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    Tears For Fears

    The Hurting ( 1983 )
    The Hurting / Mad World / Pale Shelter / Ideas As Opiates / Memories Fade / Suffer The Children / Watch Me Bleed / Change / The Prisoner / Start Of The Breakdown

    Curt Smith and Roland Olazabal left the ska/pop outfit they were part of to form Tears For Fears. Now, this was the early eighties. Synth pop was definitely all the rage, it was all over the place. I'm old enough to have grown up through it. I always loved music and synth pop was really the first music I remember hearing. On the one side, you had 'cool' groups like Tears For Fears, Duran Duran, etc, etc. OMD. Po-faced, very serious stuff, but they had a catchy tune in them! On the otherside you had the likes of Howard Jones. You didn't take him quite so seriously, although you liked the odd tune here and there. Anyways!! You see, I was about to go off into a childhood memory, but i've resisted inflicting that upon you all. This was the music I grew up with! Quite frankly, it amazes me that of all the bands of that era, Tears For Fears are the ones that have repeatedly hit the charts again and again through best ofs and reissues. Their best of album, at the time of writing, thanks to a cover of 'Mad World' is riding high in the UK album charts once again. There is even a promise of a brand new Tears For Fears album proper, featuring both Roland and Curt. I'll buy it, of course, i'll be curious to see what they can come up with.

    I must admit, I've been a lapsed fan, getting back into them during the past year or so. My brother is a huge 80s nut, so on a long car journey down to Devon from Coventry, he had Tears For Fears on. Ah, I thought! I remember this. I was digging it. But then, I noticed something I hadn't noticed before. Years as a record reviewer, even an amateur record reviewer, tends to cause you to notice such things. It was this. The keyboard programming, the keyboard and drum arrangements in general, are superb. Very innovative sounding even listened to twenty years later. This was no doubt due to the talents of main writer, Roland Olazabal.

    Another thing, and you can't escape it. The hit cover version of 'Mad World' by Michael Andrews ft Gary Jules that topped the UK charts xmas 2003, reminded everybody how damn good the song was in the first place. Of course, the version here is the original and features top notch drum patterns and keyboard work, as well as a perfectly placed vocal. Great lyrics. Have you seen the video?? It's hilarious, Curt looking all anguished at some window with rain on it, Roland doing some mad 80s dance outside. Ah, I like the 80s!

    So, 'The Hurting' is a serious album with serious lyrics if you look into them. It has great arrangements and synth sounds very cleverly arranged by someone with an ear for pop, on the one hand, but also a desire to create something important. Roland was a huge fan of The Beatles. The likes of 'Pale Shelter' are amazing creations, though. Very sunny, perhaps that's just my childhood creeping in, but the sound they create reminds me of summer. But then, you've got the lyrics and they do mean something. It's pop art, pop art of the kind groups have forgotten how to create these days. After all, the synth pop sound was brand new at the time, it wasn't some throwback. How I long for the guys in The Darkness, or whomever is the hotly tipped band this week, to actually sound fresh and new. Groups these days don't do that, let alone have a semblance of intelligence about them. Take 'Ideas As Opiates'. It's serious as hell! Lots of good songs on this strong debut, my personal favourite being 'Change'. 'Change' rolls along very nicely, it has an anxiety and energy as well as a huge pop hook in the chorus. Very nice sounding vocals. I like it, anyway.

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    Chelsea palacerevolution2000@yahoo.com
    Exactly. Re. "Mad World". I did not like TfF in the 80's when they were all synth. Didn't pay attention to them at all until they went through their huge chnage on "Big Chair". And it slid by me what an excellent song Mad World really was. Had to hear the remake to realize this.

    top of page Songs From The Big Chair 8 ( 1985 )
    Shout / The Working Hour / Everybody Wants To Rule The World / Mothers Talk / I Believe / Broken / Head Over Heals - Broken / Listen

