published: 5 /
Tommy Gunnarsson examines synth duo Tears Tor Fears' debut album 'The Hurting', which has just been released in a new thirtieth anniversary edition that consists of three CDs and also a DVD
Sadly, I’m a little too young to remember when Tears For Fears released their debut album, 'The Hurting', in 1983, but I have a very vivid memory of the follow-up, 'Songs from the Big Chair', and remember seeing the music video for 'Everybody Wants to Rule the World' on MTV at my grandparents’ in Stockholm (In the small town where I come from, we didn’t have cable TV until much later).
Listening to both albums now, almost thirty years later, I realise that they are quite different. The debut is, at least in comparison, much more experimental, and, although there are some great pop tunes on the album, like the hit singles 'Mad World', 'Pale Shelter' and 'Suffer the Children', there are also some songs that take a few listens to really digest. On the other hand, 'Songs from the Big Chair' was a lot easier to digest, and it was filled with hit singles (and potential hit singles) like the aforementioned 'Everybody Wants to Rule the World', 'Head Over Heels' and 'Shout'. But both these albums must have been a great surprise to fans of Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal’s first band, Graduate, which didn't use synthesisers at all. Instead they jumped onto the ska/mod pop bandwagon that swept the United Kingdom in the late 1970s/early 1980s, and released a couple of singles (among them the classic 'Elvis Should Play Ska') and an album before calling it a day and transforming into Tears for Fears.
As it has been thirty years since the release of 'The Hurting', their record label Phonogram, of course, wants to cash in on this anniversary. The result is a 4 CD box set (well, actually there are 3 CDs and one DVD in the package) containing the original album, one disc full of B-sides and remixes, one disc with some radio sessions and live songs recorded in 1982 and 1983, and one disc containing the concert film 'In My Mind’s Eye', recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon in 1984, and previously released on VHS back in the days.
The B-sides and remixes disc is… a collection of B-sides and remixes (surprise, surprise!) and, even though some of them are quite good, I think there are few remixes there that equal the original versions. The only flaw here is that the compiler didn’t put the tracks in chronological order, which would have been a lot better.
The disc containing radio sessions and live songs is made up by one Peel session recorded in September 1982 and a David Jensen session recorded a month later. As they are recorded with just a month between them, two songs (the album’s title track and 'The Prisoner') appear on both sessions, which is somewhat unfortunate. I would much rather hear session recordings of, let’s say, 'Mad World' or 'Pale Shelter'. But if this is what’s available, I guess we will have to settle for that.
Finally, we have the DVD, containing the 1984 concert in London. Sure, the graphics are dated, to say the least, but I really liked the concert, and the quality is actually quite good! And it’s great to hear early versions of 'Head Over Heels' and 'The Working Hour', both later included on the second album.
For a Tears for Fears fan this package is a “must have”. For those of you who have got to know the band through Gary Jules’ cover of 'Mad World' in the 'Donnie Darko' film, and want to hear some more, this is a very good way to start.
Have a Listen:-