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FURS STILL FLYIN’ AS GROUP ENTERS SECOND DECADE

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Too old to rock 'n' roll?

Never! says Tim Butler, and he's got the world's best - and eldest - rock stars proving his point."I don't think there will be a cut off point," said Butler, bassist for the Psychedelic Furs, "as long as we have something to say. The Rolling Stones are 45 to 50, and they did probably their best album in 10 years. They still have something to say and people want to see them. There's no reason we can't do the same."

Butler found occasion to ruminate on the history of the Furs during a break in a five-week North American tour, which will bring them to the Salt Palace Exhibition Hall on Sunday. He has some cause to reflect on the longevity of pop musicians, for although the Furs are far from the geriatric status of such '60s relics as the Stones, the Who and the Grateful Dead, they are still embarking on their second decade of existence - a threshold many of their contemporaries never crossed.

There is some irony in the fact the Furs, who made their reputation flouting convention along with the punksters of the late '70s, have been around long enough to be viewing the world through establishmentarian eyes. With seven albums and a few hit singles under their collective belt, the Furs are becoming the band to beat instead of the new kids on the block.

Still, Butler views their new album, "Book of Days," as something of a step backward.

"It's a return to our original two-guitar attack," he said, "as opposed to the last two albums where it was polished and keyboard-heavy."

"Book of Days" probably is a bit less polished than their last album, "Midnight to Midnight," with its hit single "Heartbreak Beat." But it's a far cry from the gritty stylings of the early Furs - a sound Butler dubs "beautiful chaos" - performed at a time when they literally couldn't play their instruments.

"My brother asked me if I wanted to play in a band, and at the time I couldn't play anything. He asked me what I wanted to play, and I said `bass.' "

Butler and his brother, Furs vocalist Richard Butler, along with guitarist John Ashton, have been together ever since. Drummers have come and gone over the years, but the newest lineup includes original Furs drummer Vince Ely.

Do family tensions ever color the Furs' music - for better or worse? Butler acknowledged he and Richard occasionally butt heads over the "kinds of things every family has." But he said those problems are few.

And what do Mom and Dad think of the Butler brothers' music?

"At first they said, `Why don't you get a decent job and a proper job?' " Butler recalls. "But now, they're happy. They'll always be happy if you do well."