With the release of their fourth album, 1988’s Idlewild, Everything But The Girl had hit their straps, Gold-selling, like the three that preceded it, Idlewild maintained Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn’s quest to evolve with each outing. This was an album of mature, blue-eyes, electronic soul, albeit one where the folk and jazz which scented earlier work still perfumed the air. The sax solo places Tears All Over Town firmly in the ‘80s, but the confessional lyrics and doleful synths still resonate.
A bonus CD contains EBTG’s touching cover of I Don’t Want To Talk About It, although the demos prove most intriguing. Set to skeletal drum machines, tracks like the demo version of Tears Over Town reveal a hidden, raw, R&B edge. While there are hints in their previous three albums – all re-released alongside Idlewild – the demons are indicators of EBTG’s later shift towards the dancefloor.
One of Critical Mob's most beloved bands, Everything But The Girl, will be reissuing their first four albums in expanded two-disc editions on June 4 via the respected UK reissue imprint Edsel Records.
Singer Tracey Thorn and guitarist Ben Watt formed the duo after meeting at the University of Hull in the early '80s; their name came from a local shop window that claimed all items in the store except the cashier were on sale. After a few singles (one of which was on the now-legenary Pillows and Prayers compilation) and some solo records on the burgeoning UK indie Cherry Red, EBTG followed Cherry Red A&R man Mike Alway to his major-label imprint Blanco y Negro and released 1984's jazzy, bossa nova-tinged Eden (released in the US, with some tweaks, as Everything But the Girl on Sire Records later that year).
Each of the albums that followed changed up the duo's sound: 1985's Love Not Money was their most conventional pop record, filled with jangly guitars and big choruses. 1986's masterwork Baby the Stars Shine Bright was a fully orchestrated exercise in '60s-style easy listening in the manner of Petula Clark or Dusty Springfield, while 1988's Idlewild went in the opposite direction, filled with quiet, spare acoustic songs.
Everything But The Girl didn't catch on in the states until the mid-'90s, when a drum'n'bass remix of their single "Missing" introduced the group to a whole new audience. Though they no longer record together, Thorn and Watt remain happily married, with Thorn focusing on her solo career and Watt running the dance label Buzzin' Fly and working on a sequel to his horrifying medical memoir Patient.
Incidentally, Tracey Thorn has the best celebrity Twitter feed ever. It's mostly just her grousing mildly about her kids and live-tweeting cooking shows and reality competitions, just like most of your friends.