Everything but the Girl

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Everything but the Girl
Everything but the Girl.jpg
Background information
Also known asEBTG
Origin Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, England
Years active1982–2000
Associated acts
Website www.ebtg.com
Past members Tracey Thorn
Ben Watt

Everything but the Girl (occasionally referred to as EBTG) were an English musical duo, formed in Kingston upon Hull, England in 1982, consisting of lead singer and occasional guitarist Tracey Thorn and guitarist, keyboardist, producer and singer Ben Watt. Everything but the Girl received eight gold and two platinum album BPI Certifications in the UK, [5] and one gold album RIAA Certification in the US. [6] They had four top ten singles and twelve top forty singles in the UK. [7] Their biggest hit song "Missing" charted high in several countries and reached number two on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 in 1995 and spent over seven months on the UK Singles Chart thanks to an extremely popular remix by Todd Terry which later led to a Brit Award nomination for Best British Single.


The duo have also been nominated for MTV, EMA and Ivor Novello Awards and received an award from the BMI for sales of over 3 million in the UK alone.

Watt and Thorn are also a couple, though they are very private about their relationship and personal life. While their relationship started during their time at university, it was not a publicised fact that they were romantically involved, or that they had subsequently married. [8]

They are currently inactive, and have not performed publicly since 2000. [1] Thorn has said in interviews she dislikes performing live and will no longer sing in front of a live audience. [9] Both Thorn and Watt have released several solo albums, but have expressed that it's unlikely that they'll record again as EBTG. [10]


Formation and early years

When Thorn and Watt met, they were both attending the University of Hull and both had contracted with the independent record company Cherry Red Records, as solo artists. [11] Thorn was also a member of the trio Marine Girls. The pair each had solo album releases through Cherry Red: Thorn's 1982 LP was A Distant Shore , an eight-track mini-album. Watt's 1983 debut LP – the follow-up to his 1982 5-track EP Summer Into Winter featuring Robert Wyatt – was entitled North Marine Drive .[ citation needed ]

1985 view of Turners, with the slogan Everything but the Girl Turners 1985.JPG
1985 view of Turners, with the slogan Everything but the Girl

They formed a duo and adopted the name "Everything but the Girl" from the slogan used by the Hull shop Turner's Furniture [12] on Beverley Road. [1]

EBTG's debut single, a cover version of Cole Porter's "Night and Day", was released in June 1982. [1] After steady sales and exposure from a compilation album entitled Pillows & Prayers , the single was re-issued in August 1983.

Their debut album, Eden , was released in the UK in 1984. It reached number 14 on the UK Albums Chart, spending twenty weeks on the chart. [7] It featured the single "Each and Every One", which reached number 28 on the UK Top 40. [7] Thorn wrote in 2016 that her lyric was misunderstood:

Our first single, "Each and Every One", was intended as an angry lyric about being a female musician, patronised and overlooked by male music critics. My band the Marine Girls had attracted several reviews along the lines of "not bad for a girl" and so the opening lines addressed this: "If you ever feel the time/To drop me a loving line/Maybe you should just think twice/I don’t wait around on your advice". It was the instructions of music critics I wasn’t waiting around for, but I wrote it too subtly, and so it was heard as a lovelorn lament, a lonely girl waiting for a letter from a boy. [13]

In spite of their early history as established independent artists, to newcomers Everything but the Girl was considered part of the jazz/popular music style known as "sophisti-pop", alongside other British acts like Carmel, Swing Out Sister, Sade, Matt Bianco and The Style Council. Both Watt and Thorn were guest musicians on the Style Council's Café Bleu album, [1] while EBTG worked with producer Robin Millar and engineers Ben Rogan and Mike Pela—who also collaborated with Sade—on their early albums.[ citation needed ] Although Eden was released in the UK, a different recording, Everything but the Girl , was released in the United States on the Sire label. The US release contains six tracks from Eden, two UK singles and four alternate tracks.[ citation needed ]

The 1985 album Love Not Money was their second studio album release, and signalled a move away from jazz and Latin influences to a more traditional electric guitar, bass and drums arrangements. The US edition included two additional songs that were not on the original UK release: a cover version of The Pretenders' song "Kid" and "Heaven Help Me".[ citation needed ]

The next year they released Baby, the Stars Shine Bright , recorded with an orchestra at Abbey Road Studios. [1] They revealed the album's inspiration by their choices of B-sides for its single releases: songs from Bacharach and Jimmy Webb on the 12" versions (as well as a cover version of Patsy Cline's "I Fall to Pieces"). The first single from the album was "Come on Home," followed by "Don't Leave Me Behind."

