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Eurythmics

+ {The Catch} + {The Tourists}

One of the defining acts of the 80s, and certainly one of the decade’s better outfits, EURYTHMICS (Aberdeen-born singer Annie Lennox and Sunderland-born guitarist Dave Stewart) grew out of late 70s power-pop trio The TOURISTS, who also featured Dave’s erstwhile writing partner Peet Coombes. The unlikely duo’s futuristic sound was at least partly down to Stewart’s mastery of cutting edge studio techniques, while Lennox’s vocals combined impressive depth and power with a chilly sensuality. It made for an alluring combination, all the more so in an era when over production and watered down songwriting was the norm. The melodic pulse and underlying menace of hits like `Love Is A Stranger’, `Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)’ and `Here Comes The Rain Again’, stood them apart from the pack and, with a raft of other transatlantic hits, Annie and Dave could do no wrong.
Dave Stewart was the experience behind the act, he’d served his time in folk-rock project, LONGDANCER, in the mid-70s (signing to ELTON JOHN’s Rocket Records), while Ann/Annie had gotten bored of the stuffiness of studying flute and keyboards at the prestigious Royal Academy of Music. One can trace the duo’s roots back to London 1975-77, when, with Peet Coombes in tow, they were known as power-pop trio The CATCH; the rare `Borderline’ 45 is now worth nearly £50.
Adding rhythm section Eddie Chin and Jim “Do It” Toomey, the quintet adopted the London-centric moniker, The TOURISTS. Signing to Logo Records, the combo secured a handful of hits in their brief time together; `Blind Among The Flowers’ and `The Loneliest Man In The World’, were two minor hit dirges from their Conny Plank-produced eponymous debut set, THE TOURISTS (1979) {*7}. Although considered to be their most productive and commercial, hitting as it did the Top 30, REALITY EFFECT (1979) {*6} featured the Top 10 smashes, `I Only Want To Be With You’ (a cover of a DUSTY SPRINGFIELD staple) and `So Good To Be Back Home Again’. LUMINOUS BASEMENT (1980) {*5} was delivered as power-pop new wave was winding down, as was The TOURISTS, whose chief songwriter Coombes (plus Chin) wanted a move in other directions; he later formed Acid Drops (and died of alcohol and drug-related problems in ’97).
Courting couple Annie and Dave re-christened themselves EURYTHMICS and began recording their debut set at Conny Plank’s Cologne studio. Featuring contributions from the likes of CAN’s Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit, DAF’s Robert Gorl, BLONDIE’s Clem Burke, as well as Marcus Stockhausen (son of Karl-Heinz), IN THE GARDEN (1981) {*6} was a radical musical departure. Icy synth-pop with avant-garde tendencies (check out `English Summer’, `Belinda’, `Take Me To Your Heart’ and `Never Gonna Cry Again’), the duo’s closest musical compadres were the lipstick ‘n’ legwarmers “new romantic” crowd, although the EURYTHMICS’ vision was unique. So unique, in fact, that the record languished in relative obscurity, given scant support by R.C.A.
Undeterred, the complex duo recorded SWEET DREAMS (ARE MADE OF THIS) (1983) {*8}, the title track giving the band an international breakthrough. This time around, the sculpted synth soundscapes were fashioned with a studied pop nous, Lennox’s mournful vocals heavy with dark implications. Visually striking, the duo’s image was also highly marketable and Annie became the chameleon queen of the new video generation, leading to overnight success in the States. A hit second time around, and a bit later in the US, lead-off cut `Love Is A Stranger’ was equally effective, while `I Could Give You (A Mirror)’ was better than merely a B-side; incidentally , `Wrap It Up’, was the ISAAC HAYES/David Porter track, now featuring SCRITTI POLITTI’s Green Gartside.
The chart-topping TOUCH (1983) {*8} consolidated the EURYTHMICS’ position as pop frontrunners, the singles `Who’s That Girl?’, `Right By Your Side’ and `Here Comes The Rain Again’ going Top 10, the latter on both sides of the Atlantic. Incidentally, bassist Dean Garcia (later of CURVE), Dick Cuthill (wind), Martin Dobson (sax) and scoresmith/conductor MICHAEL KAMEN featured on the set; Peter Phipps – formerly of The GLITTER BAND – took up the sticks on their promotional live tour.
The mid-late 80s fixation with remix sets, TOUCH DANCE (1984) {*3} was exactly what it said on tin – and big-time producers Jellybean and Francois Kevorkian were behind the mixing desks.
Annie and Dave’s previous set proper attracted the attention of film director Michael Radford, who invited the group to score his updated adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984 {*4}. If EURYTHMICS’ innovative electro-pop seemed tailor-made for the cult author’s vision of dystopia, Stewart and Lennox were left dissatisfied with the amount of music actually heard in the movie’s final cut. While both the film and the soundtrack stiffed in America, a spin-off single, `Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty-Four)’, cracked the UK Top 5.
