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Tears for Fears Rox!!!
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This sight is for all of the Tears for Fears fans!!!

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Curt Smith and the improbably named Roland Jaime Orzabal De La Quintana met in Bath, England during the early 1970s. Orzabal thought Smith looked 'Indian' and vaguely interesting, whereas Smith thought Orzabal was a foreign exchange student. Hardly the best premise for forming their first band. But they went ahead and did so anyway.

The pop music careers of Smith and Orzabal got off to a rather poor start. The two were in a group called Graduate, which, unfortunately, neither of them were. They wanted to become famous pop stars, which they didn't. To this end they released a single called 'Elvis Should Play Ska', which, of course, he never did. And so, after a few more singles and an LP, Graduate came to an end.

Shortly afterwards they met Ian Stanley at a 'vegetarian disco' who offered them the free use of his home recording studio, where the pair wrote songs that would later make up their first LP.

The Hurting

Tears for Fears first single 'Suffer the Children' failed to make any impact on the UK charts. But the group quickly gained popularity. And, by their third single, 'Mad World', they had hit the top 20.

At the time, synth-pop duos, such as Soft Cell and Yazoo, were becoming increasingly popular. They all looked slightly gothic, in their dyed black hair and black clothing; and Tears for Fears were no exception, with their characteristic dark clothes and solemn expressions. The front cover of 'Mad World' has Smith attempting to 'stare out' some ducks in what is otherwise a beautifully autumnal picture of a lake.

Tears for Fears had taken their name from a chapter in Arthur Janov's book on psychotherapy Prisoners of Pain1; and their first album The Hurting (1983), full of tortured tales of childhood experiences on council estates in the city of Bath, Avon, UK, was similarly inspired2. It was this that provided an intensity to their music, which was lacking in that of the majority of popular groups, and began to garner them a larger share of the pop market place. The Hurting was suitably minimal for a synth-pop duo, synthesizers and drum machines playing a major role, with relatively little guitar work from Orzabal. The whole album sounded sparse and, in some places, incredibly stark. Other than 'Mad World', this intelligent album provided the singles 'Change', 'Pale Shelter', and 'Suffer the Children', together with some excellent album tracks, such as 'The Hurting, Memories Fade' and 'Start of the Breakdown', all of which were live favourites at the time.

During recording, Orzabal developed his interest in the production side of music, and he and Smith soon bought their own studio. This led to a truly abysmal sixth single 'The Way You Are', during the recording of which they 'forgot about the song' (according to Orzabal), concentrating instead on creating 'interesting' sounds. Orzabal was later quoted as saying of the track,

I think this was the point at which we realised we had to change direction.

... and so they did.

 

Songs from the Big Chair

Tears for Fears' second album took its name from the TV mini-series Sybil, which was about a woman with multiple personalities3 who only felt comfortable when sitting in her psychotherapists 'big chair'.

Although the lyrical theme of The Hurting continued to some extent on Songs from the Big Chair, the change in production quality was enormous. Whilst they retained use of keyboards (played in the main by Ian Stanley), Smith and Orzabal returned to their original bass and guitar. The album also featured the drums of Manny Elias, pianist Nicky Holland, and the saxophone of William Gregory.

The entire LP sounded far more rounded than its predecessor; and, despite being released in 1985, it is still an immensely pleasurable listening experience.

'Mothers Talk', the first single from the LP, was a much more rhythm-heavy affair than anything the group had previously done, going some way to emphasise this by titling the remixed 12-inch 'Beat of the Drum mix'. 'Shout' was the release that propelled Tears for Fears towards mega-stardom. It was initially just a repeated chorus of... Shout, shout, let it all out,

These are the things I can do without,

So come on, I'm talking to you,

Come on...

-Orzabal/Stanley, 'Shout', 1984

 

But the addition of another verse and the production talents of Chris Hughes (who was also the producer and drummer for Adam and the Ants generated a single that stayed in the UK chart for 16 weeks and reached number four in December of 1984. This was followed by the fantastic 'Head Over Heels', the perennial '80s disco favourite 'Everybody Wants to Rule the World', and the soulful 'I Believe'.

'Everybody Wants to Run the World' (a cunning re-title) was released in 1985 to promote the charity fun-runs organised alongside the Live Aid concerts. This time the single reached a mere number five, as opposed to the number two slot reached by the original release.

The Seeds of Love

Tears for Fears took longer to record their third album than would seem possible... four years. This was eventually put down to Smith and Orzabal being perfectionists, having been through a number of recording sessions and producers, including Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley, who produced most of the Madness releases. The resultant LP was clear evidence of Orzabal's obsessive attention to detail, his 'muso' mentality. It also featured stars like Phil Collins and Pino Palladino.

'Sowing the Seeds of Love' (the first LP release) was a beautiful Beatles pastiche (Orzabal freely admitted that it was his attempt to rewrite 'I am the Walrus') that lyrically was inspired by the 'decadence' of the 1980s. One line was obviously a reference to the activities of Paul Weller (who was a member of The Jam and, during the 1980s, The Style Council), something that Orzabal and Smith clearly found to be indicative of 'the decade that taste forgot':

Kick out the Style, bring back the Jam.

- Orzabal/Smith, 'Sowing the Seeds of Love', 1989

 

It was to be Tears for Fears' last top ten single.