In 1988, EBTG released Idlewild . Blending acoustic instrumentation with sequenced drums and synthesisers, it reached number 13 on the UK Albums Chart, spending fifteen weeks on the chart. [7] A cover version of Danny Whitten's "I Don't Want to Talk About It", previously a success for Rod Stewart, was released as a single shortly afterwards. It reached Number 3 on the UK Singles Chart [7] and was added to the latter issues of the album. [1] Around this time, Lloyd Cole and the Commotions asked Thorn to contribute vocals to the song "Big Snake" on their final studio album Mainstream .

Tommy Lipuma produced the band's 1990 album The Language of Life , which featured the single "Driving." [1] "Driving" received heavy rotation on American adult alternative radio. The album featured a host of leading west coast session musicians including Omar Hakim, Joe Sample and Michael Brecker. Stan Getz contributed a tenor sax solo on the song "The Road". [1]

In 1991, they released the self-produced album Worldwide . It charted at number 29 on the UK Albums Chart. [7]

1992 saw the release of the acoustic Covers EP. It reached Number 13 on the UK Top 40. [7] The lead track was "Love Is Strange". It also included cover versions of Bruce Springsteen's "Tougher Than the Rest"; Cyndi Lauper's "Time after Time" and Elvis Costello's "Alison". [1] These four tracks were included on the US only album, Acoustic . [1]

In the summer of 1992, the duo was forced to curtail recording and touring for several months when Watt developed Churg-Strauss syndrome, a rare autoimmune disease. Hospitalised for 10 weeks, and enduring several life-saving operations, he subsequently wrote a memoir, Patient , about his near-death ordeal.

In 1993, EBTG released two EPs in the UK. One featured a cover version of Paul Simon's "The Only Living Boy in New York". The other spawned a subsequent top ten UK Top 40 hit, "I Didn't Know I Was Looking For Love", [14] for Karen Ramirez.

Worldwide acclaim

1994 saw EBTG release their seventh album, Amplified Heart , a hybrid of folk rock and electronica featuring contributions from guitarist Richard Thompson, double bassist Danny Thompson, drummer Dave Mattacks, and producer/programmer John Coxon. Producer Todd Terry remixed the track "Missing", and when released as a single, it became an international success. [1] It reached the top ten around the world, including the US, where it peaked at No. 2 in the Billboard Hot 100. [1]

While recording Amplified Heart Thorn and Watt wrote lyrics and music for two tracks – "Protection" and "Better Things" on Massive Attack's second album Protection . Thorn sang lead vocals on both. The single "Protection" reached number 14 on the UK Top 40. [15] The album reached number 4 on the UK Albums Chart. [15]

Buoyed by the recent successes and out of contract at WEA, EBTG released the self-produced Walking Wounded in 1996 exclusively licensed to Atlantic Records for the United States and Canada and Virgin Records for the Rest of the World. Featuring collaborations with Spring Heel Jack and Howie B it ushered in a new electronic sound for their own work. It charted at number 4 on the UK Albums Chart and spawned two top ten UK Top 40 singles – "Walking Wounded" and "Wrong". Two further singles – "Single" and "Before Today" – reached number 20 and number 25 respectively. [7]

In 1999, the duo followed it up with their last – and ninth – studio album, Temperamental . It charted at number 16 on the UK Albums Chart. [7]

The duo performed their final show at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2000. [16]

Extended hiatus

"Self-awareness is a dangerous thing: by about the third or fourth record, people were throwing comparisons at us and you have to be very tough to withstand it. And by the end of the '90s, we were playing to 5,000 people a night. I'd stand on stage, looking out, thinking, "I don't want to be this big."

