1986: RCA PCD15847-2

  1. Missionary Man
  2. Thorn in My Side
  3. When Tomorrow Comes
  4. The Last Time
  5. The Miracle of Love
  6. Let’s Go!
  7. Take Your Pain Away
  8. A Little of You
  9. In This Town
  10. I Remember You
    Boxed Bonus Tracks:
  11. When Tomorrow Comes Extended Version
  12. Thorn in My Side Extended Version
  13. Missionary Man Extended Version
  14. When Tomorrow Comes Live Acoustic Version
  15. Revenge 2
  16. My Guy

This album came out right before I saw Eurythmics in concert for the first of two times, and it was a gas. As has been said elsewhere, for this album and tour they were truly in “rock monster” mode, rocking stadiums in a grand piss-take of the shameless tradition of lighter-waving supergroup perma-tours (but clad in European black-leather-and-white-dress-shirts). To really appreciate this album beyond its audio entertainment value you should watch the videos for “Missionary Man” and “Thorn in My Side.” (Of Revenge’s other videos—“When Tomorrow Comes” and “The Miracle of Love”—the less said, the better.)

On this my favorite track is unquestionably “Take Your Pain Away,” but “Missionary Man” and several others grabbed me right away. My friend Lucy took exception to “I Remember You,” the closing track, because Annie was on the sour side of flat on the bulk of the soaring chorus notes, and although I hear what offended her I still can’t dismiss the song outright because of it (but I must also note that the song is a bit of a throwaway which may or may not have some personal lyrical resonance for either or both of the duo…. Actually there are a few songs I just do NOT like on this album because they’re too damned peppy, and they are the dreadfully overproduced “A Little of You” and the well-intentioned “When Tomorrow Comes,” with “The Miracle of Love” just being too swoopy emotionally for me to even listen to most of the time. (“A Little of You” kind of works as a song if you strip it down to an acoustic-duo treatment…mmmmmmaybe; its lyrics are still a bit too simplistic, I think.)

But back to the delights here: “Let’s Go!” is probably the most unabashadly fun song Eurythmics ever slipped into their arsenal: “Right By Your Side” may have been joyful (albeit with a tinge of darkness to accentuate the brightness), but “Let’s Go!” is both playful and ever-so-delicately nasty, and it’s still a smirkfest to listen to as well as imminently danceable. I used to enjoy “The Last Time” more than I do these days, but I’m totally OK with that; seasonal shifts in taste don’t necessarily cast negative assessment on the things sometimes enjoyed. And I’m to this day surprised that Eurythmics never turned “In This Town” into the stadium-swayer that it seemed ready to become in its debut…hell, she was delivering such a tour-worthy vocal track there, I would have sworn it was going to become the centerpiece of their tour….

One track I kinda liked at first and then lost interest in is “Thorn in My Side;” and now, nearly 20 years later, I’m happy to say that I’m enjoying it again as I originally did. Its video is enough reason to be amused by the song anytime you hear it, but overall it just sounded so generically Pop/Rock that it was almost a joke, and any joke gets old if told the same way over and over again. But what I’ve come back to loving is the dangerously-inserted reminder that Eurythmics aren’t just offering a jangly/twangy period piece, that they’re fully in command and know how to balance the schlock with the grit (even with a little vocal candy thrown in Just Because). And that reminder is what comes just before the first two choruses: first, the chord progression shifts into a zone that would lose three-chord-wonder bands in a cloud of consternation while ratcheting up the melodrama stakes; second, the “oo-woah-oo-woah-oo-woah-oo-woah” backing-vocals (multitracked Annie, natch) response, a beautiful arpeggiatiated extension of its cue, which whooshes right through the stream of this straight-ahead rock song like a computer-generated apparition. If you’re at all attenuated to nuances of production and aural play, that latter bit of seeming fluff can tell you a lot about how deftly D&A can flick their magic wand.

By the way, I mentioned that “Take Your Pain Away” was my favorite track on Revenge, but I didn’t comment any further initially. While I don’t wish to go into great detail about my love for this track, that being more personally relevant and less generally expressable, I do want to say that I love the combination of its lyric theme and its closing harmonics, the latter in particular being a joy to sing along with on the omitted notes of the vocal chording. It also has a rhythm track, a drum-bass mixture, that perhaps foreshadows the programming-rich environment of Savage which followed this album and reoriented Eurythmics to their collaboratively weird genesis.

Something that’s always of interest to me about any Eurythmics album is the sequencing of the tracks—what’s selected as opener or closer of the whole album, of Side 1 and Side 2 secondarily, and how the arc of the album is presented for the listener. Obviously I’m not of the single-track-only audience: I tend to consider music in context when there is one, although naturally there’s plenty of value to be gleaned from just one-off singles. In the case of Revenge, I definitely read it as an LP—two sides, each with its own range or journey. Side 1 is all straight-up rock except for its closer, “The Miracle of Love,” which to me is saccharine to the point of schlocky but which apparently was a huge hit for European audiences; side 2 makes for a less predictable ride (which to me is a good thing), starting off with more of Side 1’s rock in the form of the utterly disposable but still quite fun &147;Let’s Go!” and ending with the moody, plodding symphonic-tinged retrospective drama of ”I Remember You.” Eurythmics albums do seem to have a pattern of ending with downers or at least overburdened pieces that kill whatever buzz might have arisen from the rest of the tracks, and this is no exception. Did “I Remember You&148; serve some karma-fulfilment purpose for either Lennox or Stewart by ending this album? I can only wonder, but that would seem to have been its only value here if so.