Should Have Been Greatest Hits
1984: Epic 39318
I didnt hear The Tourists until after Id encountered the first three or four Eurythmics albums, and for a long time this album was almost an oddity to meDave & Annie when they were still just elements in something bigger, as opposed to the Eurythmics recordings where the combination of their two energies *was* the bigger thing.
Over time Ive grown to like this album and The Tourists Luminous Basement (which I have on vinyl thanks to my friend Rob) on their own merits as good rock punctuated with clever and shrewd spikes of production excellence (but whose, if Dave wasnt at the helm, or was he?).
Theres so much going on in these recordings, complicated by the fact that the songwriting is Peet Coombess but That Voice is an early Annie Lennoxs still finding its legs its a young, husky voice not yet distilled to its essence as it was within a few yearsor a few decades, if you agree with her recent comment (September 2004) that she now has the voice she wishes shed had when she was younger in any case theres unconventional vocal action happening, and I can only assume (based on her later output and comments) that this was Annies own development taking form, which is great to listen to regardless of its provenance.
For an example of this, consider the climax of Dont Say I Told You So, in which the Coombes/Lennox game of vocal hot-potato is first underlined and then overpowered by a multitracked Lennox calmly hammering a simple ah as an increasingly powerful major-seventh-chord. Did YOU hear anything that robotically charged in 1980? I certainly didnt, although Grace Jones was just starting to give us the funkier side of that at the time via Warm Leatherette and Nightclubbing.
Right, so thats something about the context and relevant elements, now lets cover the tracks uber-briefly: I Only Want To Be With You may have cost them their career as a group but it really was a coyly fun cover version if youve any doubt about that, check out the video for it (really! its viewable online! I was surprised too!), in which theyre all but winking about how unlike The Tourists it all was, and how fondly tongue-in-cheek . It Doesnt Have To Be This Way I continue to enjoy, especially for its pre-chorus angelic vocal swell of Annies held notes lingering on top of each other (Howard Shore, did you have this in mind with your LotR scores??).
Although Ive never been particularly fond of The Loneliest Man In The World or Blind Among The Flowers, theyre really not bad I just havent embraced them myself. Dont Say I Told You So, however, is just mighty fun and spunky pop with an edge, as is Lets Take A Walk which bops along at a pace almost too swift to be controlled and in fact becomes quite the thrasher towards its ending. Circular Fever I find interesting but not revelatory or inspiring, and the same can be said for Angels and Demons although Annies vocal on the latter is far more compelling.
Which leaves us with the final track, From The Middle Room, as well as One Step Nearer The Edge, which I omitted earlier. The final track is an instrumental (how terribly 70s ) of raga-and-repeat-with-variations ilk, and its nice but not exactly ensorcelling. One Step Nearer The Edge however is an Annie Lennox composition, rare in those days, but all too appropriate in retrospect. The lyrics arent as refined and concise as she would craft in later years, but the import is very familiar now.
Comments © 2005 Mark Ellis Walker, except as noted, and no claim is made to the images and quoted lyrics.