George Starostin's Reviews



Become a Certified Commentator today by following this link!

!!Before adding new comments, please check the GUIDELINES. Don't say I didn't warn you!!


No reader comments yet.


Sean Wear <> (09.06.2003)

Good review of The Hurting a couple of small points though, Curt Smith was lead vocal on three of the tracks you credit to Roland.

They were also the 3 main singles released at the time in the UK 'Mad World', 'Change' and 'Pale Shelter'

This was actually the main reason they 'fell out' in the late 80's poor old Curt didnt feel he was getting the credit he deserved. Roland was writing the songs and not let him sing any......

Its a shame actually because i really liked Curts vocals on the early TFF, and the songs quoted above were big hits in the UK circa 1982.


<> (04.07.2002)

'Working Hour' is a great song. I think the length works well for building toward the climatic chorus. Nice synth riff as well. Even if the Sade song that I haven't heard is better, they can both peacefully co-exist. 'Listen' is a great mood piece, kinda evokes this Russian/Indian imagery. And again, it builds to a nice climax.

Greg Pringle <> (07.07.2002)

Back in the 80s, I recorded this album, believe it or not. Only ever ended up listening to one song, though: 'Head Over Heels'. For some reason it had a profoundly moving effect on me, especially the opening vocals, exaggerated and melodramatic as they are. On the other hand, I could never shake the feeling that I'd heard that particular phrase somewhere before, like an old favourite warmed over.

David Dickson <> (20.08.2004)

We need to qualify this assessment here, pahdnah. If you dislike '80's pop formats on principle *wink* *wink* *NUDGE*, you won't give this a great rating. If you don't, you will. Simple as that. I guess it's my fault I was born in 1982, went to kindergarten in 1987, and thus have all these fond childhood memories associated with the late '80's. Plus classic rock radio got to me long long LONG before the oldies station did. Thus I'm used to overblown production, and I don't associate it with the submoronic "cool" kids that couldn't tell good music from a doorknob in junior high, like so many people a few years older than me do.

No, I associate Matchbox 20 with them. Bastards. Pseudo-confessional fake groaning alt-rock-loving bastards. GRRRROARRR KILL MATCHBOX TW

So in conclusion, I think this album is a rare masterpiece of. . . get ready. . . EIGHTIES SYNTH-BASED ADULT POP. No joke.

Tagbo Munonyedi <> (29.07.2006)

