Friday, September 12, 2008

FDF Volume 2 Issue 108: Tears for Fears - Songs from the Big Chair

Album - Songs from the Big Chair
Artist - Tears for Fears
Key Players - Roland Orzabal - guitar, keyboards, vocals, piano. Curt Smith - bass guitar, vocals. Ian Stanley - keyboards. Manny Elias - drums.
Produced By - Chris Hughes

Release Date - February 27, 1985

What caused me to blow off the dust? - One of those moments you catch yourself singing a random line of a song, that wasn't really a huge hit and wondering at first "what the heck is this song I was just singing and where did that come from"? Well it came from this one, so here we go.

Overview - Hailing from Bath, England this was Tears for Fears second release. The duo of Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith would go on to international stardom with this record. The album would reach #2 on the UK charts and it would remain in the top 30 for close to a year. It would reach #1 in the U.S. and hold that spot for 5 weeks. The band would launch a massive tour in support, take a hiatus, come back with a record, lose a member, then reform once more.

FDF Comments (aka the songs)
- The lead off track "Shout" takes little time to get rolling. Almost immediately the chorus is chanted over the speakers awash with keyboards. The keyboard portions at time sort of have a heavy drone to them. There breakdown at about the 2:40 to 3:30 mark of the track that has two keyboard parts, one sort of higher while the other holds the bottom. The higher female vocals are sung by Sandy McLelland and it adds a rich full sound. The track then wraps up with a guitar solo. Opening with a wonderful sounding saxophone "The Working Hour" follows. There is keyboards that are nice and light and the song is vocal free for the first two minutes. Orzabal has a clear and strong voice on the track. The run thru of the song really shines with the saxophone portion(s). The sax parts were played by two different players. William Gregory played the long solos while Mel Collins offers up the shorter bursts that are just as warm and exciting. The song that launched the band in the U.S. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World". There is not a lot to say about the track, the stand out moment comes near the end as the guitar solo flashes over the listener. If there was ever a track that is the epitome of an 80's synth pop (in a song not a lot might know) is. "Mothers Talk". There are hard electric drums and the lyrics are given out at about as quick as the band ever could, or would deliver them. The keyboards have a real great punch to them and the guitar riff with the harmonized vocals. The bass stands out later in the track and it all wraps up with a two plus minute instrumental break down. The polar opposite of the last track is the somber "I Believe". It is a very laid back track with breathy vocals. The piano led track has a a deep think tone to it and Orzabal gives many lines in a higher vocal octave range. To me, this is the weakest track on the record, it just does little for me. The shortest and largely instrumental track "Broken" is next. The track sounds like a cast off from the Miami Vice television show (think the theme song). The vocals don't come in until about 1:45 and the verse is given quickly before the words 'broken' are sung and held. Another single from the record "Head over Heels" is next. The piano opening sets the tone then keyboards are layered over the top. A "Sister Christian" like drum beat brings up to the vocals and we are off to the races. There are phased drums and heavy piano work throughout. In listening I was impressed to hear some strong bass lines underneath all this. This track goes right in to a live version of "Broken". This version is vocal free and if it is really live, its spot on. The album closes with the haunting "Listen". The very laid back track is filled with keyboard mixed with the sounds of what a UFO control deck might have for gadgets. The instrumental portions of this track are more interesting that the vocal portions.

Where are they now? - Following this record and a massive tour the band was big enough to be asked to perform on Live Aid. They dropped out at the last minute and waited a few years to release "The Seeds of Love" album. After touring for that Smith left the band for over 10 years while Orzabal continued to tour and record under the Tears for Fears name. The last studio album was in 2004 and it was called "Everybody Loves a Happy Ending". Curt Smith released a solo record called "Halfway, pleased" in May of 2008 here in the US.

FDF Personal Comments (aka the Live experience)
- Tears for Fears was the very first concert I went to. It was October 2, 1985 at the Centrum in Worcester MA. I remember parts of it, mostly the fact the girl I had the longest crush on agreed to go with me to the show.

FDF Overall Take - I have a soft spot for this record. I started getting in to music around this time and I remember liking this band before the "jocks" at my school blasted their cassette copies at high school parties. It might only be 8 tracks long but it is one of the few records I can listen to front to back and not skip a song (although there is one that I can't wait for it to be over). When the bigger singles are sort of your least favorite, well there is something to be said for that. Curious to see where the new record takes them honestly.

Links -

Official site here
Curt Smith site here

Curious? Check out some MUSIC!

the mp3s have been removed.

All three of the tracks taken from "Songs from the Big Chair" which you can buy

Disclaimer - For the most part songs listed you can find on iTunes or your local cd shop. The idea is to give you a little taste of the music. Please support the artist buy purchasing some of their work. Songs are posted for about 1 week but can and will be removed at the request of the artist, band, band management etc. If you are one of those persons contact me via the email link in the profile and they will be removed as soon as we are made aware of the request.


At 10:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ahh yes! Thanks for posting another one of my favorite 80s bands.

At 9:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Everybody Loves a Happy Ending" was released 4 years ago.

At 9:25 AM, Blogger JamieSmitten said...

I might just try to resurrect the turntable and give this one a listen. Definitely part of the soundtrack of my 80s.

At 9:50 AM, Blogger March to the Sea said...

thanks annon..their official web site needs some serious updating!

At 1:03 PM, Blogger Dim said...

Just to add, Everybody Loves a Happy Ending actually welcomed Smith back into the TFF fold.

And Smith's Web site is probably updated most frequently and the best place to get any TFF news that might be happening (things are very slow now)...

At 10:35 PM, Blogger Ello said...

Oh my gosh! I missed this Friday because I was so busy! This was my absolute favorite album of the 80s! Sheesh! I am such a child of the 80s! I love Tears for Fears. I even liked the other two later albums. The one with the sun on it? Can't remember the name now cause I am getting old!


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