Editors’ Notes When Tears for Fears convened to make their second album in 1984, they were young, ambitious, and dead set on making sure the world knew they were something more than the Thompson Twins or Duran Duran. Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal’s first album under that name, 1983’s The Hurting, was some of the bleakest music to make a commercial impression since Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy, bridging the introversion of goth with the extroversion of pop. Songs From the Big Chair was more polished and more accessible, too, but still sounded out of sync with the prevailing trends of the time—too big, too complex, too intellectually loaded. Where The Hurting had explored ideas about trauma repression and inner darkness, Chair cast its eyes outward. These aren’t songs, they’re billboards: “Shout, shout, let it all out!”; “Everybody wants to rule the world!” The words are clear and the melodies broad, but the treatment is sophisticated enough that the band still scanned as highbrow no matter how many arenas they booked. Smith and Orzabal knew what Depeche Mode and Soft Cell were up to, but remained more interested in stuff like Peter Gabriel, spending 10 hours a day in the studio trimming trees without ever losing sight of the forest.

As synonymous as the album is in the collective memory with ’80s music, the reality is that Chair is a hodgepodge. Isolate the tracks from their context and you can hear industrial music (“Shout”), jazz ballads (“I Believe”), new-age (“Listen”) and ’60s-style pop (“Everybody Wants to Rule the World”)—a mix so discontinuous that the band said the album’s name was meant to nudge listeners toward the idea that this was more of a collection (“Songs From…”) than a unified creative statement. Still, the album’s modes of expression—complex, finessed, helplessly earnest—come through with such force they may as well have been applied by firehose. Smashing Pumpkins got it, and Arcade Fire too, not to mention Kanye, Drake, and Nas, all of whom prominently sampled the band—artists and producers who balanced all-caps feelings with an attention to detail and pop legibility. In November 1985, the band released a documentary called Scenes From the Big Chair, alternating music videos with live performances and interview clips. At one point, the cameraperson addresses a photographer from the German teen magazine Bravo. “Who are you photographing today?” the cameraperson asks. The photographer struggles to articulate the name, turning to Orzabal, standing in the background. “Tears for Fears,” the photographer says. “Is that right?” Orzabal shakes his head. “No,” he says. “We’re the Beatles”—a joke, of course, but evidence of the fences they were swinging for.

SONG
Shout
1
6:32
 
The Working Hour
2
6:31
 
Everybody Wants To Rule the World
3
4:11
 
Mothers Talk
4
5:06
 
I Believe
5
4:55
 
Broken
6
2:38
 
Head Over Heels / Broken
7
5:02
 
Listen
8
6:53
 
The Big Chair
9
3:21
 
Empire Building
10
2:52
 
The Marauders
11
4:15
 
Broken Revisited
12
5:16
 
The Conflict
13
4:04
 
The Working Hour (Piano Version)
14
2:08
 
Pharaohs (Single Version)
15
3:41
 
When In Love With a Blind Man
16
2:23
 
Sea Song
17
3:53
 
The Way You Are
1
4:55
 
Mothers Talk (Short Version)
2
3:54
 
Shout (Alternative Version)
3
6:00
 
Everybody Wants To Rule the World (7" Version)
4
4:12
 
Head Over Heels (Dave Bascombe 7" N.Mix)
5
4:17
 
I Believe (A Soulful Re-Recording)
6
4:42
 
Everybody Wants To Run the World
7
4:34
 
The Way You Are (Edit)
8
4:21
 
Mothers Talk (U.S. Remix)
9
4:14
 
Shout (U.S. Single Edit)
10
4:06
 
Everybody Wants To Run the World (Running Version)
11
4:33
 
Head Over Heels
12
4:16
 
Mothers Talk (Video Version)
13
4:47
 
Shout (7" Edit)
14
4:47
 
Listen (Clean Intro)
15
6:52
 
Roland & Curt Interviewed
16
7:36
 
The Way You Are (Extended)
1
7:41
 
Mothers Talk (Long Version)
2
6:17
 
Shout (UK Version / Extended Version)
3
7:42
 
Everybody Wants To Rule the World (Extended Version)
4
5:40
 
Broken / Head Over Heels / Broken (Preacher Mix)
5
8:01
 
Mothers Talk (Beat Of The Drum Mix)
6
8:56
 
Shout (Extended)
7
8:00
 
Everybody Wants To Rule the World (Urban Mix)
8
6:01
 
Mothers Talk (Alternate U.S. Remix)
9
4:12
 
Shout (US Dub Version)
10
6:48
 
Everybody Wants To Rule the World (Instrumental)
11
4:23
 
Shout (A Cappella)
12
5:02
 
Head Over Heels (Richard Skinner BBC Session / London / 1984)
1
4:14
 
The Working Hour (Richard Skinner BBC Session / London / 1984)
2
6:08
 
Broken (Richard Skinner BBC Session / London / 1984)
3
3:19
 
Mothers Talk (Live At Massey Hall, Toronto, Canada / 1985)
4
4:04
 
Broken / Head Over Heels (Live At Massey Hall, Toronto, Canada / 1985)
5
7:31
 
Memories Fade (Live At Massey Hall, Toronto, Canada / 1985)
6
5:10
 
The Working Hour (Live At Massey Hall, Toronto, Canada / 1985)
7
6:51
 
Everybody Wants To Rule the World (Live At Massey Hall, Toronto, Canada / 1985)
8
4:19
 
Shout (Live At Massey Hall, Toronto, Canada / 1985)
9
7:48
 
Mothers Talk (Early Mix)
10
4:39
 
The Way You Are (Demo)
11
4:25
 
Broken (Demo)
12
5:39
 
Shout (Alternative Mix)
13
5:08
 
Everybody Wants To Rule the World (Alternative Single Version)
14
4:21
 

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