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Archive for March 7th, 2013

Reissue Theory: Tears for Fears, “The Hurting: 30th Anniversary Edition”

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The Hurting

Welcome to another installment of Reissue Theory, where we spotlight notable albums and the reissues they could someday see. Thirty years ago today, one of the best synth-rock bands of the 1980s released their first full-length album – as good a time as any to champion the career of Tears for Fears!

“Is it an horrific dream?
Am I sinking fast?”

– “The Hurting,” Tears for Fears

From the beginning of the first side of Tears for Fears’ debut LP, it’s honestly kind of hard to predict where they’d end up. Maybe that’s the secret to their intrigue all these years later – if not the catchy melodies and dense lyrics of their body of work.

On March 7, 1983, Phonogram Records in the U.K. issued the band’s first full-length record, The Hurting, and further pushed them down the path to international success. That said, TFF still don’t truly get their due as a group – which brings us to this revisitation of the record that started it all, so to speak.

Of course, the TFF story actually begins much earlier, somewhere in the late 1970s in the sleepy town of Bath, England. Teenagers Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith meet and decide to pool their mutual interests in making music. They first join a local group called Neon, who become known far more for what their members would accomplish after the group broke up. (Drummer Manny Elias and guitarist Neil Taylor would work with Tears for Fears throughout the next decade, while principal members/songwriters Pete Byrne and Rob Fisher formed the successful synth-pop duo Naked Eyes.)

Their first fully-formed group, a mod-cum-New Wave group called Graduate, nicks the lowest dregs of the charts and break up during the sessions for their second album. By that point, Orzabal and Smith are far less interested in making straightforward pop/rock and, despite their proficiency with stringed instruments (Orzabal on guitar, Smith on bass), experiment with synthesizers and more overt New Wave styles of production.

Also notable alongside the tonal shift is an increasing interest in psychology and its thematic effect on the duo’s songwriting. Orzabal, in particular, whose family life is decidedly non-traditional (his father managed local entertainers before suffering a nervous breakdown), becomes attracted to the works of Arthur Janov, whose primal scream therapy was championed by John Lennon in the immediate aftermath of The Beatles’ breakup. Directly inspired by a passage in The Primal Scream, Orzabal and Smith change their band name from History of Headaches to Tears for Fears, and pen songs full of drama and angst but with surprisingly deft musical chops to back it up, combining gurgling keyboard riffs courtesy of keyboardist Ian Stanley with muscular rock hooks and distinctive vocals from the full-throated tenor of Orzabal as well as the more introspective Smith. Elias’ strong drumming rounded out the initial lineup, although Orzabal and Smith have long been considered the major nucleus of the band, particularly after Stanley and Elias departed in the late ’80s.

TFF 83

Tears for Fears were signed to Phonogram in 1981 and get to work on several singles – none of which you’ll easily find on CD. The history behind those tracks – and the ones you know – are after the jump!

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Written by Mike Duquette

March 7, 2013 at 10:09