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RECORD RACK

Eurythmics' 'Revenge' Is Sweet

July 13, 1986|STEVE POND

"REVENGE." Eurythmics. RCA.

Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox have a reputation for looking stylish, striking poses and wearing masks, and when we last heard from the British duo they were acting like American soulsters. On last year's "Be Yourself Tonight" they enlisted the likes of Aretha Franklin and Stevie Wonder and released pounding R&B tracks like "Would I Lie to You."

But with "Revenge," Eurythmics downplays the hard R&B, or at least integrates it more naturally into the alluring yet unsettling pop sound of the earlier records. It's a smart move that pays off. "Revenge" doesn't contain anything as bracing as "Lie to You," but its deeper pleasures make it the band's most mature, unforced and maybe even most soulful album.

Not a retreat by any means, the album recalls the delicate blend of "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" and "Here Comes the Rain Again." Lennox's full-bodied, soothing voice glides equally well over the seamless pop-rock tunes and all-out rockers. But they never play it completely straight: Producer Stewart uses brittle guitar solos, crazed harmonica parts and other jagged quirks to punch holes in the music's smooth surface, while there's always a touch of dread in Lennox's velvet tones.

The LP is structured almost as a dialogue, dealing alternately with the promise of love and the reality of romantic betrayal. The songs of devotion ("When Tomorrow Comes," "The Miracle of Love") are imbued with the memory of hard times past and future; the tales of hurt ("Thorn in My Side," "The Last Time") are especially venomous because they're based on a strong sense of a wondrous potential denied.

That typical Eurythmics dichotomy comes through strongly in the record's two most memorable tunes. "When Tomorrow Comes" is a lovely, effortless song of commitment; its flip side is "A Little of You," a song of loss that is far darker but even more musically irresistible. Some of the record suffers by comparison, but for the most part "Revenge" is the sound of a band hitting its stride easily and gracefully.

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