Tears For Fears – The Hurting (Half-Speed Master LP Review)

When a good portion of people look at the history of Tears for Fears, chances are they turn to the band’s mega successful 1985 album Songs from the Big Chair. Clearly a milestone of ’80s popular music, the album featured some of the band’s biggest hits – “Shout,” “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” and “Head over Heels.” Although, those who truly appreciate Tears for Fears are aware their rise began two years earlier with the debut album The Hurting.

Released in March of 1983, believe it or not, The Hurting was not an initial success on the charts. A rather deep album, with some dark subject matter, in spite of halted initial success, by January of ’85 it attained platinum certification. Validating the quality of the music, The Hurting stands alone as one of the most powerful debut albums during the ’80s New Wave era. In fact, the album has been celebrated in numerous ways in the decades to follow – first, with a remastered edition in 1999, then expanded editions in 2013 in celebration of the 30th anniversary, and now again 2023, with several special releases to celebrate the 40th anniversary. 

Turning 40 years old back on March 7th, in the album’s honor two new formats have been unveiled. Both released through UMe, on May 12th you had the unveiling of the Half-Speed Master vinyl edition, and on June 9th, the SDE-exclusive Blu-ray release. Both super high-end formats, perhaps the most curious of these releases, would have to be the Half-Speed Master vinyl. Why? Well, because the average person probably has no clue what this even means. Simplifying it, half speed mastering is a specialist technique which results in cuts that have superior high frequency response (treble). This results in very strong and stable stereo imagery which creates a very high-quality record and listening experience. 

Explaining the technique, it would only stand to reason that the newly created Dolby Atmos mix of The Hurting would be done by highly accomplished record producer and musician Steven Wilson. For those who do not know, beyond creating his own music (solo and with Porcupine Tree), Wilson has worked with a long list of artists in various genres ranging from Elton John to Black Sabbath. Additionally, Wilson has a history with Tears for Fears, previously remixing both Songs from the Big Chair and 1989’s The Seeds of Love. So, with this knowledge in mind, it is also important to understand that Wilson is certainly more of an artistic purist, and while he might use modern recording technologies, he is not going to overpower the original recordings intent. 

Allowing yourself to dive into this with confidence, and also with an open mind, the listening experience of The Hurting’s Abbey Road Half-Speed Mastered vinyl is nothing short of spectacular. Crystal clear, the delicate textures are brightly highlighted through each song. From the subtle tones in the instrumentation to the harmonized and back and forth vocals of Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, it is like hearing each of these songs for the first time again. 

Truly a magnificent, top of the heap mix of The Hurting, this is something you are going to want to show your friends who are trapped in the modern world of streaming music through a subpar miniature speaker. Worth the investment and a must have for Tears for Fears fans, Cryptic Rock gives The Hurting’s Half-Speed Master LP 5 out of 5 stars. 

Tears for Fears – The Hurting / UMe (2023)


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