RCA, 1987

REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith


When it comes to bold aggression, few other living female singers can hold a candle to Annie Lennox. With their seventh release Savage, Annie and her partner in crime David A. Stewart created what many Eurythmics fans consider to be their masterpiece.

With a harder-edged sound, they pushed their own musical formula to its very extreme. While this may have alienated some conservative listeners, Annie and Dave couldn't have cared less. They had a lot to get off their chests -- evident in the home video put out to serve as the album’s visual statement, to put it all in a better perspective.

I have always maintained that Stewart has been underrated as a producer. I’m utterly fascinated by the way he can turn a mundane ballad into something interesting and extraordinary. For example, the second track on my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Savage, “I’ve Got A Lover (Back In Japan),” has the most original sounding synths you will ever hear. I remember shoveling snow to this song, if you can believe it.  That’s how good it sounded on a set of headphones.

It is followed by the fun and upbeat “Do You Want To Break Up” and the terrific single “You Have Placed A Chill In My Heart.” The fun video for the latter actually featured Lennox in Desperate Housewife mode, pushing a shopping cart through a supermarket like a madwoman.

The best thing about Savage (the part that most people didn’t get) was Eurythmics’ sharp sense of humor that is simply dripping in irony. Then again, irony tends to escape most American listeners; just ask Madonna. When Annie Lennox rolls her “r’s” on “Shame,” it is done with her tongue firmly planted in cheek in imitating how vain and uptight most Europeans tend to be on the surface. Then, on “I Need A Man,” Annie totally breaks free from her own chains when she puts on a blond wig, throws on some war paint (a la Marilyn Monroe) and unleashes her fury onto the world with a banshee scream at the very beginning of the song.

From the very first foot-stomping track “Beethoven (I Love To Listen To)” to the shimmering closer “Brand New Day,” we are taken on a journey that could only be described as adventurous. Even weaker fare like the faux-disco tune “Put The Blame On Me” and the acoustic number “I Need You” would be right at home in any cocktail bar, British or American. And although there are a couple of songs which feel unfinished (like “Heaven” or “Wide Eyed Girl”), the rawness of such material only adds to the ragged and experimental tone of the overall package.

Those expecting something subtle and polished may be disappointed by the majority of what they find on Savage, though it is fairly evident that this album wasn’t exactly designed with civilized folk in mind.

Unfortunately, such a personal statement didn't translate to either sales or the record company's vision, and when sales of Savage proved dismal RCA unceremoniously dropped Eurythmics from their roster.

Shame, because this album is a whole lot better than the fate it received.

Rating: A-

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© 2007 Michael R. Smith and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of RCA, and is used for informational purposes only.