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4.7 out of 5 stars34
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 27 March 2000
This album is one of the best records ever made. It has been slated by critics over the years, with accusations levelled such as "egotistic", "maudlin" and "self-obsessed".
These claims are unfounded and the average listener should buy this album to see for themselves.
It is an album that needs repeated listening to "break it in". At first listen it is hard to pick up the mood, the result being that it sits on the shelf for months on end (this happened to me). But listen some more and concentrate on the musical diversity and craft (ignore the confused lyrics) and you will experience a delicate and varied album like no other record you have ever heard.
Roland Orzabal has produced some amazingly deep pieces in his time, but his work here is excellent.
The opening track is unusual for its slightly discordant harmony that manages to sound acceptable while never quite becoming likeable. Things improve with "Falling Down" which softens the album's mood. "Secrets" adds emotion to the proceedings with some great guitar work. The album then turns to a more "pop-like" sound with "God's Mistake", a clever track with plenty of musical arrangement to keep the most studious of listeners happy. "Sketches of Pain" adds a spanish feel to the record and initiates a biting and moving string of emotions in the listener to prepare for the second half of the album. "Los Reyes Catalicos" is interesting, but becomes tiresome very quickly.
The second half opens with a mood breaking rocker, "Sorry", another Orzabal "event" that snakes through different keys and tempos before segmenting into "Humdrum and Humble", a more laid-back track but keeping in the mood of the previous song. Then once again, Orzabal takes the mood right down with the gentle song, "I Choose You", following which he moves back into "Rock" mode for the excellent and rousing "Don't Drink The Water".
Closing the album, we are treated to the gentle and moving "Me And My Big Ideas", and experience the re-appearance of Oleta Adams, last seen on "Seeds of Love". A repeat of "Los Reyes Catalicos" closes the album on a downbeat finale.
Overall, a brilliant piece of work. Try it for yourself and I am sure you will agree.
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on 2 June 2004
I bought this album when it first hit the shops back in '95. I listened to it once, was disappointed and put it away for another day. That day arrived last week nearly nine years on whilst sorting through some old boxes of CDs. I put this disc into my player and hit the play button and was shocked to hear an astoundingly wonderful collection of quality music. Why I struggled with it nine years ago but not now is a mystery to me. Perhaps a little maturity, responsibility marriage and childen has changed me? Who knows? All I know is that RATKOS is, like 'Tomcats Screaming Outside', a superb piece of musical work. Both take some getting used to but then pay back the patient listener in spades. 'Me and my Big Ideas', 'Humdrum and Humble' and 'Sketches of Pain', 'God's Big Mistake' and 'I Choose You' are particularly worthy of mention.
10/10 at least.
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on 30 August 2009
Roland (Raul) goes back to his roots!? While this album is sprinkled with a Spanish flavour, pop gems like Gods Mistake and the title track stand out among a coherent and well put together collection. the remastered and expanded issue comes with all the b sides to the singles released and takes this listener back to a time when this established and talented 80's artist was consigned to the naff bin. shame really as the 90's saw many such bands being dismissed when in fact they had honed their skills to an even greater level than in their heyday. however, this is not in the league of their best work, its a great listen if youve got the hit albums and are looking to dig deeper.
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on 1 March 2004
This is Tears For Fears's fifth album, which is in fact Roland Orzabal's second solo album after the departure of Curt Smith from the duo since the 'Sowing the Seeds of Love' album.
This album is obviously a very personal one for Roland, who named it after his son Raoul. The album has a strong 'Spanish' flavor to it, basically Roland's search into his heritage - his mother was Spanish, and here Roland discovers flamenco in some of the tracks and makes extensive use of unplugged guitars. A departure from 'Elemental' with more 'real instruments' and less programming, 'Raoul and the Kings of Spain' is musically accomplished, but somewhat lacks depth in the lyrics department, mostly because of its philosophical nature, which is somewhat not always accessible to all listeners. The track 'Secrets' starts off like an Elton John pastiche and then takes on a life of its own, making it one of the most powerful song on the album. An interesting and accomplished album if you're a Tears For Fears fan or someone who's not really into mainstream music.
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on 10 July 2006
First and foremost I must thank the people who have written reviews on this album. It was because of your recommendations that I went out and purchased it. I am no musical expert but as someone else said " I know what I like". This album gets better the more you listen to it. If you judge this album the first time of hearing you may be disappointed....Give it chance it is worth it. It compares favourably with any other TFF and I can only endorse what all the other good reviews say on this buy it!
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on 12 January 2010
If you thought the light had gone out on Tears For Fears after their fairly acrimonious split shortly after Seeds Of Love then you'd be very much mistaken.

Maybe Roland struggled a little with Elemental (his first post-Curt release) but any doubts that might have surfaced with that release were erased totally with this absolute masterpiece. Drawing from many very personal experiences, Roland has given us an album that uplifts, inspires and entertains with every beat. The title track is majestic, God's Mistake is incredible, I Choose You is so moving, and Me And My Big Ideas (featuring the return of Oleta Adams) is just sublime.

