Not much chatter about Eurythmics these days — a pity, for at their prime they were among the more consistent singles artists of their decade. Annie Lennox’s infatuation with her vocal prowess and David Stewart’s guitar noodling and light bag of psychedelic tricks made them insufferable, I’ll admit; for a while he was the aging boomer rocker’s favorite producer. These days I admire their chillier early work. When I wrote about this exemplary comp I didn’t own Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), a record of jagged synthesizer tracks in which Lennox flits between playing feminine subject and object as if she regarded Bowie’s “Boys Keep Swinging” video as ur text. As visual stylist only Madonna approached her wit and shipped platinum. Lennox’s roots in early seventies singer-songwriter piano rock made her realer than I wanted her to be, at least after 1992’s Diva.
Yet! Until I read Tom Ewing a few years ago I had no idea Britishers held their noses in the presence of Be Yourself Tonight, but I get it: the era of Paul Young and Motown nostalgia triggered revulsion for atrophied pop-soul. If I forget “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves” exists (the tackiest waka-waka guitar ever recorded?), “I Love You Like a Ball and Chain,” “Adrian,” and “Would I Lie to You” ably substitute. The only album from Eurythmics’ run that’s almost without merit is Revenge, a gross and loud ancestor of Steel Wheels — an album recorded for the excuse to sell out Wembley and grow mullets. “Missionary Man” has its merits, but its video is Lennox-Stewart and their band proud to live trudging through the slimes of 1986. My loathing for the title track aside, I’d slot Sweet Dreams as the best of the duo’s albums, with the retread Touch in third place. Squeezed between them is an odd out of time thing that did little business in England and none in America called Savage: a return to wigs and preening using the old technology but with four years’ accumulated craft. Sophie Muller’s videos show Lennox as an MTV Meryl Streep, imitating imitations of human beings.
1. Here Comes the Rain Again
2. You Have Placed a Chill in My Heart
3. I Need a Man
4. Would I Lie to You?
5. I Could Give You (A Mirror)
6. Who’s That Girl?
7. Missionary Man
8. The Walk
9. Sexcrime (Ninety Eighty-Four)
10. I Need You
11. Don’t Ask Me Why
12. The First Cut
13. I Love You Like a Ball and Chain
14. No Fear, No Hate, No Pain (No Broken Hearts)
15. Here Comes That Sinking Feeling
19. Let’s Go!
20. Wrap It Up