The PSYCHEDELIC FURS - 80s Songs and Albums

By Mark Nobes and Hannah Johnson

Founded in London in February 1977, The Psychedelic Furs are a post-punk rock band that have dabbled in a wide array of musical styles, including art rock, new wave and hard rock. Their best known hit is "Pretty in Pink", which I'll come to in a moment.

The initial line-up featured Richard Butler on vocals, Tim Butler (his brother) on bass guitar, Paul Wilson on drums, guitarist Roger Morris and saxophonist Duncan Kilburn.

In 1979, a new guitarist, John Ashton, was added to the line-up and drummer Paul Wilson was replaced by Vince Ely.

Butler has a Marmite vocal style, for sure, and his distinctive gravelly tone isn't to everyone's taste, but he also has expressive phrasing and certainly adds to the uniqueness of the band.

The Furs are very much an album band, with four of their studio albums all breaking into the UK top 20. The majority of their singles, however, failed to break into the top 40.

In 1982, Morris and Kilburn left the band (leaving them as a quartet) as they re-located to the United States on the hunt for a new producer. After the band had finished recording their Forever Now album in 1982, Ely also left the band. However, he returned to play on their single "All That Money Wants" and the 1989 album Book Of Days.

The Psycehdelic Furs decided to take a break in 1992, with Richard Butler forming alternative rock band Love Split Love. However, it wasn't until 2000 when the band reformed.
After 29 years without releasing any new material, the band finally released a new album in 2020. Made of Rain was well-received by the critics and reached No.13 in the UK albums chart. They also released four new singles, although they failed to chart.
The Psychedelic Furs debut LP

Debut Album (1980 )

Released in February 1980, The Psyhedelic Furs self-titled debut album reached #18 in the UK and #140 in the U.S. The UK LP included nine tracks, whereas the U.S. release featured ten tracks and a different running order.
The album's sound is best described as atmospheric, post-punk guitar rock, although it really bridged the gap between post punk and new wave. It received a mixed response from the critics, with Smash Hits magazine awarding 8/10. However, David Fricke writing for Rolling Stone magazine only gave two stars, stating "the Psychedelic Furs will continue to promise far more than they deliver".

"Pretty in Pink" (1981 and 1986)

The band's biggest chart hit and signature song is, "Pretty in Pink", which was released twice as a single during the 80s. 

Taken from their second studio album Talk Talk Talk, the original version failed to break the Top 40, reaching #43 in the UK singles chart during July 1981. 

A streamlined (re-recorded), radio-friendly version was released in 1986, which peaked at #18 in the UK and #41 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. It was the soundtrack and inspiration for the John Hughes film of the same name which starred Molly Ringwald.

Pretty in Pink 7 inch vinyl sleeve front (1986) - The Psychedelic Furs

The 1986 7" vinyl sleeve for "Pretty in Pink" (UK)

The 12" vinyl included the Berlin Mix and Dub versions of the song. Both the 7" and 12" included the US Remix of the their 1982 single "Love My Way", which had previously reached #42 in the UK singles chart.

Charting Singles (UK)

1981 "Dumb Waiters" #59

1981 "Pretty in Pink" #43

1982 "Love My Way" #42

1984 "Heaven" #29

1984 "The Ghost in You" #68

1984 "Heartbeat" #62

1986 "Pretty in Pink" #18

1987 "Heartbreak Beat" #79

1987 "Angels Don't Cry" #85

1988 "All That Money Wants" #75

1990 "House" #92

Studio Albums Discography

1980 The Psychedelic Furs  #18

1981 Talk Talk Talk  #30

1982 Forever Now  #20

1984 Mirror Moves  #15

1987 Midnight To Midnight  #12

1989 Book Of Days  #74

1991 World Outside  #68

2020 Made of Rain #13

Chart positions for the UK are shown

Talk Talk Talk LP Sleeve Front - The Psychedelic Furs

Talk Talk Talk (1981 ALbum)

