|Single by Tears for Fears|
|from the album The Hurting|
|Tears for Fears singles chronology|
"Pale Shelter" is a song by the British band Tears for Fears.
Written by Roland Orzabal and sung by bassist Curt Smith, it was originally the band's second single release in early 1982, but it would not see chart success until a reissue (with a different recording) the following year. It eventually became the third UK Top 5 chart hit taken from their debut LP The Hurting (1983), peaking at number 5. As with the previous two singles, the song also reached the Top 40 in several other countries.
In 2006, Freaky Trigger placed the song at number 65 in their list of "The Top 100 Songs of All Time".
Origin and production
Along with "Suffer the Children", "Pale Shelter" was one of two demo songs that landed Tears for Fears their first record deal with Phonogram in 1981. The song began life as a sequence of two chords that Orzabal had been repeatedly playing on acoustic guitar for weeks. The rest of the music and lyrics were eventually written in a single morning's time. The original demo of the song was recorded at musician Ian Stanley's home studio in Bath, after a chance meeting led to a working relationship with the duo.
After the release of their David Lord-produced debut single "Suffer the Children", "Pale Shelter" was selected as the follow-up. In an effort to sound more commercial, and because Lord was busy recording Peter Gabriel's fourth album, Mike Howlett was brought in to produce. Artistic disagreements between the duo and Howlett (specifically regarding his overuse of Linn drums) led to this being his only work with Tears for Fears. As Curt Smith later noted, "Mike was far too commercial for us. I don’t think we felt we were learning anything and we’re not good at being pushed in a direction we don’t wish to go."
The song was eventually re-recorded by Chris Hughes and Ross Cullum for the band's 1983 debut album The Hurting. Although both recordings of the song open with a sample played in reverse, on the original, it is an extra lyric spoken by Orzabal, while on the album cut, it is a brief piano lick.
It's a kind of a love song, though more referring to one's parents than to a girl.— Roland Orzabal
Release and reissues
"Pale Shelter" was initially released in 1982 as a United Kingdom-only single in both 7" and 12" formats. The 7" features the original recording of the song, while the 12" features an extended version. Both formats featured the B-side "The Prisoner", a noisy, electronic piece inspired by the Peter Gabriel song "Intruder", which showed off the duo's early experiments with synthesizers and sampling. Like "Pale Shelter", this song would also be re-recorded for inclusion on the album The Hurting. Although the single attracted some club play in the United States, it was ultimately a failure in the UK charts.
In 1983, after the success of singles "Mad World" and "Change", the re-recorded version of "Pale Shelter" was given another shot as a single, released in the United Kingdom and Europe in both 7" and 12" formats. The 7" features a slightly edited version of the album cut, while the 12" features a new extended version. To provide a chart push the second time around, Mercury took full advantage of the picture disc and coloured vinyl gimmicks that were popular throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. In all, eleven different variations of the reissued single were available for purchase. All formats of the reissue featured the B-side "We Are Broken", an early version of the song "Broken" which would later appear on Tears for Fears' second album Songs from the Big Chair. Aided by aggressive promotion and the duo's coinciding British concerts (at many of which the song was played twice), the "Pale Shelter" finally became a chart success, peaking at no. 5 in the United Kingdom.
In 1985, following up on the massive success of Songs from the Big Chair, Mercury reissued the original Howlett-produced version of "Pale Shelter" as a single, complete with a new variation of the original picture sleeve. Featuring the same formats and track listings as the original 1982 release, the single was a modest success, denting the UK Top 75.
Canadian special edit
Although "Pale Shelter" was not released commercially in the United States, it was issued in Canada in early 1983 to promote The Hurting, albeit in different form. Instead of using the Hughes/Cullum recording found on the album itself, the record company released a unique edit of the original Mike Howlett-produced extended version, which became a Top 20 hit in that country.
The promotional music video for "Pale Shelter" was directed by Steve Barron in early 1983 in Los Angeles, California, USA. The video, which features a number of odd juxtapositions (including a police officer directing traffic and a live alligator in a swimming pool), is notable for a scene in which Orzabal and Smith walk into a sea of flying paper aeroplanes, with one of them hitting Orzabal directly in the eye. The clip has been included on various Tears For Fears video collections, including 1983's The Videosingles and 1992's Tears Roll Down (Greatest Hits 82–92).
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- Wallace, Wyndham (20 September 2013). "This Is Going To Hurt: The Mad World Of Tears For Fears' Debut LP". The Quietus. Retrieved 26 June 2014.
- "A Day In The Life Of Roland Orzabal". Record Mirror. 27 November 1982.
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