    There were some mutterings about the new Tears For Fears effort only featuring eight songs, but then, they all last 4-5 minutes each. Any mutterings were silenced anyway when both 'Shout' and the evergreen 'Everybody Wants To Rule The World' topped the American singles charts. You can't argue with that kind of success. They were the biggest band on the planet, for a little while. 'Shout', I mean, 'Shout'?? It was perfect. The drums were louder, the feel of the track more like a rock band than a synth pop effort, but the sound was still synths and drum programming. Roland captured the energy of rock music, the song is very loud with a repetitive chorus, as well as innovative programming and much else to admire. Sounds great listened to loud, and nary an obvious guitar to be heard. Now, that's what I call music! The other huge hit was of course 'Everybody Wants To Rule The World' and Curt Smith was the voice that gave the world the happy feelings. Such a sunny, lovely sweet song. A perfect pop song that sounds great listened to today. At the time, it got terrible over-exposure, but then, it was a hit again some three or four years later for some charity thing. My memory fails me in remembering what charity thing it was - but it's a great song. Don't argue with me, man. I'm listening to the very nice 'Everybody Wants To Rule The World', it creates sweet feelings! Oh, and that little guitar pattern during the instrumental break? I love that guitar pattern, it's so simple, yet so catchy and gorgeous?? Lots of simple elements all put together to create something special.

    Elsewhere, as was Roland's desire at the time, real instruments appear. Brass during 'The Working Hour', strings during the introduction to the storming 'Mothers Talk'. It seems to me, Curt sang the sweet songs, Roland the rockier songs. Well, 'Songs From The Big Chair' was the start of Roland being jealous of Curt, I guess.. I don't know, I wasn't there in the studio at the time, but future events lend weight to this theory. Still, 'Mothers Talk', like 'Shout', sounds stupendous turned up loud. There are guitars here and there, but the drum pattern, the percussion, dominates. 'I Believe' is a very serious ballad, quite soulful. Great vocal, absolutely great vocal. 'Head Over Heals' is very catchy, the other songs during the second half of the album perhaps too serious sounding. Tears For Fears? Roland wanted to be taken seriously. He's a very serious man. The drawn out 'Listen' that nears seven minutes in length ends up leaving you sad. The album is kind of a trip, but this is a downer, man!

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    spendec spendec.folmus@caramail.com
    Exactly. Re. "Mad World". I did not like TfF in the 80's when they were all synth. Didn't pay attention to them at all until they went through their huge chnage on "Big Chair". And it slid by me what an excellent song Mad World really was. Had to hear the remake to realize this.

    top of page The Seeds Of Love 7 ( 1989 )
    Woman In Chains / Bad Man's Song / Sowing The Seeds Of Love / Advice For The Young At Heart / Standing On The Corner / Swords And Knives / Year Of The Knife / Famous Last Words

    A lot had changed in the four years since the last Tears For Fears offering. The musical landscape had changed, to an extent, so there are a few differences here. The pounding drum patterns that were a feature of both their 'synth' albums are gone. 'The Seeds Of Love' attempts to find a natural, organic place. It attempts to find this place via months and months and months spent in the studios. Roland Olazabal had gone over the top. Well, Curt has seemingly less to do here. Not only that, but there's another vocalist, Oleta Adams, that gets more parts than Curt does! She's featured heavily all through the soulful six and a half minute opener, the gentle 'Woman In Chains'. It's actually a lovely song. 'Badmans Song' illustrates a problem with this 'Seeds Of Love' album, though. This is the second track, right? This is eight and a half minutes long. Bloated? Well, yes. The fact that 'Badman's Song' has yet more good vocals and some very good and exciting musical parts too, almost gets lost by the time the song has finished. It ultimately tries your patience. We proceed onto the title track, big hit single, big Beatles thing going on here. Much of the time spent recording the album was devoted to just this one song. It's always important to have a big single to lead an album campaign, this did the trick as far as Tears For Fears 1989 campaign was concerned. Campaign? Yeah, it did feel like they were waging war upon somebody. This album of sophisticated pop? Roland wasn't lying down, anyway. Let's push things forwards.

