APRIL 18, 2021


n June of 1986 I was enrolled in summer school and licking my wounds after my first full academic year of Catholic school. My fifth grade year marked a drastic change in scenery with stark concrete school grounds surrounded by a twenty foot high chain link fence. In retrospect you would think the school was designed by the architect who designed the Attica Correctional Facility. I also had to wear a uniform – a first for me. It consisted of a light blue dress shirt and navy blue slacks and matching tie. Mine was a clip on. No tennis shoes here. Just loafers and black socks. My class attended a mass every Tuesday morning performed by a drunken Monsignor. Yes, St. Michael's Elementary School was a madhouse out of KEN KESEY's imagination with a monstrous nun, the principal, ringing a bell to signal the change in classes. The teachers. Dear God! The teachers. You never met an unhappier set of hens hellbent on making matters of reading, writing and arithmetic a strained and  unpleasant affair. And let's not forget the Catholicism itself. Learning about a religion that wasn't mine was especially daunting. Terms like “original sin,” “chastity,” and “fidelity,” meant absolutely nothing to a touch and go Episcopal like myself. Even if I was only ten going on eleven. Needless to say, the grim surroundings and indifference led to poor academic performance. And I don't have time to bring up the bullying that often went unchecked and I'm just taking about the teachers.

Through film and television up to that point, all I knew about Catholic school was that it was for bad kids and the girls were easy. This was the mid eighties after all. It should've been one hell of a ride, but I was wearing a stupid school uniform and taking shit from a bunch middle aged scolds and a nun who bore a striking resemblance to GEORGE C. SCOTT. This “quality education” left much to be desired. In the midst of it all I knew summer school was in the cards. Yes, the summer of '86 was going to be a reflective one and I didn't even know what reflective meant.

As my summer was being devoured by the summer school sessions that were “strongly recommended” by my heinous educators, I remember catching an episode of FRIDAY NIGHT VIDEOS which was going to feature a brand new music video from EURYTHMICS, that exotic pop duo from the U.K. featuring that mysterious Scottish beauty with the shorn hair and striking blue eyes and that scruffy fellow in the background.

Even by 1986 EURYTHMICS was a curious odd couple that was still heavily identified by their 1983 breakthrough hit, the glorious synth driven bop SWEET DREAMS (ARE MADE OF THIS), even though ANNIE LENNOX and DAVID STEWART had issued a series of hits on both sides of the Atlantic. Outside of SWEET DREAMS, they kept their finger on the thumping pulse of synth pop with singles like LOVE IS A STRANGER and upped the ante with orchestral backing on the Wagnerian HERE COMES THE RAIN AGAIN. They even loosened things up with the calypso madness of RIGHT BY YOUR SIDE and it was all served up stylishly and teasingly with LENNOX's trademark gender fuckery. A couple of years later EURYTHMICS came back with the rock and STAX fracas of WOULD I LIE TO YOU. LENNOX would then chirp like a cherub on the oh-so-sweet THERE MUST BE AN ANGEL (PLAYING WITH MY HEART) and then shared the mic with the QUEEN OF SOUL herself on the suffragist anthem SISTERS ARE DOIN' IT FOR THEMSELVES. In a relatively short span of time the BORIS AND NATASHA of pop music managed to keep it fresh.

I was eleven years old at the time, yet I had a sizable collection of EURYTHMICS' albums. My vinyl copies of the albums SWEET DREAMS and BE YOURSELF TONIGHT had worn out their pressings and my cassette copy of TOUCH could be found somewhere in my box of cassettes at the time. I waited anxiously to see what the duo had to offer with their new music video.

