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Eurythmics as you probably don't know them!

Now, I know that I trumpet the virtues of some artists that are poorly received by the critical consensus (Roxette, Kylie Minogue), but if there is one artist that I feel is uniformly underappreciated here, it is without a doubt Eurythmics. It seems that they are viewed as a singles band that had a few big hits in the 80s and who had little lasting impact other than "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" and "Here Comes the Rain Again". While those songs are indeed awesome and among their best, the fact is that Eurythmics were one of the most innovative and important artists of the 80s. I think that they are too often lumped in with the likes of A Flock of Seagulls and Howard Jones and thus are seen as disposable artifacts of a musical fad. The truth is that Eurythmics did not hide behind synthesizers as many of their opportunistic contemporaries did, but rather they used them to enhance their venerable musicianship and songwriting.

I am well aware that I have a thing for women who utilize the pop music platform to express their extreme artistry (Björk, Grace Jones, etc.), but I honestly feel that Eurythmics would appeal to many of you here if given the chance. I will grant that their material from 1985-1989 is largely pop for the masses (with the possible exception of Savage), but their material from 1981-1984 showcases an icy, edgy bite that is unmatched by anyone.

I have made a playlist (thanks to Nicolas for introducing me to deezer!) that includes 4 songs from each of their first 4 albums. If you are at all interested, I'd urge you to check it out! If this seems like a poorly-guised effort to manipulate the Hall of Acclaim voting to draw attention to an act that would likely not make the cut, you're halfway there.

However, these songs represent 4 albums that are sacred to my very spirit. Few artists have been able to inject their musical vision into my very fiber like Eurythmics have, and more than anything, I'd like to share this music with you as a fingerprint of my own musical character, as I highly respect your opinions and honestly feel that their music is worth praising in this manner.

Discover Eurythmics!

Re: Eurythmics as you probably don't know them!

In the Garden (1981)

Eurythmics - In the Garden

Rarely has a musical act come together through more unusual circumstances. Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart, the mastermind duo whose music would help to define a decade, formed Eurythmics from the ashes of The Tourists, whose commercial ascent came at the cost of critical acclaim. Annie and Dave were beginning to feel creatively stagnant, as the insular Peet Coombes was the driving force behind the band's songs, if not their image. The tension not only resulted in the combustion of The Tourists, but also of Dave and Annie's romantic partnership. Intriguingly, the heartbreak of this split would inform a large portion of the lyrics that would make them famous, and this tension proved to create a fascinating dynamic that would launch Eurythmics into superstardom. The first glimpse of their refocused creative efforts came in the form of In the Garden, a truly fascinating record, although one that would be overshadowed by the towering success of its successors.

In the Garden is largely an attempt to forge Eurythmics a separate identity to that of The Tourists. While the latter's sound was more or less an update of British rock of the 60s, Dave and Annie wanted to overcome such regional and sonic barriers. Enlisting Conny Plank as producer as well as an impressive list of musicians in the form of Blondie's Clem Burke, Can's Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit and D.A.F.'s Robert Görl, among others, In the Garden immediately is injected with a massive jolt of experimental and European influence. The result is a set of songs that is at once mysterious and slightly menacing. And while Annie Lennox might have been quite justified in showing off her massive vocals that were typically relegated to background status in her former band, she suitably opts to hover hauntingly above the mix, adding her voice as another delicate instrument in the mix.

This tantalizing mixture of talent and inspiration is kicked off with "English Summer", which immediately sets the tone, as the assortment of instruments twist and tangle as if in a garden that is a bit over-ripe. Bursting through the speakers next is the gloriously rocking "Belinda", in which Annie provides beautifully twinned and gentle vocal harmonies, which perfectly imbue the tone of kind reassurance offered in the lyrics. An irresistible guitar lick is complimented by a delicious bass mimic before the song is adorned with sparkly keyboards and handclaps. Annie closes the song with a sort of Eastern-tinged vocal chanting, really tugging at the heartstrings. As impressive as these opening songs are, the subsequent "Take Me to Your Heart" is even better. Powered by an insistent, slightly warped bass line and augmented by a pair of fizzing synth lines that add a palpable eeriness to the mix, the song is an obvious reminder that Dave and Annie were keen to try new things in their creative rebirth. For her part, Annie Lennox glides ghost-like above the track, and with lines like "Time after time, I try to contact you" and "it's good to pretend that you're with me", she truly sounds like a scorned dead spirit attempting to reach her former lover. A plucked string instrument that I can't quite place (Eastern?) very effectively escalates the mood during a few instrumental breaks of this amazing gem. The preeminent single of the album, "Never Gonna Cry Again" takes a similarly eerie approach as Annie sounds like a primordial and reticent goddess and even dusts off her flute for a disarming solo.

