By Benjamin Leatherman
By Glenn BurnSilver
By Glenn BurnSilver
By Troy Farah
By Roger Calamaio
By Mark Deming
By Glenn BurnSilver
By Brian Palmer
A good example of this artistic temper tantrum is the exhibit's second piece, "I Have Faith in These Desolate Times." D'Arby mixes gospel shouts with Mandy Patinkin squeals (both of them make the hair stand up on the back of your neck) and the music degenerates into tribal bongo bashing and syncopated guitar plucking. The lyrics also contain what is probably the first use of the word "Plasticine" in a pop song since "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds."
Twittering bird sounds show up on the next track, "It Feels So Good to Love Someone Like You," which also features a very necessary wood block-strings duet.
Yes, D'Arby's into some serious eclecticism on Neither Fish nor Flesh. "To Know Someone Deeply Is to Know Someone Softly" relaxes under adult- contemporary lushness, while "I'll Be Alright" places D'Arby in a brassy, uptown, R&B setting. "Roly Poly" and "I Don't Want to Bring Your Gods Down," meanwhile, march out the Sgt. Pepper references--grand orchestral maneuvers, curious recording techniques, you name it--as if to remind you what this show is all about.
YOU CAN FIGURE OUT the model for Tears for Fears' new album, The Seeds of Love, by looking at the art inside and outside the jacket. Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith keep straight faces on the LP's cover amidst a postmodern interpretation of the Yellow Submarine movie's "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds" segment. Not as busy as the Sgt. Pepper cover, but easily as colorful as Their Satanic Majesties Request's jacket.
But you can't say Tears for Fears didn't put in as much time on this album as the Beatles did on their most famous work. Orzabal and Smith spent four years planting The Seeds of Love. The Beatles labored over Sgt. Pepper for four months, an eon in 1967. (Is it any wonder that on the liner notes the group thanks one flunky "for his saint-like patience in coordinating our everyday affairs," another "for making us stick to it," and several more "for strength in a time of crisis"?)
During their creative time, Orzabal and Smith worked with five producers and/or mixers, and like rock 'n' roll Steinbrenners, the Tears fired three of them. Orzabal, Smith and seventeen musicians play a total of twelve instruments on the album (quite economical compared to the D'Arby Big Band).
The Tears twosome, like D'Arby, figured that a previous multi-platinum album licensed them to spend a really long time proving that art, not money, is what they're all about. (It turns out that Orzabal and Smith have both. The Seeds of Love is platinum. Wonder what Columbia Records thought of D'Arby's platter peaking at No. 61 in its third week on Billboard's pop albums chart?)
Perhaps, as with D'Arby, the possibility of being considered a "singles artist" was revolting for Orzabal and Smith. On their 1985 LP Songs From the Big Chair, Tears for Fears impressed radio with unchallenging pop material like "Everybody Wants to Rule the World," "Shout," and "Head Over Heels."
For Seeds, Tears apparently decided cabaret-as-an-artistic-statement would be more interesting. Besides "Sowing the Seeds of Love," an obvious "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds"-"I Am the Walrus" hybrid, the songs also include jazz, blues, soul and Up With People-style showstoppers.
Like Sting squared, Orzabal and Smith journey to the Middle East on "Standing on the Corner of the Third World" and get way down low with American singer Oleta Adams on "Badman's Song"--the Englishmen thank her for "authenticating our soul."
How to find room for this important expansion of ideas? Simple. Lengthen the songs. The eight tracks on Seeds average just shy of six minutes. "Badman's Song," which takes forever to get nowhere, demands eight minutes and 43 seconds of your time. "Swords and Knives" is six minutes and forty seconds' worth of mood-swing therapy. It's calm, perky, blustery, melancholy and a whole lot more.
So if you dare add these lush orchestrations to your home library, be sure to get the companion pieces, War and Peace and Anna Karenina. Orzabal has actually compared The Seeds of Love to nothing less than a Tolstoy novel.
IF TEARS FOR FEARS is pop music's long-awaited answer to Tolstoy, De La Soul must be the artistic descendants of Shakespeare. Yeah, keep that in mind when you find out the title for the hip-hop trio's debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising, was taken from a line of a Johnny Cash song.
3 Feet High and Rising is like wandering through a great pop-music junk shop filled with kitsch and hidden treasures both. Through the magic of sampling, Cash, James Brown, Run-D.M.C., Steely Dan, the Turtles, Hall and Oates, Public Enemy, and Michael Jackson join De La Soul.
Maybe on its next album, if De La Soul decides rap needs an LP of unsurpassed artistic merit, the Long Island group will assemble the samples in the hip-hop equivalent of a Byzantine mosaic.
On this album, De La Soul's Posdnuos, Trugoy the Dove, and Pasemaster Mase are aware that they're working with pop-music sound swatches, not pieces of glass. That's why Cash makes his appearance as the song "The Magic Number" fades out. That's why the Soul gleefully piles together Run-D.M.C., Public Enemy, and Michael Jackson in "Cool Breeze on the Rocks." That's why the group slows down part of a Turtles song for "Transmitting Live From Mars" and sticks a hiccupping French language lesson on top.