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Classic Albums – Tears For Fears Songs From The Big Chair

Client: 1515 Productions for BBC Four & Mercury Studios

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Formed in 1981 by Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith after the demise of their first incarnation Graduate, in their early days, Tears For Fears were a part of the new wave synth movement, and they had success with their first (1983) album ‘The Hurting’,  featuring a song ‘Mad World’ which was a huge hit, reaching  no. 3 in the UK.

The album’s lyrics reflected Orzabal’s bitter childhood. The Hurting may be considered Tears for Fears’ only true concept album as references to emotional distress and primal scream therapy are found in nearly every song. The album itself was a big success and had a lengthy chart run (65 weeks) in the UK, where it reached no. 1 and platinum status.

Towards the end of 1983, the band released a new, slightly more experimental single, ‘The Way You Are’, intended as a stopgap while they worked on their second album. The single was a top 30 hit in the UK, but did not come close to matching the success of their three previous hits, despite a national tour in December of that year.

The single, which heavily featured sampling and programmed rhythms, was a departure from Tears for Fears’ previous musical approach. They later wrote that “this was the point we realised we had to change direction”.

Classic Albums in its introductory section touch on those earlier times, before explaining the Great Leap Forward that was to follow…. it was by branching out into a much more direct and bigger sound that they achieved the huge success they were to experience with their next and biggest album…