Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tears For Fears - Songs From The Big Chair

Tears For Fears

As tough as it is for me to believe or even admit it, Songs From The Big Chair by Tears For Fears was released 26 years ago, in 1985. This was the second album from the band, who had some early success with songs from 1983's release, The Hurting, which I discussed here. I had scooped up that first album at my import store in the West Village, and loved it. I doubt any of the success of the earlier work could have prepared Curt Smith, Roland Orzibal, Ian Stanley and Manny Elias for what was about to come. If The Hurting was music's Another Country for the 80s, with brooding British schoolboys pouting their way through self-awareness, then Songs From The Big Chair was truly a coming of age, Rock with a degree in Social Welfare, whether it is in a more traditional sense of Freudian study in Mother's Talk, or a stab at Primal Scream therapy in Shout.

The first release in the US is one that would firmly plant the band in the annals of music history. Everybody Wants To Rule The World was a step back, the soothing deep breath you take when you want to relax. From the opening riff of the guitar to the sweet tone of Curt's voice, the song charmed with a sweetness not heard from the band before. It was written by Roland, Ian and producer Chris Hughes.

The next to hit the airwaves was the ode to venting, Shout, also written by Orzabal and Stanley. The album title was derived from the Sally Field TV movie Sybil, for it was only in the "big chair" in the doctor's office where Sybil felt safe. So it should come as no surprise when the band delves into Primal Scream Therapy for inspiration. But what might have been surprising was that the song zoomed up the charts, giving the band their first #1 in the US.

The next release was the delightful Head Over Heels, written by Orzabal and Curt Smith. The video was a wonderful attempt to use Roland's awkwardness to it's best advantage. As Curt, Manny, Ian and a monkey work in the library, geeky Roland reveals his crush on the librarian. I think there are moments when we almost get a smile from Roland...

For the video of the next release, I Believe (A Soulful Re-Recording), I only recently found the video. And will all his layers and baggy sweaters, who the hell knew Roland had that body? Even more surprising, that he was willing to show it off! I might have to rethink my primary crush on keyboardist Ian Stanley. The song, written by Roland, was not released in the US, which might explain why I didn't know about the video. But I do now!

The first single released in the UK was Mother's Talk, in fall of 1984, prior to the album. It was not released in the US until April of 1986. It was written by Orzabal and Stanley, and was a departure from the brooding dramas of the earlier release. The energy level was torqued up a notch, the sound more aggressive. The song made it to the Top 30 on the US Billboard Pop chart.

For more about Tears For Fears, you can check them out on the web here. You can purchase their music on iTunes here, and on here. You can find the sexy I Believe video on iTunes here. The band is still active and tours, although Curt and Roland do live in different countries, with Smith settled in California and Orzabal still in the UK. Wile Roland shies away from anything resembling social media, Curt is really quite active. You can find his official webpage here, and his very active Twitter account here. He is a great follow if you are on Twitter. You can find some of Curt's solo work on iTunes too. Click here for a great single, All Is Love featuring Zoe Keating.


  1. I still LOVE their sound so much!
    If I heard them on the radio today & would still be struck by how much I love this sound....

  2. One of my all-time faves. I've told many friends that I think this album is the epitome of the 80s.

  3. Hi Howie - just a slight correction - I think "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" is their 1st #1 song, and "Shout" was their second #1.

    Everybody Wants to Rule the World is such a great song - it's relaxing and calming and really a pop classic. I remember when my sister 1st heard this she immediately bought the album.

    I firat came across the band on MTV back in 1983 with Change, but I still think Mad World is their best - that song has so many reincarnations - dark and beautiful!

  4. Wonder Man, me too!

    Stephen, I do as well. Have you heard any of Curt's stuff?

    Cubby, it could define the era, couldn't it?

    SteveA, you are correct. It was released early, but did not hit #1 until after EWTRTW.



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