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Editors’ Notes

The success of Everything but the Girl’s rendition of “I Don’t Want to Talk About It”—a wounded lament written in 1971 by the soon-to-be-deceased guitarist and songwriter Danny Whitten—rests entirely on Tracey Thorn’s vocal. She soars, delivering it proudly but with profound vulnerability. The rest of Idlewild revives the “small and quiet” approach of the duo’s early years, when they were just starting to integrate soft jazz and bossa nova into an indie rock sensibility. “These Early Days,” “Blue Moon Rose,” and “Goodbye Sunday” prance along on quietly tapping beats, the earliest indication of the drum programming that would eventually become an integral part of the duo’s style. “Love Is Here Where I Live” and “Tears All Over Town” show Thorn as a torch singer on par with Patsy Cline and Sarah Vaughan, but even more surprising is Ben Watt’s solo vocal in “The Night I Heard Caruso Sing.” What could have been a simple ballad is transformed into an incredibly moving and mysterious expression of the ways in which a profound musical experience can provide a listener strength to face a burdensome past or a stormy future.

Customer Reviews


A great balance of ballads and pop. My favorite is "These Early Days". "Apron Strings" got air time in a few movies. I first heard EBTG in a Benetton store in the mid-80's. I would also recommend "The Stars are Shining Brightly". But thats difficult to find.

Idlewild, the best EBTG album

This is one of my favorite albums, so I was stunned to see only one review of this great record and figure I should write one. Thorn's amazing vocals, deeply emotional lyrics, original rhythms, spare yet poignant arrangements with quality production and effective musicality are the basic characteristics of an EBTG album. These things come together perfectly on Idlewild. The record covers a broad and hopeful emotional range, which makes you want to come back to these songs again and again. "These early days", "Apron strings", "Oxford street", "Blue moon rose" and "Goodbye Sunday" are all examples of a buoyancy that is not necessarily typical of EBTG records. These are fantastic songs, rooted in life, that create a an emotional landscape on this album that is distinct from any other album I've heard. Within this landscape are some more somber things too, such as "I don't want to talk about it" and "Tears all over town", but these songs explore relationships through the prism of someone in their twenties and the space remains inviting, perhaps because of nostalgia for those feelings at that age. There is depth to these songs, but it is a pleasant snorkeling depth and not the chillier depths of an album such as "Amplified Heart", where relationships are shown for what they are and not so much for what they could be. Another standout on this album is "The night I heard Caruso sing". This is a very nice Watt vocal performance and again a lyrically great song with a distinct musical arrangement that works. Like the album as a whole, this song works through the angst and hope of a young adult, making clear that the transition from what has gone before to what is yet to come is determined by how we hear the world today.


Decades have passed. But this still remains one of my favorite records. It's just beautiful. It has a rugged honesty that changes the way you breathe. It contains life's most basic truths we all share and conjures up dreams you once had, and still do.


Formed: 1982 in Hull, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Originating at the turn of the 1980s as a leader of the lite-jazz movement, Everything but the Girl became an unlikely success story more than a decade later, emerging at the vanguard of the fusion between pop and electronica. Founded in 1982 by Hull University students Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt, the duo took their name from a sign placed in the window of a local furniture shop, which claimed "for your bedroom needs, we sell everything but the girl." At the time of their formation, both vocalist...
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