In the first few bars of MISSIONARY MAN, the first single from DAVE and ANNIE's 1986 album REVENGE, it was clear that the duo was staying put with the soul rock approach they had adopted on their 1985 album BE YOURSELF TONIGHT. The song gets started with some bluesy harmonica riffs provided by JIMMY Z. ZAVALA that create a foreboding mood until LENNOX's lean mean contralto gets things going with her opening line “I was born an original sinner!” Almost immediately the song felt like every religion class I took in the academic year prior was being spun on its head. I could even imagine my religion teacher going into a conniption fit at the less than pious proceedings. DUSTY SPRINGFIELD crooned of some innocent hand holding that goes to the next level on her 1966 classic SON OF A PREACHER MAN. LENNOX takes that same theme and gives it a little kick. Like the preacher's son in SPRINGFIELD's blue eyed soul classic, LENNOX's MISSIONARY MAN is a fresh one if the line “get down upon your knees!” can be taken beyond mere religious exercise. The double entendre predates MADONNA's LIKE A PRAYER by three years. The single also showcases some rather stimulating input from a top notch band that was put together exclusively for the REVENGE album. Ace drummer CLEM BURKE of BLONDIE lays down the track's bluesy stomp like a pro while bassist CHUCHO MERCHAN's riffs add some extra menace to the rhythm section. Keyboardist PATRICK SEYMOUR gives the earthy number a bit of a sci-fi scope which has always worked well with EURYTHMICS while back up singer JONIECE JAMISON gives LENNOX's clear cut melody lines a run for their money with her gospel honed ad libs. STEWART is on guitar but MISSIONARY MAN is not much of a guitar number. He truly sounds relegated to the back ground here but when you have electrifying performances from the likes of BURKE, JAMESON and ZAVALA, how the hell can one compete?


And what is a EURYTHMICS single without a mind blowing music video? EURYTHMICS' latest spectacle opens with the camera panning through an ominous looking laboratory filled with beakers and pipettes filled with caustic looking chemicals. Adding to the menace is a king coral snake slithering between the beakers and DAVE STEWART himself, sporting long curly blonde locks, the ever present sunglasses, a white shirt and a long black leather coat, overseeing the chemical reactions taking place in the laboratory. The curious chemical mixture he's working on becomes revealed as it is poured into a container and begins to form the alabaster visage of ANNIE LENNOX. Her red lips begin issuing the song's opening verse. With CLEM BURKE's signature drum kick and JONIECE JAMISON's grunt, the band takes over and the camera pans around their performance. All are sporting the long black leather coats and white shirts sported by STEWART. This would be the look for the duo and their band for other music videos as well as the world tour to follow. The movements seem a bit jerky and work well with the grunting rhythm of the song thanks to some stop motion photography. The technique really pays off when we see LENNOX in her platinum pompadour and black leather cat suit robotically stalking the hallways of a mysterious mansion and going on about what her momma told her to do in order to be true to herself which included staying away from the titular missionary man. Not since the SWEET DREAMS video have we seen LENNOX get lost in the role of a captivating android gleefully chewing up the scenery. Even the band for hire hams it up and the results are an eighties music video classic. Directed by WILLY SMAX, the video would go on to earn several nominations from the MTV MUSIC VIDEO AWARDS while the song itself would win an GRAMMY for BEST ROCK PERFORMANCE BY A DUO OR GROUP WITH VOCAL.

MISSIONARY MAN went on to become EURYTHMICS' last top twenty hit Stateside and the blues romp found its way onto a bunch of mixtapes I had thrown together. However, when their album REVENGE was released at the end of June of 1986, I didn't go out and buy a copy. I blame this on mere distraction. You see, MADONNA released her 1986 album TRUE BLUE the same day EURYTHMICS released REVENGE and as one can imagine, MADONNA made the bigger sensation. I had always liked MADONNA up that point but this time she was different. She dyed her hair platinum blonde and cropped it short and the media went crazy about her being the new MARILYN MONROE. I couldn't help but find similarities between the MATERIAL GIRL's new look and the peroxided rock chick persona that LENNOX had cultivated for two albums now. TRUE BLUE was the first MADONNA album I ever got my hands on and the pop smarts of the girl from Michigan resonated for me. Maybe if the folks at RCA had pushed the other singles from REVENGE in the States, perhaps I would've added the album to my humble collection sooner.

While REVENGE achieved gold status in the U.S., it was in Europe where EURYTHMICS would continue their winning streak with platinum sales and a highly successful world tour where the former techno pop duo became bona fide stadium rockers. I wouldn't get my hands on REVENGE until 1991 after a then defunct EURYTHMICS released their GREATEST HITS compilation in which the singles from REVENGE were largely represented which I thought was strange given that MISSIONARY MAN was the lone single in the United States.

