Thursday, December 11, 2014
MUSIC REVIEW OF THE DAY: TEARS FOR FEARS - SONGS FROM THE BIG CHAIR Super Deluxe 30th Anniversary Edition
That's the problem with an all-encompassing box set, especially from the '80's. If you want to please the completists (and possibly the vanity of the band and organization behind it), you have to look at B-sides, stand-alone singles, remixes for dance, video, radio, short ones, shorter ones, extended ones, instrumental, dub, live tracks, rejected versions, lions and tigers and bears, oh my. I'm all for tracking the evolution of an album, especially if it's a great one, but I'll argue the best place to do this is in demos, alternate takes, and post-release live tracks that offer variations. Remixes don't add much to your insight, especially when they are not that different from the original, which is the case here.
There is a ton of repetition over the set. It's broken up into five CD's, the first featuring the original album, plus all the B-sides from the singles. This is the best of set, and where we really find out what was happening around the sessions. The off-cuts show the importance in the process to the sidemen, keyboard player Ian Stanley, drummer Manny Elias, plus the production team of Chris Hughes and Dave Bascombe. In other words, it wasn't all Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith. Several of the nine extra tracks here are pretty much instrumental, showing that the team was in the lab each day, creating synth, sample and beat tracks, waiting for words of wisdom to come (or not, in those cases). Another of the B-sides does show that it wasn't just '80's technology behind the success of the album. A piano version of The Working Hour highlights both the lyrics and melody of what was coming to mind, along with the synth stuff.
Disc two features the edited versions, and here's where the repeats start flying. You get single versions of Shout, Mothers Talk, Everybody Wants, plus a U.S. single version of Shout, a video version of Mothers Talk, and a radio-only edit for Head Over Heels. Of note here is the inclusion of the non-L.P. The Way You Are, a single put out before the album in the U.K., (plus a short edit, natch), that was a complete flop for them. It's okay, and it's good to have it available. Also, there's one called Everybody Wants To Run The World (and another edit of it, natch), which is the same exact song, only the word Run replacing Rule, a subtle difference. It was released for the Sport Aid charity effort.
As if we haven't had enough of these cuts already, Disc Three is remixes only. Here's where you head if you want four more versions of Shout, three of Everybody, and three of Mothers Talk. Disc four offers some relieve from remixes, but not of the same cuts. BBC sessions offer takes on Head Over Heels, The Working Hour and Broken, and then there's a big chunk of a Massey Hall show in Toronto, but for some reason they stick to the cuts off this album, and don't include stuff from The Hurting except Memories Fade. To fill out that disc, they include some, you guessed it, different, early mixes of five more of the tracks, including Shout.
Disc five is the obligatory 5.1 mix and a new stereo mix. Blessedly, the sixth disc is the DVD, with a Making Of documentary, the videos, some BBC TV appearances and an interview with producer Chris Hughes. To rap up the package, the inclusion of a replica 1985 tour book is a nice touch, although its pretty poppy and seems aimed at the teenage fans, but the booklet leaves something to be desired, more about the technical creation of the album rather than the themes that went into it, and the subsequent burn-out that caused them to lay low for four years after conquering the globe. So revel, all you completists. Stick with the two-disc Deluxe version, anyone else interested.