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The Seeds of Love (Remastered)

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Album Review

Tears for Fears' third album was their third — and, in many ways, their most impressive — pop masterpiece in a row, which was lucky, because it had a production history that made the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's look like a spontaneously generated single. The comparison with the Beatles' album is especially apt, not just because of the time it took to make — the three years between this record and its predecessor recalled that whole late-'60s/early-'70s phenomenon of artists in a seeming contest to see who could take the longest between releases and spend the most studio time on an album — but also in the ornate cover and interior art, and the album's centerpiece, "Sowing the Seeds of Love." The latter was a conscious homage to "All You Need Is Love" and also a political song (with a dig at British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's conservative government) of the same type that John Lennon and company used to engage in occasionally as a band — though American soul and gospel influences are the most musically obvious attributes here. True, the album ended up more a canvas for co-founder Roland Orzabal than a "group" effort by Orzabal and co-founder Curt Smith — and the partnership splintered in the three years it took to make, with Nicky Holland succeeding Ian Stanley on keyboards and supplanting Smith as Orzabal's songwriting collaborator, but the results were difficult to dismiss. And with this expanded re-release, The Seeds of Love has finally gotten an edition worthy of the effort that went into delivering it — the majestic opener, "Women in Chains," with its richly textured mix of electric, electronic, and acoustic sounds and almost operatic vocals — also steeped in gospel — seems almost larger than life here, and that's pretty much true of the entire album. All of it is laid out in audiophile clarity — the best vocals in Tears for Fears' history (and, not coincidentally, featuring guest singer Oleta Adams in a prominent if not dominant role), and their most ambitious production (yet, ironically, juxtaposed around their most basic musical structures). The four bonus tracks are more a matter of 15 and a half minutes of loose ends from the convoluted sessions being tied up than anything essential being added to the original record — the worldbeat rap number "Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams," the highly percussive fan favorite "Tears Roll Down," the searing guitar and keyboard-dominated "Always in the Past," and the ethereal "Music for Tables." None of them are essential, though the first is enlightening and shows some other directions the rest of the music might've taken. The annotation by Richard Smith is highly informative as well, and ties up more loose ends than the bonus tracks do.


Formed: 1981 in Bath, Somerset, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Tears for Fears were always more ambitious than the average synth pop group. From the beginning, the duo of Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith were tackling big subjects -- their very name derived from Arthur Janov's primal scream therapy, and his theories were evident throughout their debut, The Hurting. Driven by catchy, infectious synth pop, The Hurting became a big hit in their native England, setting the stage for international stardom with their second album, 1985's Songs from the Big Chair. On...
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The Seeds of Love (Remastered), Tears for Fears
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