In The Garden

Eurythmics

RCA, 1981

http://eurythmics.com

REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 08/17/2014

If you thought Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) was the start of Eurythmics career, you would be wrong. With assists by producer Conny Plank and Blondie drummer Clem Burke, David A. Stewart and Ann Lennox released the little-known In The Garden two years earlier, in 1981. Experimental by any standards, even Eurythmics ones, their debut still manages to slip quietly into your consciousness and stay firmly implanted there. The message here is clear: commercial success be damned, we are here to do things our way and there’s nothing you can do about it. Kudos to RCA for taking a huge risk and having the foresight that it would eventually pay dividends down the line. Besides, who wouldn’t take a chance on that voice?

This album was certainly different than anything else you would hear in 1981. The visual would take some time to hone, Lennox’s red hair is there, but the shocking orange crewcut would have to wait. Stewart looks like John Lennon’s aloof ghost on the cover, sporting coke bottle shades and Caesar. The cool, ultra-modern graphics of the liner notes only add to the excitement and intrigue: this was something new indeed. To the creative mind of a young person, you couldn’t ask for better packaging to fire the imagination. When it comes to Eurythmics, you can always expect a high quality product. I can only think of a handful of bands where it’s a perfect marriage of sound and vision; Eurythmics is certainly right up there at the top.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

The MTV breakthrough for Annie and Dave was just a gleam in their eye when In The Garden was recorded, with only two singles (“Never Gonna Cry Again” and “Belinda”) barely seeing the light of day. Methinks that Eurythmics were so far ahead of their time that nobody quite knew what to do with this British duo in 1981. Only with the success of “Don’t You Want Me” by the Human League would radio programmers allow what was to become a flood of other alternative artists into the mainstream, especially in America. Soon, women would start looking more like men and vice versa. Gender bending became such the rage that Newsweek magazine memorably put Boy George and Annie Lennox on the cover, trumpeting the arrival of “The New Wave.”

Appropriately, the title track to In The Garden, “English Summer,” contains the ever-present sound of crickets. Not the right tone to set if you want to be successful in the music industry, but there you have it. Ah, the irony. After the glacial elegance (which Annie has always been known for) of that opening cut, we pick up the pace and rock out Dave Stewart style to “Belinda,” the first of several Eurythmics career-spanning songs named after unknown people, with Jennifer, Julia, Adrian & Sylvia rounding out the list. If Stewart ever decides to make his dream for a stage play a reality, at least he already has these characters as his jumping off point.

Other tracks of note on this debut are the deliberately paced “Take Me To Your Heart,” the no-holds-barred “Caveman Head” and the great message song – especially these days where bullying and poverty have become such social problems – “Your Time Will Come.”

The closing tune “Revenge” points to the 1986 album by the same name. As if there was any doubt they’d last that long. This is an audacious first effort, erasing any sophomore slump fears.

Rating: A-

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