Today’s POP RESCUE from a fate unknown, is the 1986 fifth album Revenge by British synth-pop duo Eurythmics. Will this album be a sweet Revenge, or is it more of a Thorn In your Side? Read on…
This 10 track CD opens mysteriously as a harmonica lures you into fourth and final single Missionary Man. Annie bursts in ‘Well I was born an original sinner’, and the hard beats match her perfectly. Annie Lennox’s vocals are crisp and powerful as she heads through this narrative song about the titular character. Guitars roar alongside the drums, and occasionally vocal samples sit alongside more harmonica. This is a loud and confident beginning to this album. Despite this, the track stumbled, and fell at #31 in the UK singles chart. It won the group a Grammy in the US.
Next it’s second single Thorn In My Side, and it’s a much lighter and poppier song. Saxophone arrives alongside more immaculately vocals from Annie. The ‘woah-oh-oh-oh’ and ‘run-run run run’ vocals, and the chorus are ridiculously catchy, and the occasional synths and warm strummed guitars really help to bring the whole track together. The track gave them a #5 hit.
That leads on to lead single When Tomorrow Comes, and the tempo has picked up. Annie gets to show off her beautiful vocals as synths swell around her and guitars momentarily join her through. A simple pop-rock beat keeps time, and is joined by electric guitar and excitable ‘wooohooo yeah’ in the mid section before the saxophone returns for the finalé. It’s quite a nice song, although sounds like probably could have been on a soundtrack.
That’s followed by The Last Time, and this is a nice gentle pop-rock track. Annie is joined on vocals in the chorus by her bandmate David A. Stewart, whose voice offers up a nice contrast. There’s also some bells/synth here too, which caught my attention, before Annie and the drums get put through some effects and reversals for a few repeats of the chorus as the song heads to the fade.
The Miracle Of Love is next, complete with a ‘strange synthesizer guitar noise’ (as credited in the sleeve) roar before a simple slow beat arrives that is a little reminiscent of a slow 60’s song. David is back on the mic alongside Annie and this gives that nice contrast again, particularly as Annie’s vocal layers lead the song towards the end like an almost-Enya song. This was the album’s 3rd UK single, but it stalled at #23, and to be honest it lacks the energy of the other tracks but does have some wonderful affected soundscapes towards the end… but it’s a false ending, with a semi-church organ sound playing out slowly.
Next up is Let’s Go!, and as the title suggests, the energy is back up. A playful call and response between synths and Annie takes place as it bounces along. Annie carries this feeling through the verse with a lot of lyrics. The layers here of the acoustic guitar, harmonica, and the saxophone helps the song to build up, and it does at about 3mins in. Straight after that is a lot of fun almost-Bros-like snarly vocal samples of Annie sounding like she’s trying to concentrate on spinning plates in the studio.
Bass and drums fill the headphones for next song Take Your Pain Away. Again, the pace is held up, with synths lurking in the background as Annie arrives with her slick smooth vocals. This sounds like a wonderful slice of 80’s pop.
A Little Of You is up next and this one has some wonderful guitars and some beautifully disco strings here, making me feel like it nods a fair amount to late-70’s or early-80’s disco era. The little glimpses of them throughout this song are a treat, and they give Annie’s vocals plenty of room to show their power and warmth too. There’s also a layer of synths and guitar lurking here too, with all coming together for the final quarter of the song. The result is a really nice little pop song that probably could have fared well as a single.
The applause start’s off next song In This Town as the electric guitar growls into action. Keys drop in as the audience claps and cheers, as if we’re waiting to lure Annie onto stage from the wings. Perhaps we are – the sleeve notes read ‘recorded at Manu’s party’. Suddenly she arrives and clearly takes the stage, commanding the band behind her. ‘In This Town something’s gonna have to change’ she sings repeatedly – the audience roars in appreciation.
The album closes with I Remember You, sounding like we’re wandering through back streets as a saxophonist plays an unknown jazz song. Annie doo-doo-doos softly before filling the track. She’s briefly joined again by David here before a cello arrives and plenty of snare drums. The focus here is Annie’s voice and the lyrics, and she shines perfectly in the chorus – soaring as the strings build and the military-esque snares rattle out their regimental beats. Eventually a drum machine drops in as Annie and the cellos take the middle section, and this wonderful song really grows into a beautiful song, and the perfect, albeit downbeat, ending to this album.
Over all, this album is a fairly consistent slice of 80’s pop-rock, loaded with hard beats, bright vocals, and with some synths thrown in for luck.
There’s some rockier tracks here, but many of these are blended with a few vocal effects and synths that helps to blend the duo’s sound back slightly towards their earlier synth-heavy hits like Sweet Dreams from their 1983 second album. This is a softer album though, and whilst it does sound wonderful, it does also feel safer.
The highlights are undoubtedly Thorn In My Side, A Little Of You, and the beautifully sounding I Remember You. The weaker tracks are The Miracle Of Love and The Last Time, the former being reflected by it’s lesser commercials success.
Finally, you can’t see this album without admiring the album’s cover – a wonderful painting of Annie and David by Eric Scott. I wonder where that painting hangs now?
- POP RESCUE 2021 RATING: 4 / 5
- 1986 UK ALBUM CHART PEAK: #3, certified 2x Platinum by the BPI.
- POP RESCUE COST: £1.00 from a Barnardo’s store.