*** my EURYTHMICS collection made complete by 1991, I have to say that REVENGE is an album that doesn't deserve the knuckle rapping that fans have given it over the years. However, the knuckle wrapping is easy to understand. EURYTHMICS fandom is divided between those who favor what is called "early EURYTHMICS" which is marked by the duo's more electronic output. Other fans may have taken more of a shine to the duo's more guitar driven rock output. REVENGE was only the second album to go for the gold in terms of rock glory but unlike the album BE YOURSELF TONIGHT which preceded this release, REVENGE went for conventionality. You've got pop psychological heartache 101 demonstrated on such tracks as THE LAST TIME, THORN IN MY SIDE and A LITTLE OF YOU. While the first two are rather fine pop moments, they lack the fangs of a WHO'S THAT GIRL or even a WOULD I LIE TO YOU? And then you have the sunny pop delights of WHEN TOMORROW COMES and LET'S GO. On the latter, EURYTHMICS' band for hire kicks in and turns in a truly energetic performance worthy of PRINCE's REVOLUTION. Even on an album marked by larger than life pop moments, LENNOX, the songwriter, manages to sneak in a bit of autobiography with the stomping TAKE YOUR PAIN AWAY, a song that reaches out to her ailing father and I REMEMBER YOU, where her father gets a moving eulogy punctuated by a marching drumbeat, MICHAEL KAMEN's strings and JIMMY Z. ZAVALA's baritone saxophone. This is also the album where EURYTHMICS issue their first ever power ballad, MIRACLE OF LOVE, but instead of going the heartbreak route they issue a hymn on the human condition and hope for the future and it is a standout moment in the duo's eclectic catalog. The charge levied against DAVE and ANNIE upon the release of REVENGE was that of selling out. Granted the album lacks the big artistic pay off of an album like SWEET DREAMS, TOUCH or their soundtrack to the film 1984, LENNOX and STEWART sound like they are right where they need to be both professionally and artistically. Who can blame them for having a little bit of fun for once?

MISSIONARY MAN was the Stateside introduction to the REVENGE album and both the single and the video were in line with what a US audience expected from EURYTHMICS. Everywhere else, WHEN TOMORROW COMES was the first single from REVENGE and both the unadventurous single and music video could easily give one the impression that DAVE and ANNIE were out of ideas. The guitar driven, power pop number is punctuated by JIMMY Z. ZAVALA's saxophone and an enthusiastic vocal by LENNOX. It's so enthusiastic that it's hard for me to hate the song. One could compare it to something off of THE BEATLES' HELP album but I hear a stronger connection to DAVE and ANNIE's pre-EURYTHMICS band, THE TOURISTS. Maybe the fact that the song  is co-written by keyboardist PATRICK SEYMOUR contributes to the song sounding less than signature.

DAVE STEWART's jangly 12-string acoustic guitar gives THORN IN MY SIDE a curious opening. The tranquility is broken when LENNOX shouts “Yeah!!!” CLEM BURKE's drum roll gets the sixties girl group number cracking in the same way he did when he propelled early BLONDIE numbers such as DENIS to pop glory. STEWART's pristine acoustic guitar steadies the effervescent number while ZAVALA's glorious saxophone steals the show. As both a singer and a songwriter, LENNOX uses the buoyant number to express heartbreak and emancipation – a pop formula that has worked so well for EURYTHMICS in the past and manages to do so here. The song's chorus recalls PHIL SPECTOR's opus DA DO RON RON with backing from JONIECE JAMISON emphasizing the running that LENNOX has to do to get away from a disappointing boyfriend. One would think that it is MIKE KAMEN's strings that we hear in the background when in fact it is PATRICK SEYMOUR's delectable keyboard fills. It's too bad no one at RCA believed that this pop gem could've gone on to be a top ten hit for the band.

I've already stated that I can't bring myself to hate the joyous WHEN TOMORROW COMES. However, I don't feel it needed to be the first single. THE LAST TIME probably would've succeeded as a single on both sides of the Atlantic simply because of all of the songs on REVENGE, it is the most EURYTHMIC-y. BURKE's drum claps get the tune going but it is PATRICK SEYMOUR's sequencers that keep the rhythm in this overlooked EURYTHMICS tune going. DAVE STEWART's simple guitar riffs add some heft to the dance rock number, predating the approach done on FINE YOUNG CANNIBALS' worldwide smash SHE DRIVES ME CRAZY three years later. Once again, LENNOX calls it quits and back up singer JAMISON is all too happy to chime in to remind the bloke that this is indeed “the last time, baby.” It's unfortunate that the song ended up being wasted on the soundtrack to the BETTE MIDLER film OUTRAGEOUS FORTUNE. Releasing THE LAST TIME as a single probably would've given EURYTHMICS enough ammunition to compete Stateside with the likes of GENESIS, STEVE WINWOOD and MADONNA.

