Number Ones: #21


  • TEARS FOR FEARS Mothers Talk (Mercury)
  • Week Ending 1st September 1984
  • 2 Weeks at #1


The first new single from Tears For Fears in 9 months was one of the most important of their career, even if it was only a modest commercial success upon release. It provided the creative, sonic reboot they needed after the aimlessness of flop 45 The Way You Are, rejuvenated them as songwriters, and paved the way for Songs From The Big Chair to conquer the global pop world a year later.

Mothers Talk was not about to die wondering. The proverbial kitchen sink of studio effects was chucked in its direction, while Chris Hughes’ balls-out production tells the listener in no uncertain terms that Tears For Fears had left their rather fey, introspective tendencies behind them. Beefed up to almost Frankie Goes To Hollywood levels of bombast, this comeback single made up for what it lacked in melody with a real sense of purpose.

The tough sound was matched by clever, hard-hitting lyrics and commanding call-and-response vocals. Its theme (in keeping with much of 1984’s sensibilities) put a fresh twist upon the old saying “your face will stay like that if the wind changes” to create an ominous vision of an apocalyptic world; “you were paid not to listen, now your house is on fire”. Again, it’s all very Two Tribes, conjuring up the spectre of Patrick Allen’s instructions on leaving bodies outside the shelter, having remembered to tag them first for identification purposes.

However, Mothers Talk was premiered – in some prototype form, at least – on the band’s 1983 tour, before Frankie Goes To Hollywood had come anywhere near the Top 40, so any theory concerning Two Tribes‘ influence would have been limited. It probably emboldened Curt and Roland to make the record sound more aggressive, as pop fashions moved away from cutesy New Wave synth-pop (eg. Duran Duran’s deconstruction of The Reflex, Eurythmics with Sexcrime) in the second half of 1984.

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