TFF enthusiast, Paul Sinclair, examines Rule The World
Out today is Rule The World, a new Tears For Fears greatest hits. In this special ‘track-by-track’ feature we will do two things. We’ll offer some insight into all the songs on the compilation and will additionally examine what’s missing. Are there any missteps? Wrong version, wrong choice of song? Read on…
The band’s first single was released in November 1981, a full 16 months before The Hurting was issued. Produced by David Lord, their debut 45 wasn’t a hit. Interestingly, the song is credited to “R. Orzabal & C. Smith” on the seven-inch, but when re-recorded with Chris Hughes and Ross Cullum for The Hurting, the credit is only for Roland Orzabal (The Hurting remains the only Tears For Fears album where all the tracks are credited to Roland alone). I feel this deserves a place on the greatest hits for historical reasons and because the original single version is relatively rare on CD – it only appears on the 30th anniversary two-CD and box set editions of the album. The above YouTube clip actually uses a slight variant of the original seven-inch with an extended intro (this version – accidentally issued on a promo CD to promote the 1999 re-release of the album – is also on rather more definitive The Hurting reissue of 2013).
After two flops – Suffer The Children and the original Pale Shelter (You Don’t Give Me Love) – things were looking a bit grim for Tears For Fears. “Our original record deal was just for those two singles”, Curt told me in 2013, adding that “without [A&R man] Dave Bates’ passion, the record company probably would have dropped us”. Thankfully Mad World (originally earmarked as a B-side!) succeeded in spectacular fashion, when released in September 1982, reaching number three in the UK charts and Roland and Curt were allowed to continue and finish the album. When Michael Andrews and Gary Jules’ version of this song was issued in 2003 they managed to do what Tears For Fears have never done – have a UK number one single.
Version on Rule The World: Standard album/single mix – 3.32
I was tempted to switch the standard Change to the ‘new version’ for the (imaginary) ‘SDE edition’ of Rule The World. Roland was initially not satisfied with the version we know and love: “I remember trying to convince everyone that we’d recorded Change at too fast a tempo. We had another crack at it, slower, but it lost something in the process”. This slower version is what is labelled as the the ‘new version’ and is a bonus track on the original UK cassette and appeared (uncredited) on some 12-inch singles. Using this would have made for a nice rarity, but on reflection, you don’t mess with the big hits (the song peaked at number four on the UK singles chart in January 1983).
Version on Rule The World: Standard album/single mix – 3.53
The original version of Pale Shelter was issued in March 1982 and like Suffer The Children, it failed to chart. It was produced by Mike Howlett. The collaboration was short-lived because, in Roland’s words “he was trying to use the Linn Drum on everything and we were not very happy; we wanted real drums”. The re-recorded version of this song was produced by Chris Hughes and Ross Cullum and issued in April 1983 (it peaked at number five), the final single from The Hurting (which had been released about a month earlier).
Version on Rule The World: Standard album/single mix – 4.08
Everyone associated with this non-album single [issued in November 1983, between The Hurting and Songs From The Big Chair] seems to regard it as an abject failure. Roland said “We were experimenting in the studio – perhaps a little too much – trying to work on sounds and textures, when we maybe should have been writing more melodic pop songs.” Curt Smith calls it “a mistake”. It’s certainly different, and as Roland says, quite experimental. I actually like the fact that the band made this very weird, almost forgotten song. Also, students of the band will know that the ‘failure’ of this track (along with an aborted attempt at recording Mothers Talk in a similar manner), played quite an important part in Tears For Fears’ history. It was a stepping stone. They re-focused on what they should be doing, picked up some guitars, and delivered the world-beating Songs From The Big Chair. For those reasons, I would include The Way You Are on the SDE Rule The World. Incidentally, The Way You Are peaked at number 24 in the UK charts. It’s got a great video. You can read more about this song here.
While Roland and Curt were filming the second Mothers Talk video, Ian Stanley and Chris Hughes were working on a new demo of Roland’s. This was, in his own words, a “massive breakthrough”. Hughes estimates that they worked on Shout (on and off) for almost three months. It was worth it, since the song reached number one in ten countries around the world, including America. It peaked at number four in Britain (in late 1984) where the 5.58 UK single version ran just 33 seconds short of the full length album version. That’s very long for a single, but Roland and Curt were still peeved enough by this compromise to reference it in the lyrics to Everybody Wants To Rule The World (“So glad we’ve almost made it, So sad they had to fade it…”). It’s somewhat ironic then that Virgin are using an even shorter version, the 4.51 edit (used in Germany and a few other territories) for Rule The World. In America it was chopped even more, with the seven-inch single just four minutes long, and let’s not talk about the 3.10 Mexican Radio Edit!
Version on Rule The World: German single edit – 4.51
The last song recorded for the Songs For The Big Chair album and according to Chris Hughes “the antithesis of Shout” because it took about “a week to write, record and finish”. In America, this was the first single from the album, whereas in Britain it ended up being the third pulled from the record. A&R man Dave Bates claims he was “seeking for them to write a drive-time hit” – he got one! Everybody Wants To Rule The World was another US number one and won ‘Best Single’ at the 1986 Brit Awards.
