After a fairly brief sojourn as Tourists in the late ‘70s, then couple Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart decided to stay at home and form their own little duo. And so the rather clumsily spelled Eurythmics were born.
Their predominantly synthesised debut album, In the Garden, bloomed in 1981 – or perhaps wilted would be a more appropriate word. Rather than giving up, the pair went back to the drawing board and commenced work on their sophomore effort. They retained the synthesisers, however this time they came up with the 1983 masterpiece that was Sweet Dreams - a classic synthpop album that still ranks up there with the likes of Human League’s Dare, Soft Cell’s Non Stop Erotic Cabaret and OMD’s Architecture & Morality. The album’s first single, Love is a Stranger, set tongues wagging, and the follow-up – the long player’s deftly catchy title track – firmly planted them in the spotlight.
This DVD is a re-release of a video that originally emerged not long after the release of Sweet Dreams, and speaking of spotlights it mostly features live tracks recorded at London’s Heaven nightclub. Dave with his dorky dawg-on-your-head mop that made the likes of Phil Oakey and even possibly A Flock of Seagulls look well coiffured by comparison, and golden-voiced Annie firmly in her gender-messing, Aladdin Sane-styled androgyny role – and all when Shirley Manson was but a wee bairn...
Joining the pair are a drummer (on those fabbo ping-poong ping-poong Simmons drums no less!), a keyboard player and a bassist whose name the more Gothic-oriented folk out there just may recognise, one Dean Garcia – who later formed his own duo Curve with the rather sultry Toni Halliday. And then there are the three backup singers. Any doubts as to the early ‘80s origins of this concert footage should be dispelled with one peek at their seriously boofy heads, in comparison the Hair Bear Bunch looked like a trio of Uncle Festers...
Most of the tracks from Sweet Dreams are here, along with a couple of tracks from the first album, some B-sides and an intriguing cover of Lou Reed’s Satellite of Love. Interspersed within are four video clips, the first of which is Love is a Stranger - a clip which had the Americans severely confuddled as to the validity of Annie’s womanhood, as legend has it apparently even to the point where US Customs demanded to see her birth certificate before allowing her to enter the country. And if the poor Yanks were thrown by that clip, what must they have made of Who’s That Girl? Whilst Dave frolics about with early ‘80s popsters the likes of Bananarama (including his future wife Siobhan Fahey, before she gothed out, teamed up with possibly the only woman in the world taller than myself (Marcella Detroit), ripped off a badly spelled song title by The Smiths for a band name and came up with her own truly classic pop album – Shakespear’s Sister’s Sacred Heart), Kate Garner (Haysi Fantayzee) and, erm, Marilyn, Annie alternates between being a blonde siren torch singer and a frighteningly convincing escapee from a spaghetti western - stubble and all. Next is a rather sedate clip for the gospel-tinged This City Never Sleeps, wherein you can play spot the Errol Brown, and finally the clip for the title track, although unfortunately it has the credits plastered all over it, which seriously gets in the way of all the cows.
It’s all held together by a delightfully preposterous intro/outro sandwich featuring a hyperactive businessman, and a guy who looks like an eight-foot Marc Almond with the voice of Lurch (what’s with all these Addams Family references?), and little animated Annie’n’Dave puppets which pop up every so often just to shuffle about the screen a bit. Hey, after all, it was the ‘80s!
Unsurprisingly, it all comes to us in full frame, although the clips for Love is a Stranger and Who’s That Girl? are both letterboxed at a ratio somewhere in the vicinity of 1.85:1. The intros and clips were all shot on film, and do display some signs of the nasties you’d expect, notably grain and speckles, whilst the concert footage was shot on video and is remarkably clear of detritus. With those funky spready-outty laser lights that any Countdown kid will know and love (and instantly have visions of the likes of Mi-Sex and Icehouse conjured up) flying about all over the place it’s all a rather bright affair, however in all it scrubs up surprisingly well.
The audio is standard Dolby Digital stereo – it’s what it was made in originally, and it sounds pretty much as good as the CD does, so really not much more could be asked for. There is a modicum of hiss apparent at times, but once those drums kick in and the sequencers are cranked up nought but the fussiest of punters will even notice. Meanwhile, audio synch is fine.
As for extras, well, there ain’t none hon. There is, however, a handy little option that uses the subtitle stream to bring up track info at the commencement of songs, which naturally can be switched on or off. The disc also auto-plays when you stick it in your player, so if for some inexplicable reason you don’t have it attached to a telly you’ll still get to hear what’s going on.
So why fork out your money for this DVD? Well it could be said simply for the fact that it features some truly classic performances from the Eurythmics in their heyday, before the blandness set in, and before Dave’s wanderlust returned and he went travelling again – as a Wilbury no less (shudder!).
But then maybe you shouldn’t ask yourself such mundane questions – just enjoy it, while you have the opportunity...