The British duo Eurythmics were a force on the Billboard charts throughout the ’80s, as their quirky electro-pop resonated with music fans. Now, the music of Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox will be taking a new spin on turntables all over the world, thanks to the global re-release of the duo’s eight studio albums on vinyl. Spanning their entire career, the albums will be released by RCA/Legacy Recordings, the catalog division of Sony Music Entertainment, between April and October 2018, starting with In The Garden (1981), Sweet Dreams (1983) and Touch (1983) on April 13, 2018, followed by Be Yourself Tonight (1985), Revenge (1986) and Savage (1987) in July 2018 and We Too Are One (1989) and Peace (1999) in October 2018. This will be the first time that Peace will be available on vinyl, as the original release was only available in two formats: CD and cassette.
“Issuing our out-of-print vinyl albums in 2018 is a great thing because people won’t be listening to our music on a cell phone,” Stewart tells Billboard. “They’ll have a record player and speakers and a sound system, like we did when we were growing up. People will buy vinyl records and put them on the turntable and listen to one side at a time, and hear the tracks played in the particular order that we selected.”
“We always gave a lot of thought to the order of the songs on our albums,” says Lennox. “Dave would choose an order and so would I. We’d compare notes and move some songs around but we came to an agreement together so the listening experience had the continuum we desired.”
Stewart and Lennox both listened to music pressed on vinyl when they were young. “We had a pink, plastic Dansette record player, in our house,” recalls Lennox. “Someone gave me some birthday money and the first record I bought was the soundtrack to Mary Poppins. It was magical and wonderful. Before that, I used to visit my grandparents and they had a 78rpm record player. I’d go in the attic and find their box of records. I was entranced by The Merry Widow. And then as a teenager I bought ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ by Procol Harum and at the first party for my class I was given the task of playing the music. The only music we had was ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’ and I felt really cool about that because I thought, ‘You just had to listen to it over and over and over again.’ That particular song was big for me.” (Years later, Lennox covered that Procol Harum hit on her Medusa album).
Stewart’s father built a homemade Gramophone and Dave would listen to his parents’ collection of Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, which had such a heavy impact on him that he walked to school blissfully unaware of the consequences of singing “I Enjoy Being a Girl” from Flower Drum Song. “My brother was four years older, and he had a massive influence on me because he had great taste in music and he bought Bob Dylan’s first album. My cousin in Memphis sent us blues albums. So I had Mississippi John Hurt and Robert Johnson. In Sunderland in the northeast of England, the Delta blues sounded like music from outer space. But that was the music I loved first, playing blues on a not-very-good guitar and then I got a broken bottle and smashed it up with some string on the neck and I was playing along with Robert Johnson, so that was my introduction to vinyl. You couldn’t get more extreme going from Rogers and Hammerstein to the delta blues. When I think about it years later, about arrangements and music and songs, I haven’t played blues obviously but when it came to sort of middle eights and bridges, I think a lot of my brain went back to Rogers and Hammerstein and those strange changes, and in pop music at the time, that was kind of weird.”
Before they formed Eurythmics, Stewart and Lennox were in a band called the Tourists. Their self-titled album was released in 1979. Billboard wanted to know what it was like for the duo to hold their first vinyl LP in their hands. “I cried,” Lennox confesses. “And not with joy. We chose a beautiful, classic elegant photograph for the cover, and then without telling us that they were going to do it, somebody at the record company decided to stick a new wave pink logo for the Tourists at the top. And so when I first saw our first album, I cried and I was angry and upset because I felt we had been negated. The next time you look at that cover, just think that I cried when I saw it.”
But without the Tourists, there would be no Eurythmics. “Once Eurythmics started, I really thought to myself, ‘Wow, now I feel that the Tourists were a rehearsal,’” says Lennox. “Because Eurythmics was the real deal for me. Once we established where we were going, after In The Garden and when Sweet Dreams came through, I thought, ‘Okay, this is it. This is where I want to be.’ And then there’s post Sweet Dreams, which is all the other albums and the touring and making the videos and it was the most prestigious of creativity one could imagine. We lived for that. That was our priority. It was bigger than us. Trying to have some sense of a personal life was impossible. So for a whole decade, it was just messy. And then it was a relief once we said, ‘Okay, you go your way. I’ll go mine.’ And then there was that whole period of, ‘What do I do now? I want to be a mom.’ I had a family. I had my children and making Diva and Medusa and thinking, ‘I don’t know if I can do it, but I need to try. I need to know if there’s anything in me as a solo artist,’ and I proved that I could do it. I still need to feel autonomous, so when I come back to meet Dave again, I have a strongly defined sense of self. At this point in my life, I feel more secure than I’ve ever felt, which is important to me, knowing that life is for everyone unknowable. It gives us the possibility to take the next step into the unknown.”
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Stewart and Lennox are both happy that a new generation of music fans will be able to enjoy their albums on vinyl. “I’ve got four children and Annie has two daughters,” says Stewart. “You’d be surprised how many kids love vinyl. I took my daughter to Amoeba (one of the last record stores in Los Angeles) when she was 11 and her eyes just went ‘boing!’ and she ended up getting all these soul and old gospel albums, people I didn’t even know. It’s kind of like saying, ‘let’s bring steam engines back.’ There’s something nice about being on a steam engine. You kind of realize why people love that.”
While he loves vinyl, Stewart listens to music in many different formats these days. “I carry around three different portable bluetooth speakers, depending on how loud I want to hear music, and where I am. I won’t listen on the phone. In my house my main speakers are five-feet tall lovely wooden BMW speakers, with a bass you could place anywhere in the room. I go to a shop on Ventura Blvd. [in Southern California] that repairs and sells really old vinyl players, all the way back to the one my daughter has from 1961. As the night goes on, I will put on my vinyl collection of gospel, blues and country. I’ll sit in my library surrounded by books that inspire me, playing Mississippi John Hurt on vinyl while enjoying a vodka martini.”
Also new from Eurythmics is an 11-minute video retrospective, “Eurythmix,” compiled and mixed by DJ Earworm and sourced from 23 Eurythmics videos from 1983 to 2005. The songs included are: “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This),” “Who’s That Girl?,” “I Need a Man,” “Beethoven (I Love to Listen to),” “Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty-Four),” “Julia,” “Thorn in My Side,” “Love Is a Stranger,” “It’s Alright (Baby’s Coming Back),” “Revival,” “I Saved the World Today,” “Here Comes the Rain Again,” “Would I Lie to You?,” “There Must Be an Angel (Playing With My Heart),” “Angel,” “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves,” “Missionary Man,” “When Tomorrow Comes,” “The King and Queen of America,” “17 Again,” “You Have Placed a Chill in My Heart,” “Don’t Ask Me Why,” “I’ve Got a Life” and a reprise of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This).”
“In the early ’80s, videos were a new and innovative phenomena,” says Lennox, “offering musical artists the possibility to feature interpretations of their songs through the combined medium of moving imagery and sound. We embraced this concept wholeheartedly as a fresh expression of the creative process.”
Stewart and Lennox have more to celebrate in 2018 than the release of their eight albums on vinyl. They have been nominated for inclusion in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. “We had no idea that we were going to be nominated,” says Stewart. “It was a bolt out of the blue. We never went around thinking, ‘When are we going to get into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.’ Now we really want to. We really want to!” Annie exclaims with laughter.
Fans can vote once a day for their favorite nominees to be voted in to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.