Version on Rule The World: Standard album/single mix – 4.14
This song is joined at the hip with Pale Shelter B-side We Are Broken. Head Over Heels was derived from Broken and both songs were performed (“a segueway”) on the late 1983 UK tour that was undertaken to promote The Way You Are (released as the In My Mind’s Eye concert film). The size and scale of the song/production are “massive” according to producer Chris Hughes, who adds that Everybody Wants To Rule The World is “miniature in comparison”. The Broken/Head Over Heels/Broken combination ended up dominating the second side of Songs From The Big Chair. Head Over Heels nearly became the band’s third consecutive US number one – it peaked at number three – although it rather underperformed in the UK, stalling at number 12.
Version on Rule The World: Single mix – 4.15
To be clear, I Believe is on the Rule The World compilation but it’s the album version. SDE would select the single (‘soulful’) re-recording. Roland may have had a point when he said taking “five singles off of an eight-track album is taking the piss a bit” but this slightly jazzier, more emotive version was another hit, albeit not a big one (it reached number 23 in the UK).
Version on Rule The World: Album mix – 4.39
Mothers Talk was both the first and last single off Songs From The Big Chair. After getting a bit fed up with the time it had taken to produce The Way You Are (“at least a month to record” according to Roland), Tears For Fears had briefly moved away from working with Chris Hughes and brought in some fresh blood, in the shape of producer Jeremy Green. However, there was general dissatisfaction with the finished product, which sounded quite different to what eventually ended up on the record. A&R man Dave Bates didn’t like it and Curt admits “I don’t think the end product was that fantastic”. As a result the band “went back to working with Chris [Hughes]”. Even when the track was finished, Curt and Roland weren’t particularly happy that the record company released it as a single. “It was the first single because it was the only song that was done” according to Roland, who admitted in 2014 that “I never really liked Mothers Talk“. Curt offered this explanation, “I think our feelings for it have been tainted a little because the record company did release it as a single. We knew we had better singles on the album, but they wanted to release it before we’d done the rest”. There is a different attitude to the ‘US Remix’ (included on Rule The World). Roland thought “the US version worked really well… It was completely re-recorded at a different tempo”. The original version was a single in the UK in August 1984, while the US Remix was issued stateside in April 1986. SDE would have included the video version of the US Remix, which has a unique intro section.
Version on Rule The World: US Remix – 4.14
The band were keen to come back with a song that didn’t sound like typical eighties pop and the summery, Beatlesy first single from the 1989 Seeds of Love album sounded like a surefire number one, but peaked at number two in the USA and number five in Britain. It would be Tears For Fears last top ten hit in America and the UK. Curt contributed the chorus melody and so earns his only writing credit on the Seeds of Love album and this song is considered by both Roland and Curt to be one of the best they’ve produced. Roland’s (brilliant) live guide vocal, with distortion applied by Dave Bascombe, became the finished take, Ian Stanley makes his last appearance on a TFF single (he plays the organ solo) and that’s Chris Hughes on the drums. The actual Rule The World compilation uses the full length album version which runs to nearly six and a half minutes, but for the SDE version we’ll stick with the still very long 5.45 single version, to allow more room of other things.
Version on Rule The World: Album version – 6.17
This excellent song from The Seeds of Love featured the superb Oleta Adams and was the second single. It didn’t reach the top 20 on either side of the Atlantic and the lack of a second bit hit single didn’t help sales of the album. For some reason, the record company released Woman In Chains again in 1992 to help promote the Tears Roll Down ‘best of’ and it wasn’t a hit then, either! Curt doesn’t play bass on this track, leaving those duties to Pino Palladino (famous for his work with Paul Young). Phil Collins plays the drums, which he came in and did in one day. The 4.42 promo-only US Edit of Woman In Chains is really good. They should have used it on ‘Rule The World’ because not only would offer a never commercially released rarity, but also frees up nearly two minutes for other selections. However, the record company have gone with the full length, six and a half minute album version!
Version on Rule The World: Album version – 6.30
Roland co-wrote five of the eight tracks on The Seeds of Love with Nicky Holland and the third single, Advice For The Young At Heart, is one of them. The pair started writing this in 1985 and the last thing Nicky Holland did for The Seeds of Love was sing on this track in April 1989! That gives you an idea how long it took that album to come to fruition! The song only just scraped into the top 40 in the UK and America shrugged as it limped to number 89 over there.
Version on Rule The World: UK single version 4.51
Break It Down Again was the first single from a Curt-less Tears For Fears. Roland had made the fourth album, 1993’s Elemental, as a reaction to the overblown pomposity of The Seeds Of Love and the lyric to Break It Down Again very much reflected starting again and going back to basics. Orzabal had reconnected with Bristol guitarist Alan Griffiths who had toured with Tears For Fears in 1985 and together with producer/musician Tim Palmer and engineer Mark O’Donoghue they formed a small tight four-man unit. Break It Down Again was a successful single. It peaked at number 20 in the UK (#25 in the USA) outperforming both Woman in Chains and Advice For The Young At Heart. This paved the way for a successful US tour with a great band that included Gail Ann Dorsey on bass. Alan Griffiths sadly died this year. He co-wrote 18 songs with Roland across two albums (Elemental and Raoul and The Kings of Spain).
