ON THIS DATE (27 YEARS AGO)
May 11, 1985 – Eurythmics: Be Yourself Tonight is released.
# ALL THINGS MUSIC PLUS+ 4/5
# allmusic 4/5
# Rolling Stone (see original review below)
Be Yourself Tonight is the fifth album by the Eurythmics, released on this date in May, 1985. The album sold well, and was top 3 in the UK and top 10 in the US, as well as spawning several hit singles. It included guest appearances by notable artists such as Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and Elvis Costello. The album included the duo’s first (and only) UK number-one “There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)” and the American Top 5 and Australian number-one hit “Would I Lie to You?”.
This album replays like a greatest hits package, such is the content of full-blown memorable pop songs. The list is almost endless as this album is a chilling reminder of how good pop can be and how well Lennox and Stewart worked together. Even without the legendary Aretha Franklin on “Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves” there is the pace and guts of “I Love You Like A Ball And Chain’ or the numerous confessional “I’ll be’s” of “It’s Alright (Baby’s Coming Back)”. This album stands up to repeated plays and will continue to improve with age. What perfection.
ORIGINAL ROLLING STONE REVIEW
With the breeze of a British invasion backlash on their necks and radio’s rejection of the single “Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty-four)” still fresh in their memory, Annie Lennox and David A. Stewart have prudently performed a little cosmetic surgery on their sound for Be Yourself Tonight. This is Eurythmics at their most upbeat, paying homage to Sixties American soul and British pop. On the stomping single “Would I Lie to You?” they even manage an uncharacteristically gritty blend of the two, with Kinky guitars jittering over a vintage Supremes drum slap.
But even though the velvety-voiced Lennox belts her heart out, she still has trouble conveying warmth and spontaneity – she simply ain’t got no soul. At best, Lennox is a skillful mimic; on Be Yourself Tonight her every trill and ululation is pure Aretha Franklin. Producer-cowriter Stewart does a few impersonations himself; his hum-along melody and chattering synth backing track for “There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)” borrows unabashedly from Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called to Say I Love You.” Then, as if Lennox and Stewart had conjured him by sheer will, Wonder himself suddenly appears to add a winsome harmonica solo. Soon after that – presto! – Aretha Franklin materializes for the album’s other natural hit, “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves” (which might have leaped intact from Lady Soul). And perhaps only Aretha, the essence of sisterly community and assertive sexuality, could have transformed Lennox’ unintentionally kitschy lyrics about “the conscious liberation of the female state” into such an earthy ode to independence. Although Lennox deserves credit for humanizing her lyrics, it’s Aretha’s sly, sassy performance that makes “Sisters” this year’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” and “She Bop” rolled into one.
“It’s Alright – (Baby’s Coming Back)” simmers like an outtake from Dusty in Memphis, but alas, guest-star lightning doesn’t strike thrice – it’s only Lennox doing her Springfield imitation (which dates to the Tourists’ remake of “I Only Want to Be with You”). Still, her kittenish languor makes this the most compelling track on side two, which, despite a guest appearance by Elvis Costello, reverts to formula Eurythmics: impenetrably layered, repetitive numbers that drone on too long and leave napping listeners in their wake. And that’s the irony of Be Yourself Tonight; its most enticing moments are the ones in which Eurythmics pretend to be someone else. (RS 450)
~ JOYCE MILLMAN (June 20, 1985)
All songs written and composed by Annie Lennox and David A. Stewart, except where noted.
1. “Would I Lie to You?” 4:25
2. “There Must Be an Angel (Playing with My Heart)” 5:22
3. “I Love You Like a Ball and Chain” 4:04
4. “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves” 5:54
5. “Conditioned Soul” 4:30
6. “Adrian” 4:29
7. “It’s Alright (Baby’s Coming Back)” 3:45
8. “Here Comes That Sinking Feeling” 5:40
9. “Better to Have Lost in Love (Than Never to Have Loved at All)”
2005 Special edition bonus tracks
11. “Grown Up Girls”4:13
12. “Tous les garçons et les filles” (Françoise Hardy, Roger Samyn) 3:25
13. “Sisters Are Doin’ It for Themselves” (with Aretha Franklin) (ET Mix) 7:48
14. “Would I Lie to You?” (ET Mix) 4:55
15. “Conditioned Soul” (Live) 5:08
16. “Hello, I Love You” (Jim Morrison, Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore) 2:51