Returning to their earlier, experimental synthpop roots must have been too much for the casual Eurythmics fan, since 1987’s Savage remains their lowest-charting album (not counting the soundtrack for 1984).
Coming off the heels of the more rock-oriented Be Yourself Tonight and Revenge LPs and hits like “Would I Lie To You?” and “Missionary Man”, Top 40 radio programmers should have been ready for more of the same when presented with Savage’s first single, “I Need A Man”. A crunching guitar riff rides over a mechanical beat as Annie Lennox takes vamping to a whole ‘nother level. That video and single were preceded by a video-only “single” of “I Love To Listen To Beethoven”, which introduced the album’s loose concept, Annie as a Suffocated Housewife who slowly becomes a more liberated Marilyn Monroe analogue. The “I Need A Man” video picked up where “Beethoven” left off but the one-two punch was a bit much for Top 40 to take and “I Need A Man” pooped out at #46.
In an effort to salvage Savage, a more “traditional” Eurythmics song was chosen for the second single. “You Have Placed A Chill In My Heart”, an awesome kiss-off that should have been a sure thing. But the muted reception of the lead-off single dashed any momentum Savage had, and “Chill” faltered in the #60’s, despite being paired with an extended mix for the clubs.
Savage was supported by a Video LP, which featured clips for every song on the album, directed by Sophie Mueller and carrying the Housewife/Marilyn concept mostly throughout. A third single, “Shame”, my personal favorite from the album, was released almost as an afterthought. An indictment of ’80s club culture, the lyrics are even more relevant today:
Now there’s a lifestyle
Of painted lips
Now there’s a lifestyle
Everybody wants it, but it don’t exist
On the dance floors
On the cinema
On the TV
And the media
I have to wonder what may have happened if “Chill” had been the first single followed by “Shame”. It may have been a more palatable introduction for the masses and improved Savage’s sales. As it is, it stands as my favorite Eurythmics album and was remastered and re-released last year, so it sounds better than ever.
“You Have Placed A Chill In My Heart” peaked at #64 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart in 1988.
“Shame” did not chart.
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