Tears For Fears’ Songs From The Big Chair opened with Shout, a song which unusually opened with its chorus. It was a bold and confident opening to a very assured and mature second album. Shout was a single the end of 1984 here and made the Top 5. It would be a while before it was single in the US, but when it was issued there in the middle of 1985, it would become their second consecutive Billboard #1. The first was another of the album’s tracks, Everybody Wants To Rule The World, one which the Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith hadn’t initially intended to be a single. American audiences loved the album – within a year of release it had sold over 4 million copies there alone – and its appeal for that market was not by chance. They had been listening to “a lot of American music – I remember [producer] Chris Hughes bringing in more American stuff; that’s when we started listening to Steely Dan – even, dare I say it, to Bryan Adams, before he took off. And Bruce Springsteen. It was really to broaden our horizons more than anything else,” said Smith. 1 Not that the album didn’t work just as well for UK radio airplay too: there were plenty of intelligent but sing-a-long tracks to choose from as singles. Everybody Wants To Rule The World was of course a sizeable hit in the UK too, and it won Best British Single at the following year’s BPI Awards.
A worldwide, almost year-long tour followed the album’s appearance in March 1985. During it, they were scheduled to appear at the Philadelphia concert for Live Aid in July 1985, but for reasons that were not clear they failed to appear. (They had also been missing from the crew of Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas?, although a slowed down sample from their song The Hurting had been used in the song’s introduction.) Smash Hits reported the incident as follows: “Tears For Fears: where were they? Seems they were billed as appearing before they agreed to do it. ‘Emotional blackmail’ was how they saw it, apparently. So they didn’t do it… but [they] came through with this compromise: they’ve pledged all profits from the future concerts. Well done.” 2 And indeed, proceeds from some of the remaining dates on the tour were donated to the charity.
Meanwhile, the album continued to yield hits, including Head Over Heels. The ballad I Believe (dedicated on the album to Robert Wyatt, “if he’s listening”) was given a ‘soulful re-recording’ for issue as a single in the autumn of 1985, as promotion for the album began to come to an end. But just as it appeared, work was being completed on a longform video that would be issued at the end of the following month to complete the Big Chair package. “It’s called Scenes From The Big Chair,” Orzabal explained to Record Mirror.3 “There’s a bit of documentary, but of interview, bit of live stuff and a few of the videos that people may not have seen before. It’s a very good representation of what we’re about. I think we come across as we really are.” The documentary element was “basically a summary of our career so far”. It seemed that this collection was a sweetener for fans who about to endure a long wait for new material. “We’re going to take a long break because no one is really in need of another Tears For Fears albums for a while. People are getting a bit sick of us really.”
1 Lester, Paul. “Liner notes”, Songs From The Big Chair [Deluxe edition], Mercury Records, 1 May 2006.
2 Bostock, Dave et al. “Live Aid the greatest show on earth”, Smash Hits, EMAP, 17-30 July 1985.
3 O’Toole, Lesley. “We’re just a couple of wind-up merchants”, Record Mirror, Spotlight Publications Ltd, 9 November 1985.
NEW SINGLES on sale from Oct. 4
Kim WILDE Child Come Away (RAK RAK352)
TEARS FOR FEARS I Believe (A Soulful Re-recording) (Mercury IDEA11)