Record Review: The Tourists – I Only Want To Be With You

Logo Records | UK | 7" | 1979 | GO 370

The Tourists: I Only Want To Be With You UK 7″ [1979]

  1. I Only Want To Be With You
  2. Summers Night

It was 1980 on a Friday [or was it Saturday] night. I was watching Rockworld, a syndicated music video program that offered an hour of clips, which was as good as it got back then. The syndicated package allowed for local markets to insert their own hosts for local color. Local chunkhead “FM rock” station WDIZ was, amazingly enough, the sponsor for this program. Two of their DJs would host the program on air and introduce the clips that were pre-selected by the distributor.

For the uninitiated, WDIZ was a station that I listened to after moving away from a lifetime of Top 40 in an effort to escape disco, which by 1978 had become ludicrously top-heavy in our culture. WDIZ was the furthest thing from disco, but I quickly outgrew it once my nascent tastes had been formed and unleashed by exposure to “weird” records like those by Kraftwerk, DEVO, or Talking Heads. WDIZ favored beef + cheese rock of a decidedly Dionysian variety. Rock that catered to an audience that used “party” as a verb. Not your humble author.

Given the reality of the times, most music videos were produced in the UK by and for UK acts for exposure in foreign and domestic markets that was much cheaper than flying the band hither and yon to actually appear on TV programs. You must remember that the rise of music video in the late 70s had a lot to do with the period of slump that the music industry was undergoing at that time. Sales were way off what labels had become used to in the seventies. Videos were flashy, consistent and cheap. Just throw a band on a seamless and let ’em mime away for an afternoon. £3000 later, it’s done. Dupe it and ship it out. “Next!”

So actually watching this show each week offered further frissons of enjoyment seeing the hosts squirm their way through music that wouldn’t hit their playlist if their lives depended on it! Lots of quirky New Wave predominated. And the show had a stereo feed simulcast through their station, so if you were listening to WDIZ when the show was on TV, you heard the show! I heard lots of bands for the first time in this way. One of my favorites was a band called The Tourists.

They are now known if only for being the group that Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart were once in before starting Eurythmics. The Tourists were as different as night and day from what Eurythmics would become known for. They were an ultra-melodious pop-rock band with New Wave leanings and a great handle on a late 60s pre-psychedelia vibe. Vocals were shared between Annie Lennox and Peet Combes with Annie’s crystalline vocals contrasting with Coombs’ more Dylanesque tone. Annie played keyboards but guitars predominated. The result is some of the best 60s influenced music of the seventies I’d ever heard.

Annie Lennox and guitarist Dave Stewart had worked with guitarist and vocalist Peet Coombes earlier in a group The Catch, who had a one-off single on Logo Records in 1977 “Borderline” b/w “Black Blood.” That record went nowhere, but the label had enough faith to give them another try as The Tourists the next year with the addition of a rhythm section consisting of Jim Toomey on drums and Eddie Chin on bass. They began releasing records in 1979. Conny Plank produced their eponymous debut album in 1979. Later that year, they had their first hit single from their second album, “Reality Effect.”

They had made a New Wave cover of the old Dusty Springfield hit “I Only Want To Be With You” and I sat watching the video with my mouth ajar. Lennox was never anything but a vocalist, who at the time, I could imagine singing the phone book to my enrapt attention. Her vocals were utterly superb and the arrangement of the Springfield chestnut was enlivened by a great synth percussion backbeat. I’m sure that Val Garay, who produced “Betty Davis Eyes” two years later was paying close attention as well!