Of the other singles 'Advice for the Young at Heart' stands out as being sung gorgeously by Curt Smith (Orzabal usually took the vocal duties), while 'Woman in Chains' was used to showcase the talents of Oleta Adams, who the pair discovered singing in a Kansas bar. She was credited as 'authenticating soul', but was not given a label credit until the reissue of the single three years later.

Tears Roll Down

In 1991, Orzabal and producer Alan Griffiths remixed the B-side of 'Advice for the Young at Heart' and released it under the name 'Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams', the same as the single title. The single fared rather well in clubs and in the UK dance singles chart.

After nearly 20 years of friendship Smith and Orzabal decided they had had enough of each other, and Smith left the group. For the remainder of Tears for Fears' career the band was essentially Roland Orzabal working with a variety of session musicians4.

As a way of reassuring their fans, a hasty 'best of' LP, Tears Roll Down, was released together with another B-side remix 'Laid So Low (Tears Roll Down)', this time taken from the 'Sowing the Seeds of Love' single.

Elemental

Orzabal quickly (for him) set to work with Alan Griffiths; and in 1993 put out Elemental, an album on which he tried desperately to reverse the unappealing trend of The Seeds of Love. The title track was a precursor for many a plodding indie-rock band, while the drum-orientated 'Break it Down Again', with its accompanying tempo changes and luscious vocals, was deservedly a top 20 single in the UK.

The album, on the whole, showed a more 'rock' approach to music than had previously been demonstrated. Indeed, on the accompanying world tour Orzabal played a version of 'Creep' by Radiohead. The stripped-down nature of the song proved that Orzabal understood the power of great music and did not need the stabs of distorted guitar present on the original. Lyrically the LP was a tirade against his former partner in crime, virtually every song contained lines that could be interpreted as referring to Curt Smith:

It's in the way you're always hiding from the light,

- Orzabal/Griffiths, 'Break it Down Again', 1993

 

The cover of The Seeds of Love depicted Orzabal as the sun and Smith as the moon.

 

Listen Mr Pessimister,

With your Catholic taste,

Oh listen Mr Pessimister Pessimister,

We do not relate.

- Orzabal/Griffiths, 'Mr Pessimist', 1993

 

... and best of all,

You always said you were the compassionate one,

But now you're laughing at the sun.

With all your high class friends you think you've got it made,

The only thing you made was that tanned look on your face.

...

We used to sit and talk about primal scream,

To exorcise our past was our adolescent dream.

- Orzabal/Griffiths, 'Fish Out of Water', 1993

 

Raoul and the Kings of Spain

Raoul and the Kings of Spain was Tears for Fears' last album, and was the one where, finally, Orzabal stopped bemoaning the past. He claimed it 'encapsulates what Tears for Fears were on about. It was my statement, in mature form'. His opinion that it is his finest work is, well, his opinion; but it is not an opinion shared by many others.

It was, however, a very complete album and, like The Seeds of Love, featured some star names, but unlike The Seeds of Love, their talents were muted and used to good effect. There were some good songs, such as 'God's Mistake' and 'Goodnight Song', which were both released as singles and 'Los Reyes Catolicos', which demonstrated once again Orzabal's talent for creating beautiful music. But the stand-out song (and Tears for Fears' last top 40 single) was the title track, a soaring tribute to all the musicians involved. The guitar was simple yet catchy; the drumming was spot-on, melding perfectly with the other instruments; and the vocals sounded more confident than ever before.

After the Tears Had Fallen

Since leaving Tears for Fears, Curt Smith has released two albums: 1993's Soul on Board; and in 1998, an eponymous LP recorded with his new band Mayfield. Do not touch either with a barge pole.

Six years after Raoul and the Kings of Spain, Roland Orzabal released his first LP under his own name: Tomcats Screaming Outside. While it still contained evidence of his muso mentality - one song even had a bass solo - with tracks like the Led Zeppelin-esque 'Dandelion' and the Massive Attack inspired 'Under Ether', it was a superb return to form.

Fontana/Mercury Records have, since 1993's Elemental, the label's last Tears for Fears album, released three new 'best of' compilations:

0.Saturnine Martial and Lunatic (1996) included many B-sides and two a-sides not available on Tears Roll Down: 'Johnny Panic...' and 'The Way You Are'.

0.The Millennium Collection (2000) contained several of the band's better known works, along with remixes of 'Mothers Talk' and 'Change', and the B-side 'Pharaohs'.

0.The Working Hour - an introduction to Tears for Fears (2001) featured a few singles alongside album tracks, such as the marvelous 'The Hurting' and the appalling 'Standing on the Corner of the Third World'.

 

Orzabal and Smith also confirmed that they had spoken to each other for the first time in nearly ten years, and at the time of writing have written four new songs together, which they claim will definitely be released 'at some point' in the future.

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Top: This is a pic of Curt Smith(left) and Roland Orzabal(right) of what they look like when they were young
Bottom: This is a pic of Curt Smith(left) and Roland Orzabal(right) of what they look like NOW (they dont look that bad) :-)

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Here are the members of the band:

Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal: Vocals
Manny Elias: Drums
Curt Smith: Bass
Roland Orzabal: Lead Guitar
Ian Stanley: Pianist

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Hope you enjoy!!!