. When the film Pretty in Pink was released, it came as no surprise what the main soundtrack was. However, much as I adore the film - I consider it one of my all time great films - the reworked version for the film was different - very different. It was quicker in pace, had more pronounced saxophone and less pronounced guitars, and some of the latent menace of the original had gone. It sounded like a cover but it was not. It definitely was the Psychedelic Furs and while it is not a bad track, and hearing it always reminds me of the wonderful film, placing it on Midnight to Midnight just serves to remind you how far the band had fallen from those heady days of 1981. Sadly, this album could not disguise that the Furs were on the way down. This album may have staved off the collapse a year or so, but they had got into the American MTV production rut and once there, they were not going to get out.
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