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Sweet dreams are *definitely* made of this
on 29 November 2005
Eurythmics' breakthrough second album, following their interesting but unfocussed debut In The Garden, still stands the test of time as one of their finest, despite the fact that more than most of their releases, this one runs the risk of being tied to its time of release due to its heavily (though innovative) electronic sound. As a piece, Sweet Dreams holds together very well and contains few weak links: the iconic title track has become a modern-day standard and still retains its careful mix of passion and menace to this day, as does the perhaps even more sinister Love Is A Stranger, but there is much to enjoy besides these monolothic hits. The forgotten early single The Walk vies with Sweet Dreams as the standout track, a moody and disturbing vocal and lyric offset by a stunning brass arrangement, Jennifer's wistful description of a drowning once again treads the fine line of being heartfelt yet unsettling, and This City Never Sleeps, with its understated tale of urban alienation is a subdued yet powerful closer which still resonates today.
The key to the brilliance of this album is its ability to combine both warmth and cold, which prevents the electronic feel from seeming dated, and in that sense is perhaps Dave and Annie's crowning achievement (all the more incredible given the limited materials and budget with which the album was made - milkbottles for instance were used as percussion on Sweet Dreams). The reissue sleeve contains a number of new photos and an essay which gives some interesting details on the album's making but omits some key detail (it implies that Love Is A Stranger was the first single, whereas in fact both This Is The House and The Walk has been released prior to this). The extra tracks are among the best haul of all the Eurythmics reissues, helped partly the embarrassment of riches of B-sides featured on the album's various singles (a number of B-sides have been omitted, including all of the bonus tracks from The Walk single, some of which are definitely worthy of release). Eurythmics' B-sides tended to be more avant garde and experimental than their album tracks, which might put off the casual listener, but they are never less then interesting. Home Is Where The Heart Is is pleasant, the instrumental Monkey Monkey is catchy if over-long, but it's Baby's Gone Blue which is the real find - a whirl of soundbites, samples and snatches of Annie's emotive singing describing a car crash. Although some purists aren't keen, I like both of the 1991 remixes included, which give a slightly different slant on the album's two big hits, although the excellent Obsession Mix of Love Is A Stranger would have been preferable to the Coldcut Mix included here. Finally, the little-heard cover of Lou Reed's Satellite of Love fits in perfectly with the rest of the album and is one of the best covers included in this series of reissues.
For those looking to go beyond the greatest hits, this album is a perfect place to start and gives a good idea of why Eurythmics were seen as so innovative and slightly dangerous when they first appeared in the boardroom surrouned by cows. The original album was strong enough by itself: this remastered and expanded edition only makes it even more indispensible.