TEARS FOR FEARS - PALE SHELTER Oct 21, 2019
TEARS FOR FEARS - PALE SHELTER (1982/1983)
Unlike most groups who struggled for years before attracting any attention from record companies, Roland and Curt had only two songs in the bag when they were signed to Phonogram.
"We had gone into a demo-studio in Bath with just 'Suffer The Children',” said Roland, “and we knew nothing about synthesizers. It was our producer, David Lord, who showed us how to use them and he played all the difficult bits at first."
'Suffer the children' and 'Pale Shelter', which became the band’s second single, impressed Phonogram and TFF were signed with the label. By July 1981, they were recording an album.
When 'Suffer The Children' was released in 1982, John Peel picked up on it and compared the band to Joy Division. The NME reviewed it and likened them to Joy Division too. The track was played for six weeks on Peter Powell’s show alone. There was some enthusiasm, but not enough to get going. They were not a live act, so nobody could "discover" them. Their lyrics were deep, dark, and definitely not the usual pop fare. So single number 1 went down. Then 'Pale Shelter' came out. Again little nibbles, but no bite. But all was to change with the release of third single, ‘Mad World’, a song that peaked at #3 in the UK Charts, and one that effectively launched their career.
In 1983, following the success of singles "Mad World" and "Change", a re-recorded version of ‘Pale Shelter’ was given a second chance as both a single and extended 12” version. With a big promotional campaign behind it, ‘Pale Shelter’ finally had chart success, peaking at #5 in the UK singles chart.
The video here (if someone could explain it to me one day…) is the original version of the song that includes Roland Orzabal’s reverse vocal intro. Though only their second single, the track highlights TFF’s impeccable grasp of pop and conviction to weighty topics.
The song’s title – the lyrics about the subject of a teenage girls’ infatuation, less so - refers to a series of drawings and paintings by sculptor Henry Moore that depict Londoners sheltering from the Blitz during the Second World War. One drawing in particular is titled “Pale Shelter Scene”.