Tears For Fears -‘The Hurting.’ (Universal)
December 2003. The expected UK Christmas No.1 is from The Darkness, an eighties-rock influenced band who have been doing massive business for the past six months. Debate has raged about whether they are serious or tongues are firmly in cheek. The single ‘Christmas Time’ is completely over the top, and full of knob gags that are scarcely more subtle than Mrs. Slocombe’s Pussy.
However, in the end, the no.1 record is ‘Mad World.’ Performed by Michael Andrews with vocals by Gary Jules, it’s a cover of a Tears For Fears song that features on the cult movie of the time, Donnie Darko. Despite the Andrews/Jules version have been cited as an example of cover versions that are better than the original, within a very short space of time, everyone is proclaiming the Tears For Fears version better, and a rapid growth of interest in their back catalogue starts. It’s perhaps a bit like a sudden re-writing of history like Winston Smith in 1984 knowing that Oceania is sometimes at war with Eurasia and in alliance with Eastasia, and sometimes the other way round, but this seems to have a happy outcome.
Tears For Fears, then -and now- consist of two men, Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal. Taking their name from Dr. Arthur Janov’s psychology work (which also gave Primal Scream their name), the two got together in Bath. It’s perhaps surprising to discover that most of the album was written on an acoustic guitar, when this is widely – and rightly -regarded as a new wave, synth pop classic.
Knocked into shape over the course of many months, the album spawned four hit singles in the aforementioned ‘Mad World,’ ‘Pale Shelter,’ ‘Change’ and ‘Suffer The Children.’ These are all excellent points into the album, but it’s also worth remembering the title track and ‘Ideas As Opiates.’ Yup, the band had produced a concept album, looking at ideas about moving from childhood to adulthood. Yet, this didn’t alienate people at the time. The band were feted by sources as seemingly different as Smash Hits and John Peel; ‘Mad World’ made no.5 in Peel’s Festive 50 in 1982, and they also recorded a session for him. They had, after all, released an excellent album.
Re-issues should offer the buying public something extra and this is a fairly deluxe passage. As well as a concert film (not that us reviewers got this!), there is a disc of edits and remixes and a disc of sessions including the aforementioned Peel one and two they recorded for David ‘Kid’ Jensen. The edits disc is for completists who really feel that they have to have every version – it does get rather grating listening to a handful of the singles over and over again. The sessions disc provides us with insights into how the songs came into being, and it’s always good to see Radio sessions being available commercially rather than having to rely on illicit mp3s uploaded from ancient cassettes.
So a full package, but one that shows this as being a ‘new pop’ classic that holds up well, thirty years since its original release.
The Hurting is reissued by Universal on October 21.