Everything but the Girl
|Everything but the Girl|
|Also known as||EBTG|
|Origin||Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, England|
|Website||Everything But The Girl|
|Past members||Tracey Thorn
Everything but the Girl (often shortened EBTG) were an English musical duo, formed in Hull in 1982, consisting of lead singer and occasional guitarist Tracey Thorn and guitarist, keyboardist, and singer Ben Watt. The duo's most successful single was a Todd Terry remix of "Missing" charting in several countries in 1995.
They are currently inactive, although vocalist Tracey Thorn hinted that they may perform again someday. They have not performed publicly since 2000, and as Thorn stated on BBC Radio 4 on 25 January 2014, "for both Ben and me, it would feel like a step backwards".
Watt and Thorn are also a couple; they are very private about their relationship and personal life. For some time, it was not a publicised fact that they were a couple, or that they had married subsequently. The duo have expressed a strong desire to raise their three children with as much privacy as possible.
When Thorn and Watt met, they were both attending the University of Hull and both had contracted with the independent record company Cherry Red Records, as solo artists. Thorn was also a member of the trio Marine Girls, and Watt contributed a photograph to the cover of their second album, Lazy Ways. The pair each had solo album releases through Cherry Red: Thorn's 1982 LP was A Distant Shore, an eight-track mini-album. Watt's LP was entitled North Marine Drive.
They formed a duo and adopted the name "Everything but the Girl" from the slogan used by the Hull shop Turner's Furniture on Beverley Road. The store originally built a window sign which read, "for your bedroom needs, we sell everything but the girl", the last part of which was later added to the shop's main signage.
EBTG's debut single, a cover version of Cole Porter's "Night and Day", was released in June 1982. After steady sales and exposure from a compilation album entitled Pillows & Prayers, the single was re-issued in August 1983. Their first album, Eden, was released in the UK in 1984. In 1984, they also released the singles "Mine" and "Native Land" in the UK.
Their first UK successful single, "Each and Every One" had a jazzy sound. Thorn wrote in 2016 that her lyric was misunderstood:
"Our first single, “Each and Every One”, was intended as an angry lyric about being a female musician, patronised and overlooked by male music critics. My band the Marine Girls had attracted several reviews along the lines of “not bad for a girl” and so the opening lines addressed this: “If you ever feel the time/To drop me a loving line/Maybe you should just think twice/ I don’t wait around on your advice”. It was the instructions of music critics I wasn’t waiting around for, but I wrote it too subtly, and so it was heard as a lovelorn lament, a lonely girl waiting for a letter from a boy."
EBTG was considered part of the jazz/popular music style known as "sophisti-pop", alongside other British acts like Carmel, Swing Out Sister, Sade, Matt Bianco and The Style Council. Both Watt and Thorn were guest musicians on the Style Council's Café Bleu album, while EBTG worked with producer Robin Millar and engineers Ben Rogan and Mike Pela—who also collaborated with Sade—on their early albums. Although Eden was released in the UK, a different recording, Everything but the Girl, was released in the United States on the Sire label. The US release contains six tracks from Eden, two UK singles and four alternate tracks.
The 1985 album Love Not Money was their second studio album release and was issued on the Sire Records label in the US. The US edition included two additional songs that were not on the original UK release: a cover version of The Pretenders' song "Kid" and "Heaven Help Me". In 2012 Watt revealed that, in hindsight, he wishes the song "Sean" was omitted from the album, explaining: "It's just a bit ham-fisted; it's a politicised song about Northern Ireland and I didn't quite pull it off."
The next year they released the self-produced Baby, the Stars Shine Bright, an album of original popular music songs recorded with an orchestra. They revealed the album's inspiration by their choices of B-sides for its single releases: songs from Bacharach and Jimmy Webb on the 12" versions (as well as a cover version of Patsy Cline's "I Fall to Pieces"). The first single from the album was "Come on Home," followed by "Don't Leave Me Behind."
During 1988, EBTG released Idlewild, a collection of songs that began a trend towards "middle-of-the-road", adult-orientated contemporary music. A cover version of Danny Whitten's "I Don't Want to Talk About It", previously a success by Rod Stewart, was released as a single. It achieved a strong position in the UK Singles Chart and was added to the latter issues of the album. Around this time, Lloyd Cole and the Commotions asked Thorn to contribute vocals to the song "Big Snake" on their final studio album Mainstream.
Tommy Lipuma produced the band's 1990 album The Language of Life, which featured the single "Driving." Stan Getz contributed a tenor sax solo on the song "The Road". Next was Worldwide and its single "Old Friends" in 1991.
In 1992, they produced another successful UK single with the release of the Covers EP. The lead track was "Love Is Strange", and the EP featured cover versions of Bruce Springsteen's "Tougher Than the Rest"; Cyndi Lauper's "Time after Time" and Elvis Costello's "Alison". These four tracks were included on the US only album, Acoustic. In 1993, EBTG released a cover version of Paul Simon's "The Only Living Boy in New York" as a single in the UK.
The duo was forced to curtail recording and touring for a few years when Watt contracted Churg-Strauss syndrome, an autoimmune disease (he subsequently wrote a memoir, Patient, about his ordeal). The next work of original music was not until 1994, when EBTG released Amplified Heart. Producer Todd Terry remixed the track "Missing", and when EBTG released the remix as a single, it became an international success. It reached the top ten around the world, including the US, where it peaked at No. 2 in the Billboard Hot 100.
