Sunday, May 9, 2010

FURNITURE/The Wrong People (Expanded Edition): CD Review





Remember when Jarvis Cocker and Pulp were THE band to love in the '90s?  Oasis and Blur were battling for the top slot in the UK charts yet Pulp were far cooler and much more interesting. The critics loved them and the public adored them.  They were controversial and lovable. For a few years there, Pulp were unstoppable. Until they stopped, of course...

Though Pulp seemed hip and happening in the '90s, a little known band called Furniture did it better.  Thing was, Furniture did it first, too. The band achieved critical acclaim a decade earlier but minor chart success and bad timing made sure that they would be nothing more than a cult band.  When Pulp appeared on the scene years later, their similarity to Furniture was uncanny.  Jarvis and Co. can't be blamed for stealing Furniture's sound, but that doesn't mean most of us shouldn't be a little suspicious!!

So, Furniture's debut album, The Wrong People, was released on Stiff Records in 1986. Unfortunately, things went belly-up for the label shortly afterwards and the album didn't get the exposure that it deserved.  But, over the years, the album's reputation has grown. The band's hit, "Brilliant Mind", has remained a favorite on YouTube and has helped to raise interest in the band some 25 years after this album's release.

So, what were Furniture all about? That is not an easy question to answer.  There's Pop, Jazz, Soul, Rock and other genres plus Morricone-inspired atmosphere and '60s guitar twang, often times mixed together to create a unique sound that can only be called 'Furniture-esque'.  Fronted by Jim Irvin, the band were lumped into the Pop genre, yet belonged to no category.  They were a musical entity that stood out amongst the usual bric-a-brac that scaled the charts way back when.  In fact, their music is still fresh and exciting today: timeless and inspiring.

Their most melodic moments were Pop manna from heaven ("Brilliant Mind", "Love Your Shoes", "Make Believe I'm Him") while their excursions into Jazz and free-form might turn off the average New Wave folks. It was this juxtaposition that ultimately confused the average record buyer. The band's performances and songs were nothing short of wonderful, but if you were expecting an album of "Brilliant Minds", then you were shit out of luck!  Furniture were smarter and better than that.

Some would think that an artist create's an album to shift units, but in Furniture's case, they created an album that says something... that means something.  The Wrong People is an album that may not reach up and slap you in the face on the first listen, but it grabs ahold of  your senses over a few listens and really sinks in.  Then, it becomes part of your life. 

This most excellent Cherry Red reissue adds 9 bonus tracks including b-sides, remixes, previously unreleased demos and more. This is not only worth the price of admission, you might as well buy two and give one out as a gift!

Maybe when Pulp came along a decade later, they avoided Furniture's more introspective and experimental moments, keeping their focus on the commercial Pop side. That's all well and good for them, but I must say that Pulp they never came out with a song as wonderful as "Brilliant Mind".  So there!





You're welcome,
Stephen SPAZ Schnee

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