Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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TEARS for FEARS

UK new wave duo formed by Curt Smith (b 24 June '61), bass and vocals, with Roland Orzabal (b 22 Aug. '61), guitar and vocals, refugees from mod revival band Graduate (LP Acting My Age '80 with Steve Buck on keyboards, John Baker on guitar, Andy Marsden, drums). Aimed for self-consciously new wave approach with single 'Suffer The Children' on indie label Idea before signing with Phonogram. Third single 'Mad World' made no. 3, 'Change' no. 4, re- recorded second single 'Pale Shelter' no. 5, all '82--3. Though from Bath, they fitted into a Liverpool bracket of pop production (China Crisis, Pale Fountains etc); album The Hurting '83 sold almost a million, but they gained strength through recruitment of two supernumerary group members: drummer Manny Elias (ex-Interview) played on first LP; keyboardist Ian Stanley (b 28 Feb. '57, High Wycombe) was a local musician whose home studio was venue for recording of Songs From The Big Chair '85, with a more muscular sound exemplified by hits 'Shout' and 'Mothers Talk', stronger electro-dance material; but LP also incl. more usual TFF fare, e.g. 'I Believe', dedicated to ex-Soft Machine vocalist Robert Wyatt, with his 'Sea Song' on flip. Set out to conquer USA with aptly titled Orzabal/Stanley song 'Everybody Wants To Rule The World', written with prod. Chris Hughes (ex-Adam Ant): no. 1 in USA/2 UK; 'Shout' also no. 1 USA; 'Head Over Heels' made five hits from LP at no. 12 UK/3 USA. Chair was no. 1 in the USA for five weeks. It was an unusual partnership: Orzabal wrote most of the songs, though they shared lead vocals; they were not attractive in the usual pop way, both openly and happily married, yet gained wide audience from teens upwards of both sexes. They claimed LPs were inspired by intellectual concepts, Hurting by Arthur Janov's primal scream therapy (the name of the group came from Janov's book Prisoners Of Pain), Chair by USA film Sybil about a girl with 16 personalities who retreats to psychiatrist's chair, but the teen audience bought them because they were catchy; the lyrical concern and the premium set on musicianship set them in the '70s, yet the songs and image didn't seem to date in pop terms. They took '86 off to rehab their homes; Mancrab was a splinter group of band members. With a new lineup incl. vocalist Oleta Adams The Seeds Of Love '89 was no. 1 UK, top ten USA. Having discovered Adams on tour in the USA they wrote and prod. her debut album Circle Of Love '90, then split up. Compilation The Tears Roll Down charted in USA '92; Orzabal carried on as Tears for Fears with Elemental '93, still in the top 50 albums; Raoul And The Kings Of Spain made the top 80 '95, Saturn Martial And Lunatic '96 back on Mercury didn't. Smith released solo Soul On Board '93.