Despite receiving many more positive reviews from the critics, the band's second studio album didn't chart as high as their debut, peaking at #30 in the UK. However, it did perform better in the U.S., reaching #89 and also became a hit in New Zealand, reaching #8, and the band developed a healthy fanbase here. Released in 1981, the album featured ten tracks for both the UK and US releases, although with a different running order.
Writing for Rolling Stone magazine, in his review published on August 20th 1981, Ken Tucker awarded four stars, stating "The pleasure of Talk Talk Talk is that we can hear the Psychedelic Furs acting out their adolescence".
Overall, the album sounds brighter and slightly more pop-orientated than their debut.
Forever Now LP front sleeve (pink and green) - The Psychedelic Furs

Forever Now (1982 ALbum)

Released in 1982, the third album became the band's most commercially successful so far, recieving a gold sales certificate from the RIAA in the U.S. and reaching #61 - it spent 32 weeks in the Billboard chart. The album reached #20 in the UK, #4 in New Zealand, #35 in Sweden, #49 in Australia and #83 in Canada.
Reviews at the time of release were rather mixed, but more recent reviews have been more positive. 
On November 11th 1982, Rolling Stone's Ken Tucker awarded three stars, stating "although most of Forever Now is alluring and amusing, only once does the band come up with something really new."
In January 2019, Q magazine awarded the album four stars.

"HEAVEN" (1984 Single)

Heaven was released as the lead single from The Psychedelic Furs fourth studio album, Mirror Moves, and was written by band members Tim and Richard Butler, reaching #29 in the UK. This was the only other single by the band to break into the Top 30.
On the 7" single, an edited version for radio featured on A-side (3:27), with a remix of "Heartbeat" (5:10) on the B-side. The 12" vinyl featured the full version of Heaven on the A-side (4:25) and the New Your Remix of "Heartbeat" (8:09) on the B-side.
Mirror Moves vinyl LP sleeve front - The Psychedelic Furs

Mirror Moves (1984 ALbum)

Sales of the fourth album were very similar to "Forever Now", once again, achieving a gold certificate from the RIAA, and also receiving a gold certificate from Music Canada. Once again, it charted high in New Zealand, reaching No.5 here, and also reached #15 in the UK, #16 in Canada and #26 in Sweden, and #29 in the U.S. However, it would only reach #97 in Australia.
With drummer Vince Ely leaving the band, they were now a trio for this album. 
On June 7th 1984, writing for Rolling Stone, Christopher Connelly remarked "Big drums, big sounds – yeah, but where's the groove?" and awarded just two stars.
In his review of Mirror Moves for, Ned Raggett awarded four stars, and the sites users have given an average rating of 4.5 stars (from over 300 ratings so far). 
Midnight To Midnight Vinyl LP Sleeve Front - Psychedelic Furs

Midnight To Midnight (1987)

The Furs' fifth album is generally not regarded as one of their finest, but actually performed well in the charts, reaching #12 in the UK and receiving a silver certificate from the BPI. The album also reached #16 in Canada (achieving Gold from Music Canada), #18 in Sweden, #20 in New Zealand, #29 in the U.S., and #38 in Australia.

"HEARTBREAK BEAT" (1987 Single)

The lead single from Midnight To Midnight was the band's only song to chart inside the Top 40 in the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #26, although the single only reached #79 here in the UK - such a great song deserved better!

The B-side featured a track entitled "New Dream" and was included on the 7" and 12" vinyl releases.

Book of Days (1989)

Drummer Vince Ely rejoined the band for the recording of the overlooked sixth studio album, which is a departure from their new wave era. It was a commercial flop and became the band's worst performing release in the charts, stalling at #74 in the UK, #114 in Australia and #138 on the Billboard chart in the U.S. It did not chart in any other country.
Generally, the reviews were somewhere between average or unfavourable, although AllMusic readers have been more positive, and have given an average rating of 4 stars out of 109 ratings so far.

The 1986 12" vinyl sleeve front for "Pretty in Pink"