Digging Those Seeds Sans Tears and Fears

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Tears For Fears | The Seeds of Love (Expanded Box Set Edition) | (UMC)

The Seeds of Love was a significant step in the trajectory of Tears for Fears, one that provided them with their big breakthrough courtesy of their international hit “Sowing the Seeds of Love,” a song that brought them fully into the musical mainstream. While their first two albums provided ample proof of their imagination and ingenuity, it was this, their third effort, that found a compromise between their progressive prowess and commercial viability. Originally released in September 1989, it allegedly cost over £1 million to produce, hardly surprising considering the effort that went into it and the remarkable use of studio technology that was utilized over the course of the three years it took to make.

Indeed, it was quite a saga. Their original attempts at it failed and forced them to put a hold on further recording, allegedly due to conflicts between the two prime members, Curt Smith and Roland Orzabel, as well as a falling out with the original producer and their longtime keyboardist Ian Stanley. After a great deal of reshuffling within their ranks, they made the fateful decision to recruit an unknown lounge singer named Oleta Adams, who they had come across on a Stateside tour the year before.  It proved a fateful choice, given that Adams would eventually appear on three of the album’s songs — “Woman in Chains”, “Badman’s Song” and “Standing on the Corner of the Third World.” It would also mark the final time Smith and Orzabel would collaborate until their eventual reconciliation some 15 years later.


Time to take a breath.

Considering the extensive work that went into its making, its little surprise that this massive five disc box set is as sprawling as it is. With nearly five dozen songs, there’s a lot to digest here, mostly in the form of remixes, demos, edits, instrumentals and b-sides. Granted, there’s no additional unreleased songs, and though there’s steady repetition in terms of different takes of the album’s original entries, the obsessive fan will find much to peruse whist following the album’s evolution. Several of the tracks are radically different from the finished versions, and the bits of studio dialogue and overt experimentation offer hints as to how the band’s original intentions would often diverge as the album took shape That’s apparent in the jam versions of “Rhythm of Life” and “Badman’s One — the latter of which boasts an impromptu incorporation of the Kinks’ All of the Day and All of the Night” — as well as the expansive orchestral takes of “Year of the Knife” that open the CD titled The Moon. So while there are numerous versions and variations of certain songs — many of them represented through their jams, which is how several took shape — it makes for a fascinating audio journey, and an extensive one at that. It’s best not to indulge in a single sitting — indeed five discs require quite a commitment, but taken in tandem, it proves to be a fascinating listen and a rare inside look at how this carefully construed effort came together.

In addition, an extensive booklet featuring interviews with the principals and some added artwork provide additional enhancements and further illumination as well. So while The Seeds of Love box is obviously aimed at completists and audio obsessives, it’s a first class treatment that ought to appeal to anyone able to appreciate the comprehensive overview given this album of ever-enduring stature. Be assured — it’s well worth the indulgence.

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