|Title:||Eurythmics: Greatest Hits (1992)|
1. Sweet Dreams 2. Love Is A Stranger 3. Who's That Girl 4. Right By Your Side 5. Here Comes The Rain Again 6. Sex Crime (1984) 7. Julia 8. Would I Lie To You? 9. There Must Be An Angel 10. Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves 11. It's Alright (Baby's Coming Back) 12. When Tomorrow Comes 13. Thorn In My Side 14. Miracle Of Love 15. Missionary Man 16. Beethoven (I Love To Listen To) 17. I Need A Man 18. You Have Place A Chill In My Heart 19. Don't Ask Me Why 20. The King & Queen Of America 21. Angel
|Cast:||Annie Lennox, Dave Stewart|
|DVD:||Standard 1.33:1; audio English Digital Stereo; single sided - single layered; 21 chapters; Not Rated; 95 min.; $16.99; street date 10/10/00.|
|Purchase:||DVD | Music album - Eurythmics|
During the early Eighties, the US experienced a second - and to date last - “British Invasion”. This meant that just as during the middle of the Sixties, the US pop charts were dominated by acts from the UK while native-born performers had more trouble making a dent.
Unlike the first invasion, however, most of the Eighties participants failed to maintain much of a popular profile. U2 remain the biggest of the second invasion’s acts, and a number of others still scuffle out a living on the oldies concert circuit - Duran Duran and Culture Club come to mind - but very few of them still have any kind of impact upon the pop charts.
Of all these acts, the current status of Eurythmics may be the hardest to assess. While the duo of Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart never really broke up, for all intents and purposes they ceased to be after 1989’s “We Two Are One” album and tour. Most of the Nineties saw the two involved in separate solo projects, and here is where Lennox really soared. I don’t know if her independent material was ever as successful as the duo’s efforts, but since their later work had not performed especially well on the charts, Lennox’s solo success certainly revived her career nicely.
Eventually Eurythmics decided to reunite in 1999 for a new album called “Peace” and a worldwide tour, one with the inventive name of “Peacetour”. If US fans are wondering how they missed this trek, don’t puzzle for too long; the band played only two dates in North America as part of this exercise - one in LA, the other in New York. These efforts were largely aimed as fundraising measures for Greenpeace and Amnesty International. It remains unclear if Eurythmics plan to work together on a more permanent basis, but the fine Peacetour DVD nicely documents that more modern side of their career.
Eurythmics Greatest Hits, on the other hand, totally devotes itself to the band’s salad days. On this DVD we find 21 of their videos, starting with 1983’s “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” (from the album of the same name) and finishing with 1989’s “Angel” (from “We Two Are One”). In between, we get tracks from seven of their nine studio albums; I guess 1981’s “In the Garden” produced no videos, while 1999’s “Peace” is absent for no apparent reason.
Despite that omission, this DVD presents a series of solid videos. Eurythmics were one of the first bands to benefit from MTV; love it or hate it, Annie’s stark shock of orange hair and fascist demeanor in the clip for “Sweet Dreams” made the tune much more memorable than it otherwise might have been. The other videos lack the startling qualities of “Sweet Dreams”, but most of them seem interesting, and it’s always fun to observe the progression of Annie’s looks; it’s a veritable parade of hairstyles and colors on display.
Most of the videos follow the usual Eighties formula. There’s a modicum of playacting in some - such as Annie’s performance as the babe with the jerky boyfriend in “Would I Lie to You?” from 1985’s “Be Yourself Tonight” or her housewife trilogy found during “Beethoven (I Love to Listen To)”/”I Need a Man”/”You Have Placed a Chill In My Heart” from 1987’s “Savage” - and the clips definitely become more elaborate as the years pass. From 1986’s “Revenge”, “Missionary Man” features some painful-looking stop-motion work similar to the sort popularized in Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer” video, while “Don’t Ask Me Why” from “We Two Are One” offers a much more stylized and sleek look. That same album’s “King and Queen of America” casts Annie and Dave in a series of stereotyped roles.
