Everything but the Girl

Fri, Jun 29, 2012, 01:00

Now both edging towards 50, and not having performed as a unit in more than 12 years, Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn (aka Everything But the Girl) hold one of the most unusual and enviable positions in English pop music.

For starters, they’ve both been swirling around the music business pond for some 30 years, and have individually and collectively (they’ve also been a couple for that length of time) negotiated their way out of doing things they’d rather not. And so Watt has carved out a gratifying career as a DJ/remixer, while Thorn has juggled stay-at-home- motherhood with releasing two superb solo albums.

But the past, as they say, has a way of catching up with you, and so EBTG’s first four albums are finally being reissued, each with a rake of new liner notes from Ben and Tracey, demos, B-sides and unreleased tracks. The albums constitute the first half of the development of EBTG from groovy bossa nova/ pop ingenues to a unit that politely tackled superlative, intimate pop/folk.

Their debut album, Eden (1984), was made in the heat of the then ubiquitous South American/jazz-pop playground that gave us the likes of Working Week, Blue Rondo A La Turk, et al; 1985’s follow-up, Love Not Money, mined similar seams.

The Watt/Thorn pop dynamic continued apace, however, finding a balance on Baby the Stars Shine Bright (1986), which fused 1960s pop, 1950s country and glistening balladry with swathes of orchestral backing. That album led the way for the highlight of EBTG phase one: 1988’s Idlewild. Despite the unit’s proclivities to play it the adult-oriented way, Idlewild remains a stone-cold classic, full to the brim with love songs both gentle and robust, and bolstered with melodies that hook into the system and don’t let go.

The next phase of Everything But the Girl would see them go on to advance their folk-pop leanings with dance/electronic rhythms, in the process scoring a massive hit in the mid 1990s with a remixed album track, Missing. Which is pretty much what EBTG have been since 2000. These reissues, however, shine a light on precisely how good and how smart they once were. ebtg.com

Download tracks:Each and Every One, Trouble and Strife, Come Hell or High Water, Shadow on a Harvest Moon