It's always hard to envision a pop world where the present establishment cornerstones were once lean, countercultural misfits....
It’s always hard to envision a pop world where the present establishment cornerstones were once lean, countercultural misfits. But well before there was a mountain of money piled up to their chins, [a]Dave Stewart[/a] and [a]Annie Lennox[/a] were an avant-pop duo who wore animal heads on their album sleeves and made left-field records with their Krautrock contemporaries.
‘In The Garden’ is the Eurythmics‘ unlikely 1981 debut, the precursor to ‘Sweet Dreams’‘ world-beating synth throb. It’s a remarkable record in many ways – not least in that RCA ever gave them the money to make it. Lennox‘n’Stewart‘s previous pop incarnation, The Tourists, were practically laughed out of existence. Even stranger is the company ‘In The Garden’ keeps: Holger Czukay of German psychedelicists Can plays the French horn and a “Thai stringed instrument”, while fellow Can man Jaki Liebezeit hammers out motorik beats. More crisp percussion comes courtesy of Blondie‘s Clem Burke and DAF‘s Robert Gorl. The whole 33-minute endeavour was recorded in Germany in Kraftwerk producer Conny Plank‘s studio, and the record’s clean lines, synth doodles and cool Teutonicism nod respectfully towards Germany’s recent decade of innovation.
But for all the avant-garde firepower assembled here, ‘In The Garden’ is at heart a pastoral pop record: in marked contrast to the stadium dramatics to come, songs like ‘Belinda’ and ‘Never Gonna Cry Again’ are suffused with a dreamy, sometimes vengeful melancholy, reflected in Lennox‘s hushed vocals. ‘Sing-Sing’, meanwhile, is an existential interlude sung in faulty French that manages to set the template for Stereolab‘s entire oeuvre. Yes, it’s true: [a]Dave Stewart[/a] did have a reason for existing once.