Thursday, February 02, 2006

Forgotten 45: "Sisters Are Doin' it for Themselves"

I was never a big fan of Eurythmics. They always seemed to me the definitive made-by-MTV band. Take 1983's "Sweet Dreams Are Made of This": Despite its rep as one of the essential records of the 1980, it's actually a grim, cold, soulless record that would have barely rated a second listen had it come without the highly videogenic wrapper. Annie Lennox had the kind of voice that booms through my nightmares--a sort of mythological harpy whose cosmic responsibility is to harangue me about my failings while I lie frozen in the dark.

In 1985, Eurythmics released the album Be Yourself Tonight and the first single, "Would I Lie to You?" I was surprised at the contrast with their earlier work, which couldn't have been greater. But it wasn't until they got down to the third single from the album that I understood the source of the change.

That third single (after "There Must Be an Angel") was "Sisters Are Doin' it for Themselves," which is a duet between Annie and Aretha Franklin. On "Sisters," Annie is trying hard at sounding like a human being instead of a robot, but Aretha outsings her, and could have done so breaking a sweat--although Aretha never sings without breaking a sweat. I'd be interested to know exactly when during the sessions "Sisters" was recorded--early on, I'd wager, because the other singles on the album indicate that Annie learned something while being schooled by Aretha. Quite simply, she loosens up and gets down, and as a result, Eurythmics never sounded better.

(RCA 14214, chart peak #18, December 7, 1985)


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