Oh the power ballad! It has compromised the artistic integrity of rock artists the world over but EURYTHMICS use the format as a means of examining the delicate state of the human condition. “There must be a bitter breeze that makes you sting so viciously/They say the greatest coward can hurt the most ferociously” is one hell of a stinging lyric that resonates even today. More hymn than power ballad, MIRACLE OF LOVE stands out by a mile from much of what can be heard on REVENGE and is a worthy EURYTHMICS classic.


 love it when a band I love succeeds! I just wish REVENGE succeeded a little better in the in U.S. However, us Yankees weren't denied the enormous presence of the dynamic duo as they played every major city in the United States when kicking off their REVENGE TOUR. In fact, EURYTHMICS played Merriweather Post Pavillion in Columbia, Maryland on September 3, 1986, but unfortunately me and my family were out of town that week. I was too young to care what critics thought of EURYTHMICS' latest opus but in researching critical response for this article I was surprised to read how positive some of the notices were. ROBERT HILLBURN of THE LOS ANGELES TIMES offered the following:

The highlights here - especially the four tracks after MISSIONARY MAN on Side 1 - serve up a gloriously positive answer. Music this good is no accident. ANNIE LENNOX sings with such passion and control that she rivals CHRISSIE HYNDE as rock's most evocative female vocalist; DAVID STEWART has emerged as one of the most tasteful guitarist-producers since ROBBIE ROBERTSON, and LENNOX/STEWART demonstrate in songs like THORN IN MY SIDE and WHEN TOMORROW COMES that they can write about the ups and downs of the romantic cycle with conviction and force. A year-end Top 10 album contender.”

One of my favorite critics, ROBERT CHRISTGAU of THE VILLAGE VOICE, gave his own punchy assessment of the album. I think it's positive.

ANNIE LENNOX's rich, lustrous range and diction threaten to overwhelm these stripped-down arrangements, bringing such odious ANNIES as HASLAM and WILSON to mind. But while you'd never call her enthusiasm natural, it's not forced or foolish either - this is rock and roll as sheer performance, its basics paraded with pride and a glint of humor. If only it was all side-openers like MISSIONARY MAN recommended to PAT ROBERTSON, and the V-8 Airmobile LET'S GO.”

ROLLING STONE however picked up on the lack of je ne sais quoi and turned in a review such as this:

That tension, a face-off between history and science fiction, is what's missing from the rest of this album. This time EURYTHMICS are relying on formulas rather than twisting them slightly out of shape. EURYTHMICS haven't lost their innovative tendencies; they've tied them in neat little packages and made them safe by labeling them. For a group that once managed to subvert new pop formats and still be popular, what kind of revenge is that?”

EURYTHMICS's rock n roll fantasy wasn't to everyone's liking but who cared? DAVE and ANNIE were on top of the world. For anyone who was longing for the duo to re-embrace their electronic sound, they would get their wish in 1987 when EURYTHMICS released their concept album SAVAGE. DAVE  and ANNIE would go on to end the decade and their run as EURYTHMICS with the poppier album WE TOO ARE ONE in 1989 leading to LENNOX's to-be-expected solo career and STEWARTS continued handiwork behind the recording console. There were a couple of reunions since then but nothing really stuck and that's too bad. Sure, that big ambitious artistic payoff can't be found on an album like REVENGE, but a good time never serves up any of those things. To this day I still shelve this album somewhere between DAVID BOWIE's LET'S DANCE and TINA TURNER's BREAK EVERY RULE. Don't judge me.

FOR MORE iNFORMATiON GO TO: Lush is a music industry professional and entrepreneur. In 2005 he launched the online music site to help promote new music artists in conjunction with the weekly radio show Rockwired Live which aired on KTSTFM.COM from 2005 - 2009. In 2010 He launched the daily podcast series Rockwired Radio Profiles which features exclusive interviews and music. He has also developed and produced the online radio shows Jazzed and Blue - Profiles in Blues and Jazz, Aboriginal Sounds - A Celebration of American Indian and First Nations Music, The Rockwired Rock N Roll Mixtape Show and The Rockwired Artist of the Month Showcase. In 2012, Brian Lush and his company Rockwired Media LLC launched the monthly digital online publication Rockwired Magazine. The magazine attracts over 75,000 readers a month and shows no signs of stopping. Rockwired Magazine also bares the distinction of being the first American Indian-owned rock magazine. Brian Lush is an enrolled member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe. Brian Lush's background in music journalism, radio and podcast hosting, podcast production, web design, publicity, advertising sales, social media and online marketing, strategic editorial planning and branding have all made Rockwired a name that is trusted and respected throughout the independent music industry.

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