Far removed from the ethos of Orwell’s novel, it seemed EURYTHMICS became slaves to the rhythm from the onset, opener `I Did It Just The Same’, finding Annie scatting to a tribal dance rhythm. When one thinks of today’s rather OTT, PC climate, the aforementioned follow-on track and hit single, `Sexcrime’, was hardly the topic to be chanting and dancing at the local disco; however, that’s just what they did back in the yuppie, un-caring mid-80s. But it was still the album’s saving grace (apart from the romantic, JON ANDERSON-like hit ballad, `Julia’), which didn’t say much for the rest of the album. Flitting between songs such as `For The Love Of Big Brother’ and unthreatening instrumentals, `Winston’s Diary’ and `Greetings From A Dead Man’ (6 minutes of “poppapapa…”), the record was quite schizoid. Beatbox at the ready, the re…re…repetitive `Doubleplusgood’ was another to be short on lyrics, although Annie did get to shout instructions and numbers through that torturous voxbox. `Ministry Of Love’, meanwhile, was best left to the words of Stewart, as he described it as “Kraftwerk meeting African tribal meeting Booker T & The MGs”. Finale cue, the chanting `Room 101’ (the place where one can throw all the worst things away!) summed it all up.
Unbeknown to many fans at the time, prototypical odd couple Annie and Dave had split their romantic ties some time ago (one thinks around 1982/83), although they remained friends and professional throughout their subsequent years as a duo. BE YOURSELF TONIGHT (1985) {*7} saw Lennox in soul diva mode, belting out the likes of `Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves’ (with ARETHA FRANKLIN) and putting in a breath-taking feat of vocal histrionics on the No.1 hit, `There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart)’; `Would I Lie To You?’ and `It’s Alright (Baby’s Coming Back)’ were also substantial global hits.
Perhaps playing all those stadiums was beginning to affect the band, as REVENGE (1986) {*6} saw the band veering towards post-Live Aid big arena-rock; hit tracks like `Missionary Man’ and `When Tomorrow Comes’ (co-penned with Patrick Seymour) sounding downright clumsy. In its defence was another of the duo’s classic cuts in `Thorn In My Side’, while `The Miracle Of Love’ was a beautiful ballad.
Focusing on production and programming technique (this time provided by “third member” Olle Romo on drums), the Top 10 SAVAGE (1987) {*5}, took a bit of a pasting from some critics, although once again, how could one “savage” four relatively major UK hits in `Beethoven (I Love To Listen To)’, `Shame’, `I Need A Man’ and the best of the bunch, `You Have Placed A Chill In My Heart’.
By the release of WE TOO ARE ONE (1989) {*5}, the duo were clearly on their last legs, and it was obvious, on listening to the record, that the working relationship between Lennox and Stewart had finally broken down. However, with no less than four spawned hits in the proceeding year, from `Revival’ to `Angel’; `(My My) Baby’s Gonna Cry’ was a flop when released in the States, the EURYTHMICS were still big box-office.
ANNIE LENNOX went on to do charity work before releasing “Diva” (1992), her multi-platinum selling solo debut; she subsequently issued a collection of covers through “Medua” (1995). Meanwhile, Dave, or DAVID A. STEWART (to distinguish him from another artist of the same name), recorded the soundtrack to “Lily Was Here” (1990), featuring sax-diva, Candy Dulfer; he would go on to form his Spiritual Cowboys and generally receive a bit of a lambasting from the several critics. One of the hardest working musicians in the business, he’s still going strong today.
1999 saw the return of EURYTHMICS via the hit single, `I Saved The World Today’, and Top 5 album, PEACE {*4}. Not particularly enamoured by everyone outside the duo’s vehemently loyal fanbase, the Top 5 set also delivered one other Top 30 breaker, `17 Again’.
Lennox and Stewart (who’d since married and re-married other lovers) were briefly reunited musically for their swansong set.
Whether the 1991 EURYTHMICS “Greatest Hits” anthology actually needed updating was debateable, but the Top 5 “Ultimate Collection” (2005) justified its existence with the inclusion of tracks from the “Peace” album as well as a new Top 20 hit, `I’ve Got A Life’.
Over the years, EURYTHMICS covered several songs, many of them unheard until the collective CD bonus track re-issues appeared on the back of the aforementioned “best of”; these were:- `Satellite Of Love’ (LOU REED), `Hello I Love You’ (The DOORS), `Fame’ (DAVID BOWIE), `My Guy’ (SMOKEY ROBINSON), `Come Together’ (The BEATLES), `Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me’ (The SMITHS) and `Something In The Air’ (THUNDERCLAP NEWMAN).
© MC Strong 1994-2008/BG-MCS // rev-up MCS Jun2013

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