Tuesday, March 12, 2013

#432: The Psychedelic Furs-Pretty In Pink (Top 500 Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)

(Top Modern Rock Songs Of All Time)
Song: "Pretty In Pink"
Artist: The Psychedelic Furs
Release Date: June,1981
From the Album: Talk Talk Talk (1981)

Quick Take: Songs like the original Talk Talk Talk (1981) version of "Pretty in Pink" go a little way in explaining the Psychedelic Furs' otherwise misleading band name. Often thought of as springing up from influences rooted in punk rock and the art rock of Roxy Music, Brian Eno, and David Bowie, the Furs' scope actually reaches even further back to mid/late-'60s folk rock and, yes, psychedelic pop. Not that one hears Moby Grape or Jefferson Airplane directly in the Furs' music, but the band's infectious melodies and pop sense has a lot to do with mid-period Byrds, Beatles, and songs like "Paper Sun" by early Traffic. Certainly the Furs' aggressive, post-punk, Eno-informed guitar-and-synth wall of sound could be heard as an updated version of 1960s psychedelia. Richard Butler's lyrics could also get a bit trippy and obliquely surreal at times, with Caroline from "Pretty in Pink" sounding a bit like a mistreated shabby-doll version of Lucy in "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds": "Caroline laughs and it's raining all day/She loves to be one of the girls/She lives in the place in the side of our lives/Where nothing is ever put straight/She turns her self round and she smiles and she says/'This is it, that's the end of the joke'/And loses herself in her dreaming and sleep/And her lovers walk through in their coats/Pretty in pink, isn't she." The song is perhaps best known for inspiring and lending itself as the title to the John Hughes teen film. For the 1986 soundtrack, the Psychedelic Furs re-recorded the track in a ho-hum, streamlined, radio-ready version. But the definitive take remains the original Steve Lillywhite-produced recording. If Eno had produced the Byrds with a Heroes-era Bowie singing lead vocals, it mind have ended up sounding something like "Pretty in Pink." The arrangement begins with a familiar rock & roll riff that sounds a bit like "Sweet Jane," an introduction that returns as a re-intro between choruses. The verses are indelibly catchy, yet Butler only uses about three notes for the entire melody. And the chorus is a hook unto itself, but it is an oddly dark, droning, minor-chord one. Aside from the meaty John Ashton riffs, Rickenbacker guitars jangle away on the verses like Peter Buck doing his best impersonation of Roger McGuinn. Lillywhite finds the ideal sound for the band, with a perfect blend of classic pop, punk, and art rock elements. Eventually the punk-bred Furs took the synth sound way over the top to drown their pop/rock in an edgeless swamp that all but eschewed guitars. But here, the keyboards compliment the guitars for a fresh and driving sound. 

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