The rather stark photo on the cover of Annie Lennox's new CD Bare reminds us she isn't getting any younger, but it's still hard to believe the Eurythmics' (Lennox's duo with Dave Stewart) best two albums, Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) and Touch, were both released twenty years ago.
In the summer of '76 Dave Stewart met an alluring former Royal Academy of Music student, Annie Lennox, waitressing at a London restaurant, and they became musical and romantic partners. The pair joined with singer-songwriter-guitarist Pete Coombes to form the Catch in '77, which by '79 had evolved into the Tourists. The Tourists put out three semi-psychedelic power-pop albums including the excellent Reality Effect, highlighted by Lennox's spirited vocals on an inspired cover of the Dusty Springfield hit "I Only Want To Be With You."
The Tourists went their separate ways in '80, and Stewart and Lennox became Eurythmics. They recorded their first album, In the Garden, in Germany with Conny Plank producing and members of D.A.F. and Can guesting.
"I started recording on my own in my bedroom on a four-track, and then I moved up to eight-track ... I quickly got into making sounds and recording them without worrying about whether they were right or wrong. It just seemed natural to record with Annie: the two of us were obsessed with each other to the point of folie a deux, and often it was just the two of us recording alone," stewart told me in an interview.
Though the pair's romantic relationship was over by the time of the second Eurythmics album, '83's breakthrough Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This), their amazing musical relationship (co-writing virtually all of the Eurythmics' songs together) lasted until the end of the decade, generating seven smash albums (30 million albums sold worldwide), over 20 U.K. charting singles, and ten U.S. Top 40 singles.
Sweet Dreams features the synth-pop classic title track, and the jittery,
dreamy "Love Is a Stranger"; these and virtually all subsequent hits took advantage of the burgeoning video revolution with dramatic clips scripted by Stewart displaying Lennox in a series of indelible roles ranging from male gigolo to bouncing-bodiced gothic heroine (neatly symbolizing her equally broad range of vocal styles: icy Julie Andrews-clean soprano to toasty gutbucket soul).
Late-'83 saw the release of the exceptional Touch album, No. 1 in the U.K. and platinum in the U.S. The most endearing of the duo's albums, Touch has grand moody techno-pop in the form of "Here Comes the Rain Again" and the touchingly vulnerable "Who's That Girl," and the ebullient calypso-inflected brilliance of "Right By Your Side."