Monday, February 2, 2015

songs from the big chair

Tears for Fears ruled the world with the captivating catharsis of this sensational synthpop shout.  After the success of their debut album 'The Hurting', the band released the experimental single "The Way You Are", which, while a moderate hit, made them realize that they needed a change in direction.  They worked briefly with a new producer Jeremy Green before returning to Chris Hughes, who had helmed the recording of their debut.  The sessions for 'Songs from the Big Chair' took place at Wool Hall Studios, Beckington, Somerset with engineer Dave Bascombe and featured Roland Orzabal on guitar, keyboards, lead vocals, grand piano, vocal styling, bass synth, and LinnDrum Programming;   Curt Smith on bass guitar, vocals, and lead vocals;  Ian Stanley on keyboards, synths, LinnDrum programming, and arrangements;  and Manny Elias on drums;   with  Sandy McLelland, Stevie Lange, and Annie McCaig on backing vocals; Chris Hughes on drums aand MIDI programming; Jerry Marotta on percussion; Will Gregory and Mel Collins on saxophone;  Andy Davis on grand piano;  Neil Taylor on guitar;  and Marilyn Davis on backing vocals and operatic vocal.  

Orzabal remembers:  "It was [an easy time making the record], because we had cut our teeth and suffered so much making The Hurting. It was a very, very painful process. We were young kids, and we were spending a lot of time away from home. And it was just the way we were recording with Chris Hughes and Ross Cullum; there was so much analysis on every aspect of the recording, and it just became a little bit too tedious.   Then all of a sudden I had made a bit of money from the publishing deal I had, from the success of “Mad World” [and] bought a recording console. We put it in our keyboard player’s house. And then all of a sudden, we were back at home, going home every night, and we had this … not proper recording studio, but a studio that was good enough to make a record in—familiar surroundings, surrounded by our girlfriends, wives, whatever. It was just so much easier."

Smith says:  "When we record, I don't think we go in with any set idea of what we're attempting to achieve. Basically, we're just trying to go in and make the best record we can. "The Way You Are" was not the best experiment and certainly not the best way to start it. I think after that we realized that we are more of an album band, we want to put a project together as opposed to just one-off singles. There's no real direction in one song, it's when you get to play with a whole bunch of songs together that you get a sense of an album and a sense of a project as a whole. For us that was the big revelation I guess: 'You know what? We're an album band. We may have hit singles, but we're an album band.' Obviously, we had some disagreements; the record company back then wanted things done very quickly because The Hurting was successful. It wasn't as big in America as everywhere else but it was successful. They wanted us to follow up quickly and we kind of didn't. There were some battles to be had there ... The title was my idea. It's a bit perverse but then you've got to understand our sense of humour. The 'Big Chair' idea is from this brilliant film called Sybil about a girl with 16 different personalities. She'd been tortured incredibly by her mother as a child and the only place she felt safe, the only time she could really be herself was when she was sitting in her analyst's chair. She felt safe, comfortable and wasn't using her different faces as a defence. It's kind of an 'up yours' to the English music press who really fucked us up for a while. This is us now – and they can't get at us anymore."

'Songs from the Big Chair' became an international smash hit, going to number twenty-five in Sweden; twenty-two in Austria; twelve in France; six in Italy; five in Switzerland; two in New Zealand and the UK; and number one in Germany, the Netherlands, and the US.  Orzabal considers:  "We were obviously surprised. We weren’t really ready for it. I suppose our whole thrust, musically and philosophically, as Tears for Fears came out in The Hurting. When we finished that album, it was almost like, 'Okay, well, we’ve kind of said our bit. What are we going to do now?' But of course we were successful, and the record company was pushing us, pushing us, pushing us to come up with another single, come up with another single. And then we had a stuttering beginning to the whole Big Chair thing; we released a song called “The Way You Are,” which didn’t do very well. It was very sort of technical, very electronic, very muso. It got us a little bit worried, because it only got to No. 24 in the charts in England. And then we almost did the same thing with “Mothers Talk,” but the record company at that point said, 'No. Stop. You’re not doing this kind of music. We need more oomph, more of a human side than what you’re doing. We want more guitars, we want more force.' And it was like, 'Oh, Jesus.' We rerecorded “Mothers Talk” in a much more robust way, but that set the tone then for the songs that followed. We had sort of broken the back of, in a sense, a new direction, which was less precious, less shoegazing, less moody, less black, as in a black mood ... I don’t really think we’re trying to do much more with our music than sell a few records...Certainly many of our songs have a message. But ultimately people don’t listen.”

"Everybody Wants to Rule the World" hit the top of the charts in Canada, New Zealand, and the US.

Tears for Fears Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Celtiemama

"Shout" went to number one in Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the US.

Tears For Fears - Shout (1985) from MTVClassic1 on Vimeo.

Tears For Fears - Shout by remixeservice

"Head Over Heels"

Tears For Fears - Head Over Heels from schmerzhaus on Vimeo.

1985 - Head Over Heels by tearsforfearsbrasil

'Songs from the Big Chair' 
full album:

00:00 "Shout"   (Roland Orzabal, Ian Stanley) 6:32
06:25  "The Working Hour"   (Orzabal, Stanley, Manny Elias) 6:30
12:48 "Everybody Wants to Rule the World"   (Orzabal, Stanley, Chris Hughes) 4:10
16:56 "Mothers Talk"   (Orzabal, Stanley) 5:09
21:55 "I Believe"   (Orzabal) 4:53
26:45 "Broken"   (Orzabal) 2:38
29:23 "Head over Heels/Broken (Live)"   (Orzabal, Curt Smith) 5:01
34:25 "Listen"   (Orzabal, Stanley) 6:48

bonus tracks:

01 - The Big Chair
02 - Empire Building
03 - The Marauders
04 - Broken Revisited
05 - The Conflict
06 - Pharaohs
07 - When in Love with a Blind Man

08 - Sea Song

'Scenes from the Big Chair' documentary

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