Version on Rule The World: Standard Standard album/single mix 4.31
Elemental is a great album and I don’t agree with only putting one track from it on Rule The World. Four singles were pulled from the long-player across various territories including the blisteringly good title track. Check out the live performance above. If you’re a Tears For Fears fan who is only familiar the first three albums, you don’t know what you’re missing. That’s why Virgin should have included a few more songs, to help spread the word – they could still have kept all the familiar big hits! The guitar riff in Elemental was nicked from Lord of Karma (Tears Roll Down B-side) and then slowed down.
Roland moved from Phonogram/Mercury to Sony/Epic for the fifth Tears For Fears album, Raoul and The Kings of Spain, which was released in October 1995. The label seemed to get behind it, releasing four singles (in all territories), of which the title track was the first. Virgin could have included the commercially unreleased 4.32 edit, although that is just an early fade of the album version.
Version on Rule The World: Standard: Standard album/single mix 5.17
Another single from Raoul and The Kings of Spain. Falling Down wasn’t issued in the UK, but really should have been. It’s a fantastic track – just listen to the gorgeous intro when the drums come in! A major omission not including this.
With this new Rule The World compilation, Virgin appear to have been strictly guided by chart positions. So in terms of the singles from the 2004/5 album Everybody Loves A Happy Ending – which saw Roland and Curt reunited – because Closest Thing To Heaven was the only UK hit (relatively speaking – it got to number 40) they’ve included it over either Call Me Mellow or the title track which were released together as a double A-side and peaked at number 102! I would argue that one song failed less than another and in that scenario chart positions are virtually irrelevant and you should go with the ‘best’ singles. For my money the song Everybody Loves A Happy Ending is classic TFF and is superior to the rather sickly sweet Closest Thing To Heaven. Therefore I’m dumping the latter from the SDE version of Rule The World and including the former.
Version on Rule The World: Standard: Standard album/single mix 4.21
I don’t think any album should only have just one lonely representative on Rule The World, so my second choice from Everybody Loves A Happy Ending is Call Me Mellow. Again, it’s much better than Closest Thing To Heaven. How was this song not a hit? It’s as catchy as hell.
One new song on Rule The World would have sufficed, but I suspect that some band politics meant that we ended up with two – I Love You But I’m Lost sung by Roland and the acoustic Stay, sung by Curt. Since SDE doesn’t have to worry about keeping everyone happy, I will include just I Love You But I’m Lost as the final track on our Rule The World. It’s a great song and sounds very modern, which is probably a good thing, all things considered. I don’t think anyone wanted any more Beatles/sixties influenced Tears For Fears songs!
SDE Editor Paul Sinclair co-curated The Hurting and Songs From The Big Chair reissues in 2013 and 2014, respectively. As part of that process he interviewed Roland Orzabal, Curt Smith and many of team involved in making those albums. He wrote sleeve notes for both releases.
Enjoy the SDE version of Rule The World as a Spotify playlist (note: had to use full length versions of Woman in Chains and Elemental due to unavailability)
The SDE version of Rule The World (not the actual track listing!)
Suffer The Children (original 7″ mix)
The Way You Are
Shout (4.51 edit)
Everybody Wants To Rule The World
Head Over Heels
I Believe (A Soulful Re-Recording)
Mothers Talk (US Remix – video version)
Sowing The Seeds of Love (UK single version)
Woman in Chains (US promo edit)
Advice For The Young At Heart
Break It Down Again
Elemental [US single edit]
Raoul and the Kings of Spain
Everybody Loves A Happy Ending
Call Me Mellow
I Love You But I’m Lost
Total running time: 79 mins and 6 seconds.
The ACTUAL track listing:
1. Everybody Wants To Rule The World – from Songs From The Big Chair (1985)
2. Shout (Edit) – from Songs From The Big Chair (1985)
3. I Love You But I’m Lost (New Track)
4. Mad World – From The Hurting (1983)
5. Sowing The Seeds Of Love – from The Seeds Of Love (1989)
6. Advice For The Young At Heart – from The Seeds Of Love (1989)
7. Head Over Heels – from Songs From The Big Chair (1985)
8. Woman In Chains – from The Seeds Of Love (1989)
9. Change – From The Hurting (1983)
10. Stay (New Track)
11. Pale Shelter – From The Hurting (1983)
12. Mothers Talk (US Version) – Re-recorded US single (1986)
13. Break It Down Again – from Elemental (1993)
14. I Believe – from Songs From The Big Chair (1985)
15. Raoul And The Kings Of Spain – from Raoul And The Kings Of Spain (1996)
16. Closest Thing To Heaven – from Everybody Loves A Happy Ending (2004/5)