Saturday Deluxe / 22 July 2017

This week: Tears For Fears take SDE’s advice and we explore the mystery of the new The Smiths remaster…

SDE can exclusively reveal this lyric sheet for ‘Broken’ handwritten by Roland Orzabal. It was found in a tape box during the research for the 2014 ‘Songs From The Big Chair’ reissue.

SDE review inspires Tears For Fears setlist change

Regular visitors here should already know that together, SDE and its readers have been known to influence and actually affect change in archival product, thanks to pointed observations and often forensic knowledge of artists’ back catalogue. Reissues from the likes of Swing Out Sister, The Blow Monkeys, Bros, Donna Summer and Peter Gabriel have all been ‘improved’ to some degree or another – thanks to this community, and they’re only releases we actually know about!

However, having an impact on a band’s live performance is a new one, but that’s exactly what happened this week, as a tweet by Tears For Fears singer and songwriter Roland Orzabal revealed.

SDE only occasionally writes about live gigs, but I had reviewed the Tears For Fears 8th July performance at the British Summer Time festival in London. I do know Roland and Curt a little bit, from interviewing them for the various reissue projects that I’ve been lucky enough to get involved in, but there was no special treatment – no backstage passes, or wristbands… I was there as just a punter in the general admission area with my family.


One of my observations in the review was that I felt that Head Over Heels sounded a bit ‘weird’ without the segue into the reprise of the song Broken, as it does on the Songs From The Big Chair album. Roland and/or Curt not only clearly read the review but then decided I had a point! The tweet above followed, telling me and their 65,000 follows: “we took your advice and put Broken at the end of Head Over Heals“. They did this at their 19 July San Diego concert. In Roland’s own words it “worked a treat”!

A quick bit of history… Broken from Songs From The Big Chair is basically a re-recorded version of We Are Broken which was the B-side to the re-released Pale Shelter – the fifth and final single from The Hurting in April 1983. Recalling the song when interviewed by this writer for the notes in the 2014 Big Chair reissue booklet Roland said : “It was that 1983 tour – we did the whole Broken/Head Over Heels segue, so it kinda had to go on the album, I think. Even though it had been a very basic B-side, which I think was done in a day.” Producer Chris Hughes also remembered that “The live version was really live but I don’t remember which gig it was. I suppose that’s slightly ‘prog’ in the sense that you might have a reprise. It’s kind of pop on one level and I suppose it’s an ingredient for a great album to have a reprise.”

Back to the here and now and I’m naturally flattered that the band read the review (they have good taste), but also thrilled that my words encouraged them to dust down such a great song (albeit it’s the short instrumental reprise). Someone said it was the first time they’d played it in 11 years – hopefully they’ll keep it in place for future shows – it only adds 45 seconds to the set, but it’s quite powerful. You can listen to this very performance below!

The Smiths / The Queen Is Dead / deluxe reissue box set

The Smiths’ new remaster – What Difference Does It Make?

One of the highlights of this week was the news that The Smiths‘ 1986 album The Queen Is Dead is to be reissued in October. However there appears to be an element of mystery over the remaster that will be included…

Johnny Marr oversaw the remastering of the entire Smiths back catalogue when the 2011 reissues came out. He worked with remastering engineer Frank Arkwright and Marr had this to say at the time:

“I’m very happy that the remastered versions of The Smiths’ albums are finally coming out. I wanted to get them sounding right and remove any processing so that they now sound as they did when they were originally made. I’m pleased with the results.”

So if The Queen Is Dead was remastered to sound as it did when it was ‘originally made’ for the 2011 re-release, why has it been remastered again? What is wrong with the 2011 remaster that Johnny Marr was so ‘pleased with’?!

Has the forthcoming reissue even been remastered at all? Warners were very clear on the press release: “Warner Bros. Records can confirm details of a newly remastered and expanded version of the album that will be released on October 20.” And the tracks from the album are labelled ‘2017 Master’ or ‘2017 Remaster’ virtually everywhere.

So who worked on this new remaster and why? I made enquiries at Warners regarding this issue, but no one got back to me. I asked the original engineer on the record, Stephen Street if he’d worked on it and he told me that he hadn’t… but that he would have “loved to” have been involved. Frank Arkwright also me this week that he also hadn’t been involved with the new reissue/remaster. Finally, I tweeted a query to Johnny Marr directly, but he’s been completely silent on twitter since the day before the reissue was announced.

What do you think? Is this a cynical marketing exercise where the record label has to be seen to deliver something ‘new’ even if it’s not needed? Is there going to be any discernable difference to the 2011 remaster which Johnny Marr approved and the new one? If there IS a difference does that mean that Johnny Marr has now decided that the 2011 version is lacking? Leave a comment with your thoughts!

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