Tears For Fears have given us some of the greatest albums and music from the 80's and this album is every bit as good - if not better! Just because it didn't sell by the bucketload when first released doesn't mean it is a poor album. It is one of their finest yet!

Buy it..... Buy it NOW!!!
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on 4 March 2014
I am not a huge fan of Tears for Fears. I just like them. But this record “Raoul and the Kings of Spain”: Could I name it the unkown diamond in the popmusic? Most likely. It is fabulous album with tremendous good popsongs.

At the time of its release Tears for Fears were already considered as an band from the past. The days of “seeds of love” were already behind. Who cared about Tears for Fears. Who cared for this “Raoul” thing? That’s a pitty, because it’s the band’s best album and one of the most overlooked albums of the nineties. Essentially it is a solo effort by Roland Orzabal because Smith was already not in the band anymore. But then guitarist, vocalist and keyboardplayer Alan Griffiths should also be credited for his contribution to “Raoul”.

But why to say it is so good? Because with “Raoul” we are listening to popmusic songwriting at the best. It has melody, it has structure, it has a-beginning-a-middle-and-an-end, it has details, it is clever. The song “Raoul and the Kings of Spain” is THE Tears for Fears indiepop modern rock ‘n roll song. A full warm power driven guitar riff to be returned in every chorus, with an on top of his form singing Orzabal. Especially in the chorus he rises the volume of his voice to sing repeatedly a close-to-screaming-but-totally-in-control-loud-and-energetic line “Raoul and the Kings of Spain”. At the end eruption it sounds like the song fades away but smoothly changes into the calm “Falling down”. “Secrets” is a up-tempo ballad-like with surprising nice slide guitar.

After these three it continues: Every song is a change in mood and a change in style, but every song connects with the one before and the one after. Everything makes sense, everything is complete. Rock influence, pop influence, classical Spanish guitar influence, minimalized songs, full songs, fast ones, slow ones

Simply, it is a complete d*** good album!
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Roland Orzabal has Iberian ancestors - and a son called Raoul? - so one wonders whether this might explain the strong Spanish references that recur throughout this CD. Not only are they present in the sleevenotes and some of the song titles, but one wonders if the anti-clerical feel to `Secrets', `God's Mistake', and `Don't Drink the Water' are also vestiges of this Spanish romantic tragedy. And do we see shades of the dark drawings of Goya in the song `Sketches of Pain', with its Spanish instrumentation and raucous sounds of bullfights?

This album is very much rock-orientated; sometimes the rock bears a very hard edge (as in the title track and in `Sorry'). Jangly guitars can be heard in `God's Mistake' and a more pop-influenced feel pervades `Humdrum & Humble'. But there are three ballads too: `Secrets' even reminded me of those rock ballads of the 1970s, and the soothing voice of Oleta Adams returns in `Me & My Big Ideas'. Orzabal sings in the ballad `I Choose You' that it is "Not my intention to amuse or confuse", and indeed many of the lyrics are full of (the usual) bitter anger and frustration. The accusatory tone, though, is finally assuaged at the end by the apology and redemption offered by Orzabal in the penultimate track, `Me & My Big Ideas'. And peace finally arrives - the "ghosts all gone" - in the final track reprising `Los Reyes Catolicos'.

Overall the sound is less slick than earlier albums. There is also less production, which now feels more traditional and therefore less brilliant than before: is this "Colour for the colour-blind", as Orzabal sings in `Humdrum & Humble'? Listening to this album a few days after those of Tears for Fears that came before, I sensed occasional riffs from some of Orzabal's seminal tracks from the past, but somehow I could not quite put my finger on them. What I would say, though, is that, playing the CD now in 2012, it does not sound as good as it first did when purchased and listened to back in 1995.
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on 10 October 2007
I have had this cd since '95, and have played it through the years since, and I must honestly say that I am never bored of it, there are no fillers on this one!, the whole cd is just so well written and is a musical treat. Each song is different and I don't want to name just one because they are all good. It's now 12 years on since it first came out but I still love it and would not lend it to anyone but my closest mates, that's how much I rate it. I'm no music critic just a good music lover, please try it, and get 'Elemental' too, another great record!.
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on 31 October 2008
Was a big fan of Tears for Fears back in the 80's and 90's but missed this album as I was into american house music in a big way.
Now as my musical tastes have matured, I dont listen to what I heard on the the last Saturday night out, I am coming back to the bands I loved then. Street Fighting Years by Simple Minds being a prime example.
The amazon reviews have helped with my purchase.
This album is fantastic, the song writing and, as the other reviewers have stated, the more you listen then more you are drawn in. It has a real depth to it and the productiion and arrnagements are very tight.
The first three songs are superb, love Falling Down and Secrets. The album then takes a different tact, with a few low key numbers again great to drive to or chill with, espcially with a couple of toddlers in the car.
Oletta Adams makes a welcome return for a very emotional song.
I cannot recommend this album enough, if you were a fan back then and missed it, it does stand the test of time and if released today would sell very well.
Wonder how many more hidden gems are out there I missed, thanks Amazon reviewers!
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