Sunday, 13 March 2011

33: Furniture, “Brilliant Mind” (no.21, 1986)

Boy George’s favourite record of the 80s, and Simon Mayo’s favourite record of all time, apparently. (And any track that merits those two accolades is surely worth a listen.) As one-hit wonders go, Furniture enjoyed a career of surprising longevity. Formed in 1979 before splitting in 1991, they were another of the music industry’s countless martyred saints: just as “Brilliant Mind” charted, record label Stiff realised they didn’t have the money to press additional copies of the band’s breakthrough album “The Wrong People”; when Stiff collapsed, the band’s new label ZTT decided they just didn’t want to press any more copies.

The good news is that “The Wrong People” finally emerged on CD in April 2010, and “Brilliant Mind” remains as striking and atmospheric as it ever was: like the rueful, heavy-hearted soulmate to Alphaville’s “Big in Japan” (see no.65 in this list), it’s an expression of professional contempt for those lesser artists who knew exactly when to sell out (that title is larded with irony), and who have continued to hog the spotlight; at once consolatory and thrilling, it features the greatest, most heartfelt “shame on you” up until Julianne Moore went loopy in the drugstore in Magnolia.

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