9/4/15 – The Psychedelic Furs – Sister Europe – 1980

Psychedelic Furs 1980They have been described as “beautiful chaos” I’m not sure by whom? Sister Europe was the second single (after We Love You, released in 1979) from their first self-titled album. The original line up consisted of Richard Butler on vocals, John Ashton on guitar, Tim Butler on bass, Vince Ely on drums, Roger Morris on guitar and Duncan Kilburn on saxophone. Together they were were a wonderful, grinding, sinister machine with ambiguous lyrics that led you into mysterious rooms inhabited by enigmatic characters – like Caroline? This six piece version of the band captured a special mood that changed after their second album, Talk Talk Talk when they reverted to a four piece, shedding Roger Morris and Duncan Kilburn. Not to say that they made bad records afterwards, but the mood was most definitely effected by the loss – they stopped sounding European.

I saw The Psychedelic Furs in 1979 at The Lyceum (I think) in London and was always a fan and this first album was never off my turntable. It had different tracks and a different cover in the US but Sister Europe was on both versions. It sounded like it was produced by Orson Welles, straight out of a black and white movie, straight off the set of The Third Man, into the studio, direct the sessions, extract a performance from the band and disappear back into the night down a wet, cobbled, European street with hurried footsteps tip-tapping into the darkness.

There is no real explanation for the magic of the early Psychedelic Furs albums, a result of their influences, their birth in the wake of punk, Richard Butler’s husky sneering and that chemistry that came from six individuals writing together like only they could.





Stupid on the Steinway
So sick upon a Steinway
The sailors drown

See them talk and see them drown
And see them drink and fall around
Up on the floor

Sister of mine, home again
Sister of mine, home again

Lonely in a crowded room
The radio plays out of tune
So silently

The radio upon the floor
Is stupid it plays Aznavour
So out of key

Sister of mine, home again
Sister of mine, home again

Broken on a ship of fools
Even dreams must fall to rules
So stupidly

Words are all just useless sound
Just like cards they fall around
And we will be

Sister of mine, home again
Sister of mine, home again

Buy a car and watch it rust
Sister see them fall to dust
They fall around

In another crowded room
Paint me like the shirt I’m in

Sister of mine, home again
Sister of mine, home again

Sister of mine, sister of mine
Sister of mine, sister of mine


The bizarre black and white video seems as if the audience was taken out of a local school as the real audience hadn’t shown up, perhaps it was one of Orson Welles’ eccentric jokes?