Released today in 1986: Thorn In My Side



The EURYTHMICS Story Part 3

At the end of Part 2 of our Eurythmics story, the prominent use of Annie Lennox’s voice was singled out as a factor in the group achieving a peak in their commercial success in the early months of 1985. Unfortunately, at the same time, it was problems with that very asset that threatened the premature end of Eurythmics: Lennox experienced a serious throat condition and it was rumoured that she had been told by doctors treating her to refrain from speaking for a year. “We’d done a lot of touring – we’d been working really hard, and I developed a node on my throat,” Lennox told Smash Hits (2-15 July 1986). “My voice didn’t go completely, but it was very husky, and when that happens the top notes go and you can’t sing properly. [cf Paul Young’s similar experience the year before] It was just getting silly and I had to have a break. There was no other way to do it. I was told not to talk – talking wears out your throat more than singing, especially talking down the telephone. I didn’t do it though. I tried to stop… but I couldn’t.” The timing was particularly unfortunate when Lennox accepted that her voice would have to rest: Eurythmics were at #1 with There Must Be An Angel, and they had to cancel their intended appearance at Bob Geldof’s Live Aid.

Nevertheless, their achievements continued, with Dave Stewart the duo’s main representative for the next year while Lennox took a lower profile. Be Yourself Tonight was one of the year’s bestselling albums and yielded two more big hits, with one of them, It’s Alright (Baby’s Coming Back) winning an Ivor Novello award for Best Contemporary Song. There were more awards at the British Phonographic Industry Awards in 1986 – Lennox won Best Female Singer for the second time (she had also won in 1984) and Stewart took the first of his Best Producer awards (he would in again the following year). This was in recognition of his work with a wide variety of artists, not just for his work with Eurythmics. “I know that for him, Eurythmics is his main interest, absolutely,” said Lennox. “When I was resting my voice he didn’t want to sit at home and get bored, so his natural inclination was to work with other people. But his main project is Eurythmics; there’s no question about that.” Smash Hits had a theory about the people that Stewart produced for (e.g. the likes of Geldof, Bob Dylan, Daryl Hall, Feargal Sharkey) – he only worked with people who had worse haircuts than him. They put this theory to him in the same interview as the one with Lennox above: “You know, you’re the first person that’s ever sussed that out. I’ve never really thought about their hairstyles…I think it only goes to show that all the people I work with aren’t thinking about their haircuts – although Feargal does get obsessive about his. Whose theory is this, by the way? [It was Chris Heath’s.] Well, it’s a load of rubbish. You tell him that I’m going to send someone round with a big hammer to beat him up.”

But as Lennox had suggested, Eurythmics was Stewart’s main project and another album was prepared for release in the summer of 1986, Revenge. The album’s title referred back to the earliest days of Eurythmics. “It all goes back to our first album, In The Garden,” Stewart said. “When we made that album, everything you can imagine was stacked up against us – from Annie and me splitting up as a couple, to people saying we couldn’t have a name like Eurythmics as it was just too complicated and no one would remember it. We were recording in a warehouse, running out of money, and people would come and visit us and say, ‘You’re mad, completely mad.’ The whole project seemed destined not to get anywhere. Well, on that album there’s a song, Revenge, with the line ‘Revenge can be so sweet’. So for this album we went back to the same studio, and for one of the tracks – A Little Of You – Annie sings again the same line, ‘Revenge can be so sweet’. You see, wed been through all this stuff and come out of it OK. So Revenge is all to do with that, really.”

Revenge continued the move away from synthesizers towards a rock band sound; these were songs to be played live. Rolling Stone (11 September 1986) declared the album “a bitter disappointment” and pointed out that “of course, in the year since Eurythmics’ last album, Dave Stewart’s outside work has established him as the high profile producer of the moment. It’s hard to pinpoint the coordinates of a Stewart ‘sound’; he certainly doesn’t try to reshape others according to Eurythmics’ sonic blueprint. So maybe he’s just tired – Revenge is full of freshly minted clichés, expedient genre exercises and tailored-for-radio touches. Stewart seems to be working around Annie Lennox as he would any other client. There are moments when Feargal Sharkey might as well be singing, for goodness’ sake.” But it wasn’t Sharkey on the record, it was Lennox, and once again her voice was focused on as a key Eurythmics asset, as in the Smash Hits review, which gave the album 8 out of 10: “There’s no one else in the entire universe who can sing like Annie Lennox, and it’s her voice, more than anything, that still makes this good.” Lennox later said that Stewart’s was the dominant influence on the album, while its follow-up would be more ‘her’ album.

NEW SINGLES on sale from Aug. 26
BIG COUNTRY (Stuart Adamson) Chance (Mercury COUNT4)
DEAD OR ALIVE (Pete Burns) What I Want (Epic A3676)
Matt FRETTON Dance It Up (Chrysalis MATT2)
Gary NUMAN Warriors (Beggars Banquet BEG95)
Samantha FOX Hold On Tight (Jive FOXY3)


2 thoughts on “Released today in 1986: Thorn In My Side

  1. Never knew all that about Annie’s voice….fascinating stuff. Dave Stewart always seemed a rather silent and enigmatic figure to me … I didn’t remember him giving any interviews … I was there and remember practically nothing, it seems!


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