Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Positively, Guilt-Free Wednesdays: Tears For Fears, There's No Turning Back

"The seven year span, 1983-1990, found Tears For Fears transforming from a band whose songs employed the blips and squeaks of eighties electronica, to a band whose elaborate productions and lush songwriting proved that the team of Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith had grown. They became a band who demanded to be taken seriously and deserved to be taken seriously. But not unlike many other great teams---Lennon/McCartney, Bacharach/David, or Sonny & Cher, (to name but a few)---Orzabal and Smith let ideas, hopes and dreams get in the way of their musical magic. Much like the obligatory "I Got You Babe" finale of Sonny & Cher's television shows, Roland and Curt continued to record the final album amidst much personal unpleasantness."

This is taken from the liner notes I had written with Tony Sachs for the Tears For Fears "Millennium Collection" released on CD in 2000. I've been a fan since first hearing "Pale Shelter" on WLIR-FM back during those somewhat bleak early 80's. I knew then Tears For Fears were better than all the others on WLIR's heavy rotation and I still feel that way now.

For those who still can't get "Shout, Shout, Let It All Out" out of their heads 25 years later, here are some of my favorite Roland and Curt tracks, most of which do not resemble the blips and squeaks of their earliest work; blips and squeaks that might have kept many of you away.


Dr Wu said...

Excellent tribute! I’m a fan of the 2004 reunion album ‘Everybody Loves A Happy Ending’. The song ‘Who Killed Tangerine’ especially. The album really demonstrates their Beatles/XTC influences. No guilt here, Sal! Thanks.

Sal Nunziato said...

Dr. Wu, I'm with you regarding that reunion record. I think it may be their best!

Troy said...

Great, just great. More stuff I've got to go check out. (Kidding).

I honestly only know Songs from the Big Chair and Sowing the Seeds of Love. I like both of those very much. What I know of The Hurting didn't do much for me.

Will check the reunion album out. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I liked Tears' first record, "The Hurting," but didn't listen much to the following albums. I had the impression that they tended to be kitchen sink productions. I'll give them a try.

For me, all of Talk Talk's albums have aged well, both pre- and post-abstraction. China Crisis' "Working with Fire and Steel" is probably the only other synth pop record I've held onto besides the Talk Talks.

Anonymous said...

Lemme go on the record with saying those TFF 80s singles were great singles in the last era of great pop singles. They still sound good, and poignant. I'm hearing the album cuts you put up here for the first time, and it's clear there was much going on off the single charts, too. All Of The Angels sounds much like a Rundgren number.
And yay on putting Mountain as the song o' the day!
C in California

Anonymous said...

These Tears for Fears tunes are okay but nothing that would make me give up my listening time of Buffalo Springfield (old) or Lydia Loveless (new) for Tears for Fears instead.

I'm 68 and my memory of R & R extends back to "Rock Around the Clock" & Heartbreak Hotel" first being hits in the mid-fifties during my earliest elementary school years. Heck, I remember the musical world before R & R! Yuck!!!

The many years difference in our ages really seems to make a difference in what each of us consider exceptional music. The fifties & sixties are my bedrock while the seventies & eighties seem to be yours. That is a huge difference in our musical education as experienced in our musical learning during our most passionate musical years.

I always have my ears open to your musical passions but much of it confuses me as to how highly you feel about it. Example: your love for Jimmy Page who I consider overrated, not bad just not great. My guess is my love for "jump blues" would baffle you.

In the late seventies, after "punk", "new wave" and" funk" happened, I found myself unintentionally no longer trying to keep up with new musical styles as they rarely "moved me" to quote Elvis. I was an insanely passionate "British Invasion" fan but The Pretenders was the last time I fell in love with a British R & R act. That was 39 years ago, what the fuck!!!

As I constantly joke on my radio show "I listen to new music all the time! It's just not my fault if it sounds like it was recorded in 1971!" (Or 1966 or 1956 or 1946 or 1936!!!)

Be well and keep educating and surprising me!

Captain Al

Michael Giltz said...

Yes, a very good singles band, which is a compliment. And I still regret never getting to write liner notes, now that the era of albums and CDs and liner notes seems to be receding into the past. A friend in college was crazy about The Hurting. Another friend had a crazy brother who was really crazy about TFF and believed they were more important than the Beatles. he was wrong but they were good craftsmen w some very good music. The Millenium Collections usually proved unsatisfying in terms of selection and number whereas so many acts put out two CD sets, which were way too much. Oh for the artistry of a well chosen greatest hits set. but I'd sure love to read your liner notes/appreciation.

