Saturday, June 22, 2019

"Missionary Man" by Eurythmics

Grammy Alert!
Song#:  2807
Date:  07/26/1986
Debut:  81
Peak:  14
Weeks:  16
Genre:  Rock, Blue-Eyed Soul



Pop Bits:  Eurythmics' fourth album, 1985's Be Yourself Tonight, would be their second one to reach platinum sales in the US. It featured four charting singles including the #5 hit "Would I Lie to You?" That album moved the duo away from synthpop into a more rock/R&B band-based style. They kept moving down that path for their next effort, Revenge. This bluesy first single was issued out and it was a hit at Rock radio getting to #1 - their first and only song to reach the top of that chart. It also got to #6 at Dance. The tune's success at Pop was slightly more limited with it peaking in the Top 20. While the result was good, it didn't match up with the first singles from their previous three albums all of which reached the Top 10. It may have signaled a slight dip in their popularity, but Grammy folks certainly took notice and handed the duo the award for Best Rock Performance, Duo or Group. It was their first and only Grammy win.

ReduxReview:  I was (and still am) a mega Eurythmics fan and so I couldn't wait for Revenge to hit the streets. Before that, this song came out and on first listen I didn't know what to make of it. While it had elements of Eurythmics present, especially in the near-monotone verse/chorus, I wasn't sure I liked the edgier rock 'n' soul with its harmonica solo and gospel-ish background. Yet the more I heard it, the more I liked it. I wasn't confident that the song would do well on the chart, but it exceeded my expectations, thanks in part to the popular stop-motion associated video (which got four MTV Music Video Award nominations). It was a forceful first single and one that I still enjoy quite a bit.

ReduxRating:  8/10

Trivia:  Two other musicians have standout parts in this song. Jimmy "Z" Zavala performed the harmonica part and Joniece Jamison provided background vocals. Zavala was mainly a studio musician who played harmonica and sax. It was during sessions for Tom Petty's Southern Accents album that Zavala met Eurythmics' Dave Stewart, who was co-writing and producing three tracks for Petty. As Eurythmics were recording Revenge, Zavala got a call from Stewart who wanted him to fly to Paris to do a harmonica part. Zavala flew over, basically stepped off the plane into the studio, and did the part in one take. American singer Joniece Jamison made a move to France in the early 80s and worked with several artists. She was a go-to session vocalist and was brought in to the Revenge sessions based on a recommendation. She provided background vocals on a few tracks including "Missionary Man." She would later record duets with French star Fran├žois Feldman. Two songs that they recorded would be Top 10 hits in France 1989 and 1991. Both Zavala and Jamison would be hired on as part of the Revenge touring band.

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