    My favourite song here is 'Advice For The Young At Heart'. The only song where Curt gets lead, this was released as a single yet was only moderately succesful. The album as a whole charted high throughout the world, but fell some way short of the sales of 'Songs From The Big Chair'. Anyway, 'Advice For The Young At Heart' is the only song here that sounds like summer, it's a song that links back to 'Pale Shelter' and 'Change' in sounding like a perfect summer pop hit. Even if it wasn't! So, not too bad as far as 'side one' is concerned? Well no, not really. The second side loses its way. A few more accomplished musical parts here and there, but Tears For Fears drifted a little too much into middle of road territory. Into adult pop territory when perhaps their audience weren't quite ready for them to do so. Neither 'Standing On The Corner Of The Third World' or 'Swords And Knives' raise the temperature. Both are 'smooth', things to admire rather than actively enjoy. Then we have 'Year Of The Knife', a track sourced from a live recording and sounding both ugly and overlong. Salvation arrives with the very pretty and touching 'Famous Last Words', one of the most perfectly realised songs on the entire album, very beautiful.

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    Scratch Acid spoonshankk@hotmail.com
    I love Tears for fears, but woman in chains is by and far their worst song. Cringe - inducing gag reflex material

    Leisl von Trappe norah_therese47@hotmail.com
    I think everyone needs to stop berating The Seeds of Love. If you actually read into Tears for Fears history at all you would realize that Orzabal is the real brains behind the operation and Smith is only a semi-nice voice to compliment. If you actually took the time to listen to the whole CD and stopped your gratuitous talk of "bloated" songs you might be surprised. As evidence, Elemental & Raoul and the Kings of Spain are amazing albums and this proves that Orzabal didn't need Smith in the least. Just my two cents. P.S. Oleta Adams has a voice 36 times more beautiful than Smith's. Her and Orzabal sound amazing together and her talents on the piano make the CD the brilliant blinding ray of light that it is. Do not tear Orzabal down for accomplishing something more than the fragile power pop (which is great for a while, but gets old) that comes to mind when more than half of the world thinks Tears for Fears.

    Daniel super_man445@hotmail.com
    The Seed Of Love is their best album, all the songs on it are so beautiful. Although this album doesnt contain any huge hits like Shout, Everybody Want To Rule The World, Pale Shelter, Mad World etc... it is a better album as a whole than the previous 2.

    top of page Elemental 6 ( 1993 )
    Elemental / Cold / Break It Down Again / Mr Pessimist / Dog's A Best Friend's Dog / Fish Out Of Water / Gas Giants / Power / Brian Wilson Said / Goodnight Song

    First things first. Curt left, leaving Roland to his own devices. He toils and strives and no doubt spills blood in creating a new Tears For Fears record that's met with little of the sales the group had been used to. Well, you can't keep taking four years between album releases anyway. People change, move on. Old fans still clung to those programmed synth and drum sounds that so enlived the early material. Well, 'Seeds Of Love' had already ditched those, but there was at least a couple of 'proper' pop songs on there, too. Well, 'Elemental' has its moments, to be fair. A nice Brian Wilson tribute, the single 'Break It Down'. Um, a bunch of other AOR things that shouldn't and probably didn't thrill anybody but the hardest of hardcore fan. Well, that's 'Elemental'. It wouldn't have and didn't, attract new fans, but held onto just a couple who had become as dull as chief 'fear' Roland Olazabal. I'm being cruel, I know. 'Elemental' isn't too bad, it's just not exciting, that's the main problem. 'Seeds Of Love' benefitted hugely from soulful female backing vocals. We don't even noticeably get that, here. One man show, session guys, producers and engineers and roland. That's the album, nothing wrong with that, of course....

