Sunday, 12 August 2018
Eurythmics - Sweet Dreams (1983)
Released January 1983
Recorded at The Church, London
They were a difficult group to categorise, Eurythmics. Not really New Romantic, not New Wave. They were sort of electro-pop, influenced by Kraftwerk but with a distinct, acute pop sensibility and an instinct for a hook-laden hit song. After a rather low-key debut album in 1981, this album, from 1983, really broke it big for Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox. Listening to the album again, I had forgotten just how electronic it was, how un-"rock" it was. Electronic riffs totally dominate the sound from beginning to end.
The haunting, insistent, Euro-rock-ish opener, "Love Is A Stranger" seemed to fit the whole New Romantic meets electronica vibe in that Ultravox sort of way. "..and I want you so it's an obsession..." was an absolute killer of a hook. It was a great song. "I've Got An Angel" was a rumbling, thumping very Ultravox-esque number, while "Wrap It Up" was a poppy, somewhat rap-influenced groove, full of synthesised drums and keyboard loops. There was quite a distinct dance music, clubby ambience to a lot of their material. All the sorts of things that got payed in discos across Europe. "I Could Give You (A Mirror)" is a very Human League influenced number. "The Walk" is a smoothly romantic song with more Human League tinges. Then there is the now iconic "Sweet Dreams", which has just such an instantly catchy refrain.
"Jennifer" is a number that has undertones of Yazoo in its synthesiser riff. It features a haunting Lennox vocal too, and a David Bowie "Heroes"-style keyboard/guitar riff at the end. "This Is The House" has very Talking Heads-inspired rhythm and lyrics. It strikes me, listening to this, just how jackdaw-like and derivative Dave Stewart was in his multifarious music influences. You can throw early Roxy Music in there too. Indeed, "Somebody Told Me", while having a sombre, morose synthesiser sound, had a bit of a Kid Creole thing going on in the vocals and lyrics.
"This City Never Sleeps" is an extended, atmospheric number with another great Annie Lennox vocal with a kind of Grace Jones feel to it. Lennox's voice was obviously strong enough to give the group their own identity, but there sure are plenty of disparate influences at work on this album.