P.S. Anonymous, I've had Talk Talk on the mind lately and have been meaning to give a listen to Colour of Spring and dare I say it Spirit of Eden again. Thanks for the nudge.

Dr Wu said...

Well done on China Crisis, Anonymous! ‘Working with Fire and Steel’, ‘Flaunt The Imperfection’, ‘What Price Paradise’, and ‘Diary of a Hollow Horse’ - the second and last involved Walter Becker are pure classics which, and I’m very much biased, have held up magnificently.

Anonymous said...

No way this can be a guilty pleasure. I think they did a series of really outstanding LPs. Even without Smith, the series Elemental - Raoul is so good compared to most of the things produced back in these years. I always have thought that Nirvana came to change things and not exactly in the best way. IMO.

Thanks for this Sal.

Sal Nunziato said...

Captain Al,
I really don't know where to begin in replying to you. Apologies in advance, if I am wrong, but your comments seem very condescending. Being 68 versus my 55 may seem like a lifetime to you, but what year did you start buying records? I started at 3. I bought Sgt. Pepper the year it came out. I have pictures to prove it. I knew every doo wop single before I was 10, thanks to a family who listened to WCBS-FM.

Jump blues? Love it. I don't find it "confusing" that anyone would love it. I have as many Wynonie Harris and Cecil Gant records in my collection as I do Tears For Fears and Talk Talk. Questioning my passion for Jimmy Page or for anything is insulting. It's not like Led Zeppelin were some cult band with no credibility, Plant and Page's affinity for appropriating music notwithstanding. I am not the only one who thinks Led Zeppelin were giants and innovators.

I have great passion for Ornette Coleman and Duke Ellington. As a matter of fact, after reading David Hadju's book on Billy Strayhorn, I spent 6 months studying and listening to nothing but Duke Ellington. How old do you need to be to do that?

I really don't "get" the "old geezer" routine. You are 6 years younger than Jimmy Page and he digs Tears For Fears and the Foo Fighters and Queen.

I rarely write about doo woo or jazz or "jump blues" on these pages because I know the audience and what pushes buttons. This doesn't mean I only listen to what you see here.

I won't deny that what I listened to during the important years is mostly from the late 60's and 70's, but that shouldn't be a reason to imply the music made during those years is any less important just because it did nothing for you. No one is asking you to out away your Buffalo Springfield records. I just bought that stunning new MONO remastered boxed set. Those first two never sounded better. I can do that. Why the struggle to appreciate a solid pop tune like "All Of The Angels" by Tears For Fears? No one is looking. Live it up!

By the way, enough with Lydia Loveless. Talk about "just okay."


kevin m said...

I've loved all stages of TFF's career (including the 2004 reunion record) and I'm eagerly looking forward to their rumored release of new material in a few months.

A few people above have mentioned China Crisis. That is a band that has certainly been under the radar. Happy to report they just released a new album a few weeks ago.

Chris Collins said...

great, great band. thanks for posting this.

A guy called Tak said...

I'm 65 years old, I listened to TFF and bought every 12 inches around 'Big Chair' period. The reason - they covered Robert Wyatt's 'Sea Song' which is one of my favorite songs ever written (by anyone). Well, that proves TFF guys have good taste in music (or I should say we share the same).
Most of those 80's bands/music have been pretty much dated when you listen to now. Lynn machine, DX-7, Casio, etc. etc. But TFF had more organic sound than other bands from 80's.
I am looking forward to their new album. Should be interesting.

Robin said...

Thanks Sal. They are my heart. The early stuff has so much personal resonance for me (as does a lot of 80s music- mainstream or not) but yes they grew, and they were always the real thing so much more than the casual listener might realize. General thought-I sort of like the dated sound of 'guilty pleasure' 80s music it was flashy, fun and creative (I do not mean TFF, as I said they were always deeper for me), it depends on the mood I'm in, if I'm in a nostalgic 'let's have an 80s party' mood I listen, it's like power ballads- it can all wear thin for heavy listening but for some fun and dancing around the house or in the case of power ballads singing my heart out to songs I'd never sing in real life- guilt free me! Cheers.

FD13NYC said...

I love The Hurting.