Friday, May 13, 2011

Tears For Fears

Ah, the 80's...a much maligned decade to be sure, and one must admit, there was some gawd-awful silly music perpetrated in that period. One must also concede,however, the period also gave us some truly impressive examples of musical creativity. Sure, we may have had Shalamar, but we also had the genius of Prince. Kenny G driving you crazy? Just step out of the elevator and put on some Najee. We may have had to suffer the presence of Poison, but we also had good old Van Halen to bang our heads to. And for every Wang Chung, thankfully there was a Tears For Fears .

Two teenage musicians from Bath,Somerset in Northern England were in a new wave band called Graduate who posted a couple of singles thatt did moderately well in parts of Europe. The two, Roland Orzabal and Curtis Smith, left the band in 1981 with the idea of becoming the nucleus of an act using different musicians as needed.
They called the act History Of Headaches, which they later changed to Tears For Fears a name inspired by the concept of Primal Therapy introduced by psychologist Arthur Janov. They were signed to Phonogram Records later that year by A&R man David Bates. Their first single "Suffer The Children" was released, followed by "Pale Shelter in 1982.

The third single "Mad World" was the act's first success, reaching #3 in the U.K. Their first album, The Hurting was released with keyboardist-composer Ian Stanley and drummer Manny Elias as full band members,although orzabal and Smith remained the public face of the band. This could be considered their only true concept album in that every song had references to emotional distress and primal scream therapy. he album had a 65-week chart run and reached #3 and platinum status. In 1984 they released a single that would mark the beginning of international commercial and critical acclaim. Tha single was "Shout".

This paved the way for the release of the album Songs From The Big Chair, which entered the charts at #2 and stayed there for12 weeks. At this point the band abandoned the synth-pop style of the earlier material for a more sophisticated and diverse style that woul become the band's hallmark. Songs From The Big Chair eventually went triple platinum in the U.K. and quintuple platinum in the U.S, where it remained #1 for five weeks in 1985.Other single hits yielded by the album were "I Believe", "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" and "Head Over  Heels"

Following the album's release the band went on a year-long tour, during which they met Oleta Adams, a tremendously talented singer-pianist and invited her to collaborate on their next album and join the band.
With appearances at numerous events (the most notable being Live Aid) and award ceremonies along with time in the studio it was not until 1989 that the group's third album, Sowing The Seeds Of Love was released. The songs were mostly collaborations by Orzabal with keyboardist Nikky Holland and with Oleta Adams. It cost a reported 1 million pounds to make. Influences ranged from jazz to blues to the Beatles-esque title track.Other standout tracks were "Advice For The Young At Heart " and "Woman In Chains". 

After Sowing The Seeds Of Love, Orzabal and Smith had an acrimonious parting of ways due to Orzabal's intricate but frustrating approach to recording and Smith's desire to slow down the pace of recrding and touring.Smith's marriage had also broken down. Orzabal continued under the name Tears For Fears, While Smith recorded two albums to disappointing sales. Orzabal released the album Elemental, a collaboration with Alan Griffiths and co-producer Tim Palmer. It was supported by a successful tour and yielded the top 20 hit, "Break It Down Again".

The album Raoul And The Kings Of Spain followed, a more contemplative work where Orzabal delved into his Spanish origins (Raoul was the name his parents considered giving him and is the name of his own son). It featured a new Latin influence and marked his reunion with Oleta Adams on the song "Me And My Big Ideas".The released did poorly by past standards, though minor chart success came via the title track, which cracked the top 40.
In 2000, routine paperwork obligations led the duo to re-establish contact, and long story short, they worked out their differences and re-united. The result was the allbum Every Body Loves A Happy Ending, scheduled for release in 2004, but delayed til 2005 due to a management change. A tour, an anthology release and another solo effort by Curt Smith followed. The band continued to tour as late as 2010.
The group has received two MTV awards and one Brit Award, but surprisingly to this writer, no Grammy awards. A glaring oversight of an act this talented and prolific.


  1. Thanks, Dad! I had no idea Oleta Adams was so closely related to the band. Listening to Tears for Fears as an adult gave me more insight on just how smart their music is, and the messages within.

  2. Glad you liked it,babe...they are definitely on my all time favorite band short list.

  3. Always had a bit of a soft spot for TFF, as their first 2 albums in my collection attest. I think they lost it a bit after that but not all bands produce one good album let alone two. Nice memories.

  4. Well said,M.O.,they seemed to be oneof those bands who tried to move beyond their new wave-y beginnings.