Eurythmics, Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) 1983, RCA
Love is a Stranger
I’ve Got an Angel
Wrap it Up
I Could Give You (A Mirror)
Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)
This is the House
Somebody Told Me
This City Never Sleeps
Electronic new-wave duo Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart had played together in The Tourists before breaking out on their own as Eurythmics in 1980. Their first album failed to make a dent on the charts but their second Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) along with its eponymous single was an international success. The cold sound of the synths paired with Lennox’s warm, soulful vocal became their trademark sound. They are now the most successful male / female musical duo ever.
The album’s opener Love is a Stranger provides a beautiful lyrical start. It has both an otherworldly and a dark and dangerous vibe, the signpost for where the rest of the album is going. I’ve Got an Angel starts with a fun drumbeat and some slightly distracting pan pipes (Why were pan pipes such a big thing in the 1980s?) The pipes don’t manage to ruin this song though, it’s got a great floaty beat. Wrap it Up is less good, the experimental sounds don’t gel as well and it feels a bit like a forced “sexy” track. I Could Give You (A Mirror) is a quick return to form though, it has a sorrowful depth to it. It feels like it should be on a John Hughes movie soundtrack. The Walk has a brilliant slow malevolence and cool use of the jazz trumpet as well as a male choir supporting the vocal. Title track Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) is the band’s most famous and, much like The Human League’s Don’t You Want Me, it represents the 1980s for many people. It’s just got the most irresistible rhythm, even as a fan of harder rock, I can’t keep still when I hear that drum machine start. Anything else is going to be a bit of a disappointment after that, but the stripped back, almost ponderous Jennifer seems like a solid choice as a complete change of pace, there’s a touch of Joy Division about this one too. This is the House has a nintendo soundtrack of a start, a Spanish language introduction and then an awesome horn part. It’s another strong vocal from Annie Lennox. Somebody Told Me starts slow but builds up into something a bit more interesting, including some nice guitars. This City Never Sleeps is a sombre, quiet ending to the album, wrapping up the general dark tone of the record.
While they seem to be having fun experimenting with the vocal sounds as well as those they can make with their machines,the overall tone of the album is ominous. Even the love songs are dark and a little dangerous, but they draw you into their world and despite being so synth heavy, there is nothing remotely cold about this album.
It’s worth noting how important the video for the title track was to the success of both the album and the single. Coinciding with the initial rise of MTV (which first broadcast in the US in 1981), with this album Eurythmics were one of the first British bands to truly understand how important their music videos would be to their record sales. They wanted to make a very strong, deliberate statement, both in terms of Annie Lennox’s appearance (short orange hair and a man’s suit, the androgynous image supposed to symbolise that she was an equal partner with Dave Stewart in the band) and of the interesting imagery, including cows everywhere and Dave Stewart dancing about in field with a cello. They were explicitly cognisant of the longevity of what they were creating.
This attention to detail regarding the audio visual experience led to long lasting international success which followed both Annie Lennox as a solo artist and Dave Stewart as a producer. This album, however remains their most influential, with tracks from it being covered by artists as diverse as Marilyn Manson and Kelly Clarkson. Eurythmics have truly penetrated across the spectrum of both alternative and popular music.