Despite all of these elaborate techniques, for the most part the emphasis is on good old fashioned lip-synching. However, very few of the videos are straight pseudo-performance pieces. In fact, there are almost none in which the band simply pretends to play the songs. Instead, we find clips like “Who’s That Girl?” from 1983’s “Touch” which casts Annie as a cheated-upon lounge singer (with Dave as the cad) or the stark “Julia” from 1984’s “1984 (For the Love of Big Brother)”. A black and white piece, the latter simply focuses on a close-up of Annie’s head as she sings the song. “Would I Lie to You?” is another live performance lip-synch, but the plot line in which Annie rebukes her prick of a boyfriend keeps it from the ordinary routine.
“Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves” from “Be Yourself Tonight” largely functions as a performance piece, but it provides a mild diversion from the usual technique. We see Annie duet with Aretha Franklin but some clips of female achievement and history provides some diversion. “When Tomorrow Comes” from “Revenge” is little more than a live lip-synch program, but it seems too quirky and stylish to fit into that bland category; it’s more staged than most in the genre. As such, that leaves only “Right By Your Side” from “Touch” as a true “fake concert” video. The fact it’s the only one of this sort among 21 videos seems fairly remarkable.
That’s one of the many reasons why Eurythmics Greatest Hits is a bargain. Most of the videos are compelling and fun to see; even when they’re dated and silly, Annie’s charisma and the solid songs make them worth a look. The caliber of the tunes is very solid. Yeah, I’ll almost always skip tunes like “Right By Your Side” or “Beethoven”, but the number of semi-duds in this collections seems exceedingly minor.
The sheer number of songs is what makes this DVD such a great package. As I noted in my earlier review of the Peacetour DVD, I’ve never been a big fan of Eurythmics. In fact, had I not been in London in late 1999 with nothing better to do than go to their concert, I may never have bothered with any of their music. However, I did attend that show, and afterward I decided to add the band’s greatest hits CD to my collection.
When I went to purchase this release, I quickly discovered significant differences between the US and the European versions of the album. The latter provided a much stronger package; the track listings are identical except the US album omits "Right By Your Side", "It's Alright (Baby's Coming Back)", "You Have Placed A Chill In My Heart", "Miracle Of Love", and "Sexcrime (1984)", but includes "The King And Queen Of America".
I opted for the import because I wanted the extra songs. However, had this DVD existed at that time, the difference would have been moot. It includes all 18 tracks found on my European CD plus the US version’s “The King and Queen of America” and two tracks that are available on neither CD: “Beethoven (I Love to Listen To)” and “Julia”. As I’ll note when I comment on the audio quality of this disc, I thought the CD sounded a little better, but the differences are modest.
As such, with a low list price of only $16.99, the DVD release of Eurythmics Greatest Hits easily falls into the “must buy” category for anyone with an interest in the band. Big fans won’t need much convincing; they’ll already know that they want it and will grab it.
It’s for the newbies that Eurythmics Greatest Hits is such a great deal. That list price is actually two dollars cheaper than the US compact disc, and it’s definitely much less money than the import CD would cost you; for the latter, you’re likely looking at a $20 tab. If you want a nice musical overview of the Eurythmics’ career, this DVD is clearly the way to go.
Most of the videos in Eurythmics Greatest Hits appear in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.33:1 on this single-sided, single-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Two of the clips - “Love Is a Stranger” and “Who’s That Girl” use an aspect ratio of roughly 1.78:1.
Though I don’t want to whine, I have to say it: I hate reviewing collections of music videos! At least in regard to picture quality, these packages are very difficult to rate in any sort of objective manner. Not only do the clips come from a wide variety of albums and years, but also videos typically are shot in unusual ways; many times they look terrible because they’re supposed to look terrible.
