This one should be a no-brainer. What album more exemplified the ‘80s than Tears For Fears’ immensely successful Songs From the Big Chair? When it was decided to do the ultimate Deluxe Edition of this classic album, the lines should have started forming.
Tears For Fears is largely the work of Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith. At least they stand out larger than life in every aspect of the band including their videos. After the hot reception of their first work, The Hurting, which generated 3 hit singles in the UK, establishing them as a formidable talent, the band went to work on their second with all of the pressure in the world to, at the very least, replicate the success of their debut. When Songs From The Big Chair hit the markets, it climbed so fast, swallowing the US market, that it now overshadows their debut in every way. It yielded 4 high charting singles that most folks from that era remember easily enough including the anthemic and legendary “Shout” single.
The blend of jazz, rock, thoughtful lyrics, and excellent musicianship made Songs From The Big Chair an album that not only captured the attention of FM listeners who disdain any hint of Top 40, but also the Top 40 crowd, all of whom ran to buy this album of hits and otherwise excellent FM staples, with not a filler in the grooves.
The album begins with “Shout”, carries through the jazz infused “The Working Hour,” with its mournful saxophone beginnings, launches into “Everybody Wants To Rule the World,” and “Mothers Talk” and finishing with the remaining classics that include “Head Over Heels.” At this point, pertaining to the greatness of the album, I’m preaching to the choir. But there is much more to this new reissue Deluxe Edition.
The first, and most important, is remastering. The superior sound quality is instantly recognizable in the first 15 seconds of “Shout.” While a remastering in DSD would have been a fan’s dream, the lack of an SACD reissue does not in any way hamper the beauty of what you’re to hear on this set.
There is a massive inclusion of bonus material that includes added B-Sides and an extra disc filled with all of the 7” released singles (heard on the radio), and the released 12” mix singles. This represents a completeness that makes this Mercury/UMe Deluxe Edition the definitive version of Songs From The Big Chair.
Disc One adds a bonus track, the spare, piano version of “The Working Hour” included on the UK cassette version of Songs From The Big Chair before moving onto the collection of B-Sides. There are seven B-Sides, most of which match up to the 7” singles that are found on the second disc and can be ascertained in the next paragraph. The lone B-Side not paired to songs on this Deluxe Edition is “Broken Revisited,” which sounds like a backward recorded version that becomes funky and messy. All of the B-Sides are adventurously experimental and token dancepop at best. Their inclusion here is historical, as they do not come close to the brilliance found on the other side of the singles that they reside on. “Pharoahs” actually is a musically interesting instrumental.
Disc Two brings the set the collection of singles, both 7” and 12”. Of the 7” singles, there are the familiar “The Way You Are” from The Hurting (B-Side – “The Mauraders”); the radio edits of “Mothers Talk” (B-Side – “Empire Building”); “Shout” (B-Side – “The Big Chair”); “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” (B-side – “Pharoahs”); the radio remix of “Head Over Heels” (B-Side – “When In Love With A Blind Man”); “I Believe (A Soulful Re-Recording)” (B-Side – “Sea Song”); and a US dance remix of “Mothers Talk.” None of these mixes need to be mentioned because you know them all very, very well.
The remaining five songs on the second disc are 12” dance club singles remixes. There is the US Remix of “Shout”; a US Dub Version of “Shout”; a very good Urban Remix of “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” (this song has the best translation abilities as is evidenced by this remix); the Beat of The Drum Remix of “Mothers Talk”; and the Preacher Remix of “Broken/Head Over Heels/Broken.”
This set could have been further enhanced by the inclusion of demos and rehearsal tracks, perhaps other items of further interest that relate to Songs From the Big Chair. But regardless, of the entirety of this set, the real winner is the remastered music, hands down.
All of this is stored in a double gatefold digipak and protected by the plastic slipcover that accentuates the package. The booklet is filled with photos, a large essay by Paul Lester, and complete credits.
The Deluxe Edition is complemented by the simultaneous release of Scenes From The Big Chair, a DVD reissue of the band’s 1985 VHS film. This new DVD is presented in fullscreen but with 2.0 Stereo and 5.1 Surround audio Dolby Digital.
The documentary is a cut and paste of concert footage, actual videos, video shoots, interviews, and a sliced look at various places in the tour and other locations. However, the presentation allows for a close look at the band during their most famed period, giving you a glance at the grueling pressures of new found superstardom such as Tears For Fears enjoyed at the time of this documentary. Extras added are a 6-song video jukebox of their videos from the album. There are two versions of “Mothers Talk, ” the standard cut and the US Remix. Finally, there is an interview with their producer of Songs From The Big Chair, Chris Hughes.
Importantly, the DVD and the CD make a good case of being stored next to each other as they both exhaust the whole affair of Songs From The Big Chair. Fans of Tears For Fears will be happy to own both and enjoy the complete album experience.