A monthly guide to what I'd buy if I only had $25 to spend on records. Though discounts are widely available, we assume here that an album costs $8, an EP $6, a 12-inch single $4 and a seven-inch single $4. This month:
Eurythmics' "Revenge" (RCA)--Sweet dreams do come true. The duo has made some superbly crafted singles, but there was something inconclusive about records like "Love Is a Stranger" and "Would I Lie to You"--almost as if the jolting tension behind the anxious tales of romance was some sort of studio illusion. Did Eurythmics have depth? The highlights here--especially the four tracks after "Missionary Man" on Side 1--serve up a gloriously positive answer. Music this good is no accident. Annie Lennox sings with such passion and control that she rivals Chrissie Hynde as rock's most evocative female vocalist; David Stewart has emerged as one of the most tasteful guitarist-producers since Robbie Robertson, and Lennox/Stewart demonstrate in songs like "Thorn in My Side" and "When Tomorrow Comes" that they can write about the ups and downs of the romantic cycle with conviction and force. A year-end Top 10 album contender. CD available (sound quality: very good).
R.E.M.'s "Lifes Rich Pageant" (I.R.S.)--The fact this Georgia quartet's fourth album has all the energy and innocence of a band just starting out is delightful--and frustrating. The good news is that the teaming with John Mellencamp's production cohort Don Gehman works well, bringing a sharpness and punch to the group's previously hazy, folk-accented approach. Even more remarkably, Gehman's found a way to give greater definition and clarity to Michael Stipe's vocals without sacrificing the charm and individuality of the singer's fascination with oblique edges. Equally important, the band has begun to take its American rock leadership role seriously by reaching out with more concrete messages about renewal of integrity and purpose. "We are young despite the years / We are concerned / We are hope despite the times," Stipe sings on Side 1. Why the frustration? You wish the group had begun working with Gehman earlier. It would have helped R.E.M. reach this point of commercial and artistic breakthrough faster. CD available Aug. 25.
Gwen Guthrie's exuberant "Ain't Nothin' Goin' On but the Rent" (Polydor, seven-inch version), Chaka Khan's percolating "Love of a Lifetime" (Warner Bros., 12-inch version) and Run-D.M.C.'s rock 'n' rap merger "Walk This Way" (Profile, seven-inch version).