There are some days when a bit of easy-listening bordering on AOR is just what is needed. It doesn’t happen too often, but there are occasions when I just want everything around me to slow down and I find that putting on some low-key music can be a huge help.

One of my go-to albums on such days is Idlewild by Everything But The Girl, released in 1988. I’ve always loved Tracey Thorn‘s voice and Ben Watt‘s very accomplished acoustic guitar work, and they have never sounded better in that regard on this often quiet and very reflective album. It was the duo’s fourth LP and one of its songs, a cover of I Don’t Want To Talk About It went Top 3.

Worth mentioning in passing that this is a song that is famous/infamous in the UK when Rod Stewart‘s version was #1 in the summer of 1977 but sales figures are strongly rumoured to have been rigged to prevent God Save The Queen by The Sex Pistols being top of the charts. It was EBTG’s first, long overdue Top 20 single and it seemed as it would be a one-off until seven years later with the move into the dance/club sounds and the Todd Terry remix of Missing, provided a second visit to the heights of the singles charts.

Despite the lack of success on the 45s front, EBTG were popular with the record-buying public.

Idlewild, as I said earlier, was the fourth studio album and; like its predecessors, would sell enough copies (500,000) to qualify for a gold disc from the British Phonographic Industry. As is often the case, the record label issued one of the album’s best songs as the lead-off single, and it’s one which encapsulates that easy-listening vibe I referred to at the start of this post:-

mp3: Everything But The Girl – These Early Days

It’s a wonderfully emotive and hopeful lyric, written (I assume) to celebrate a nephew coming into the extended family. The infant James will now, all being well, be in his mid-30s and I wonder if he looks back on the song with a sense of awe that he could be immortalised in such a way

You’re only two and the whole wild world revolves around you,
And nothing happened yet that you might ever wish to forget.
It doesn’t stay that way, if I could I’d make stay that way.
And this you will recall in after years,
Though you may weary of this vale of tears –
These days remember, always remember.

You’re only two and I’ve no wish to worry you,
So pay no mind to those who say the world is unkind –
That’s just something they’ve read,
And if I could I’d strike them dead.
And this you will recall in after years,
Though you may weary of this vale of tears –
These days remember, always remember.

And honey there’s no rush,
The world will wait for you to grow up.
And this you will recall in after years,
Though you may weary of this vale of tears –
These days remember, always remember.

I hope you never change,
I’ll call you Jimmy, they call you James;
Don’t ever change,
I’ll call you Jimmy, they call you James.

I’ve been buying recently a fair amount of second-hand stuff on Discogs and I’ll often add a few things in if the seller is one of those who offers a deal on postage for multiple items, and as such I recently picked up a 12″ copy of These Early Days for the first time. There”s two tracks on the b-side, the first of which veers, certainly at the outset, in a frighteningly close musical tribute to True by Spandau Ballet but is more than saved by that wonderfully smooth voice and the way that Ben harmonises on the verses:-

mp3: Everything But The Girl – Dyed In The Grain

Dyed In The Grain was also available as the b-side on the 7″, but surely I’m not alone in thinking it was wasted there and should have been included on the parent album. It’s a lovely number and just captures perfectly what EBTG were about at this point in their career.

The bonus track on the 12″ is also an absolute gem:-

mp3: Everything But The Girl – No Place Like Home

I knew it was a cover from reading the info on the label. I had to turn to wiki:-

No Place Like Home is a song written by Paul Overstreet, and recorded by American country music artist Randy Travis. It was released in November 1986 as the fourth and final single from his album Storms of Life. The song reached number 2 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in March 1987.

Paul Overstreet is an American country music singer and songwriter. He recorded 10 studio albums between 1982 and 2005, and charted 16 singles on the Billboard country charts, including two No. 1 hits. He has also written singles for several other country acts, including Randy Travis, Blake Shelton, The Judds and Kenny Chesney.

A totally new name for me, but I’m thinking my good friend CC will be able to offer up some thoughts……

This version, with just Tracey’s voice and Ben’s acoustic guitar is sublimely beautiful.





  1. Yes, Idlewild is the album that can soundtrack a lazy Sunday afternoon, or provide a bit of familiar calm while trying to figure out just how to make a new recipe in the kitchen. Tracey and Ben have a way of not just sounding intimate, they sound like you’ve been invited in personally to have a listen.
    Dyed In The Grain is them flexing a bit of the sophisti-jazz that they would explore on Idlewild’s follow up The Language Of Life. But JC, I have NEVER heard True in it before, and now I can’t NOT hear True in the opening…hmmm…

  2. Because I played it so much at the time, I always think that Each And Every One made the Top 20. Only in TGG-world, sadly.
    Tracey singing True would certainly improve the song (the original not even a Top 75 entry in TGG-world!) – but I think I’ll stick with Dyed In The Grain.

  3. Can’t help yoy with Paul Overstreet I’m afraid JC. That list of names is too mainstream country for me. Rol is maybe your mAN.
    i bought Idlewild in a Lockerbie charity shop earlier this year

  4. With you JC; when the mood hits you there’s no other voice than Tracey Thorne’s.
    For folks interested in EBTG I recommend her memoir – Bedsit Disco Queen. Pop star memoirs tend to be awful but there are some worthwhile exceptions, Thorne’s being one and Viv Albertine’s another.

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