The success of that track, along with a collaboration Thorn had with Massive Attack and Deep Dish, influenced them and helped usher the band into a more electronic sound. Having completed contractual obligations to WEA, they were free to shop their recordings and had complete ownership of their future recorded works. They signed licensing deals with Virgin Records for the United Kingdom and Europe, and Atlantic Records for the United States and Canada. Their subsequent albums Walking Wounded and Temperamental, showed the band's musical progress as well as establishing Watt as a dance music producer. Between the two albums he produced "Stars All Seem to Weep" for Beth Orton.
There have been no new recordings as Everything but the Girl since 1999. According to Thorn, the group is "currently mothballed". In 2012 Watt recalled a lacklustre feeling from the late 1990s, during the latter years of EBTG:
Self-awareness is a dangerous thing: by about the third or fourth record, people were throwing comparisons at us and you have to be very tough to withstand it. And by the end of the '90s, we were playing to 5,000 people a night. I'd stand on stage, looking out, thinking, "I don't want to be this big."
The group curated compilations of their material in 2002, 2004 and 2005. The 2004 compilation, Like The Deserts Miss The Rain, was a DVD release that included footage of a 1999 performance at the Forum venue in London, UK, for which John McKenzie and Martin Ditcham performed alongside the pair as session musicians.
From 1999, Watt concentrated on DJ and production/remix work, finding success as one half of Lazy Dog, with partner Jay Hannan, and collaborating with Beth Orton on the 2002 album Daybreaker. Watt then proceeded with a solo career that included launching the Buzzin' Fly record label in 2003, and becoming the part-owner-founder of the Neighbourhood and Cherry Jam nightclubs in 2002. Watt released the Bright Star EP, with producer Stimming and British singer Julia Biel, on Buzzin' Fly in 2010.
In 2005, Thorn co-wrote and recorded vocals for the song "Damage", a collaboration with German band Tiefschwarz that appeared on their Eat Books album. Thorn's second solo album, Out of the Woods, was then released in 2007, followed by her third solo album, Love and Its Opposite, in 2010. In October 2011, Thorn released a cover version of The xx's "Night Time", on which Watt played guitar and sang backing vocals. This was their first recording together in over a decade, although it was not an Everything but the Girl release.
In an April 2011 interview, Thorn was asked whether she would ever work again with Watt as Everything but the Girl. Thorn responded, "Yes, we do keep saying we are nearly ready to maybe do some work together again. There are certain obstacles, some practical, some psychological, that we would need to overcome. But it may well happen." A collection of Christmas songs, Tinsel and Lights, for which Thorn recorded cover versions of Christmas songs with two new original songs, was released in October 2012 on Buzzin' Fly's sister record label Strange Feeling. Watt and the couple's children provided backing vocals on the original song "Joy".
In 2012 the band's first four albums were reissued by Demon/Edsel as "deluxe" double CDs, with demo recordings and other additional material. At the time, Watt explained that the Warners company maintains control over their back-catalogue: "our big fear was that one day we'd wake up and they'd have reissued them, without telling us."; when the representative from Edsel, a company that specialises in reissued material, made contact, the couple decided that the time was appropriate. Additionally, Thorn stated that the thought of reforming the band and playing live filled her "with cold dread"—upon re-listening to the early EBTG records, Thorn experienced a sense of "Gosh, well, I'm not really that person any more."
A second tranche of Demon/Edsel reissues, covering the four albums released between 1990 and 1994, was announced in September 2013. According to the EBTG website, "Once again, Ben and Tracey have helped at every stage of the process, sourcing demos, rarities and memorabilia for the releases."
The band's final two albums, Walking Wounded and Temperamental were given the deluxe treatment and were reissued by Demon/Edsel on 4 September 2015.
In addition to solo music projects, both Thorn and Watt have written several books. Thorn's memoir, Bedsit Disco Queen, covers a significant portion of the history of EBTG as a band.
- Protection (with Massive Attack)
- Batman Forever Soundtrack – "The Hunter Gets Captured by the Game" (with Massive Attack)
- Back to Mine – mix CD compiled by Everything But the Girl
- She's Having a Baby soundtrack – Apron Strings
- Red Hot + Rio (1996 AIDS benefit album produced by the Red Hot Organization) – "Corcovado (Quiet Night of Quiet Stars)"
- Eden (1984)
- Everything but the Girl (1984, US only)
- Love Not Money (1985)
- Baby, the Stars Shine Bright (1986)
- Idlewild (1988)
- The Language of Life (1990)
- Worldwide (1991)
- Acoustic (1992)
- Amplified Heart (1994)
- Walking Wounded (1996)
- Temperamental (1999)
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- Mike Orme (26 May 2010). "Tracey Thorn Love and Its Opposite". Pitchfork. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
- "Listen: Everything But the Girl Reunite to Cover the xx's "Night Time" | News". Pitchfork. 18 October 2011. Retrieved 18 April 2014.
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- "Various – Batman Forever (Music From The Motion Picture)". Various on Discogs. Discogs. 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
- "Everything But The Girl – Back To Mine". Everything But The Girl on Discogs. Discogs. 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
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- "Various – Red Hot + Rio". Various on Discogs. Discogs. 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
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