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Released: Sept. 27, 1989

Rating: 4.113 (average of 17 ratings)

Genre: new wave/pop

Quotable: "Dynamic, poignant pop [that] took Tears For Fears to new levels of artistry." – Eric Aaron,

Album Tracks:

  1. Woman in Chains (Orzabal) [6:31]
  2. Badman's Song (Holland/ Orzabal) [8:32]
  3. Sowing the Seeds of Love (Orzabal/ Smith) [6:19]
  4. Advice for the Young at Heart (Holland/ Orzabal) [4:50]
  5. Standing on the Corner of the Third World (Orzabal) [5:33]
  6. Swords and Knives (Holland) [6:12]
  7. Year of the Knife (Holland/ Orzabal) [7:08]
  8. Famous Last Words (Holland/ Orzabal) [4:26]

Total Running Time: 49:40

Sales (in millions):

sales in U.S. only 1.0
sales in U.K. only - estimated 0.3
sales in all of Europe as determined by IFPI – click here to go to their site. --
sales worldwide - estimated 4.0


peak on U.S. Billboard album chart 8
peak on U.K. album chart 1 1

Singles/Hit Songs:

  • Sowing the Seeds of Love (8/89) #5 UK, #2 US, #4 AR, #1 MR
  • Woman in Chains (11/89) #26 UK, #36 US, #27 MR
  • Advice for the Young at Heart (2/90) #36 UK, #89 US
  • Famous Last Words (8/90) --

Notes: A 1999 reissue of the album added “Tears Roll Down,” “Always in the Past,” “Music for Tables,” and “Johnny Panic and the Bible of Dreams.”


One of my personal top 100 albums of all time. Click to learn more.

The Seeds of Love
Tears for Fears
The Seeds of Love completes a trilogy familiar to many careers: the tentative debut, the fully realized follow-up, and the grandiose third album.” HE The album, which took more than four years to make, and “reportedly cost over $250,000 to produce,” WK “bears all the scars of struggle and indecision” HE of a band in limbo. “The musical landscape had changed…so there are a few differences here.” AD “The songs feature expansive melodies instead of blatant hooks” SS and “the pounding drum patterns that were a feature of both their 'synth' albums are gone.” AD Instead, the band “dramatically extended their range of musical textures, shying away from the dark rock edges of prior albums and embracing richly layered elements of jazz, soul” EA and even gospel.

The album’s “dynamic, poignant pop…took Tears For Fears to new levels of artistry.” EA The Seeds of Love “shows [their] soulful pop glory in its fullest bloom;” EA “the songs stick in the listener's head in almost subliminal fashion.” MA While this album lacks “the compelling immediacy of Songs from the Big Chair, The Seeds of Love was an ambitious attempt to establish themselves as pop craftsmen of the highest order, and it succeeded brilliantly.” EA

“Like their other albums, The Seeds of Love continues the concept of moving from hurting to healing to beginning anew (the hit “Sowing the Seeds of Love”) to growing apart.” SS Each of the “eight sprawling tracks” MA “is a five-minute-plus mini-drama with moments of delicacy and discomfort, restraint and excess, inspiration and creative exhaustion.” SS “Curt Smith and Roland Orzabel are clearly perfectionists – the record is heavily produced, but not to the point that all the life is produced right out of it.” MA

“As the last album to feature…Smith, it is a fitting end to an era.” HE Tears for Fears was becoming “more a platform for…Orzabal than a true band.” SS “Ian Stanley was replaced by Nicky Holland as a keyboardist and Orzabal's songwriting partner” SS while Smith only gets co-writing credit on “Sowing the Seeds of Love.” Even guest “vocalist, Oleta Adams…gets more parts than Curt does.” AD Not surprisingly, “Orzabal and Smith…parted on bad terms during the album, ensuring yet another change in the band's direction thereafter.” SS

