Monday, July 7, 2008


Numerous web sites, Eurythmics (music plays immediately when the site opens), Annie Lennox's Web Site, Dave Stewart's Web Site, Eurythmics Fan Site, Rolling Stone - Eurythmics, VH1 - Eurythmics & Rolling Stone's Eurythmics Discography were quite helpful in preparing my tribute to Eurythmics. Please click on the hyperlinks to enjoy these web sites.

Eurythmics were perhaps the greatest of the early-'80s British synth-pop bands, mixing a cynically business and image-conscious approach with a sometimes soulful, mournful sound. Although Dave Stewart's studio wizardry provided the band's foundation, Annie Lennox's theatrical appearance and beautiful, icy wail ultimately were the duo's calling cards. Where most of their British synth pop contemporaries disappeared from the charts as soon as new wave faded away in 1984, Eurythmics continued to have hits until the end of the decade, making vocalist Annie Lennox a star in her own right, as well as establishing instrumentalist Dave Stewart as a successful, savvy producer and songwriter. Originally, the duo channeled the eerily detached sound of electronic synthesizer music into pop songs driven by robotic beats. By the mid-'80s, singles like "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)" and "Here Comes The Rain Again" had made the group into international stars, and the group had begun to experiment with their sound, delving into soul and R&B. As the decade wore on, the duo's popularity eroded somewhat -- by the late '80s, they were having trouble cracking the Top 40 in America, although they stayed successful in the U.K. During the early '90s, Eurythmics took an extended hiatus, as both Lennox and Stewart pursued solo careers.

Lennox grew up in Aberdeen, Scotland, the only daughter of a bagpipe-playing shipyard worker. Her piano and flute-playing skills won her a scholarship to the Royal Academy Of Music In London, but she quit on the eve of finals, disgusted with the school's pretensions. She spent three years working odd jobs in London and playing with a folk-rock band, a jazz-rock group, and a cabaret duo. A friend introduced her to Dave Stewart.

Stewart came from an upper-middle-class family in Northern England. By the early ’70s his band Longdancer was signed to Elton John’s Rocket Records but never accomplished anything. He then played in a variety of groups, which ranged from soul to medieval music. When he met Lennox he was writing music with a recluse named Pete Coombes.

Stewart has his admirers, including the legendary, Bob Dylan, who said, “Captain Dave is a dreamer and a fearless innovator, a visionary of high order, very delicately tractable on the surface but beneath that, he¹s a slamming, thumping, battering ram, very mystical but rational and sensitive when it comes to the hot irons of art forms. An explosive musician, deft guitar player, innately recognizes the genius in other people and puts it into play without being manipulative. With him, there¹s mercifully no reality to yesterday. He is incredibly gracious and soulful, can command the ship and steer the course, dragger, trawler or man of war, Captain Dave.”

The origins of Eurythmics lay in the Tourists, a British post-punk band of the late '70s formed by Lennox and Stewart. The pair met in London while she was studying at the Royal Academy Of Music In London. Stewart had recently broken up his folk-rock group Longdancer and was writing songs with guitarist Pete Coombes. Immediately after meeting, Stewart and Lennox became lovers and musical partners, forming a group called Catch with Pete Coombes, which quickly evolved into the Tourists in 1979. Though the band only was together for two years, the Tourists released three albums (The Tourists, 1979; Reality Effect, 1979; Luminous Basement, 1980), which mixed folk, psychedelia, and new wave, all were moderate hits in England; two of their singles, "I Only Want To Be With You" (a cover of the Dusty Springfield hit) and "So Good To Be Back Home Again," became Top Ten hits.

During 1980, Lennox and Stewart's romantic relationship dissolved and, along with it, so did the Tourists. Though they were no longer lovers, Lennox and Stewart decided to continue performing together under the name Eurythmics, a system of music instruction developed in the 1890s that emphasizes physical response, and headed to Germany to record their debut album. Featuring support from various members of Can and Blondie drummer Clem Burke, among others, the duo's debut, In the Garden, was released in 1981 to positive reviews, but weak sales. Following the failure of In the Garden, Stewart set up a home studio and Eurythmics recorded a second album, Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This), (#15, 1983), using an 8-track recorder and synthesizers.

"Love Is A Stranger" was the first British single pulled from the album, and it became a minor hit in the fall of 1982, a few months before the LP appeared. The title track was released as a single in the spring, and it rocketed to number two on the U.K. charts; shortly afterward, it climbed to number one on the American charts. "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)" was helped enormously by its stylish, androgynous video, which received heavy airplay from MTV, who had only recently become a major influence within the music industry. After "Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)" Eurythmics re-released "Love Is A Stranger" and it reached the U.K. Top Ten (number 23 U.S.), beginning a string of hit singles that ran for a year. Touch (#7, 1983), the duo's third album, was released toward the end of 1983 and continued their success throughout 1984, spawning the hits "Who's That Girl ?" (number three, U.K.; number 21, U.S.), "Right By Your Side" (number ten, U.K.; number 29, U.S.), and "Here Comes The Rain Again" (number eight, U.K.; number four U.S.).

