Wednesday, February 17, 2016

"Songs From The Big Chair"

Tears For Fears:  “Songs From The Big Chair”
Secondhand Vinyl Album
Original Release Date:  1985 PolyGram Records

Side 1
The Working Hour
Everybody Wants To Rule The World
Mothers Talk

Side 2
I Believe
Head Over Heels

   The album, “Songs From The Big Chair,” by Tears For Fears has accomplished the near impossible.  My love of this record runs so deep it actually made this admittedly OCD blogger create a NEW category while rating her music.  At this time I would like to introduce the first selection in the, “END OF THE WORLD SURVIVAL PICK,” rating.  Basically the title is self-explanatory, this is one of the albums I would try to preserve for any post-apocalyptic society that may find themselves rebuilding the culture of music.  Also, it's one of those records I would selfishly try to save simply because I couldn't bear to think about never hearing it again.  I guess I began thinking about creating a category like this after recently re-watching one of my favorite movies, “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World.”  During this film actress, Keira Knightley, plays the role of a flaky twenty-something who decides the only thing she needs to grab while fleeing her apartment during a riot, spawned by the impending end of the world, is her favorite records.  I thought, “Uh, yeah that makes sense.  I better start planning what to take now.”  Hence, my new category is born.  I have a feeling I may need a wheelbarrow to carry all of my selections when the fateful end actually arrives.  This all being stated, I believe it’s probably fairly obvious that I absolutely adore the album, “Songs From The Big Chair.”  Oddly enough, I have no recollection on how I actually acquired this record.  It’s like one day it just appeared among the others.  I’m thinking it's arrival was probably a divine intervention thing intended to get me prepared for well…you know…"THE END."
   The first thing I’ll state about this album is that I find it incredibly hard to review it in the usual song by song manner.  Here, more than any other record I’ve reviewed so far, is an example of a true concept piece.  However, I would like to note that the specific concept introduced by the band Tears For Fears differs significantly from the themes presented by so many other groups.  Instead of creating a record with an easily categorized topic, “Songs From The Big Chair,” forms a cohesiveness through mostly instrumental sound.  (Example:  The Band’s self-titled record was a concept album that could easily be defined as a work paying homage to 19th Century Americana.  The Tears For Fears record, “Songs From The Big Chair,” is much more complex to label. During this album there is no definite theme linking the songs other than pure cohesion of sound.) 
   In addition, this album presents a solid case for the idea that even hit singles can sound so much better when enjoyed in their original format.  In fact, this blogger would be willing to argue that it’s the songs in between hits like, “Shout,” and the iconic 80’s anthem, “Everybody Wants To Rule The World,” that actually elevate this record to greatness.  Particular examples of this can be found during the song, “The Working Hour,” where it became extremely clear to this listener that not only was she going to have to add a category to her rating system, but she was going to have to redefine her idea of what genre the band Tears For Fears actually fits into.  During this song a grand piano perfectly accompanies gorgeous saxophone solos and crystal clear vocals, creating a feeling reminiscent of smooth jazz…but the good kind…like the ridiculously good kind.  Later in the album the song, “Mothers Talk,” skews a listener’s perception yet again by creating an almost industrial feel through drum sound worthy of current band's like, Nine Inch Nails.  At this point, a reader may be wondering how it’s possible to transform noise from smooth jazz to industrial techno during the course of one album and still maintain a perfectly cohesive sound.  I have to admit that even after about twenty listens I’m still wondering too.  For this reason I won't hesitate to define Tears For Fears founder, Roland Orzabal, a musical genius.
   It’s this blogger's opinion that the height of this bands' talent is best exhibited on Side 2 of, “Songs From The Big Chair.”  Here it’s virtually impossible to decipher where one song ends and another begins.  This is most prominently displayed during the piece, “Broken,” where the band provides a medley type song, featuring many of the album's overall sounds.  Suddenly, this collaboration of noise is interrupted by yet another hit single, “Head Over Heels.”  Interestingly enough, as soon as the last note of this song is uttered the album launches straight into the instrumental chorus line of, “Broken,” again as if, “Head Over Heels,” was just a euphoric dream that actually never was on the album in the first place.  Again, in this case I blame divine intervention.  Perhaps the song, "Head Over Heels," never did exist. Furthermore, maybe the whole album, "Songs From The Big Chair," is simply a beautiful dream, because concoctions of sound that include aspects of new wave, jazz, industrial techno, and pop are simply too good to be true.


  1. Pat and I really like the movie "Seeking a Friend for the End of the World." Of course we realize that we are lucky because we have each other to share the end with. Anyway, your review of “Songs From The Big Chair” makes me consider that maybe I did not give Tears For Fears enough attention. I remember the name but not much about their music. I will seek to correct that careless neglect. Thanks for reminding me about them.

  2. It's amazing to me that you would categorize this body as a civilization revival. "Listen" has always, ALWAYS, spoke to me of an apocalyptic end, as though they know the end is upon us and that finale is a slow and gentle "no-hard-feelings" farewell to everything and everyone!

  3. It's amazing to me that you would categorize this body as a civilization revival. "Listen" has always, ALWAYS, spoke to me of an apocalyptic end, as though they know the end is upon us and that finale is a slow and gentle "no-hard-feelings" farewell to everything and everyone!