Everything but the Girl

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Everything but the Girl
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Background information
Also known as EBTG
Origin Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, England
Genres
Years active 1982–2000
Labels
Associated acts
Website Everything But The Girl
Past members Tracey Thorn
Ben Watt

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, producer and singer Ben Watt. Everything But The Girl have received eight gold, and two platinum album BPI Certifications in the UK,[3] and one gold album RIAA Certification in the US.[4] They had four top ten singles and twelve top forty singles in the UK.[5] Their biggest hit song Missing charted high in several countries and reached number two on the US Billboard Hot 100 in 1995.

They are currently inactive, although vocalist Tracey Thorn hinted that they may perform again someday. They have not performed publicly since 2000.[1]

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.[6]

Early years[edit]

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.[7] Thorn was also a member of the trio Marine Girls. 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 1983 debut LP - the follow-up to his 1982 5-track EP Summer Into Winter[8] featuring Robert Wyatt - was entitled North Marine Drive.[9]

1985 view of Turners, with the slogan

They formed a duo and adopted the name "Everything but the Girl" from the slogan used by the Hull shop Turner's Furniture[10] on Beverley Road.[1]

Career[edit]

EBTG's debut single, a cover version of Cole Porter's "Night and Day", was released in June 1982.[1] After steady sales and exposure from a compilation album entitled Pillows & Prayers, the single was re-issued in August 1983.

Their debut album, Eden, was released in the UK in 1984. It reached number 14 on the UK Albums Chart, spending twenty-weeks on the chart.[5] It featured the single, "Each and Every One" which reached number 28 on the UK Top 40.[5] 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."[11]

In spite of their early history as established independent artists, to newcomers Everything But The Girl 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,[1] while EBTG worked with producer Robin Millar and engineers Ben Rogan and Mike Pela—who also collaborated with Sade—on their early albums.[12][13][14][15] 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.[16]

The 1985 album Love Not Money was their second studio album release, and signalled a move away from jazz and latin influences to a more traditional electric guitar, bass and drums arrangements. 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".[17]

The next year they released Baby, the Stars Shine Bright, recorded with an orchestra at Abbey Road Studios.[1] 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."

In 1988 EBTG released Idlewild. Blending acoustic instrumentation with sequenced drums and synthesisers, it reached number 13 on the UK Albums Chart, spending fifteen weeks on the chart.[5] A cover version of Danny Whitten's "I Don't Want to Talk About It", previously a success for Rod Stewart, was released as a single shortly afterwards. It reached Number 3 on the UK Singles Chart[5] and was added to the latter issues of the album.[1] 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."[1] "Driving" received heavy rotation on American adult alternative radio. The album featured a host of leading west coast session musicians including Omar Hakim, Joe Sample and Michael Brecker. Stan Getz contributed a tenor sax solo on the song "The Road".[1]

In 1991 they released the self-produced album Worldwide. It charted at number 29 on the UK Albums Chart.[5]

1992 saw the release of the Covers EP. It reached Number 13 on the UK Top 40.[5] The lead track was "Love Is Strange". It also included cover versions of Bruce Springsteen's "Tougher Than the Rest"; Cyndi Lauper's "Time after Time" and Elvis Costello's "Alison".[1] These four tracks were included on the US only album, Acoustic.[1]

In the summer on 1992, the duo was forced to curtail recording and touring for several months when Watt developed Churg-Strauss syndrome, a rare autoimmune disease. Hospitalised for ten weeks, and enduring several life-saving operations, he subsequently wrote a memoir, Patient, about his near-death ordeal.

In 1993, EBTG released two EPs in the UK. One featured a cover version of Paul Simon's "The Only Living Boy in New York". The other spawned a subsequent top ten UK Top 40 hit - I Didn't Know I Was Looking For Love[18] - for Karen Ramirez.