During the course of 1984, Annie Lennox's theatrical gender-bending was becoming increasingly notorious, which helped their record sales. As the singer for the Tourists, Lennox was a platinum blonde often called the British Blondie. Sick of that dolly image, Lennox wore an orange crew cut and a man’s suit in the Eurythmics’ early work. When the band performed at the 1984 Grammy’s, she dressed like Elvis. In the video for “Who's That Girl ?” she plays a chanteuse who leaves a club with her butch alter-ego; at the end, she-Annie kisses he-Annie. At the end of the year, they released the soundtrack for the film adaptation of 1984 (the film based on George Orwell’s novel), which received poor reviews and sales, despite the Top Ten U.K. placing of its single, "Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty-Four)"

Released in the spring of 1985, Eurythmics' fourth album, Be Yourself Tonight (#9, 1985), boasted a tougher, R&B-influenced sound and featured a duet with Aretha Franklin, "Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves (#18, 1985)." The duet became one of three hit singles from the album, in addition to "Would I Lie To You ?" (number 17, U.K.; number five, U.S.) and "There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart)" (number one, U.K.; number 22, U.S.). Revenge (#12, 1986), released the following year, followed the R&B and soul inclinations of Be Yourself Tonight to a harder-rocking conclusion. Though the album peaked at number 12 in the U.S. and spawned the number 14 hit “Missionary Man (#14, 1986)," its sales were noticeably weaker than its predecessor. In the U.K., the group was slightly more popular -- "Thorn in My Side" reached the Top Ten -- but it was evident that the group was past the point of its peak popularity.

As appropriate for a group passing their commercial pinnacle, Eurythmics began branching out into other areas. During 1985 and 1986, Dave Stewart produced a number of superstars, including Bob Dylan, Daryl Hall, Tom Petty, and Mick Jagger. Annie Lennox began a short-lived acting career, appearing in Revolution. Eurythmics reconvened in 1987 to release Savage, which was greeted with mixed reviews and weak sales. That same year, Stewart married Siobhan Fahey, a former member of Bananarama who had also appeared in the "Love Is A Stranger" video; she would later be a member of Shakespear's Sister, which was produced by Stewart. In 1988, Lennox had a hit duet with Al Green with "Put a Little Love in Your Heart," taken from the Scrooged soundtrack. The following year, Eurythmics released We Too Are One (#34, 1989), which sold well in Britain, reaching number one, but poorly in America, despite "Don't Ask Me Why" becoming their first Top 40 hit since "Missionary Man." Furthermore, the reviews were decidedly mixed on the album.

Eurythmics quietly went on hiatus as of 1990, releasing Greatest Hits the following year. Lennox announced that she was taking a couple years off from music to work for a homeless charity. Lennox began a solo career in 1992, releasing Diva (#23, 1992), a platinum-selling solo album that received three Grammy nominations. Stewart continued producing records and writing film soundtracks (Lily Was Here), as well as forming a band called Spiritual Cowboys, which included drummer Martin Chambers (Pretenders). He has also produced records for Daryl Hall, Tom Petty, Mick Jagger, and Bob Dylan. In 1995 Stewart released his first real solo album, Greetings From the Gutter>, a modern Ziggy Stardust–like opus with a funky backing band (Bootsy Collins is on bass). A pop-rock follow-up, Sly-Fi, appeared in 1998.

Lennox and Stewart hadn’t spoken with each other for four years when she called in 1997 to inform him of the death of their former Tourists band mate, Pete Coombes. The conversation got the duo talking again; later, while rehearsing for an acoustic performance at a party for a mutual friend, they began writing new material together.

Lennox and Stewart re-formed Eurythmics in 1999, releasing Peace (1999), the album that grew out of those sessions, was the first new Eurythmics LP in 10 years and found Lennox’s supple, powerful alto fully intact. It also eschewed the catchy, electro-pop of the duo’s ’80s heyday in favor of lushly orchestrated ballads focusing on the pair’s musical and prior romantic partnership. After the record’s release, Stewart and Lennox played a series of dates, most of them in Europe, the proceeds of which went to Amnesty International and Greenpeace.

Eurythmics has since released Part 3 Amanala (2004), Ultimate Collection (2005), Savage (2005), We Too Are One (2005) and Dance Vault Remixes (2006).

Eurythmics Discography…

Dance Vault Remixes (2006)

We Too Are One (2005)

Savage (2005)

Ultimate Collection (2005)

Part 3 Amanala (2004)

Peace (1999)

Live 1983-1989 (1993)

Songs of the West (1993)

Greatest Hits (1991)

Revenge (1986)

Be Yourself Tonight (1985)

Touch (1983)

Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) (1982)

In The Garden (1981)

Eurythmics have a lot of quality songs, such as Here Comes The Rain Again, Jennifer, Love Is A Stranger, Missionary Man, Right By Your Side, Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves, Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This), There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart), Walking On Broken Glass, When Tomorrow Comes, Who's That Girl ?, Winter Wonderland, and Would I Lie To You ?, among others…

Thanks, Eurythmics, for some great music…

No comments: