Saturnine Martial & Lunatic

Tears For Fears

Mercury, 1996

http://tearsforfears.com

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 01/27/2009

Saturnine Martial & Lunatic shouldn’t be viewed simply as an album of B-sides and rarities. It’s also a collection of failed experiments and random tinkering that form the basis for the main body of work of Tears For Fears (TFF). The range of this lengthy record -- eighteen songs -- is exhaustive, encompassing everything from half-formed ideas to full-fledged numbers.

Unlike a typical B-sides record, the haphazard, fractured songs featured on Saturnine are truly experimental. With some of them mere ideas and not fully-formed songs, they almost seem to tell the story behind what the music might have went through in the beginning stages before taking definite shape.

However, the purpose of this record is more than academic, and thus the album’s moments of weirdness can get weary pretty quickly. The synth-percussion ramble that is “The Big Chair” is not even a song; it has as much personality as white noise. “My Life In The Suicide Ranks” might have been a starting point for any of the band’s smash hits, but as a song on its own, it’s torture with half-baked music and tipsy singing.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

For the less adventurous fans of TFF, there’s plenty here in the likes of “Chair” or “Suicide Ranks” that have a more palatable appeal. “When In Love With A Blind Man” and “Pharaohs,” which sound like an extensions of “The Working Hour” and “Everybody Wants To Rule The World,” are experimental, but at the same time are not as jarringly atrocious.

In its eighteen track saga, Saturnine offers the most not to the thrill seekers but to the average listener looking for some good old fashioned music from this band. “Bloodletting Go,” “Always In The Past” and “New Star,” along with a more modern replica of David Bowie’s “Ashes To Ashes,” truly represent the kind of lost treasures one expects to find in a B-sides compilation.

Amid the highs and lows of Saturnine, what’s most disappointing is the omission of the brilliant original version of “Laid So Low (Tears Roll Down)” and the inclusion of a weak, semi-remixed vomit of the track instead. Moreover, the altered version of “Johnny Panic And The Bible Of Dreams,” (which appears as a bonus cut on the reissued copies of The Seeds Of Love) on Saturnine is shabby. However, another cut from the reissued Seeds album “Always In The Past” appears in the exact same version here, while the instrumental “Music For Tables,” the best of the bonus tracks on the Seeds reissue, is the only one absent on Saturnine.

Saturnine is an unpredictable roller-coaster ride, and it is impossible to enjoy it with any sort of pre-set expectations. It can get tiring with its lengthiness and inconsistencies, but on the whole proves to be an interesting record.

Rating: C+

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