Wednesday, December 19, 2018

“When all you do is see me through…”

11. TEARS FOR FEARS “Pale Shelter” (1983)
From the album “The Hurting”

Primal therapy advocates who foolishly didn’t use the name Primal Scream for their band, avoiders of Live Aid and each other, and sowers of the seeds of love, Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, had massive success in the United States at a time when that simply didn’t happen.  Even more impressively, success happened for them almost immediately, with their third single “Mad World” shooting to number three in the UK singles chart.  Some eighteen years later, this perfectly good song would be utterly destroyed with a cloying, mawkish, glacial cover by Michael Andrews and Gary Jules, as featured in the shit film “Donnie Darko”.  I’m not sure if you can tell, but I’m still a little bit sore about that one.

Now, back to the matter at hand.  “Pale Shelter” was originally their second single back in ‘82, but the version I always listen to is the re-recorded version from their debut album “The Hurting”.  It’s been in my life for a fair old while; I remember quite plainly my parents having this album on vinyl in a house we lived in around 1984, but must also admit that I don’t recall hearing it at the time.  Part of me thinks we might not have had a record player upon which to play it, but I get very mixed up about that time, as I was in low single figures of age.

Clearly that’s a long, long time ago, so why do I remember it?  Well, partly for the stark music; cold and distant, busy enough to feel accomplished, yet minimalist enough to retain its personality, even dare I say its charm.  It’s the highlight of “The Hurting”, for me a nose ahead of the more automatic title track, the poppier “Change” and the well and truly spoiled “Mad World”, despite a self-indulgent lyric railing at the protagonist’s parents.  But aside from this, a very good friend of mine picked up a copy back in the late nineties and we got to enjoy it all over again as drunk teenagers.

What happened next?  Well, somewhat unfair criticism of the album’s production and musicianship seems to have driven them to search for a more polished, professional and epic sound, leading them to disappear up their arses with “The Seeds Of Love”, which cost a million pounds to make in 1989, introduced the world to Oleta Adams, and was led by a Beatles-aspirant (near) title track that seemed to stay in the charts for 40,000 years, but is rarely replayed these days.  Meanwhile, “Pale Shelter” is some sad git’s eleventh most played track of the year.  I think I know which era of Tears For Fears won THAT one.

For a final chuckle, try to imagine if Tears For Fears were called Primal Scream, and Primal Scream were called Tears For Fears.  It’s about the only way Bobby Gillespie could look more ridiculous.

(Thank you to Kristian for giving me a creative jump-start halfway through this one.)

ARE YOU READY for next time?  Then “Break It Down”, or risk getting “Snakebit”, because “Here Comes The Money”!

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