The dearth of good pop(ular) music in the late 80s really increased during 1988, so when 1989 rolled around and we were subjected to Milli Vanilli and New Kids On the Block ruling the charts, my ship of expectations ran aground and sank. Then out of nowhere, this happened:
Using The Beatles’ I Am the Walrus as the keyboard template, slow but building repetitive drum fills give way to a burst of anger, regret and desperation before the chorus reveals a “but…” – an inspirational message of hope. Anything is possible when you’re sowing the seeds of love.
Tears For Fears debuted their first new music to the public in four years with this beautiful pop pathway filled with aural sunflowers. And what a long road it was to get here. I mean, how do you follow-up a mega-smash like Songs From the Big Chair? I don’t know. I guess neither did they as it took multiple recording attempts to produce this and the album they wrote and recorded previously was scrapped. They’d have to start over. Get back to the farm and figure out a new crop.
They put their hands back in the soil and came up with The Seeds of Love. It would be a Top 10 platinum album and its first single Sowing The Seeds of Love, written in response to the re-election of Margaret Thatcher, would hit #2, held out of the top spot by Janet Jackson’s Miss You Much.
Unfortunately, success would come at a price. The record company overextended itself financially in allowing the band to rack up huge recording costs. This would cause friction between Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, causing the latter to leave the band after this tour. They would not record together again for over a decade.
So I’m thankful this record even exists as it restored my faith that good much can be successful too. The album grew through many multiple musician jam sessions in the studio that the band would later edit into finished songs. Not very efficient, but very effective. And isn’t that the point? How many attempts do you think it would take to get your band to naturally swing like that at the 3:29 mark of STSOL? Amazingly, the record company allowed them the time and money to make this.
I got to see the band live for the first time in 2010 with my wife as she was very pregnant with our daughter. The goosebumps have yet to settle down on my arms. Thirty years later I think about read it in the books in the crannies and the nooks, there are books to read and I shudder at its current poignancy. But then again I wonder if lines like an end to need and the politics of greed somehow made it into my little girl’s baby head and I begin to feel hopeful again.
Side note: The line kick out the Style, bring back the Jam might have been lost on the American audience. They were referring to Paul Weller’s first two bands – the Jam, simmering political post-punk and the Style Council, the seemingly bourgeois samba-loving jet setters. Using them as metaphors they hinted that we should aspire to be the Jam, standing up for our rights rather than the Style Council, who seemed to emulate the 1%. But even fans of both bands would agree that the Style Council was the more socially attune and politically aware of the two, as the cardigans and loafers were more of a send-up than an actual lifestyle.
Consider the opening lines of the Style Council’s 1985 UK 10, Walls Come Tumbling Down:
You don’t have to take this crap. You don’t have to sit back and relax.
You can actually try changing things.
Does that sentiment sound familiar?
High time, we made a stand and shook up the views of the common man.
Another side note: In listening to TFF’s music, I’ve often remarked on how orchestral it sounds. I have always wanted to do a classical interpretation with a full orchestra, band, and chorus with guitar, bass, and lead vocals. If I ever do, this song would be my finale.