Time to relive those 80s memories with this four-disc anniversary edition of the thinking man’s synth-pop duo’s 1983 debut album
Songs From The Big Chair from 1985 was their biggest-selling album, spawning the smash hits Shout and Everybody Wants To Rule The World and going to the top of the charts in the US, Germany and The Netherlands, while 1989’s The Seeds Of Love saw them branching out into psychedelic pastures yet still managed to go platinum in four countries. Before either of those two, though, came The Hurting – No 1 in the UK but largely overlooked overseas, and hence probably deserving this 30th anniversary reissue on that basis alone.
“unadulterated chart froth this is not”
Listened to again 30 years on, what stands out most about The Hurting is just how leftfield, as No 1 albums go, it really was. The opening title track has a druggy drone to its guitars that you’d associate more readily with the likes of the Teardrops, the Icicle Works or the aforesaid Bunnymen, while the lugubrious Ideas As Opiates is positively Eno-esque and The Prisoner is frankly disturbing in places. Sure, other tracks tread poppier ground, but unadulterated chart froth this is not – and that’s before we even mention the lyrics, which in keeping with the band’s name (a reference to primal scream therapy) are preoccupied with issues of mental health, depression (“I’ve been here before/There is no why, no need to try,” sings Orzabel in Pale Shelter) and abandonment (see Change with its mournful “What has happened to/the friend that I once knew/has he gone away?”).
All told, The Hurting was a remarkable debut. As for the other three discs that make up the box… well, the Live Sessions disc, made up of tracks recorded in 1982 for the John Peel and David Jensen shows on Radio 1 plus a couple of bonus live tracks, is certainly interesting, featuring as it does earlier, rawer versions of the hits. And the inclusion of the 1984 ‘live at Hammersmith Odeon’ video In My Mind’s Eye, made available on DVD for the first time here, will certainly please the hardcore fans. The final ‘B-sides And Remixes’ CD, however, may stretch the ears of even the most ardent TFF follower, given that despite the promising title there are no weirded-out Levan Dubs or dancefloor’d up Shep Pettibone remixes here… just a series of microscopically different Long Versions, Original 7″ Versions, Radio Edits and the like.
Sit and listen to all four discs, and by the end of it you’ve heard Suffer The Children seven times, Change six and Pale Shelter five. Which is enough for anyone. Slight over-egging of the pudding aside, though, The Hurting remains an album that’s well worth rediscovering – or discovering, as the case may be.
Verdict: Four discs of songs from one album may be a bit much for some… but what an album it was