Everything But The Girl's best-selling debut album, 'Eden' is the latest re-release from the duo to benefit from half-speed remastering at Abbey Road Studios by Miles Showell, and a fresh 180gm vinyl pressing.
Originally released in May 1984, the album spent almost six months on the official UK album chart peaking at number 14 and spawned the UK Top 40 hit, Each and Every One. The label wanted further singles but the duo preferred the album to grow by word of mouth. 'Eden' achieved gold album status in the UK and has gone on to sell more than 500,000 copies worldwide.
Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn met at the University of Hull in 1981; they formed Everything But The Girl initially as a side-project, as both had already established themselves on the UK independent music scene as teenagers - Tracey with her lo-fi minimal girl group, Marine Girls (later name-checked as one of Kurt Cobain's favourite bands); Ben as a young guitarist and singer-songwriter, collaborating with alt-folk icon Robert Wyatt on his debut EP.
In the summer of 1983 the pair - having each gone on to to release debut solo albums - decided to pool their new songs for 'Eden'. It was recorded with producer Robin Millar (chosen for his work with Weekend and The Pale Fountains) at his Power Plant Studios in Willesden, North West London.
"All the songs were written on guitar in Hull in early 1983. We were living in one room with a shared kitchen on Pearson Park," recalls Tracey. "Power Plant seemed very glamorous by comparison. Sade was recording downstairs. We were upstairs."
The sessions featured a band handpicked by Ben and Tracey: Working Week's Simon Booth on second guitar, This Heat’s Charles Hayward on drums, and South American musicians Chucho Merchan (double bass) and Bosco D’Oliveira (percussion) plus a clutch of top horn players from the English jazz scene. The line-up was part friends from London, part musicians Ben admired from trips to the Bull's Head jazz room with his dad when growing up, in particular Peter King (alto sax).
"We were intent on being non-rock," says Ben. "No clichés. No snare drums, no solid body electric guitars or electric bass. We wanted soft horns, Gretsch guitars, no fuss, a lightness of touch. We were into pop, latin, torch songs, sharp lyrics.
The album was released on the newly-formed imprint Blanco Y Negro (co-run by Mike Alway and Rough Trade's Geoff Travis) through Warner, and signalled Everything But The Girl’s move from an independent - Cherry Red - to a major label.
The artwork by Marine Girls band member Jane Fox was delivered as a three-dimensional collage of hand-drawn art and torn paper. Warner (who were marketing and distributing the record) didn’t really know what to do with it. The original version didn’t even have the name of the band on it. In the end it was photographed and printed on ‘reverse-board stock’ - unusual for a major release at the time.
Eden (2021 Vinyl Reissue) is released on 6th August 2021 on Buzzin' Fly Records, under exclusive license to Chrysalis Recordings.
"It's surprising how assured and sophisticated much of this music remains ... the album plays out as one bittersweet swoon" Pitchfork
"An auspicious debut" 8.5/10 AllMusic
"Wonderfully fresh and frequently uplifting, it has a candour and grace all of its own" Time Out
"Eden is immediately essential. It will tear your heart strings ... a very, very honest album" ★★★★★ Sounds
Each And Every One
The Spice Of Life
Frost And Fire
I Must Confess