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Pioneer presents
Psychedelic Furs—Live from the House of Blues (2001)

"I follow where my mind goes..."
- The Psychedelic Furs (from Love My Way)

Review By: Rich Rosell  
Published: October 18, 2001

Stars: Richard Butler, John Ashton, Tim Butler
Other Stars: Richard Fortus, Earl Harven
Director: Kerry Asmussen

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 01h:19m:59s
Release Date: October 16, 2001
UPC: 013023161399
Genre: music


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ A-B+A- B+

DVD Review

Like a crusty old timer regaling wide-eyed youth gathered slack-jawed about my feet, I can recall living through the wonders of the late 1970s punk era with unabandoned glee. Through my misspent late teen years, and well into my twenties, I was exposed to more and more vital, exciting new music. Bands like The Clash, The Damned, The Stranglers, The Buzzcocks and The Ramones ruled my turntable, and they set the bar very high for all those to follow. As I look back on that time, few albums were more exciting to hear that first time than the 1980 American debut by England's The Psychedelic Furs.

Dropping the tone arm onto Side 1/Cut 1's India released a thundering, swirling 06m:21s epic that still gives me goose bumps today. Led by the distinctive and scratch growl vocals of Richard Butler, The Psychedelic Furs quickly established themselves, to me at least, as a pivotal group in that all important British invasion. With a career that only spanned seven albums (not counting the numerous "best of" re-releases), The Furs never quite achieved the huge, huge following stateside that they deserved. Pretty In Pink, from the 1981 album Talk Talk Talk, would serve as the inspiration for the 1986 Molly Ringwald movie of the same name and ultimately become The Furs signature song to an entirely new world of fans. Sadly, as far too many bands eventually do, The Furs disbanded in the early 1990s, and Richard Butler delved into solo projects (Love Spit Love), and it seemed that those glory days were long gone.

Luckily for fans, Pioneer has released an excellent concert performance by newly reformed Furs, recorded live at the Sunset Strip House Of Blues in 2001. The core of the original band returns: Richard Butler (vocals), John Ashton (guitars), and Tim Butler (bass), here supplemented by newcomers Richard Fortus (guitars) and Earl Harven (drums). With no idle chatter between songs, the black-clad band rips through a nice cross-section of their musical career, via 15 songs.

Sure, the guys have gotten older, but they still deliver the goods like a group half their age (I caught them on tour last year, and I can say hallelujah to that). Richard Butler, while never being a truly polished vocalist, does posess one of rock music's most unique and distinct voices, and time has done little to diminish that. Heaven manages to put a little strain on him during the chorus, but he still manages to work it to his advantage. His vocals on Wrong Train, in comparison, are perfect. John Ashton's guitar riffs, as he fingers his way through these powerfully familiar tracks, sound as if they were lifted from the original discs at times. Witness Ashton's feedback laden finale of Dumb Waiters if you require evidence.

Yes, the band submits a very tight performance. However, the only challenge here is to present a 90-minute concert by The Furs so that it appears visually engaging. This is not a band known for their compelling theatrics, so Pioneer is forced to rely on the same half a dozen predictable camera angles, choosing to focus primarily on the somewhat animated Richard Butler. Ashton and Tim Butler pose stoically, having long ago mastered that bored rock star look. This is the perfect disc to pop in when you don't necessarily want to watch a DVD, but rather just listen.

Track List:
India
Mr. Jones
Heaven
No Easy Street
Ghost In You
Alive
Love My Way
Wrong Train
Heartbreak Beat
Sister Europe
Anodyne (Better Days)
Only You & I (Angels)
Into You Like A Train
Pretty In Pink
Dumb Waiters


Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Presented in 1.85:1 widescreen, Pioneer's image transfer of The Furs live show has a tendency to come across a bit dark at times, though the black levels remain especially solid. The Furs don't overdo their show with excessive lighting effects, so that is one of the primary causes of an image transfer that plays a little on the black side. Flesh tones, aside from being of the typical pale musician variety, come across beautifully, even with the minimal lighting. This is a very straight forward concert film, with really no visual flaws or blemishes to speak of. Some of the interview segments are rather dark, but I chalk that up to extreme mood lighting.

Image Transfer Grade: B+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes
DTSEnglishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Pioneer has given this disc a superb pair of audio tracks, in Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS. Both tracks pack a nice low-end punch, with Tim Butler's bass runs sounding particularly resonant. A solid sound board mix of the overall performance thrusts Richard Butler's throaty growl just above the music, and you can easily pick out every lyric clearly. For a live concert, this is a most impressive sounding disc. As a long time fan of The Furs, I really have to compliment Pioneer on this release.

Audio Transfer Grade: A-

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Music/Song Access with 15 cues and remote access
1 Featurette(s)
Packaging: Amaray
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: For a concert disc, Pioneer has included a pleasing round of bonus material:

Song Commentary
Great idea, poor execution. The idea to have Richard Butler comment on a few songs: great. The idea to only play half the song: horrible. I find it hard to believe that Butler couldn't come up with four minutes of memories/stories/anything during "Love My Way", "Pretty In Pink", "Wrong Train" and "Sister Europe". His comments are insightful, but far too brief.

Artist Profile: The Psychedelic Furs: Beautiful Chaos (14m:02s)
A quickie documentary, featuring interviews with Richard Butler, Tim Butler and John Ashton. This piece chronicles their influences, from punk to Warhol and back again. While this segment tends to be a bit dimly lit, the content is actually pretty informative.

Foundation Room: Acoustic Performances
Amidst a sea of candles, The Furs admirably tackle acoustic versions of "Love My Way", "Wrong Train", and "Cigarette". I'm a sucker for acoustic takes, and three songs only made me want more. Needless to say, fantastic.

Trivia
A handful of fairly challenging multiple choice trivia questions round out the supplements.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

The Psychedelic Furs are one of the more pivotal bands to emerge from England in the late 1970s. This concert disc by Pioneer can serve as either an introduction to the band and their music, or as a well-balanced remembrance for those of us that recall "the old days."

Recommended.

 


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