April 20, 2018 The Adventures – Lions and Tigers and Bears 25 Years Later
Many music critics love to dismiss bands as one-hit wonders just because respective songs of these artists placed very high on a popular music chart, letting these singles overshadow entire outputs and, in the process, clouding not only their own sense of objective assessment but also that of readers and listeners. Well, little they do know that their ridicule actually boomerangs back to them. Because more often than not, the bands that they are dissing are much more productive than how they are projecting them to be. Their lack of research or tendency to derogate betrays their willful ignorance and intellectual dishonesty.
For instance, the list of ’80s-peaking bands that have become victims of those one-track minds and only-hits listeners include A Flock of Seagulls (“I Ran [So Far Away]”), a-ha (“Take on Me”), Modern English (“I Melt with You”), ABC (“Vanity Kills”), and The Adventures (“Two Rivers”), all of which have actually released not only one but a number of albums and a string of memorable songs that went beyond the decade of their formation. In fact, many of them to this day remain active, touring and making new music.
Here, the focus is on The Adventures, in commemoration of the Northern Irish band’s final album, Lions and Tigers and Bears, which recently turned 25 years old.
Formed in 1984, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, The Adventures soared the New Wave skies especially during the pinnacle of the genre in the mid- to the late ’80s via songs like “Send My Heart,” “Broken Land,” and “Drowning in the Sea of Love.” They managed to release four studio albums—1985’s Theodore and Friends, 1988’s The Sea of Love, 1990’s Trading Secrets with the Moon, and the aforementioned 1993 album Lions and Tigers and Bears. They soldiered on through the ensuing decade amid the ever-shifting musical landscape, securing further hits such as “Your Greatest Shade of Blue” and “Bright New Morning.”
So, now, in remembrance of this beloved purveyor of ’80s and ’90s New Wave music, play their final album one more time, in congruence with its silver anniversary.
Released in March 1993, on Polydor Records, Lions and Tigers and Bears opened with a sweet, sparse, and sophisticated rendition of The Mamas and Papas’ “Monday Monday.” Following in the same heartbeat was the elegant mid-tempo “Marianne,” which bore the band’s trademark jangly guitar plucks and male-female vocal interplay. Shifting the mood to a notch higher, The Adventures then delivered one of the album’s highlights – the upbeat, infectious, and melody-washed “Raining All Over the World.” Then, with the ensuing punchy stomper “Come the Day,” the vibes turned a bit eerie and imposing without foregoing the same propensity for melodies. The Adventures then turned to New Romantic mode, as the Sophistipop track “I Don’t Want to Play This Game” played next, pulling tears of nostalgia from the starry-eyed initiated listener.
Another album favorite that connected Lions and Tigers and Bears seamlessly with its predecessors came in the form of the shimmering New Wave ballad “The Only World I Know.” Returning the listener to Pop Rock mode then followed in succession – the subtly Gothic “This Crazy Heat,” which might have faintly recalled The Mission (“Garden of Delight”) and Love & Rockets (“So Alive”); and the engaging, dancefloor-worthy, four-on-the-floor “Impossible You.”
The rockin’ “I Really Don’t Mind” was a bit bluesy, featuring crunchy, angular guitars and Rock-n-Roll-inspired, cracking vocal styling. “Here It Comes Again” was another distinctive The Adventures tune – subtle synth drones, bright guitar plucks, pulsating basslines and drumbeats, and velvety voice. Near the end of it, The Adventures unleashed the album’s carrier song – the sonically saccharine and sunny yet lyrically pensive “Too Late for Heaven.”
The penultimate track, “Say I’m Sorry,” slowed down the tempo and relaxed the atmosphere appropriately; and then, finally, The Adventures—Terry Sharpe (lead vocals), Pat Gribben (guitar), Eileen Gribben (vocals), Gerry Murphy (guitar, percussion, vocals), Tony Ayre (bass), Paul Crowder (drums), and Jonathan Whitehead (keyboards)—ultimately bid farewell to the world as they dish out their swan song, “Perfect Day” – inspired, jangly, shiny, and jazzy – ending their musical adventures together in a rather happy and graceful note.
Yes, soon after their last effort, The Adventures decided to call their decade-long adventure a day. Nonetheless, that was not a reason to bury the band’s gems in oblivion. These remain important contributions to the so-called New Wave music archives.
So, after giving Lions and Tigers and Bears a spin, proceed to the rest of the discography of the much-missed The Adventures. After all, what are fans and friends for? Right, Theodore?