Eurythmics
Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)


3.5
great

Review

by Divaman USER (166 Reviews)
January 4th, 2017 | 19 replies


Release Date: 1983 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "Some of them want to use you/Some of them want to be used by you/Some of them want to abuse you/Some of them want to be abused"

The duo of Scottish singer Annie Lennox and English multi-instrumentalist Dave Stewart, a.k.a. Eurythmics, was arguably one of the most important bands of the '80s. The pair first met in 1975, became a couple, and formed a band called The Catch which eventually evolved into The Tourists. Problems within that band caused it to dissolve after 1980's Luminous Basement, but although they were no longer romantically involved, Lennox and Stewart decided to continue on as a musical team. Their first album together, 1981's In the Garden, wasn't commercially successful. However, their next album, Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) (1983) put them over the top, reaching No. 3 on the British charts and No. 16 in the U.S. The title track for the album became a huge international hit single, reaching No. 1 in the U.S. and No. 2 in Britain, while the video for the song received heavy airplay on MTV. The song has since become a rock classic, and been covered live and/or recorded by a variety of artists including Marilyn Manson, Reba McIntyre and Kelly Clarkson, and Selena Gomez. Most recently, it was featured in a television commercial for PlayStation 4 (recorded by unnamed musicians). Eurythmics followed it up by reissuing the single "Love Is a Stranger" which had been virtually ignored in Britain the first time around. It too charted in countries around the world.

So what made this album such a success? I think it's a variety of factors. The most obvious, of course, is Lennox. Since the ascendancy of Eurythmics, she's become larger than life, both for her powerful r&b voice and her striking image. For those who were music fans in the '80s, the picture of her from the "Sweet Dreams" video, with her short-cropped DayGlo orange hair, dressed in a tie and jacket, swinging her pointer, spinning a globe and crooning "I travel the world and the seven seas/Everybody's looking for something" will forever be burned into our psyches. There is clearly something compelling about her, and thankfully, she has the voice to back it up.

Then there is Stewart. After the guitar gods who dominated rock music in the '70s, music fans were looking for something different. Stewart was one of a number of '80s musicians with the talent and creativity to give it to them. Synthesizers were certainly in use by some rock bands in the '70s, but the music of people like Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman tended to be grand and sweeping. Listening to Sweet Dreams, you find that Stewart is using them in a completely different way. They're more chunky, more textured, and more pop-friendly. They're also complemented by heavily programmed electronic percussion, as Lennox's vocals are supplemented by various sampled grunts, snarls and squeals. Unlike most of the synthesists of the previous decade, Stewart is as much a computer programmer as a musician.

There's also a touch of darkness to the music of Sweet Dreams, just a taste of danger. Love, in the world of this album, is "a stranger in an open car/To tempt you in, and drive you far away," and who knows where you'll end up? The synthesizer loops throughout the various songs are ominous, and sometimes murky. But it's all in good fun. With the possible exception of the poor orange-haired, green-eyed title character of "Jennifer", who winds up "underneath the water," (Is she a sea nymph? Or a drowning victim? We'll never know for sure) most of the more dangerous emotions are expressed with tongue planted firmly in cheek. For example, whatever terrible truth Lennox might have learned about her lover in "Somebody Told Me", her delivery of "There's laughter and love/And a lot of pain/I never want to see your/Pretty face again" make it clear that she isn't really suffering all that much. Throughout the album, she tries on characters and personas the way an excited child who is set loose in the costume department of a large theater might try on costumes.

In fact, that's another one of the secrets of the album's success -- the music has an element of fun about it. Listen to some of the weird little yips and barks that Lennox gives off at various points in "I've Got an Angel," or the send-up of a Learn-to-speak-Spanish tape at the beginning of "This Is the House," and you realize that these guys are having a ball. Even in a more serious song like "This City Never Sleeps," when Stewart has his synthesizers mimic the low rumbling sounds of a subway train, you just know he had a big grin on his face when he recorded it.

Eurythmics eventually went on to record a total of nine studio albums (if you include the soundtrack album they made for the film 1984, which I do). Most people consider Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This) to be one of their best. Its one of the seminal albums of the '80s, and it's definitely the one that launched the band's career. Today, almost 35 years later, it's still worth a listen.



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user ratings (87)
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
bloc
January 4th 2017


70370 Comments


I've heard Sweet Dreams way too many times. My favourite of theirs has gotta be Here Comes The Rain Again

TwigTW
January 4th 2017


3938 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I like this one the best, but they have a lot of good albums... Underneath all the synthesizers, she has a great voice and they write great pop tunes together... With that combo I'm thinking they would have been great in any decade, but the synthesizers and androgynous image were perfect for the '80s.



Edit: Maybe Touch is my favorite, but this is a close second.

zakalwe
January 4th 2017


39164 Comments


Bereft of soul, devoid of depth.

Would go down a treat nowadays.

DoofusWainwright
January 4th 2017


19991 Comments


My folks used to love playing this.

TwigTW
January 4th 2017


3938 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Something great about Sputnik is it's making me look backwards at the 80s (instead of the next forward step after the '70s). It's definitely changing the way I hear it.

Divaman
January 4th 2017


16120 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I agree with you, bloc and Twig -- "Touch" is probably my favorite by just a little bit, but this is a close second.



I also saw them live at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium on the "Touch" tour, and it was a great show. She got carried in like Cleopatra by four muscle boys, and did I don't know how many costume changes throughout the course of the show. And she had these two back-up singers, whose names I have no idea, but one of them had an even more amazing voice than Lennox. It was actually one of the best shows I ever saw.



I don't totally disagree with you, Zak. I wouldn't put it in the terms you did, but there is a sense that they're playacting in the songs rather than really feeling the music. I enjoyed them anyway, especially this album, "Touch", and parts of "1984".

Jethro42
January 4th 2017


18281 Comments


I've only heard the greatest hits. Same for Annie Lennox solo. Haven't heard in age, though. I might investigate. Annie knows how to sing...

Nice work on the review!

Divaman
January 4th 2017


16120 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thank you, Jethro. Happy New Year.

manosg
Emeritus
January 4th 2017


12709 Comments


Can't believe this one didn't have a review.

Great job Diva, pos.

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
January 4th 2017


32053 Comments


Jesus, I am older than this record. Sweet... review Div, pos'd, 80s mood hype increasing, might have to spin it tonight. I still remember that other Lennox' solo track: Song for a Vampire. Damn, that was good too.

DoofusWainwright
January 4th 2017


19991 Comments


Solid review Diva, pos

Divaman
January 4th 2017


16120 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks much guys.

TVC15
January 4th 2017


11373 Comments


What the hell this never had a review?

Agreed, Annie has a fantastic voice

Divaman
January 4th 2017


16120 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is actually now the only Eurythmics album that does have a review. None of their others do. One of Lennox's solo albums has one.

bloc
January 5th 2017


70370 Comments


"What the hell this never had a review?"

You'd be surprised to see what doesn't have a review on this site

Trifolium
August 2nd 2019


39251 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

''Agreed, Annie has a fantastic voice''

Se has such a great voice, agreed.

dedex
Staff Reviewer
October 30th 2020


12788 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4 | Sound Off

bump

parksungjoon
October 30th 2020


47235 Comments


chump

dedex
Staff Reviewer
October 30th 2020


12788 Comments

Album Rating: 3.4 | Sound Off

dump



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