The task of following up 1985’s massively popular Songs From The Big Chair was obviously a daunting endeavor. That record sold over 10 million copies; topped the US Billboard charts and spent 30 weeks in the UK top 10 music charts. Songs like “Shout,” “Head Over Heels” and “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” were ubiquitous across the globe in the mid-‘80s.
So, it’s no surprise that it took Tear For Fears four years to follow up that record.
Impressively, they didn’t bother to take the easy route and turn in Songs From The Big Chair, Redux. Rather, they expanded their sound immensely, built on the strengths of their previous efforts, strong pop structures and sweet melodies, but also experimented boldly with new sounds – horns and strings – as well as an overall more sophisticated vibe. During the course of the four years the record was being made, the duo was weathering life-altering events – Roland Orzabal was going through deep therapy, Curt Smith was going through a divorce – which obviously affected the themes on this record. They also went through four producers and spent a lot of money and time creating the exact vibe they were going for. Ambition, money and time obviously doesn’t always pay off (consider the bloated corpse of GNR’s Chinese Democracy), but in this instance it clearly did.
“Sowing The Seeds Of Love,” the most memorable track from the album, is also easily one of the band’s best songs. But there are plenty of other remarkable moments on the record, like over the top “Year of the Knife,” or the gorgeous title track, “Woman in Chains,” a remarkable duet with American Soul/Gospel singer Oleta Adams.
As recording companies continue to raid their vaults looking for albums to re-release, they struck paydirt with Seeds of Love. Like the album that came before it, UMe and Virgin have just re-issue this Tears For Fears classic with a massive five disc set – a remixed version of the original record, a CD of B-Sides, as well 22 unreleased demo tracks spread across two addition discs. The set also includes a Blu-ray.
Of the extra tracks here, among the highlights is the oddly satisfying experimental “Johnny Panic And The Bible Of Dreams” (it’s understandable why this one didn’t make the cut for the initial album but it’s no less impressive of a song) and the sweet “Rhythm of Life”. This one was initially considered for the record but for whatever reason didn’t make the cut and was handed over to Adams for her own album.
Thirty-one years after its initial release, Seeds Of Love holds up remarkably well. As for the deluxe release treatment the album was given, it may seems a bit of overkill for anyone unaware of the record, but for anyone else it’s well worth the investment given the amount of songs here that are fully fleshed out ideas. Far from being afterthoughts and studio good offs, many of these demos are album worthy tracks and sound just as stunning now as they did three decades ago.