Elsewhere, a few hints of the anthemic pop of The Tourists creeps through in the majestic choruses of "All the Young (People of Today)" and "Your Time Will Come", in which Annie paints a suggestive picture of the coming generation and a spooky yet moving ode to the chameleon-like woman who serves as the principle character of the album, respectively. This solitary character's neurosis is expounded upon brilliantly in the Bowie-esque "She's Invisible Now", as she is reduced to repeatedly counting while the dust settles in around her. Ominously, this woman grows darker and darker as the experiments grow ever more twisted as the album progresses- first as a disturbingly eager submissive sexual deviant in "Caveman Head" and finally as a blood-thirsty menace who meticulously outlines her plan for vindication before erupting into ecstasy singing "I looooooove to see them suffer" in the closer "Revenge". As dark as all of it sounds, the intricate layers of the music provide an inviting platform.

While In the Garden certainly was successful in revealing the multi-faceted and diverse talents of Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart in not only crafting songs but also in gelling well with collaborators, it did not reach a large audience. For a group that had experienced some lofty chart success a few years prior with The Tourists, this markedly brave step toward pure artistic expression was nearly suicidal. Thankfully, they had the guts to keep at it, and as they found a signature sound an image over the growing pains of 1981 and 1982, "their time would come". Decades later, In the Garden stands up on its own merit as a more than simply a "lost" album, and the groundwork for their breakthrough was laid here with class and sophistication.

Re: Eurythmics as you probably don't know them!

Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) (1983)

Eurythmics - Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)

By late 1982, Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart had reached their breaking point. Not only had they drifted apart from the Tourists just as they were taking form, but their first album, In the Garden, was released to very little fanfare. Subsequent singles like "This Is the House" and "The Walk" were likewise ignored. Put under pressure to release a hit, Annie and Dave continued crafting their sound throughout the year, resulting in over 40 songs for consideration for the album to come. One in particular is intriguing- the yet unreleased "Beautiful Armadillo" was recorded in the presence of a very famous flautist, which made Annie very nervous as it was her instrument of choice. Annie donned a black wig and belted out Arabic exclamations as Dave played different guitars that were suspended by strings from the ceiling! However, personal strain was beginning to take its toll, as was poverty. Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) is D&A's triumph over the greatest adversity they have ever faced.

With this album, Eurythmics transformed their sound and pushed themselves to their artistic and creative limit and came up golden. Annie Lennox became a bona fide star and Eurythmics became not only a household name, but the most definitive new wave band. Each side starts with a classic single ("Love Is a Stranger" and the title track) that became ubiquitous on radio. Infinitely catchy and appealing, those two songs broke Eurythmics to the world scene. With a controversial video, "Love Is a Stranger" was banned due to its harsh androgynous imagery. It nonetheless made waves on radio and served to muster a little adulation.

However, it is the iconic "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" that rightfully received the most attention upon release, soaring all the way to number 1 on the US charts in the summer of 1983. A true masterpiece, the song sums up the immensely creative approaches that D&A took in creating their music. Annie Lennox's biography reveals this: "For example, the clinking counterpoint audible during the title track, 'Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)', is not an instrument of electronic or traditional origin- Dave and Annie resourcefully filled up milk bottles with different levels of water and tapped them in time to the chorus for that song." The song seems to have had almost providential origins. According to Annie, the group nearly split the day the song was recorded. After a terrible fight, Dave simply wanted to program the drum computer. Accidentally, it came out in reverse, but Annie suddenly sat up from her fetal position on the floor to pound the main melody on the synthesizer. However, the magic continued. After recording the synth lines, Annie improvised the lyrics in one take, other than the "Hold your head up" lines which were added later.

However, this album is more than two hit singles and filler. "I've Got an Angel" features Annie sounding possessed and features some chillingly menacing lyrics. "Wrap It Up" is a catchy cover tune relying heavily on deep synth. "I Could Give You (A Mirror)" is another jaw-dropping synth-funk blast in the vein of "Sweet Dreams." Its lyrics are cutting ("I could give you a mirror to show you disappointment") and the beats and synths echo Annie's fury. "The Walk" is a silky and sexy strut that was released as a single in July 1982 and featured some killer B-sides ("Step on the Beast," "Invisible Hands," "Satellite of Love," "Let's Just Close Our Eyes"). Many consider this to be the best song on the album. "Jennifer" is a stunningly gorgeous and emotional tale of a woman who drowns. Rarely have synthesizers ever had as much "heart" as on this truly gripping song. "This Is the House" is a quirky synth tune featuring a Spanish coda that was issued as a single in January of 1982 and features the wondrous B-sides "4/4 in Leather," "Dr. Trash" and "Home Is Where the Heart Is." "Somebody Told Me" is a foreboding, angry song where Annie's spite and rage are at the forefront again.