1994 saw EBTG release their seventh album, Amplified Heart, a hybrid of folk rock and electronica featuring contributions from guitarist Richard Thompson, double bassist Danny Thompson, drummer Dave Mattacks, and producer/programmer John Coxon. Producer Todd Terry remixed the track "Missing", and when released as a single, it became an international success.[1] It reached the top ten around the world, including the US, where it peaked at No. 2 in the Billboard Hot 100.[1]

While recording "Amplified Heart" Thorn and Watt wrote lyrics and music for two tracks - "Protection" and "Better Things" on the second album "Protection" by Massive Attack. Thorn sang lead vocals on both. The single "Protection" reached number 14 on the UK Top 40.[19] The album reached number 4 on the UK Albums Chart.[20]

Buoyed by the recent successes and out of contract at WEA, EBTG released the self-produced "Walking Wounded" in 1996 exclusively licensed to Atlantic Records for the United States and Canada and Virgin Records for the Rest of the World. Featuring collaborations with Spring Heel Jack and Howie B it ushered in a new electronic sound for their own work. It charted at number 4 on the UK Albums Chart and spawned two top ten UK Top 40 singles - "Walking Wounded" and "Wrong". Two further singles - "Single" and "Before Today" - reached number 20 and number 25 respectively.[5]

In 1999 the duo followed it up with their last - and ninth - studio album, "Temperamental". It charted at number 16 on the UK Albums Chart.[5]

The duo performed their final show at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2000.[21]

Extended hiatus[edit]

There have been no new recordings as Everything but the Girl since 1999. According to Thorn, the group is "currently mothballed".[22] 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."[23]

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 long-time collaborator Martin Ditcham performed alongside the pair as session musicians.[24]

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 her 1999 album "Central Reservation" and her 2002 album Daybreaker.[25] Watt then proceeded with a new angle on his solo career that included launching the Buzzin' Fly record label in 2003,[26] and becoming the part-owner-founder of the Neighbourhood and Cherry Jam nightclubs from 2002-2005.[27] Watt released a string of club-oriented productions including the Bright Star EP, with producer Stimming and British singer Julia Biel, on Buzzin' Fly in 2010.[28]

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,[29][30] followed by her third solo album, Love and Its Opposite, in 2010.[31] 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.[32]

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."[33] 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.[34] 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."[23]

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."[35]

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.[36]

Watt hit the pause button on his record labels and DJ activities to return to his folk-jazz singer-songwriter roots in 2014. His first solo album since 1983, Hendra was released on 14 April 2014. It featured collaborations with Bernard Butler, formerly of the band Suede, Berlin-based producer Ewan Pearson and David Gilmour of Pink Floyd. The album won the 'Best 'Difficult' Second Album' category at the AIM Independent Music Awards 2014.[37] It was included at No 27 in Uncut's Top 75 Albums of 2014.[38] He followed it up in 2016 with "Fever Dream". It continued his relationship with Bernard Butler, and added guest cameos from MC Taylor of North Carolina folk-rock band, Hiss Golden Messenger, and Boston singer-songwriter Marissa Nadler. It received a 9/10 review in Uncut magazine.[39] In a four-star review, The Guardian said: 'In his early 50s, he is making some of the best music of his career.'[40]

In addition to solo music projects, both Thorn and Watt have each written two books. Thorn's 2013 memoir, Bedsit Disco Queen, covers a significant portion of the history of EBTG as a band.[41]

Collaborations[edit]

