The band’s MAGNUM OPUS, a Colossus of Production to rival the greatest Prog, Psych and Art Rock recordings of all time. (Whew!)
When it comes to Genre Busting Rock I put this album right up at the top of the heap, along with several other landmark albums from the Seventies: Roxy Music’s first, The Original Soundtrack, Crime of the Century, Ambrosia’s first two releases, The Yes Album, Fragile, Dark Side of the Moon and a handful of others.
The Seeds Of Love is clearly the band’s masterpiece, and being able to hear it on a White Hot Stamper pressing is nothing short of a THRILL.
I have a long history with this style of Popular Music, stretching all the way back to the early ’70s. I grew up on Bowie, Roxy Music, 10cc, Eno, The Talking Heads, Ambrosia, Peter Gabriel, Supertramp, Yes, Zappa and others, individuals and bands that wanted to play rock music but felt shackled by the constraints of the conventional pop song. Nothing on Sowing the Seeds of Love fits the description of a Conventional Pop Song.
Which albums by The Beatles break all the rules? Side two of Abbey Road and the whole of The White Album, which is why both are Desert Island Discs for me. Can’t get enough of either one.
The Discovery of a Lifetime
When I discovered these arty rock bands in my early twenties I quickly became obsessed with them and remain so to this day.
My equipment was forced to evolve in order to be able to play the scores of challenging recordings issued by these groups and others in the ’70s. These albums informed not only my taste in music but the actual stereo I play that music on. I’ve had large dynamic speakers for the last four decades precisely because they do such a good job of bringing to life huge and powerful recordings such as these.
Tears For Fears on this and their previous album continue that tradition of big-as-life and just-as-difficult-to-reproduce records. God bless ’em for it.
The sound of most copies is aggressive, hard, harsh and thin. What do you expect? The album is recorded digitally and direct metal mastered at Masterdisk. Most of us analog types put up with the limitations of the sound because we love the music, some of the most powerfully moving, brilliantly written and orchestrated psychedelic pop of the last thirty years. Imagine if the Beatles in their Sgt. Pepper/ Magical Mystery Tour phase kept going in that direction. They very well might have ended up in the neighborhood of Sowing the Seeds of Love.
But wait — the best pressings have smooth, sweet, analog richness and spaciousness I didn’t think was possible for this recording. The bass is full and punchy. When it really starts cooking, such as in the louder, more dynamic sections of Woman in Chains or the title cut, it doesn’t get harsh and abrasive like most copies. It’s got energy and life without making your ears bleed — if you have the system to play it.
Insanely Catchy Is Right
Along with Songs from the Big Chair, The Seeds of Love was part of a one-two artistic punch in the late ’80s that situated Tears for Fears as one of the decade’s more ambitious pop groups.
But at the time, Tears was more a platform for Roland Orzabal than a true band — Curt Smith is present only on the smash “Sowing the Seeds of Love” (his only co-writing credit), while Ian Stanley was replaced by Nicky Holland as a keyboardist and Orzabal’s songwriting partner.
Like their other albums, The Seeds of Love continues the concept of moving from hurting to healing to beginning anew (the hit “Sowing the Seeds of Love”) to growing apart. The songs feature expansive melodies instead of blatant hooks, and the sound is more grounded in soul and gospel on songs like “Woman in Chains,” the updated Philly-soul strain of “Advice for the Young at Heart” and “Badman’s Song.”
Orazabal’s passionate vocals are well matched by Oleta Adams’ fervent contributions. The group even dabbles in jazz on “Standing on the Corner of the Third World,” the fabulous “Swords and Knives,” and the slow-burning “Year of the Knife.” As for the title track, it manages to be insanely intricate as well as catchy.