Saturday, April 9, 2016

TfF - 1985

Tears for Fears were ambitious. From the beginning, Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith were tackling big subjects - their very name is derived from Arthur Janov's primal scream therapy, whose theories were evident throughout The Hurting (AM8), an album drenched in a painful past for both Smith and Orzabal, who, when Roland was 8 years old had a nervous breakdown. In the liner notes he states, "We wanted to get rich, get famous and get [primal] therapy." 

For The Guardian he added, "'Mad World' hasn't dated because it's expressive of a period I call the teenage menopause, where your hormones are going crazy as you're leaving childhood. Your fingers are on the cliff and you're about to drop off, but somehow you cling on. I wrote it when I was 19, on the dole in Bath. We're known as a synthesizer group, but back then I just had an acoustic guitar. I've not told many people this, but I was listening to Radio 1 on this tinny radio and Duran Duran's 'Girls on Film' came on. I just thought: "I'm going to have a crack at something like that." I did and ended up with 'Mad World.' 

"There was a group around called Dalek I Love You. One of their lyrics went something like 'I believe the world's gone mad' which summed up my feelings of alienation from the rat race. I had suffered from depression in my childhood. My dad had been in the second world war, had electric shock treatment, suffered from anxiety and was abusive to my mum. I kept a lid on my feelings at school but, when I was 18, dropped out of everything and couldn't even be bothered to get out of bed. I poured all this into the song.

['Mad World'] sounded pretty awful on guitar, though, with just me singing. However, we were fortunate enough to be given an opportunity by a guy called Ian Stanley to go to his very big house and muck about on his synthesizer. Ian became our keyboard player and he had a drum machine, too. All we needed was someone who knew how to work it. Eventually, we made the first demo of Mad World still with me singing. But I didn't like it. So I said to Curt: 'Look, you sing it.' And suddenly it sounded fabulous." 

Driven by catchy, infectious synth pop, The Hurting became a smash hit in the UK, and an American subculture classic, setting the stage for international stardom with their second LP, 1985's Songs From the Big Chair (AM7). On the strength of the singles "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" and "Shout," the record became a major hit, establishing the duo as one of the leading acts of nextgen MTV stars, the video for "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" sitting alongside Michael Jackson and David Bowie as the most iconic of the era.

Instead of quickly following Songs From the Big Chair with a new record, Tears for Fears labored over their next release, eventually delivering the layered, Beatlesque The Seeds of Love (AM7), but not until 1989. Featuring soulful vocals from Oleta Adams, who dominated the hit "Woman in Chains," the album became a hit, reaching number eight, while the single "Sowing the Seeds of Love" reached number two in the U.S. David Sylvian's voice and stylings garnered constant comparisons to Bryan Ferry, but "Sowing the Seeds of Love" was a down and out psychedelic Beatles' tribute with every Lennon/McCartney/Martin trick in the book - from tape loops to Peter Max-like graphics. And it worked; you gonna do something go all in. 

Again, Tears for Fears spent several years working on the follow-up to The Seeds of Love, during which time they released the collection Tears Roll Down. Smith and Orzabal began to quarrel heavily, and Smith left the group in 1992, making Tears for Fears' 1993 comeback Elemental essentially a solo record from Orzabal. On the strength of the adult contemporary hit "Break It Down Again," Elemental became a modest hit, reaching gold status in the U.S., yet was hardly up to the group's previous levels. Smith, meanwhile, released a solo album in 1993, Soul on Board, which was largely ignored, and Orzabal returned with another Tears for Fears album, Raoul and the Kings of Spain, in 1995, which failed to make an impact. In late 1996, the group released a rarities collection. In 2004, Orzabal reunited with Smith for the colorful and Beatlesque Everybody Loves a Happy Ending, their first collaboration in over a decade.



"The dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had" – is from Janov's idea that nightmares can be good because they release tension.     – Roland Orzabal