1985 was one crazy year in music. That year, I discovered artists such as Hüsker Dü and The Replacements. Duran Duran was peaking as a pop powerhouse. Whitney Houston burst onto the scene with unbelievable beauty, grace and the voice of a generation. Prince gave us his follow-up to Purple Rain a psychedelic Paisley Easter Egg of an album, Around the World in a Day, that I actually loved. Tom Petty couldn’t decide if he wanted to follow The Band into some southern-fried epic or due a new wave funky chicken with the Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart on Petty’s Southern Accents LP. Bruce Springsteen was the dominant sound, with sound-alike hits by artists like Bryan Adams and that song from the movie Eddie & the Cruisers (“On the Dark Side” by John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band). Even an old parody song by Rick Springfield spoofing on the similarities between his name and The Boss’ name was a minor hit (“Bruce”). And, then, there was the charity songs, led by Band Aid and USA for Africa. And, perhaps, the most important event of our lifetimes with Live Aid taking place at Wembley Stadium in London AND at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia that had the biggest global audience watching led by Bob Geldof and Midge Ure. That year was sure some heady times.
But, lest we forget, an album from a little known UK band was released to little fanfare, but eventually shot to the top of the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. Here in the US, I think we have really forgotten just how great of an album Tears for Fears released that year. Songs from the Big Chair was the album that captured the imagination of people in that important 18 to 30 year-old demographic at the time. I know that I had totally let my vinyl collect some dust without pulling out much over the 30-plus years since its release. But, thanks to Weezer’s cover of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” on their recently released “Teal Album,” I went back in re-evaluation mode.
Guess what?!?! Tears for Fears made one terrific album. Why is it that only pop oldies stations are only embracing the band’s three mega-hits (“Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” “Shout,” and “Head over Heels”) when classic rock radio has totally forgotten about this terrific album? I cannot believe that the band’s management did not try to milk a couple more hits out of it here in the States, because this album should be mentioned among the all-time greats.
Of course, the trio of hits are the biggies on the album, but the whole thing is a seamless statement of purpose, philosophy and talent all in one recorded package of pop-rock heaven. Even with the use of Eighties-styled synths and drum machines, this album continues to sound fresh today. Mainly because main Tears Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal turned those sounds inside out, refusing to make those standard Eighties instruments sound almost organic.
And, the band was not just new wave synth poppers that they are labeled today. No, they ventured into Style Council-like sophistipop ballads, lite-jazz numbers and flat-out Roxy Music areas of art-rock. This duo truly created a modern classic which most people have forgotten about.
So, old music fans, I know you have this album! Go dig it out, clean it up real nice and give it another spin on the old turntable. It will serve up some great memories while maintaining its freshness. And, all you young’uns out there! It’s time to go to your local independent record store, you know, the one with those vintage records and go record bin diving to find this album. You will NOT regret it. Tears for Fears’ Songs from the Big Chair IS a classic album that I have neglected for WAY too long. Let’s bring this album back to the respect it deserves.