"This City Never Sleeps," however, may be the crowning achievement of their entire career. It may be the loneliest song ever recorded, with a stark, bleak atmosphere compounded by Annie's hushed and chilling lyrics ("Walls so thin I can almost hear them breathing...and if I listen in I hear my own heart beating.") The lyrics recall Annie's tough times in a one room bedsit in London.
Annie reveals: ''I'd regressed back to when you first come down to London and you have to rough it. That was happening in my private life- it was a telling strain on me, it was very hard to live with it. 'This City Never Sleeps' is simply to do with what was happening to me at the time. You know...the walls were so think that I could hear the girl coughing next door! It was very depressing and I thought 'Jesus!' There's millions of people all over the world who have this feeling where the city just hums all night and they don't know who the person is next door to them, and they don't even wanna know because they treasure that tiny bit of privacy, that square box so much...' After presenting Dave with the lyrics, Dave immediately picked up on the train imagery and recorded train noises from a nearby station. Dave slowed down the recording until it was nearly "in tune" with the music, and then "literally held his electric guitar in front of the speakers so that it picked up on the squealing of the train wheels and began to noisily feed back into the system. In that way, the train sound effectively morphs into a screeching slide guitar, and the doctored sounds of the subway serve to highten the lyrics."

Needless to say, Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) is on the cutting edge of studio creativity. It is the testimony of two geniuses pushed to the brink of their limits: physically, financially and emotionally. What resulted was a truly amazing record, the likes of which never matched by any new wave album before or since.

Re: Eurythmics as you probably don't know them!

Touch (1983)

Eurythmics - Touch

Having saved their career with the timely synth classic Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), Eurythmics were quick to strike while the iron was hot, delivering another bona fide classic in Touch, released a mere ten months after its predecessor. While retaining the synth pop aesthetic that would become their trademark, the album is far from a mere regurgitation of the formula, and DnA can hold their heads high with the artistic and commercial triumph that ensued.

While "Sweet Dreams" had cast Annie Lennox as an androgynous icon of feminine power, Touch sees her revel in her vulnerability. Never is this more evident than in the album's two biggest hits. Riding atop a transcendent piano hook and a shivering synth flourish, "Here Comes the Rain Again" can best be described as a synth soul song. Conceived after a huge fight between the two, the song is a moving call for reconciliation as Annie pleads for her beau to talk to her "like lovers do". The album's first single, "Who's That Girl?" is a smoky yet silky opus seeing Annie paranoid about her world crashing down due to her lover's alleged infidelity. The album also offers a more worldly flair, as the other single "Right By Your Side", the cheeriest song from the first half of their career, shuffles along to a calypso backdrop complete with a horn section. Indeed, the integration of horns represents the key addition to their repertoire in Touch, giving their sound a bit of an organic infusion.

Those who feel that Eurythmics had gone soft, however, are misguided, as Touch sees them retain their sharp and experimental edge. The stealthily catchy "Regrets" sees Annie crooning, "I'm an electric wire and I'm stuck inside your head", while the standouts "Cool Blue" and "The First Cut" are every bit as strident as "I Could Give You (A Mirror)". "Aqua", meanwhile, sees a defiant Lennox commanding that she not be touched given the disappointment she feels with the song's proposed target. The album closes with two of the darkest moments of their career. "No Fear, No Hate, No Pain (No Broken Hearts)" ominously references a "killing gun" with which Annie urges the holder to "shoot it up, shoot it up". The closing "Paint a Rumour" elicits Annie's fiery rage, as the swirling gossip mill is paralleled by a downright spooky, swirling synth line. She sounds like she is literally fuming as she whispers "I could tell you something" through gnashed teeth, to great effect.

In retrospect, 1983 was a banner year for Eurythmics, as they crawled into the year fairly destitute and ushered the year out as superstars with two highly accomplished and successful albums. Such is its magnitude that not only is Touch an essential Eurythmics album, but also a seminal synth pop album. The next year would see the low-key release of the brilliant 1984: For the Love of Big Brother soundtrack, but they then evolved into a pop/rock outfit to stay afloat. Consequently, other than Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), Touch offers the only documentation of their most celebrated sound.

Re: Eurythmics as you probably don't know them!

