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Thursday, December 06, 2007

"a woman's just too tired to think / about the dirty old dishes in the kitchen sink"

Returning to their earlier, experimental synthpop roots must have been too much for the casual Eurythmics fan, since 1987's Savage remains their lowest-charting album (not counting the soundtrack for 1984).

Coming off the heels of the more rock-oriented Be Yourself Tonight and Revenge LPs and hits like "Would I Lie To You?" and "Missionary Man", Top 40 radio programmers should have been ready for more of the same when presented with Savage's first single, "I Need A Man". A crunching guitar riff rides over a mechanical beat as Annie Lennox takes vamping to a whole 'nother level. That video and single were preceded by a video-only "single" of "I Love To Listen To Beethoven", which introduced the album's loose concept, Annie as a Suffocated Housewife who slowly becomes a more liberated Marilyn Monroe analogue. The "I Need A Man" video picked up where "Beethoven" left off but the one-two punch was a bit much for Top 40 to take and "I Need A Man" pooped out at #46.

In an effort to salvage Savage, a more "traditional" Eurythmics song was chosen for the second single. "You Have Placed A Chill In My Heart", an awesome kiss-off that should have been a sure thing. But the muted reception of the lead-off single dashed any momentum Savage had, and "Chill" faltered in the #60's, despite being paired with an extended mix for the clubs.

Savage was supported by a Video LP, which featured clips for every song on the album, directed by Sophie Mueller and carrying the Housewife/Marilyn concept mostly throughout. A third single, "Shame", my personal favorite from the album, was released almost as an afterthought. An indictment of '80s club culture, the lyrics are even more relevant today:

Now there's a lifestyle
Of painted lips
Now there's a lifestyle
Everybody wants it, but it don't exist

On the dance floors
On the cinema
On the TV
And the media

I have to wonder what may have happened if "Chill" had been the first single followed by "Shame". It may have been a more palatable introduction for the masses and improved Savage's sales. As it is, it stands as my favorite Eurythmics album and was remastered and re-released last year, so it sounds better than ever.

"You Have Placed A Chill In My Heart" peaked at #64 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart in 1988.
"Shame" did not chart.

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posted by John, 10:39 AM