My weekly record fund [a.k.a. lunch money] went into a copy of “Reality Effect” as soon as I was able to get my carcass to a record store that week and I became a Tourists fan for life on the spot! The band were even more entrancing than they evidenced on this single. Let’s face it, the song is close to bulletproof, but the band’s own material was incredibly accomplished. I soon discovered that US Epic had compiled the US version of “Reality Effect” from that album and three cuts from the preceding “Tourists” album as produced by Conny Plank. I wasted no time in buying both albums in their original forms* as well as their third album, “Luminous Basement” before the band split up and left me crying in my root beer. In 1981 I read that Annie and Dave had formed their new band, Eurythmics, and eventually, I found a few Eurythmics singles by late 1982. In the days before “Sweet Dreams” hit, those records were hard to find – even as imports! No one was buying or importing Eurythmics records where I lived even though I was looking hard for them.

It was in the late 80s when I began buying all of The Tourists’ singles for their non-LP B-sides once the mail order train left the station. I got this one and was surprised to see a song from the “Reality Effect” album [that had been cut from the US edition] as the B-side. I have all of the UK Logo singles but there are some foreign territory variations that I don’t have as well as the original single by The Catch. Given the interest in Annie Lennox ex-post-facto, it goes for a solid three figures, if you can find one!

– 30 –

* I only managed to snag an iffy Portuguese pressing of “Reality Effect” to get the two cuts excised by US Epic by some time in the early 80s. The quality of the pressing leaves much to be desired. I need to get the real UK pressing of this now that the internet is at my fingertips.

About postpunkmonk

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6 Responses to Record Review: The Tourists – I Only Want To Be With You

  1. Echorich says:

    Loved The Tourists! Their panache for updating a 60’s Mod Pop sound was brilliant!
    I think it’s interesting how there has been all this interest in Adele’s recent vocal chord nodes and surgery. I remember being horrified when Annie Lennox had to go through the exact same thing more than 20 years ago. She came back after a good long rest of that amazing voice to release one of Eurythmics most popular and accomplished albums. Her solo records are also near and dear to me. What a voice and what an admirable human being Annie Lennox is.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – I’d forgotten that Annie had the nodes worked on many, many years ago. Alas, only her first solo album is near and dear to me. The ones I’ve been given after “Diva” quickly made their way to the recycle pile! I haven’t liked anything she’s done in 20 years now. Sigh. Hard to believe that day ever came but those tepid Eurythmics albums, unfortunately, pointed the was forward.

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  2. ronkanefiles says:

    The Eurythmics records were hard to find! I remember the 12″ with 4 songs on the B-Side – that had members of Can present. That stuff mostly wasn’t getting imported. The UK exporter can offer a title, but that doesn’t mean the US distributor is smart enough to order it.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      ronkanefiles – You’ve got that right! I finally found a 7″ of “Never Gonna Cry Again” about a year after it was released! Holger was on it but I finally got it on my birthday buying spree in Sept. 1982! The “This Is The House” 12″ with the awesome live B-sides showed up in the bins used at Retro Records a little later. As you say, no one was importing those records! I guess they figured it was just a Tourists spinoff, and no one bought those records anyway. There was a point in early 1983 when unsold import copies of the “This Is The House” 12″ stuffed the import cutout bins ar Record Mart and record City, and damn, I should have bought them all!!! That record is still very costly and a high-demand piece. They left off the best live track [“Your Time Will Come”] on “The Garden” dlx RM! What were they thinking?

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  3. chas_m says:

    I don’t recall exactly how I came to be hooked on The Tourists, but I’ve loved em for years and mourned that their music is so forgotten. Would it fucking kill Dave and Annie to re-record one of those tunes as a b-side?? It would certainly be better than anything she’s done since her cover of “No More I Love You’s” (10/10 for taste and full marks for making the song the hit it deserved to be, but 2/10 for the rest of that album).

    Anyway, I just love that band and it makes me sad that such great songs (and, as you point out, a great approach to pop) are so forgotten and abandoned to all but a few diehards like us with fabulous taste.

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      chas_m – As I recall, we were on this action almost immediately. You might have seen the clip on Rockworld as I did. I’ve mentioned that this was must-see television for the both of us back in the day. Or maybe I was playing the album at the radio station [WGAG-FM] and you heard it there. I’d gamble the former.

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