1984: For the Love of Big Brother (1984)

Eurythmics - 1984 (For the Love of Big Brother)

Some albums add up to more than the sum of their parts. Some artists understand this and craft a cohesive album accordingly, and Eurythmics are one of those artists. Nowhere in their catalogue is this more apparent than on the unheralded but brilliant soundtrack 1984: For the Love of Big Brother. Having become pop stars rapidly with the previous two smash albums Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) and Touch, it would have been easy for them to crank up the synths are record another album in the same vein, pandering to their rapidly growing fanbase, but the only thing that they retained was the experimental aesthetic edge that made their previous albums such thoroughly enjoyable lessons. This soundtrack would prove to be a big risk for the band, and while it may not have been commercially wise, it certainly succeeded in legitimizing their legacy.

What makes this album work so well is that it was created with the clear understanding of the material for which it was providing a soundtrack. George Orwell's paranoid dystopia stands as a classic novel, gradually building the suspense over an extended period, slowly sinking its teeth into the reader's psyche. This album works in much the same way, utilizing its icy soundscapes and Annie's voice to capture the hollow horror depicted in the novel rather than to merely recite a pop melody. In fact, the album only contains three songs that could be deemed "conventional", but even those aren't exactly representative of the musical landscape in 1984. The first was the album’s main single and arguably the most “normal” song therein: the jittery, industrious synth pulse of “Sexcrime (1984)”, which summarizes the claustrophobic and controlling governmental control ubiquitous in Orwell’s nightmare vision. Much like Orwell’s novel, lyrics such as “leave a big hole in the wall just where you are looking in” allude to the terror rather than directly address it. Meanwhile, “For the Love of Big Brother” slowly sways through the speakers, coupling chilling lyrics with an even more chilling sound. Lines such as “faces seem like fingerprints, like skeletons of leaves upon the lawn” and “I still hear the sound of conversation in the hall, Look to see who’s coming but it’s nothing and there’s no one there at all” reveal that the group hasn’t lost any of its knack for making such bleak horror sound so inviting as first displayed on In the Garden. Lastly, the album’s heart and soul rests in the lilting ballad “Julia”, whose pleading piano, threatening bass line and a repeated, ancient and mournful synth refrain give the song a powerful and poignant palate for Annie Lennox’s dual vocals, one dejected and the other electronically treated, to convey both the mood and the story of the song by utilizing the advent of winter as the impetus for questioning our very existence. The result is masterful and “Julia” holds its own among the very best of Eurythmics’ catalogue.

If one thing sets apart 1984 from the rest of their surrounding material, it is the synthesis of Annie’s vocals into the mix of the songs rather than the traditional setup of Lennox’s vocals acting as the focal point. In this way, the album recalls their long-forgotten debut In the Garden, and perhaps this is why it didn’t garner the same level of commercial success. Nevertheless, this approach is no less affecting, which is especially evident in the opener, “I Did It Just the Same”. A gentle synth comes in an out of focus before Annie Lennox joins in with some gentle humming. Before long, however, a heavily sequenced and foreboding bass and loud percussion make the song positively bounce while Annie’s soulful scatting grows increasingly paranoid and insistent. Elsewhere, the shivering beauty of “Ministry of Love” (where the characters in the book and film go to be forcefully “re-educated” permeates an aura of wonder and mystique and is punctuated by abrupt male vocals shouting “A-ha!” as Annie’s electronic voice repeats the title and eventually breaks out into rabid chants of “Giavanno, donna neva”. On “DoublePlusGood”, it is not Annie’s voice but rather a sample of a detached female reporter from the film reciting an array of statistics and “news” of impending victory in an unending war. The title refers to “Newspeak”, a contraction of the English language enforced by the regime to further simplify thought. While on paper this may sound like a bad idea, a soaring synth line and a rhythmic incantation of “plusgood, doubleplusgood” definitely keep the toes tapping. Particularly effective is the play on the word “attention”, first used to ask “your attention please”, then punctuated to “tension, tension” before initiating a countdown of from the number ten that never quite gets to one.

If the whole album sounds cold and detached from this description, it should. The only reprieve comes in the form of the minute and a half glow of “Winston’s Diary”, in which it is clear that Dave and Annie were truly creating a score for the film as opposed to a collection of pop songs. A lonely harmonica seems to represent the lonely pages of the illegal diary in question, as Winston’s thoughts are poured out as a sole sound in the distance. However, this moment of tranquility is quickly vanquished by the succeeding industrial chug of “Greetings from a Dead Man”, the title of which refers to a diary entry Winston writes as the realization of his horror begins to take shape.