John Lennon really has alot to answer for ! In one of his last interviews, he introduced the idea that the 70s was such a load of rubbish-"wasn't the 70s a drag ?"- and throughout the 80s and 90s scores of social commentators followed this theme and over here in merry Inger-land we've had article after programme after magazine after documentary lambasting the 70s for it's shallowness, lame hairstyles, crap music {glam, disco, Europop, prog, heavy metal}, stupid fashions, reactionary politics etc. Headlines would blare out things like "The 1970s-The decade that style forgot !" and all that kind of stuff. Really, the only thing the 70s was guilty of was that it wasn't the 60s, if you ask me. Well, I enjoyed the 70s and while there was lots of misery and tons of sobs, I had a great time, great chocolate, toys, games, girls, football, music, clothes, mischief......In recent years, one is seeing programmes that now present the 70s in a positive light and the mantle of venom is now being passed onto the 80s, with the same criticisms of shallowness, ridiculous hair, dumb-ass movements like the New Romantics, idiotic music, greed, Yuppies, terrible TV and films etc. Sure, it was different but I had a great time in the 80s too ! I don't think there was as much good music as in the preceeding two decades but then, being born in the early 60s and growing up in the 70s, I would say that. And that doesn't take away the fact that there was some outstanding music made in the 80s. It wasn't all synthesizers {for me, one of the worst bands of that ilk, although revolutionary, were a band that started in the early 70s, Kraftwerk} and even where there was a hefty synth presence, it was more often than not mixed and matched with actual instruments so that feeling wasn't lost. And SONGS FROM THE BIG CHAIR certainly does not lack feeling. I first heard TFF when I was working on the factory floor back in '82 when they came out with MAD WORLD but it wasn't for another eight years that I realized it was them, I just loved the song but coz there were so many singles around and at that time I was an albums man, I didn't take much notice of who alot of the bands were and where I did I wasn't interested in their albums. I loved SHOUT a couple of years later, I thought it was one of the best singles of '84 and a few years later I wanted to have a copy of the song and coz by then the single was deleted, I bought the album it was on, nice and cheap in a second hand record shop. I got tons of albums from second hand shops, there was a certain thrill of the chase, it was often fascinating to see who ended up in the bargain bins coz it was an interesting guide as to who was totally out of vogue in the minds of current record buyers. It was also the case that in many instances the 2nd hand album was cheaper {and easier to find} than what the original single had cost. I only wanted SHOUT but as I'd done with other albums I'd acquired for just one song, I thought I'd check out the rest of the songs in case there was something worth taping. And I'm happy to report that it was and is a thrilling and lively album, most impressive. I feel that it has a good balance between electronica and the instruments we'd become used to. I went through a bit of a purist phase back then and it was easy to knock what seemed like the taking over of synths and drum machines, especially as I was learning the bass guitar, but as time went on I became mindful of the fact that that's the kind of views that people used to have towards the electric bass, electric piano, the mellotron and other great sounding tools. They do get better in sound quality and they do find their niche. It was bands like TFF that helped move the technology on at the same time keeping the use of pre 80s instruments alive and also keeping the art of writing the pop song alive. This album has a courageous span of aural colours. LISTEN is a case in point, it's too edgy and disturbing to be new age, a genre that's essentially mellow, I think. But it is heading in that direction, though you have to be into this kind of ambient electronica and when you're used to jazz tone poems or even Pink Floydy rock ones, this one takes some getting used to. It's got this strange chanting that sounds more like it's from aliens from outer space than from Africans. I have vague memories of EVERYBODY WANTS TO RULE THE WORLD being in the air. I was going through some major life changes myself at the time and I was just entering that period when I didn't listen to music for just over a year so it wasn't something I really listened to with both ears. But when I did, I didn't remember it was some big hit so I got into it for it's own sake. It's so well known as I've come to discover, and it's so melodically strong, particularly in the sort of middle eight bit that starts "There's a room where the light won't find you". Sometimes the band were criticized for being Beatle lampoonery personified but I'd say they learned their lessons well. One of the Beatles' great strengths were in what they referred to as middle eights {any bridge was a middle eight to them, even if it had 16 or 24 bars !} anyhow. I like the prominence of the guitars, especially at the end. I rarely notice the metronomic perfection of the 'drums'. I love the anthemic qualities of MOTHER'S TALK, I know that Roland and Curt felt that they had had hairy chilhoods and it seems like some of that angst is being worked out here but to tell you the truth I haven't got a clue what they're jabbering on about . Maybe I will one day. All I know is that I love the fire, heat and funk that this song generates. Those may be fake drums and synths driving things along but it just gells beautifully and the excitement is tangible. The frantic pace leaves me breathless, those bits of lyric that can be made out are intriguing {"Some of us are horrified/Others never talk about it!"}. I get the impression some major trauma is being exorcised; if so, rarely has trauma sounded so vibrant ! Some of that fast jazzy bass playing is fretboard burning !! I BELIEVE is an utterly gorgeous song where the lyric is actually far more important than the music and that's rare. I like the fact that the opening couplet goes onto to rhyme - it's a great set of lines actually {when the hurting and the pain has gone, we will be strong} and you just think that it's going to be like that all the way through. But that's the only time you get any rhymes in the song, I love that. Also, I love the fact that the words are scrunched into a very regular musical pattern even though they are anything but regular in meter and do not naturally scan. Musically, the piano, sax and drum weave a far more ambient atmosphere than LISTEN. For such an angry, depressingly resigned to disaster song, BROKEN is some seriously pounding heavy rock ! Not metal, I should add, though the combination of all those instruments and that agonized vocal and those beefy drums rock as hard as alot of metal in the energy stakes and the guitar solo would grace almost any piece of heavy metal rock. The ending of the song is exactly the same as the start of the next, the same way Kansas' MYSTERIES AND MAYHEM's ending is the start of THE PINNACLE. Now, I really dig this album and for me HEAD OVER HEELS is the album's crowning glory, a true masterpiece of want, irritation, fear, anticipation, criticism, psycoanalysis, insecurity and above all, exuberence, wrapped up in an arrangement that is just near perfection. The lyrics are flawless in conveying that feeling of wanting to take off with joy while being cautiously grounded, there's such a mixture of emotions in there. The band is on top form, delivering a swaggering groove, and at various points the synthesizer whacks in such sumptuous stabs of sound, the vocal is priceless, whooping here, wailing there, but the total killer for me is that piano in the verses, knocking out these exquisite eight note rifflets just behind everything. I have to slightly strain to catch it but believe me, once caught, it ain't going nowhere ! It's so uncomplex and simple, you could probably teach a primate to do it but it's a musical orgasm to me and the la la la's are the climax that means the world has officially ended, only God knows how many motorists I've scared as I bellow that one out on the road !! Um, yes, I do like the track ! The reprize of BROKEN is good but even a magnificent song would've had a job on it's hands following that. THE WORKING HOUR is another pearl of great price, with it's boppy rhythms and jazzy horn. In some ways I wish I'd never looked at the words coz the song is so wonderfully played with such verve and feeling, yet it seems like a session on the psychiatrist's couch. In saying that though, I applaud and admire the fact that the group put their everything into the songs, no matter the subject matter. I'm a believer in that notion that the music does not have to stereotypically reflect the words, you know, sad words, sad minor key music / triumphant words, rousing loud music etc. It has a great melody, something it shares with all the songs. As does SHOUT, one of the great songs of any era. It represents the final time I tried to listen to music on the radio. I found this one and a couple of others {from what I remember, one was by Nik Kershaw, the other was by the Thompson twins} and I just couldn't get this one out of my head; I still have vivid memories of zooming down the Harrow Road on my bicycle in the snowy january and february of '85, singing to this one. Even then it felt like a bitter and angry song and whatever one may want to say about Arthur Janov's teachings, at least in the short term, he had a point. There again, maybe they should've called it SING or BELLOW....... naw, seriously it's a sensational song, with great lyrics, a wonderful stuttering rhythm and a surprizingly neat though short organ solo that is clever enough to sound like it's only two notes. Ah, such a beaut, if only all artifice was as good as this pungent revenge psycology rocker. With this much anger and anguish, no wonder they broke up a few years later. Makes you wonder what primal screaming dredged up in these two. But hey, it's proof that whatever it took to scoop it out, great art was still alive and thriving in the 80s....and I'll sock the man that says it isn't so.....

Return to the main index page