That’s not much of a concern during Eurythmics Greatest Hits; it looks somewhat bad mostly due to cheap video-making techniques. I grew up on the videos of the Eighties so I know how they appeared. Not all of them looked dingy and drab, but quite a few demonstrated those qualities, and we plenty of clips that seem flat in this package.
For the most part, sharpness seemed adequate. Many of the clips came across as mildly soft or fuzzy, but these problems stemmed from some less-than-stellar material used for the originals; when the source was up to snuff - more prevalent during the newest videos, but never consistent - the shots seemed more crisp and detailed. Moiré effects and jagged edges presented modest concerns - these issues pop up more frequently in videotaped material - and I also saw some source flaws from a few of the filmed videos. During those clips, light grain could be seen, and a few speckles appeared as well.
Colors usually appeared fairly drab and lackluster. When the source material seemed livelier - such as during “Don’t Ask Me Why” - I noticed greatly improved vivacity in the hues. However, such clips were the exception, and most of the colors came across as somewhat muddy. Black levels also seemed flat and bland for the most part, such as we see during “Sex Crime (1984)”. What can I say? This is how videos from the Eighties looked - for better or for worse, the DVD replicates them accurately.
I felt more concerned about the quality of the DVD’s stereo sound. First of all, I should note that although my package - and most others, I expect - claim that the program provides Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, this is not the case; the DVD features PCM stereo audio and that’s it.
For the most part, the audio seemed distinct and acceptably crisp, but I felt the songs lacked the clarity I expected. I’ve listened to most of these tunes many times from the “Greatest Hits” compact disc, and those incarnations appeared deeper and more rich.
As I listened to the DVD, I thought the tracks appeared a little thin and without exceptional strength in the highs. Bass response also seemed less strong than I’d like. Stereo separation was just fine throughout the disc, as the original mixes appeared well-replicated in that regard.
To make the best judgment in regard to the quality of the audio, I played both the DVD and the CD together and switched between them. While I thought the CD displayed cleaner highs and tighter bass, the differences weren’t as significant as I expected. Much Eurythmics’ music is midrange heavy; their recordings lack deep low end of ringing highs as the synthesizers often dominate. For the most part, the DVD largely kept pace with the CD and I wouldn’t think that the slightly-lower quality should be especially noticeable unless you look for it.
Eurythmics Greatest Hits skimps on extras. All we find is a discography that lacks any form of annotation; it lists the titles of the group’s 10 Eighties albums (including “Greatest Hits” and “Live 1983-1989”) and solo efforts from Lennox and Stewart, but it provides no song information or lyrics. It seems strange the discography doesn’t mention 1999’s “Peace” either. For the record, this discography - as with the one for Peacetour - fails to acknowledge the existence of 1984’s “1984 (For the Love of Big Brother)”; they list the obscure remix album “Touch Dance” instead. This omission seems especially odd here since two of the DVD’s tracks come from “1984”.
One annoyance about the DVD: each video is linked with a sonic and visual montage. For the most part, I didn’t mind these because they finish prior to the start of each clip; for example, the montage at the end of “Miracle of Love” completes before the track number updates for “Missionary Man“. However, if you want to watch “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”, you’re forever stuck with the 38-second opening montage; it’s part of the same track and can’t be skipped via the use of your “next” button. It’s a small gripe but it offers an unnecessary nuisance.
Otherwise I have to endorse this collection. Eurythmics Greatest Hits features a lot of excellent songs that have held up well over the years. As for the videos themselves, inevitably they’re erratic but Eurythmics generally produced interesting clips; some of these seem dated and silly, but most are still worth watching. The DVD provides bland but accurate picture and sound but it skimps on extras. Eurythmics fans will be very pleased with this package, and neophytes should get a nice introduction to the group through this set. With a list price of only $16.99, the DVD is cheaper than the corresponding “Greatest Hits” CD and it includes more songs. As such, anyone who wants a solid overview of Eurythmics' classic tunes should give this fine collection a look.