1984 (For the Love of Big Brother) @Eurythmics @AnnieLennox @DaveStewart
This is one of my Perfect Albums. It’s like a Desert Island Disc or whatever, a refined and sifted list that includes stuff like ‘A Love Supreme’, ‘What’s Goin’ On’. ‘Heroes’ and the Rostropovich recordings of Bach’s cello suites, pretty much all of the Gould Bach recordings, actually… I could go on but I want talk about this one because I’m listening to it now. This record has not gone out of style for me in thirty years; it sounds as vital coming out of my laptops peripheral speakers now as it did on popping and hissing vinyl then. I lost the record to a crazy girlfriend in college and by then it had gone out of print.
Now, I understand that for my younger friends the concept of any music being out of print or somehow not instantly available is difficult to grasp, and I don’t wish to sound like a geezer expounding about the telegraph, but one of the many factors that infuses this recording with the Zest and Zazz of the Indescribable Wow is that the mere act of listening to it is kind of like pulling something out of a Memory Hole. The company that was making a film adaptation of Orwell’s novel also owned the Eurythimics record company and commissioned the band to record a soundtrack for the film. Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart went into the studio without any other musicians and produced an album of radiant brilliance that the director hadn’t actually asked for; he demanded that an alternate cut of the film be released with the music he had commissioned and complained to the press and while accepting awards for the film about the band foisting their music on his vision. The band said that they had no idea that this had been the situation and would never have accepted the job if they had known. The album did okay on the charts but it broke a streak of hits. So by the time I was looking for it on CD in 1990 I couldn’t find it. I couldn’t find it on tape or LP. It wasn’t until I was managing a record store in 1995 or so that I found it in a German import catalog.
Since then there probably hasn’t been a month where I haven’t given it a spin and there are nights when I am painting where I have played it through five times in a row without any sense of tedium. That ‘1984’ is my favorite novel is another one of those ephemeral factors that serves sets this apart. For example, ‘Doubleplusgood’ is an anthem that could have poured out of the machines the Ministry of Truth used to produce popular music while retaining an organic groove under an amazing vocal performance by Annie Lennox, who, incidentally, shines just like a crazy diamond all over this record. She frees herself to find the percussive barks of the chain gang, the humming moans of the blues, the wordless songs of jazz and the soaring gospel flights of ethereal resonance that only the unique instrument of her voice can attain all in the three and a half minutes of the first track. The production and songwriting by Stewart reflects her freedom of spirit and enhances what is an already magnificent gift to something indescribable except in cliche; for example, ‘Julia’ is the most hauntingly beautifully sad love song I’ve ever heard. Stop reading about it and go listen to it. This is 2014, for God sake; your telescreen should bring it up in less than a second.
I gotta walkies the dog. My parents went to a wedding so I’m watching Max. I am incredibly impressed with how quickly he and April settled into detente and are peacefully occupying chairs across from each other. Max has the chair next to me, but April’s is the higher ground. It has been so long since I have had a familiar let alone the harmonious society of cat and dog (a peaceable enough kingdom where the lion lies down with the wolf.) My unlimited love to y’all.