Tears For Fears: Songs from the Big Chair

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By Kevin Mathews

When the Beatles invaded the USA with their moptops and unique pop approach, they set a precedent for succeeding generations of British bands to emulate. However, in the early 1980s, such achievements appeared remote for the latest Brit-trendy artists, as new romantic synth-pop became the flavour of the month in the UK.

Rather surprisingly, from that particular musical trend, one band would perhaps make the biggest impact—albeit briefly—on the US singles and album charts. That band was Tears For Fears.

I use the word surprisingly because, notwithstanding their infectious melodic qualities as evident in early singles like “Mad World”, “Pale Shelter” and “Change”, Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith underpinned their music with the psychological theories of Philip Janov’s Primal Scream therapy (hence the name of the band) and the influence of progressive rock ala Peter Gabriel/Genesis.

Songs from the Big Chair—the follow-up to the successful debut The Hurting—will always be remembered for the monster hits it spawned viz. “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and “Shout”. With heavy rotation of music videos on MTV beginning to exert considerable influence on the record buying public and the duo’s innate gift with a big tune both singles would launch Tears For Fears into the stratosphere of superstardom.

The album, which would ultimately sell in the millions, also contains lesser known singles, “Mothers Talk” and “Head Over Heels” and also the jazz-tinged classic, “I Believe”—which would foreshadow the direction on The Seeds of Love.

The album is a mixed bag with the progressive jazz-rock electronic instrumentals dating badly and indicative of the 1980s curse—an overly sleek production.

This re-issue contains several bonus tracks including two annoying re-mixes of “Shout” and “Mothers Talk”, most of which are instantly forgettable.

More a singles band than anything else, neophytes would do well to seek out the Tears Roll Down greatest hits compilation for a definitive collection.

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/tearsforfears-songs/