Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tears For Fears - Songs From the Big Chair

Songs From the Big Chair (1985) ***

The most queried question in pop has always been, "I really like that song I heard on the radio, but is the rest of the album any good?"  This has long occupied pop consumers' minds since the dawn of radio singles and the invention of the long-playing record.  This album/cassette/CD (released in 1985, so the vast majority of purchasers would own this in the cassette format; I said 'would' because I can't imagine many pop listeners not physically around in 1985 actually giving much of a damn about this album) contains three smash hit singles, each deserving its own special star, thus bringing this album up to the three star rating you see above.  You've heard them, either by constant overexposure during the '80s or by constant overexposure by movies/TV shows during the '00s trying to instantly signify that '80s feel.  The angry young survivor of abuse anthem, "Shout."  The dreamy, creamy adult contemporary swoosh, "Everybody Wants to Rule the World," in which the titular chorus seems like an afterthought.  "Head Over Heels," which isn't so much a song as an extended swoon, and is the most-played out song in the history of that much-mined pop subject when you're feeling those exact same feelings (well, at least I always wear that song down to the nub when I'm crushing).  After that, you get a big fat nothing.  Songs that define the term 'filler'.  This is particular obvious on side two, which starts off with a snoozefest of an adult contemporary ballad, "I Believe," that defines forgettable before it's even over, which then proceeds to "Broken," which seems to exist solely as a teasing intro to "Head Over Heels," and after you've swooned your heart out, you're left with nearly seven minutes of "Listen," which consists seemingly of fragments of tunes and samples that go nowhere and is seemingly designed simply to fill up the remaining seven minutes of space on the tape.  Side One is a little more substantial, which isn't to say that its two non-hits are really worth your time.  "Mothers Talk," is just boringly stereotypical '80s funk, complete with obnoxious black female soul backup singers being stereotypical, and "The Working Hour," has a lengthy sax solo intro designed to pad out the song's length and that's about the only truly memorable thing about this boring AOR ballad.  Even the hits seem padded out to stretch the album's thin supply of material, being longer than the single versions.  In sum:  this album is only eight songs long, two of which don't even count as real songs, which actually only leaves six songs, of which only three are good.  In other words, buy it cheap if you see it used - those hit singles are great! if you haven't gotten sick of them already. 

P.S. No toilet jokes, please.

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