Two and a half decades after the release of the inaugural Eurythmics’ album, In the Garden, Arista is repackaging every disc from the duo’s collection, complete with bonus tracks. One month before this wave of eight albums, we are treated to The Ultimate Collection, a new `greatest hits’ compilation from master producer / musician Dave Stewart and the incomparable Annie Lennox. If any band can credit the onset of the music video as a direct cause of success, it’s the Eurythmics. Lennox’s bright orange buzz cut against a dark suit in the video for “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” became instantly iconic and the duo went on to make some of the most visually stunning and groundbreaking videos of the time.
In 1991, the Eurythmics went on hiatus and released a predecessor hits collection. The difference between the two lies mostly in the two added tracks from the 1999 reunion album, Peace, the deletion of “Sexcrime (1984),” “Don’t Ask Me Why” and “Angel”, and the addition of two brand new tracks which act as bookends. The combination of being a British act and rising with the success of MTV made the Eurythmics primarily a singles band, although each of their albums, save the first, sold very well. But thanks to music videos, more people were familiar with particular singles rather than album cuts. As a direct result, this compilation is aptly named as it contains nearly every single, certainly every popular one, that people are more likely to remember and love.
As opposed to most synth bands of the early ’80s, the Eurythmics had longevity, thus the 17 older tracks on the CD. While duo after duo and band after band fell by the wayside, the Eurythmics managed to keep themselves relevant, in both adopting the sounds of R&B and soul, and in maintaining a timeless quality of great songwriting missing from acts that now appear on Bands Reunited. From the keyboard heavy cold and detached sound of “Sweet Dreams” to the intentionally simplistic yet beautiful “I Saved the World Today,” Lennox and Stewart filled a lengthy career with memorable music. Ultimate Collection is a testament to their timelessness. Whereas songs by Duran Duran (don’t get me wrong, I love `em), Thomas Dolby and Yaz sound dated, tracks by the Eurythmics hold up extremely well, possibly due to the classic soul influences. Okay, maybe “Sisters are Doin’ It For Themselves” is showing a little wear and tear, but “Here Comes the Rain Again,” “Love is a Stranger” and “Missionary Man” sound just as good today as they did upon first release, with the latter taking on new meaning with our current President.
Not every album was a smash hit, or every single, with only two songs breaking the Billboard Top Ten Singles Chart, but there was definitely consistency. I would say that this is probably the last effort by the duo, but that’s what we all thought back in 91. Even the two new songs were unexpected, even by Lennox and Stewart. Lennox has had a more than lucrative solo career since the duo’s first hiatus, and Stewart has become a star producer, most recently teaming up with Mick Jagger for the soundtrack to the remake of Alfie. The two new tracks, “I’ve Got a Life” and “Was it Just Another Love Affair?” are more than worthy additions to the canon, saving the two from the possible embarrassment of finding themselves irrelevant. But the Eurythmics are still indeed relevant, with great music still pouring out of Dave’s noggin and fingers, and more soul coming out of Annie’s voice than all three of Destiny’s Children put together.
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