The Tourists seem to be doomed to forever occupy an odd footnote in history, relegated to the description “the band Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart were in before they started the Eurythmics”. Technically, that’s not inaccurate, but there’s quite a bit more to it than that. Led by Peet Coombes, the Tourists were a new wave five-piece that rocked harder than some of their peers, leaving real guitars and drums in the mix as quite a few other bands in that genre abandoned them for wall-to-wall synths and drum machines. In many other respects, though, the Tourists were an absolutely typical new wave group, doing more modern cover versions of older songs (such as Dusty Springfield’s “I Only Wanna Be With You”, which was a moderate hit from this album, probably due in no small part to an early music video that demonstrated that Lennox was both a sonically and visually arresting performer).
But let’s not forget that Dave Stewart was in the Tourists as well (it’s bad enough to keep having to remind everyone that he was half of the Eurythmics). His classic rock guitar riffs are unmistakable, and give the Tourists a sound that wasn’t typical in those early days of new wave.
The wild card that really defines the Tourists’ sound, however, is Coombes’ duets with Lennox throughout. Their harmonizing is a sound unique to the Tourists; even on songs where one or the other seems to be taking the lead (as Lennox does on the aforementioned cover of “I Only Want To Be With You”), the other is a prominent co-lead, and their similar vocal ranges make for a unique sound. Really, the Tourists end up barely fitting into the new wave category, perhaps more due to their look than their sound, because in most respects they were very much a classic rock band, applying some of the new aesthetics of the late ’70s and early ’80s to rock ‘n’ roll. The highlights include “Nothing To Do”, “So Good To Be Back Home”, and “In The Morning (When The Madness Has Faded)”, but even in less stand-out-ish tracks such as “In My Mind (There’s Sorrow)”, there’s a lot to love about the Tourists’ sound (and Coombes’ songwriting).
Are the Tourists just the Eurythmics with three extra people tagging along? Hardly. You can hear, in Lennox’s vocal stylings and Stewart’s precision guitar work, some of the seeds being planted, but if the Tourists had scored a bigger hit before breaking up, the ’80s music scene might have taken a very different shape with regard to one of its major success stories.
- It Doesn’t Have to Be This Way (3:38)
- I Only Want To Be With You (2:21)
- In The Morning (When The Madness Has Faded) (3:57)
- All Life’s Tragedies (3:43)
- Everywhere You Look (3:11)
- So Good To Be Back Home Again (2:33)
- Nothing To Do (3:22)
- Circular Fever (3:00)
- In My Mind (There’s Sorrow) (4:37)
- Something In The Air Tonight (4:04)
- Summer’s Night (3:16)
Released by: Epic
Release date: October 19, 1979
Total running time: 37:42