As the door slams shut on “Room 101”, this powerful soundtrack leaves an indelible mark, expertly fomenting the machination and dehumanization described in the novel. Despite the dispute between Eurythmics and the director who claimed that this soundtrack was “foisted” upon him, there is no disputing its impact. Indeed, Dave’s star as a producer was growing by the minute, and this contribution as the soundtrack of a high-budget film paved the way for future opportunities to come. It seems clear that few other artists of the early 80s were capable of producing a soundtrack as fitting and memorable. However, times were changing. The brand of experimental synth pop that had catapulted Eurythmics into the stratosphere had gone out of fashion with the mainstream public. The duo was quick to seize upon the moment by redefining themselves as a stadium rock band with a penchant for Motown, and it seems appropriate that the culmination of their synthesized glory is framed by the notion of death. Nevertheless, 25 years later, For the Love of Big Brother remains a compelling and vital listen.

Re: Eurythmics as you probably don't know them!

Wonderful posts, Moonbeam!

A lot to digest for someone who doesn't know he will become a Eurythmics fans, maybe. However, with the sound of "Take Me to Your Heart" through the speakers, no one should want to leave the page.

Re: Eurythmics as you probably don't know them!

Yeah, there is definitely an art to posting a thread. It's easy to overload a thread with info, as I clearly have done here! I just have always felt that Eurythmics were under-appreciated and had to gush about it.

And "Take Me to Your Heart" placed first was definitely deliberate.

Re: Eurythmics as you probably don't know them!

Very impressive post Moonbeam. And I love the use of deezer. Hopefully more people will start doing similar playlists.

The first song is definitely a keeper. Haven't heard the rest yet.

Re: Eurythmics as you probably don't know them!

nj recently purchased "Be Yourself Tonight" on mint green vinyl... any subtitles left for this little soon2b_gem, MB?

Re: Eurythmics as you probably don't know them!

God.. some people still buy records..
Not saying that for you, nj, well, vinyl is a different thing
i was at a conference with people from the music business and musical press about the future of music and media, and the debate was a MESS
Nobody knows where tehey are going, what the situation will be even in 1 year..
But sorry, I'm a bit out of the subject..
Great thread Moonbeam ! Almost makes me want to listen to Eurythmics ! (I love Annie's voice nad some of their songs)

Re: Eurythmics as you probably don't know them!

nj, Be Yourself Tonight saw a seismic shift in their sound. From the standpoint of maintaining a presence in the mainstream, it was necessary. Gone is the cold edginess, and in come a host of big names for star-studded collaborations. If you can accept the idea of Eurythmics as a mainstream pop/rock band, then Be Yourself Tonight and Revenge are good choices.

I suppose the subtleties of Be Yourself Tonight are in the magnificent "Adrian" with Elvis Costello, a delicate song about a helpless dreamer featuring a nice synth line, the soulful "Conditioned Soul" which acts as the title track, and the well-known "It's Alright (Baby's Coming Back)". One of my other favorites is one of the B-sides "Grown Up Girls". It sees a return to the cold, experimental synth that I love.

Re: Eurythmics as you probably don't know them!

Nicolas, I still buy vinyl too! With some albums and singles, it's the only choice available.

From the little that I know about your taste, I think you might like "Belinda" best of the tracks that I posted- it's a great rocking tune with nary a synthesizer to be found!

Re: Eurythmics as you probably don't know them!

Gah! I just noticed that "Never Gonna Cry Again" is a live version (although a good one), and "Cool Blue" and especially "No Fear, No Hate, No Pain (No Broken Hearts)" (which to me screams netjade!) are edited!

Re: Eurythmics as you probably don't know them!

OK, I edited the original playlist to include the correct versions, but now none of the songs seem to be playing for me! Anyone else having that problem?

Re: Eurythmics as you probably don't know them!

yeah, I had the same problem with a playlist I tried ito embedd in one of my blogs. It seems that when you add your own mp3s, the playlist doesn't work and can't be embedded.
I guess I should submit the problem to Deezer.

Re: Eurythmics as you probably don't know them!

and I promise you to listen to the songs as soon as I can
I don't know Eurythmics that well, only heard the singles on the radio when I was a kid.
I love Sweet Dreams (I'm not that allergic to synth), The Miracle of Love, and the one with the Stevie Wonder harmonica solo (Waiting for an angel ?)

Re: Eurythmics as you probably don't know them!

The Stevie Wonder harmonica solo is on "There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)" from Be Yourself Tonight! Fun single!

Re: Eurythmics as you probably don't know them!

Interesting band. I'll have get get my boss to order me some of there music.

We do a "Have you heard!" articale every couple weeks. I like this song, if the others are as good, then I'll definately keep them in consideration.

Thanks Moonbeam