Monday, May 4, 2015

Eurythmics - Be Yourself Tonight

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of Be Yourself Tonight, the fourth studio album from Eurythmics. This Platinum seller went to number 25 in Austria, number 20 in France, number 9 in Switzerland, number 8 in Germany, number 3 in the UK, number 2 in New Zealand, Norway and Sweden, and number 1 in Australia. Here in the US, it spent forty-five weeks on the Billboard Album chart with a top spot of number 9.

The original vinyl was labelled the “rocky” side and the “reflective” side, which are tracks one through four and five through nine respectively if you are listening to a CD or via a stream. The later 2005 CD re-issue added six more tracks made up of two B-sides, a few single remixes, a live cut and a Doors’ cover.

Side one opens with the question “Would I Lie to You?” As the first single, it peaked at number 41 in France, number 34 in Germany, number 24 in the Netherlands, number 21 in Switzerland, number 17 in the UK, number 10 in Ireland and Sweden, number 5 in Canada and on the US Billboard Hot 100 and Dance charts, number 2 on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, and number 1 in Australia. I have always liked how this one opens big and brassy (thanks to the horns) and does not let up for four and a half minutes. It really kicks the record off on a high note.

The next track is slightly more subdued with a mid-tempo love song. “There Must Be an Angel (Playing With My Heart)”, the second single, hit number 41 in Italy, number 31 on the US Billboard Dance chart, number 23 in Canada, number 22 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 9 in Austria, number 8 in France, number 7 in Belgium and Japan, number 5 in New Zealand, number 4 in Germany and the Netherlands, number 3 in Australia, number 2 in Sweden, and number 1 in Ireland, Norway, Poland and the UK. The harmonica solo on this track's bridge was provided by Motown legend Stevie Wonder.

“I Love You Like a Ball and Chain” has a strong synth element that harkens back to the band’s earlier work. I like how the vocals roll from speaker to speaker near the end; it is a nice effect. The track was chosen for the B-side to the third single.

The duo teams up with the legendary Aretha Franklin on hard-hitting female empowerment anthem “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves”. Lennox and Stewart originally thought to record it with Tina Turner but she was unavailable. As the third single, it reached number 66 on the US Billboard R&B chart, number 33 in Canada, number 22 in Germany, number 20 in Switzerland, number 18 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 15 in Australia, number 10 on the US Billboard Dance chart, number 10 on the US Billboard Dance chart, number 9 in the UK, number 6 in New Zealand, and number 5 in Ireland. I like the guitar riffs that Stewart laid down here; it gives the song a solid 70's funk vibe. I remember clearly how this one was popular among my female friends (of which I had many) back in college.

Side two starts with “Conditioned Soul”, the B-side to the fourth single. The song opens with wind-chimes which immediately carry me away like clouds rolling on a windy day. The rest of the song has a slight Calypso rhythm mixed with a good bit of blues guitar and a dash of eastern mysticism. The combination works very well.

The pop-rock “Adrian” features guest vocals by Elvis Costello.

The fourth single “It’s Alright (Baby’s Coming Back)” reached number 78 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 37 in Canada, number 32 in Australia, number 28 in Poland, number 23 in Switzerland, number 22 in Germany, number 21 in the Netherlands, number 18 in New Zealand, number 17 in France, number 14 in Australia, number 12 in the UK, and number 8 in Ireland. I think this is the first time I have heard this one in almost three decades; it is definitely one of the group’s singles that does not get much play on any of the satellite radio stations these days.

“Here Comes That Sinking Feeling” was the B-side to the first single. The song has a bit of a different vibe to it, given the opening and the echoing on Lennox’s verse vocals. It reminds me a bit of an intercom system at an airport.

The original vinyl release closes with “Better to Have Lost in Love (Than Never to Have Loved at All)”.

Back in 1985 and 1986, I was familiar with the hits from Be Yourself Tonight from radio airplay, MTV, and out at the clubs. Listening to the whole album today for the first time, I found the overall package to be very good indeed. Eurythmics’ sound was continuing to evolve at this point, moving away from their synth-pop roots a bit.

For more from Eurythmics, click here.

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