Everything But The Girl was formed in 1982 by Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt. The pair met by coincidence at Hull University in the autumn of 1981. Both had already had early acclaimed starts in their teens on the UK post-punk independent scene - Tracey with her indie minimal girl group, the Marine Girls (1980-1983, later name-checked as one of Kurt Cobain's favourite bands); Ben with more experimental solo folk-jazz recordings featuring alt-folk icon, Robert Wyatt (1981-1983). All the recordings were released by London independent, Cherry Red. Merging their respective early non-rock influences their first release was a stark acoustic cover of Cole Porter's 'Night and Day' (1982) on Cherry Red. Originally intended as a last-minute B-side to two originals, it unintentionally threw the pair into the burgeoning London jazz-pop scene.
Each then released acclaimed minimalistic solo albums that topped the UK Indie Charts - Tracey's 'A Distant Shore' (1982) and Ben's 'North Marine Drive' (1983) before they pooled songs for the Everything But The Girl debut, 'Eden', recorded with producer Robin Millar in the summer of 1983, but not released due to contractual issues involved in their move to Blanco Y Negro/WEA until May 1984. It spawned a Top 40 hit ('Each And Every One') and went on to sell 500,000 copies.
Edsel is proud to release the duo s first four albums in beautifully presented 2 CD casebound books, put together with the full involvement of Ben and Tracey, and each one featuring a newly-written note by the couple, and all the lyrics. Eden features seventeen bonus tracks: 8 non-album single A- and B-sides (including hits Mine and Native Land ), 5 previously unreleased home demos and 4 contemporary previously unreleased BBC radio session recordings, personally selected by Ben
Everything but the Girl hit the ground running with their first album, Eden
; in some ways, they wouldn't equal the effort again for years. Though both Tracy Thorn and Ben Watt learned how to use their voices to better effect over the years, their vocal talents are evident here. Singing over a gentle, tropical-toned combo, Thorn sounds strong and free, and, when the occasion calls for it, vulnerable. Watt may be a little melodramatic on "Tender Blue", but the affecting "Soft Touch" more than makes up for it. Meanwhile, "Another Bridge" presages "Me and Bobby D" (from The Language of Life
); "The Dustbowl" succinctly captures a post-break-up reflection with only a modicum of regret; "Frost and Fire" reaches out from daughter to mother; and "I Must Confess" neatly sambas its way out of a finished relationship. Mature, intelligent, and unflinchingly romantic, it ranks among EBTG's best work. --Randy Silver