Discography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "Biography by Jason Ankeny". AllMusic. Retrieved 17 July 2009. 
  2. ^ "Pop/Rock » Punk/New Wave » Sophisti-Pop". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved 28 April 2016. 
  3. ^ "BPI Certified Awards". BPI. Retrieved 20 November 2016. 
  4. ^ "RIAA Gold Platinum". RIAA. Retrieved 20 November 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Everything But The Girl". Official Charts. Retrieved 20 November 2016. 
  6. ^ "Being Everything But the Girl". Salon.com. 28 September 1999. Retrieved 14 September 2015. 
  7. ^ Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. pp. 329–30. ISBN 1-84195-017-3. 
  8. ^ "Ben Watt with Robert Wyatt Summer Into Winter". Discogs. Retrieved 20 November 2016. 
  9. ^ "Ben Watt North Marine Drive". Discogs. Retrieved 20 November 2016. 
  10. ^ Beverley Road, Kingston upon Hull, United Kingdom – Google Maps. Maps.google.com (1 January 1970). Retrieved on 11 May 2012.
  11. ^ Mole, Media (18 August 2016). "The songs I write are usually described as "personal" – but for me they're political". Newstatesman.com. Retrieved 4 November 2016. 
  12. ^ "Everything But The Girl – Love Not Money". Everything But The Girl on Discogs. Discogs. 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  13. ^ "Ben Rogan". Ben Rogan on Discogs. Discogs. 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  14. ^ "Robin Millar". Robin Millar on Discogs. Discogs. 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  15. ^ "Mike Pela". Mike Pela on Discogs. Discogs. 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  16. ^ "Everything But The Girl – Everything But The Girl". Everything But The Girl on Discogs. Discogs. 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  17. ^ "Everything But The Girl – Love Not Money". Everything But The Girl on Discogs. Discogs. 2014. Retrieved 19 April 2014. 
  18. ^ "Karen Ramirez". Official Charts. Retrieved 20 November 2016. 
  19. ^ "Massive Attack". Offcial Charts. Retrieved 20 November 2016. 
  20. ^ "Massive Attack". Official Charts. Retrieved 20 November 2016. 
  21. ^ "Montreux Jazz Festival 2000". Montreux Jazz Festival. Retrieved 20 November 2016. 
  22. ^ "Tracey Thorn". Facebook. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  23. ^ a b Laura Barnett (17 June 2012). "Everything But the Girl: 'You feel like you're listening to a different person' | Music | The Observer". Guardian. Retrieved 1 February 2013. 
  24. ^ "Everything But The Girl – Like The Deserts Miss The Rain". Everything But The Girl on Discogs. Discogs. 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  25. ^ "Beth Orton Re-Emerges On 'Daybreaker'". Billboard.com. Billboard. 10 June 2002. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  26. ^ Andy Malt (20 March 2013). "Q&A: Ben Watt". Complete Music Update. UnLimited Media. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  27. ^ "Ben Watt". Resident Advisor. Resident Advisor Ltd. 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  28. ^ Jean-Robert Saintil (29 April 2010). "Stimming, Ben Watt & Julia Biel, Bright Star". Little White Earbuds. Littlewhiteearbuds.com. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  29. ^ Michael Histen (2009). "Tracey Thorn". 2k50: The 50 Best Songs of the Decade. Michael Histen. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  30. ^ "Tiefschwarz – Eat Books". Tiefschwarz on Discogs. Discogs. 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  31. ^ Mike Orme (26 May 2010). "Tracey Thorn Love and Its Opposite". Pitchfork. Pitchfork Media. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  32. ^ "Listen: Everything But the Girl Reunite to Cover the xx's "Night Time" | News". Pitchfork. 18 October 2011. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  33. ^ "Tracey Thorn: 'I Don't Obsess Over Sleeves Or Vinyl' | Interviews | DIY". Thisisfakediy.co.uk. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  34. ^ Alexis Petridis (25 October 2012). "Tracey Thorn: Tinsel and Lights – review". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  35. ^ "Everything But The Girl". Ebtg.com. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  36. ^ "Everything But The Girl". Ebtg.com. Retrieved 4 September 2015. 
  37. ^ "AIM Awards 2014 - Full List Of Winners". Clash Music. Retrieved 20 November 2016. 
  38. ^ "Uncut Top 75 2014". Uncut. Retrieved 20 November 2016. 
  39. ^ "Uncut Fever Dream Reviews". Uncut. Retrieved 20 November 2016. 
  40. ^ Dave Simpson. "Ben Watt: Fever Dream review – keen-eyed songs about human relationships | Music". The Guardian. Retrieved 2016-05-20. 
  41. ^ "Bedsit Disco Queen by Tracey Thorn – review". theguardian.com. Retrieved 30 November 2015. 
  42. ^ "Various – Batman Forever (Music From The Motion Picture)". Various on Discogs. Discogs. 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  43. ^ "Everything But The Girl – Back To Mine". Everything But The Girl on Discogs. Discogs. 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  44. ^ Bruce David Janu (5 January 2013). ""She's Having a Baby" on Debut Episode of Cine/Spin". The Vinyl Voyage. Google Inc. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 
  45. ^ "Various – Red Hot + Rio". Various on Discogs. Discogs. 2014. Retrieved 19 July 2014. 

External links[edit]