ALBUM (1986)

Rewind album: Revenge, by Eurythmics

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 September, 2013, 3:22pm


For a duo who named their sixth studio album after one of man's ugliest afflictions, the Eurythmics come across as disarmingly friendly - and not the least bit vengeful.

Producer Dave Stewart and singer Annie Lennox first met in 1975 (and started performing in The Catch, then The Tourists), and built a highly successful career as multi-instrumentalists; along the way they also became one of the most-loved bands in Britain, if not the world.

The Eurythmics practically owned the 1980s: they embraced its shifting musical styles and fashions, and produced hits that never seemed bound or stifled by genre.

Over the course of eight albums between 1981 and 1989, they made synth-pop in the shape of Love is a Stranger, unbridled punk on I Want It All, and New Wave on Belinda and This is the House. Then there was the heartbreaking wistfulness of Never Gonna Cry Again from their debut album, and the acoustic lament of You Have Placed a Chill in My Heart.

The Eurythmics sounded like a combination of Talking Heads (who they toured with), The Cure and New Order, while remaining unique - or, in the band's own words, "a European coldness with soul".

After the massive success of 1983's Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), arguably one of the 20th century's greatest pop songs, the duo's stock continued to rise. The 1986 album Revenge saw them return to a more band-oriented and instrument-based sound, having previously worked with electronics - synthesisers, modulators and drum machines - since the late '70s.

Stewart once described their sound as a "clash between Motown and Kraftwerk". This was also used to describe techno music by Derrick May, one of the founders of techno and a likely influence on the Eurythmics - or was it vice versa?

But on Revenge, Stewart and Lennox produced a more triumphant, stadium-ready sound. Gone were the angst and awkward melancholy of the early '80s. Now the sound focused on unashamed drums, soaring melodies and big vocals from Lennox - evident from the opening track Missionary Man.

From there on it doesn't let up. The first four songs are celebratory, doused in neon and big shoulder pads, and it isn't until The Miracle of Love that the train slows down and the requisite ballad appears. Then there's the quasi-disco track A Little of You, a real joy.

Oddly, many of the lyrics on Revenge allude to heartache and pain, despite the upbeat sound. And it's a testament to the duo that they have remained personally and professionally attached, considering that they were once an item.

Revenge may not be the Eurythmics' strongest work, but it's a worthwhile addition to an excellent body of work by a quintessentially British band.

Oliver Clasper


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