But, back to this album for now. The “lush, atmospheric” EA and “solemn” HE Woman in Chains “could simply be a women's-lib anthem, but like everything else about this album, there's another level or two – an unearthing of the ‘feminine’ side of the male psyche and, by extension, an explanation of just why everybody wants to rule the world.” MA The song featured Phil Collins on drums and “demonstrated Orzabal’s affinity for melodic, moody soul, with [the aforementioned] Adams replacing Smith as his vocal sparring partner.” EO “Orzabal's passionate vocals are well matched by Oleta Adams' fervent contributions.” SS She “informs the entire record with her soulful pipes, adding a human vibrancy barely present in the band's earlier, highly automated music.” MA

The “eight-and-a-half-minute Badman's Song suggests a stylistic continuum from Little Feat to Weather Report.” MA The “polychromatic” EA song “opts for safety, reveling in a sophisticated lethargy.” HE There are some “good vocals and some…exciting musical parts [but they] almost gets lost by the time the song has finished. It ultimately tries your patience.” AD

Lead-off single Sowing the Seeds of Love “manages to be insanely intricate as well as catchy.” SS It “carried by an over-the-top production that hauls out every last bell and whistle” MA and “updates the orchestral grandiosity” SS from the Beatles' Magical Mystery Tour era.” MA It is a “pop masterwork of…intricate interplay between Orzabal’s thicker, Lennon-esque voice, and Smith’s high, clear McCartney-like singing.” EO The song is “completely different from the polished, atmospheric soul that surrounds it, but paradoxically, it's also the album's cornerstone.” SS “Full of arcane references, lovely turns of phrase, and perfectly matched suite-like parts” (Swihart,. it “is a joyous call to activism.” MA “Despite a dalliance with Sixties naiveté, even the hippie-dippiest line, ‘Every minute of every hour, I love the sunflower,’ alludes to the Green party, leaving one to wonder whether the song's flower-power sentiments (and sound) are really as dated as they seem.” MA It is “all lovingly produced by the duo and Dave Bascombe in a style reminiscent of both the Beatles of Sgt. Pepper’s and the Beach Boys of ‘Good Vibrations.’” EO

“Woman in Chains” and “the sweetly accessible” EAAdvice for the Young at Heart are sung with…care and attention featuring Smith's vocal contributions.” JL With its “updated Philly-soul strain,” SS this “lush and melodic [song] comes closest to a conventional pop tune.” MA It “sounds like…a perfect summer pop hit.” AD In reality, it was released at the tail of end of winter as the third single from the album and met with only moderate success.

On the next couple cuts, “the group…dabbles in jazz” SS although they may have “drifted a little too much into middle of road territory…when perhaps their audience weren't quite ready for them to do so.” AD Both “the bleak, harrowing Standing on the Corner of the Third World, [which] gains its strength from a remarkable collision of sound and idea,” MA and Swords and Knives “are 'smooth', things to admire rather than actively enjoy.” AD

The “slow-burning,” SS “lean, hard–driving Year of the KnifeEA “is perhaps the focal point of the tension. Its admirable flamboyance makes for more fun than could be expected from a half-live, three-part, seven-minute swaggering rock & roll track packed with guitar solos.” HE

“The very pretty and touching Famous Last WordsAD is a “poignant closer…about two lovers' bracing for the Big One, reveals what might happen if the machismo outlined in ‘Woman in Chains’ were to go unchecked.” MA It is “one of the most perfectly realised songs on the entire album; very beautiful.” AD

Throughout this album, there is an “unspoken assertion that popular music can also be outstanding music. That's something this remarkable record proves over and over again.” MA

Review Sources:

Related DMDB Links:

Previous Album: Songs from the Big Chair (1985) Tears for Fears’ DMDB page Next Album: Curt Smith’s ‘Soul on Board’ (1993) Next Tears for Fears Album: Elemental (1993)

Sowing the Seeds of Love

Woman in Chains

Advice for the Young at Heart

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Last updated March 11, 2011.