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Eurythmics go krautrock (and the Throbbing Gristle connection)


 
When Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart left The Tourists to form Eurythmics in 1981, they traveled to Cologne to work with noted German producer Conny Plank on their first album, In the Garden. Some of the musicians involved were Can’s Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit (billed as “Les Vampyrettes”), DAF’s Robert Görl and Blondie’s Clem Burke. Karlheinz Stockhausen’s son Markus was also on the album. (Annie Lennox would record a lot of the vocals—eight tracks—for Robert Görl’s 1984 solo LP on Mute, Night Full of Tension.)

“Never Gonna Cry Again” was the first single, and in the duo’s first TV appearance as Eurythmics, they played it along with “Belinda,” the second single release. Neither song would hit, but they became famous worldwide with their next album, Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) in early 1983. Lennox and Stewart were joined by Burke and Czukay—who looks like an absent-minded old guy who just wandered onstage to jam with his French horn—when they debuted on television’s The Old Grey Whistle Test (In the album’s credits, Czukay’s include “walking.”):
 

 
A second Eurythmics recording with some even more decidedly avant garde co-conspirators than most people might assume would be a fit, was the darkly pulsating “Sweet Surprise” single they recorded with former Throbbing Gristle members Chris and Cosey, recorded in 1982, but released on Rough Trade in 1985. Lennox and Stewart are not mentioned on the sleeve which shows a photo of Chris & Cosey beside two familiar-looking silhouettes with question marks. They are credited on the label, however.

A ‘sweet surprise’ after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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10.13.2016
04:44 pm
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In the Flesh: Blondie’s perfect pop performance on German TV, 1978

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Most teenage males “of a certain vintage” were hipped to Blondie by the video for the single “Denis” with a slinky Debbie Harry in a red-striped swimsuit and cascades of backlit blonde hair. Understandable. My introduction was via the radio—which meant my focus has always been on the music. I bought the 45rpm record of “Denis.” Wore it out and had to buy another copy.

Of all the bands that came out of punk or new wave, for me there has never been one as brilliant as Blondie. New wave in the UK was generally angry and political. American new wave—as epitomized by Blondie—was musical, ingenious, subversive and unforgettable.

What makes a song last more than a generation is its infectious tunefulness. Songs that connect on an emotional level, at a liminal moment of approaching joy. Blondie have a major back catalog of these kind of songs—all of which will last decades longer than their three minutes of play. Perhaps centuries, who knows?
 

 
I missed out on their eponymous debut album, but got up to speed with the second album Plastic Letters and then Parallel Lines. With Parallel Lines one would have to go back to The Beatles to find a band that produced an album filled with only quality songs of utter pop perfection. All killer no filler, it played like a greatest hits from the very first spin.

That’s not to say Blondie were sweet—their songs were often double-edged and charged with complex meanings. A cursory listen to “One Way Or Another” might make you think it’s just some old romantic song rather one about a stalker. Or, how cold is the dreamy “Sunday Girl”? And who else could write such a bittersweet disco song such as “Heart of Glass”?

More after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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04.01.2016
09:28 am
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