One of the most enjoyable pop phenomenons of the mid ’80s was the music of The Eurythmics. After scoring a hit with ‘Sweet Dreams’ in 1983, the world was introduced to Annie Lennox’s contralto and Dave Stewarts production smarts (and guitar playing). This was one of the last regular LPs I bought and would be replaced with a CD just months after my initial purchase.
The duo had been members of The Tourists until they left in 1980 to form The Eurythmics. They took with them the new wave sensibilities from their old band and would eventually merged them into a sophisticated pop-rock-soul fusion.
Although classically trained, Annie Lennox had one of the most soulful voices in Brit pop and used it to good effect on their 5th and most successful album Be Yourself Tonight. The cold synthesizer based new wave of previous releases were traded in for a more pop soul influenced sound.
Lennox also dropped the androgynous look that gained her the attention of MTV. In its place was a kind of blond rock diva, a generic but effective counter to the soulful sound the band was making. The transition also saw the use of real instruments and a considerable cast of guest stars who added credibility to The Eurythmics sound.
having this album on CD allowed me to hear just how
Members of Tom Petty’s band, Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello and Aretha Franklin were just some of the guest luminaries involved in the roughly one week recording process in Paris. The new focus on rock and roll meant that Dave Stewart’s writing would focus on standard personal issues in blues tinted rock songs that sounded vaguely vintage. There were some new wave holdouts, most notably ‘Adrian’ with Elvis Costello.
As hit albums go Be Yourself Tonight was loaded. My favorite track ‘Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves’ featured Aretha Franklin in one of her best performances of the 1980s. In many ways it was the companion to Artetha’s Rolling Stones cover of ‘Jumping Jack Flash’ from a year later.
The song was also featured on Franklin’s Who’s Zooming Who? from the same year. Other songs like ‘Would I Lie to You’ and ‘There Must Be an Angel’ with Stevie Wonder on harmonica were equally strong and all over the radio and MTV in the summer/fall of 1985.
Be Yourself Tonight was one of the better examples of British Pop covering all the bases with classic blues and rock influences. In many ways it sounded like a modernized pop version of the music the Rolling Stones had been making for decades. More than a few of the tracks on Be Yourself Tonight would have fit nicely on a Stones album, but it took The Eurythmics to make soulful rock n roll popular again.