As the new wave musical movement and its excesses spread through Europe and the Americas in the early eighties, The Eurythmics emerged with a slightly less extravagant but still unusual, staging style.
Annie Lennox's androgynous appeal was immediately striking; short cropped hair, asexual fashion sense. Add to that the obscure, well-dressed mutie in the background with the shades... The Eurythmics made for an odd couple by contrast to the world of multicoloured hairdos and nouveau-riche kitsch.
Formed after the breakup of their relationship and their previous punk band The Tourists, Eurythmics went on to become essentially a singles band, their albums garnering mostly mixed reviews and responses.
But Dave Stewart's songwriting and production chops and Annie Lennox's incredible vocal delivery over 20 or so years are incontestable, evidenced by these 19 selections. There are melodies here that even today's slickest sweat-shop pop writers would kill for. And that's looking beyond the recently re-popularised "Sweet Dreams", which is in reality not among Eurythmics' finest tracks.
The real best of their best include the confrontational soul rocker "Would I Lie To You?"; a fun tropical diversion on "Right by Your Side"; the truly stunning love-poem "There Must be An Angel (Playing with My Heart)" featuring Stevie Wonder; the vivid and emotionally complex "When Tomorrow Comes"; and the sparse but infinitely singable "Thorn in My Side".
There are several other gems on the collection, including some later generation entries that are passable by Eurythmics standards. Strangely missing: the synth-dance entry "Sex Crime (1984)", and "Revival", which are even more noticeably absent given that "Missionary Man" cracked the nod.
Aside from that little hiccup, Ultimate Collection is more satisfying than the Greatest Hits (1991), and should be a worthwhile addition to a retrospective collection.
- Anton Marshall
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