    Ah, but 'Break It Down Again' is a proper song, with melody, inventive arrangements. It stands alongside other very good Tears For Fears material, you know? Good lyrics, too. Roland is no slouch at writing, perhaps he just lost direction for awhile? Losing your band-mate and collaborator ( through musical differences, personality differences, whatever ) must have been a blow and changed things, tho. 'Brian Wilson Said' inevitably included Beach Boys type vocal harmonies. Nice little Wilsonesque piano lines. "ba,ba, ba" harmony parts included. I'm a sucker for any of that kind of stuff, although XTC did the best ever Beach Boys pastiche with 'Pale And Precious' which everybody really should track down. Listen to it, cry tears of joy. Tears For Fears? He was trading on a brand name, a name that would sell more than his own name. It's no surprise, but what is a surprise is how lifeless most of this album is. Roland 'did' most of 'Seeds Of Love' too, after all. But, despite all my snide remarks, mostly unfair remarks aimed at this album - 'Elemental' does have a certain something. I think it's called class. It's an album die-hard fans will enjoy, anyway.

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    Janie Florida
    I don't get your lack of enthusiasm. Roland took this album into the 90s and didn't stay dated. He evolved. So many great songs. Elemental tremendous song. I love Cold. Goodnight Song so soulful and beautiful. Break it Down Again, great hooks and guitar-driven song. The ode to Brian Wilson is a surprisingly beautiful song and original with the instrumental in the middle. The only misstep on this album was he left off Bloodletting Go, which is on their B sides album, and it's a stunning song that has traces of the old sound to it.

    top of page Everybody Love A Happy Ending ( 2004 )
    Everybody Loves A Happy Ending / Closest Thing To Heaven / Call Me Mellow / Size Of Sorrow / Who Killed Tangerine / Quiet Ones / Who Are You / The Devil / Secret World / Killing With Kindness / Ladybird / Last Days On Earth

    A brand new Tears For Fears album featuring the sullen Roland reunited with the sullen but slightly more handsome Curt. An album ambitiously titled as such hoping and praying for a happy ending, gold discs, etc, etc. Roland and Curt had obviously been listening to their Beatles albums during the recording of this album, but also possibly listening to other Beatles inspired 80s/90s bands. XTC spring to mind. Whilst XTC came out of the post-punk scene, Tears For Fears had groomed hair and danced stupidly. And, we all suspected they were far too posh to be in a band. You know? So, there has always been a bit of snobbery. It's a class thing, something that's rife within British society. Yet, this lil' album here is a very nice listen with some very nice pop song-writing that just isn't quite maintained throughout. It's also a nice listen with production that doesn't quite project enough energy or sparkle, although that may not have been the point of this album. The usual Roland Olazabal class is present and this album benefits hugely over non-curt TFF albums in containing his vocals. His vocals, either on lead or harmony, propel such material as 'Closest Thing To Heaven' towards summer pop perfection, the kind of summer feel the group lost circa 'Seeds Of Love'.

    We open with the title song, not a favourite trick of mine, or a favourite track of mine, it's a little too obvious in its influences, although enjoyably so, if this long sentence hasn't just been an entire contradiction. Work it out for yourselves. Certain songs here are kind of wet, 'Who Are You' suffers from not being a cover of the Who classic, but rather a bland airy ballad. On the otherhand, 'Who Killed Tangerine' is bouncy and interesting enough with its different sections to please anybody, i'd have thought. Except possibly an Extreme Noise Terror fan, or a Fatboy Slim fan. You know, you can't please everybody, can you? Oh, I really like 'Ladybird', a truly classy mid-tempo, well produced shiny pop song if ever there was one! Ultimately, 'Everybody Loves A Happy Ending' is deeply unfashionable it would seem, but who cares about that? It's a pretty solid collection of pleasing and mature Beatles influenced pop. You know, 'Crowded House' built an entire career out of doing the exact same thing, even when those guys were twenty years younger in age each than the two main Tears For Fears protagonists currently are!

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    kathry kathry_m@hotmail.com
    hi there my name is kathry and i went to many of the tff concerts including london and paris i love tff ever since i was a little girl and i specialty love roland orzabal i think he is very handsome and i would love to see him again i wonder if they are gonna come out with another CD hopefully they are thank you so very much

    top of page this page last updated 11/07/10

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