Record Review: Freur – Look In the Back For Answers

CBS Records | UK | 12" | 1985 | TX 4983

CBS Records | UK | 12″ | 1985 | TX 4983

Freur: Look In The Back For Answers UK 12″ [1985]

  1. Look In The Back For Answers [ext. mix]
  2. Hey Ho, Away We Go
  3. Uncle Jeof

I remember seeing the previous single by Freur once in Record City back in 1985 when it was released. Another shopper beat me to the punch on it. I never saw this single! I had loved the first Freur album and was intrigued by their new material appearing in early 1985, but it remained until I got the itch bad [nearly 20 years later], and bought every 12″ I didn’t have by the band in the early part of this century until I finally heard what they got up to following the “Doot-Doot” album.

Earlier Freur seemed to me as if the members looked at the famous statement that Kiss made [“If one Alice Cooper was a sensation, imagine a whole band of Alice Coopers!”] and seemingly applied it using Brian Eno as the template. Freur – phase one, were a whole band of Brian Enos. The peacock Eno, ca. 1972! Their music was drawn from Eno’s glam solo period, but cut with state-of-the-art electronics of a decade later. This was the kind of music my friend Tom and I referred to as “techno” back in 1983.

“Look In Back For Answers” represented a radical shift from the first phase of the band to the second. The synths were still there, but less radical in their usage as the basis of the A-side was English Folk Music [indeed, as it had been with the earlier single of 1985, “The Devil In Darkness”] given an injection of electronic dub. Fairly provocative on the face of it, but still a more centrist proposition than had been earlier work from the “Doot-Doot” period.

inxs - devilinsideUKCDAThe introduction to the 12″ mix on this single is amazing as it was clearly the inspiration for the intro to INXS’ “Devil Inside” which got sent out into the world two year later. I dearly wish I had my collection here at work where I hack these posts out during my lunch hour. Then I could sample and post the intros to both for your astonished ears, but alas, there is neither the time nor money for that approach. Those among you so inclined can probably hear the songs somewhere on the web. Suffice to say that I consider that INXS might have avoided their seriously bad karma had they shunted 20% of the royalties of this single in Freur’s direction. As it was they lost their lead singer in the worst way possible and have been cursed ever since.

The B-side also pushes in an English Folk direction, going so far as to encompass sea shanty style for “Heigh Ho, Away We Go.” The lyrics absolutely consist of worksong adapted for the 20th century reality of dole queues and public assistance. It’s a humorously ironic confection. It’s hard to imagine how shocking this would have sounded in its historical context following an album period that was packed with electronically processed queerglam energy and enough PVC to press a crateful of albums. Having heard this for the first time 20 years after its release, the stylistic whiplash was somewhat moderated.

The bonus track on the B-side of the 12″ only was the enormously strange “Uncle Jeof.” It’s not a song. It is a 7+ minute recording that sounds like it was recorded on a dictaphone over the course of Freur’s 1984 European tour in the back of transit vans with Karl Hyde narrating their adventures as they happened in the guise of your host,  ‘Uncle Jeof.’ Snatches of live recordings punctuate the largely spoken collage.

This was the final Freur recording released in England. Their second album followed only in the Netherlands before the band hung it up for a few years before re-emerging as the more conventional dance-rock band Underworld. They released two albums and another handful of singles that failed to make much of a mark before re-thinking and finally emerging as techno giants Underworld Mk II, whom everyone but me has heard, I’m sure.

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

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2 Responses to Record Review: Freur – Look In the Back For Answers

  1. Echorich says:

    Always treated Freur as a bit of a novelty…didn’t really pay much attention. Underworld were just a bit boring and trying to latch on to what was considered popular british rock/pop/dance at the time of their first album.
    Around the time of the first Underworld album I met Rick Smith, who’s girlfriend was one of my friend’s hairstylist…I was in London, and she invited by friend and a guest to an Underworld gig. After the show, which honestly was boring,I spoke briefly with Smith and he intimated that the band was looking in a new direction and sound. When the first Underworld Mk2 album came out, dubnobasswithmyheadman, I didn’t even realize it was them. I was really taken with that album and became a big fan of their new direction. Eventually that sound too became a bit dated and “one-note,” but it was certainly a smart move stylistically and monetarily from what Underworld Mk 1 was about.
    I have to re-listen to the debut Freur album again. Your description of their sound has me curious again.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich. – Yeah, after the prime goods on “Door-Doot” I heard the “Underneath The Radar” single from Underworld and stopped paying attention. It wasn’t until the horror if the mid-90s when, desperate for music, that I bothered to pick up the Underworld MK I CDs.


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