Sunday, December 19, 2010

Eurythmics - In The Garden (1981)


Eurythmics 1981 album 'In the Garden' is a fascinating and generally forgotten record. Recorded with Kraftwerk producer Conny Plank and featuring Blondie's Clem Burke and Holger Czukay (Can) ITG was the first record they recorded after the demise of The Tourists and before they had major commercial success. ITG failed to chart (which seems amazing given their later, and earlier, success) and it remains largely ignored to this day - although the 2005 CD re-issue may have helped to improve that situation.

ITG is new wave, no wave, psychedelic, experimental and totally pop, if pop comes from outer space (and it's good when it does). Themes include dreamy reverie (English Summer), Kraftwerkian love songs (Take Me To Your Heart), desperate housewives who behave like calculators (She's Invisible Now - the 10 to 1 countdown mixed with the sound of adding machines is brilliant), female body image (Caveman Head), and, that's just for starters. Annie sings in French on the bizarre and catchy 'Sing Sing' and most tracks are punctuated with all manner of sound effects, animal impersonations, trains, crickets and sirens. Vocals are processed, mixed up, mixed down, sound like they were recorded underwater, surrounded by cushions, or beamed in from another galaxy, or era, or mental state.

The album produced 2 singles - Never Gonna Cry Again and Belinda.



What Belinda is about is up for interpretation, but features Annie's offer to never leave or deceive the song's subject. It's again sonically amazing, like so much of the album, especially in the vocal treatment/harmonies and the mid-song refrain. Never Gonna Cry Again is memorable for Annie's restrained vocal performance, singing in a manner that makes the subject sound, to me anyway, completely numb as if immersed to immobility in thought, pain, or perhaps revenge. I prefer Annie singing in this way rather than the endlessly emotional way she usually sings these days. On ITG her voice acts more as an instrument and it's amazing.

'Your Time Will Come'  closes out the first (LP) side, with another catchy chorus and feeling of unease mixed with a jubilant chorus. It's quite a trick to pull off, but it works. There's also a psychedelic moment as Annie name checks the album's title in a spooky way that defies print description.

'All the Young People Of Today' which plods weirdly as it praises, fears, reveres, ridicules those included in the song title. One of the less successful tracks, but sticks with you after a few listens.

I have to return to 'Sing Sing' which never fails to please as Annie's playtime melody about "Touts les betes du la citee" and how they arrive by train, car, bicycle, work day by day, get tired, and go home. Amazing percussion, sound effects, tape manipulation and instrumentation round out this incredible track. 'Revenge' finishes the album - a hint at a theme they would revisit in 1986 with more ITG weirdness.

ITG is a great example of the sound of a band experimenting with an Everest of ideas. They wisely stop short of overloading the album though, as it could have been a complete mess. I've been finding new things in this album every time I hear it, and that is an awful lot of times. From here came Sweet Dreams and later, it must be said, a general move away from experimental pop towards a generally more commercial direction (which is where I become a little less excited about their music).

4 comments:

Pavel said...

Hello,

I find your blog and read your words about ITG. This is my favourite album from EU and I agree with you that I still find something new in their songs. It´s a masterpiece, I am in the trance and speechless when I find something new about Eurythmics early era 1981-1982. The first shocked was when I first time see unreleased excelent video of their first single, next precios moment was the see Never Gonna cry Again OGWT live and last year I find a short live performance of Belinda from same day like NGCA OGWT. Belinda live is a rare treasure. My dream is see full their concert from short In the Garden tour, or heard it. I am very interested of the playlist from ITG tour, how many songs and wich they played? Almost all from debut and they never played again. I´d love to hear live version of Cavemen Head, Revenge and my maybe favorite song Your Time Will Come and it will be very interesting heard french Sing Sing. All the great musicians are Ann & friends, they spend together end of the 1980 year in Conny Plank studio. 31.12.1980 is a day when Eurythmics began just into Connys studio. Many interesting musicians I find when looked on the net - Holger Czukay, CAN, DAF, Robert Gorl solo, Tim Wheater (my absolute one is SONG FROM THE HILLS), Marcus Stockhausen DUO with dreamy trumpet, Roger Pomphrey, Jaki Liebezeit, Clem Burke, Dick Cuthell and all who´s worked on ITG. Their BOXED was a gift for my in Xmas 2005. When I heard at the first tim bonus B sides I was shocked how songs mainly three live gems are so cool, strong and absolutly great.
I´m not understand why is not written where and when was live songs recorded.
At the end give you a question with "unknown track" which was discovered once day on youtube. I belive that is rare unreleased early Eurythmics song, nowhere is nothing about it only on youtube channel thanks user zoltanX. But is an excelent track!

It´s a many question of early era and I trying to fing something new, it is so difficult somewhere.
I am big fan of Annie and Dave and I love every news about him.


Cheers from Czech republic

Pavel

Sorry for my English, please.

Wayne said...

Dear Pavel

Thanks for your comments, it's nice to know other music fans love this album too. I'm not sure what the "unknown track" that you mentioned is (here's the link if anyone else wants to have a go - http://www.youtube.com/user/thezoltanx#p/u/11/nfSS9G_DHbo), it sounds a little like Annie Lennox, but I don't think it's her. It's pretty awesome whatever it is.

There is a live DVD of Eurythmics recorded at the London club Heaven that shouldn't be too hard to find. I think it features more of the Sweet Dreams songs, although from memory there might be a few In The Garden songs on there as well.

Best wishes,
Wayne

Frank said...

Excellent review, I couldn't have written it better. I absolutely love this album. For me, it is hands down the best Eurythmics records. Dreamy, weird, experimental, and yet still very pop-minded. It's always cool to see other people rave about "In the Garden!" Sometimes I feel like I'm the only one who loves it.

Wayne said...

Thanks Frank, probably because ITG was so eclipsed by everything that followed, I think the fans might feel like they're the only ones! It's a little like a secret recording by this mega-million selling band.