1983, Music

The Hurting (1983) by Tears for Fears

Like most people my age and younger, I first heard “Mad World” through a cover in a video game commercial. The song made a big impression, so much so that the first time I heard the original I was like “I don’t like this.”

I have always been far more familiar with Songs from the Big Chair, the really big hit, and the one that I believe was a bigger hit in North America than this one. So again, there’s kind of disconnect between what I’m familiar with and the band. In this latter case, they honed their commercial instincts a little bit more with the later album

But the thing I really like about Tears for Fears is that they’re more of a band (literally at this point) than so many synth pop groups. For some who does not love the sound of analog synthesizers upon analog synthesizers plus vocals, having guitars and drums (and a saxophone played by Mel Collins!) gives me an entry point that most other British synthpop bands of this vintage (save Eurythmics) don’t provide me with. It’s much closer to “synth rock” (slightly like Rush in this period) than it is synthpop.

It’s funny to read contemporary reviews that attacked this record for being too lyrically bleak, given how many lyrically bleak records were being made in the UK in this period and the years leading up to it. (Honestly, what were these critics listening to that this is the record they attacked for its bleakness?) I’d rather listen to these kinds of lyrics than lyrics about dancing or sex of what have you.

This record actually makes me rethink my preconceived notions of the band. I wasn’t sure I really needed to listen to them since I checked out Songs from the Big Chair many, many years ago. But this one has changed my mind.

Good stuff.


All tracks written by Roland Orzabal, except “The Way You Are” written by Orzabal, Curt Smith, Ian Stanley, and Manny Elias.

  1. “The Hurting” 4:20
  2. “Mad World” 3:35
  3. “Pale Shelter” 4:34
  4. “Ideas as Opiates” 3:46
  5. “Memories Fade” 5:08
  6. “Suffer the Children” 3:53
  7. “Watch Me Bleed” 4:18
  8. “Change” 4:15
  9. “The Prisoner” 2:55
  10. “Start of the Breakdown” 5:00
  11. “Change” (New Version†) 4:36
  • Roland Orzabal – vocals, guitar, keyboards, rhythm programming, lead vocals on tracks 1, 4–7, and 10
  • Curt Smith – vocals, bass guitar, keyboards, lead vocals on tracks 1, 2, 3, 8, and 9
  • Ian Stanley – keyboard programming, computer programming
  • Manny Elias – drums, rhythm programming

Additional personnel

  • Chris Hughes – rhythm programming, tuned percussion, conducting
  • Ross Cullum – jazz high, dynamic toggle
  • Mel Collins – saxophones
  • Phil Palmer – palmer picking
  • Caroline Orzabal – child vocal on “Suffer the Children”

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