Ben Watt in 2012, recalled a lacklustre feeling from the late 1990s, during the latter years of EBTG. [17]

There have been no new recordings from Everything but the Girl since 2000. In 2002, 2004 and 2005, the duo curated compilations of their material. The 2004 compilation, Like the Deserts Miss the Rain, was a DVD release that included footage of a 1999 performance at the Forum venue in London, UK, for which John McKenzie and long-time collaborator Martin Ditcham performed alongside the pair as session musicians.[ citation needed ]

From 1999, Watt concentrated on DJ and production/remix work, finding success as one half of Lazy Dog, with partner Jay Hannan, and collaborating with Beth Orton on her 1999 album Central Reservation and her 2002 album Daybreaker . [18] Watt then proceeded with a new angle on his solo career that included launching the Buzzin' Fly record label in 2003, [19] and becoming the part-owner-founder of the Neighbourhood and Cherry Jam nightclubs from 2002–2005. [20] Watt released a string of club-oriented productions including the Bright Star EP, with producer Stimming and British singer Julia Biel, on Buzzin' Fly in 2010. [21]

In 2005, Thorn co-wrote and recorded vocals for the song "Damage", a collaboration with German band Tiefschwarz that appeared on their Eat Books album. Thorn's second solo album, Out of the Woods , was then released in 2007, [22] followed by her third solo album, Love and Its Opposite , in 2010. [23] In October 2011, Thorn released a cover version of The xx's "Night Time", on which Watt played guitar and sang backing vocals. This was their first recording together in over a decade, although it was not an Everything but the Girl release. [24]

In an April 2011 interview, Thorn was asked whether she would ever work again with Watt as Everything but the Girl. Thorn responded, "Yes, we do keep saying we are nearly ready to maybe do some work together again. There are certain obstacles, some practical, some psychological, that we would need to overcome. But it may well happen." [25] A collection of Christmas songs, Tinsel and Lights, for which Thorn recorded cover versions of Christmas songs with two new original songs, was released in October 2012 on Buzzin' Fly's sister record label Strange Feeling. [26] Watt and the couple's children provided backing vocals on the original song "Joy".

In 2012, the band's first four albums were reissued by Edsel Records as "deluxe" double CDs, with demo recordings and other additional material. At the time, Watt explained that Warner Music Group still maintained control over their back catalogue: "our big fear was that one day we'd wake up and they'd have reissued them, without telling us."; when the representative from Edsel, a company that specialises in reissued material, made contact, the couple decided that the time was appropriate. Additionally, Thorn stated that the thought of reforming the band and playing live filled her "with cold dread"—upon re-listening to the early EBTG records, Thorn experienced a sense of "Gosh, well, I'm not really that person any more." [17]

A second tranche of Demon/Edsel reissues, covering the four albums released between 1990 and 1994, was announced in September 2013. According to the EBTG website, "Once again, Ben and Tracey have helped at every stage of the process, sourcing demos, rarities and memorabilia for the releases." [27]

The band's final two albums, Walking Wounded and Temperamental were given the deluxe treatment and were reissued by Demon/Edsel on 4 September 2015. [28]

Watt hit the pause button on his record labels and DJ activities to return to his folk-jazz singer-songwriter roots in 2014. His first solo album since 1983, Hendra was released on 14 April 2014. It featured collaborations with Bernard Butler, formerly of the band Suede, Berlin-based producer Ewan Pearson and David Gilmour of Pink Floyd. The album won the 'Best 'Difficult' Second Album' category at the AIM Independent Music Awards 2014. [29] It was included at No 27 in Uncut's Top 75 Albums of 2014. [30] He followed it up in 2016 with Fever Dream . It continued his relationship with Bernard Butler, and added guest cameos from MC Taylor of North Carolina folk-rock band, Hiss Golden Messenger, and Boston singer-songwriter Marissa Nadler. It received a 9/10 review in Uncut magazine. [31] In a four-star review, The Guardian said: 'In his early 50s, he is making some of the best music of his career.' [32]

In addition to solo music projects, both Thorn and Watt have each written two books. Thorn's 2013 memoir, Bedsit Disco Queen, covers a significant portion of the history of EBTG as a band. [33]

In July 2017, Everything but the Girl reclaimed the rights to eight of their albums, plus the American rights to Temperamental and Walking Wounded from Warner Music Group; this catalogue will now be distributed through Chrysalis Records under licence from Watt's Strange Feeling label. [34]

Awards and nominations

1996 MTV EMA ThemselvesBest DanceNominated
Viva Comet Awards Best International ActWon
Brit Awards "Missing"Best British SingleNominated
Ivor Novello Awards The Best Selling SongNominated
2000 Billboard Music Video Awards "Five Fanthoms"Dance Clip of the YearNominated
2007 BMI London Awards "Missing"3 Million AwardWon



Related Research Articles

Tracey Thorn

Tracey Anne Thorn is a British singer, songwriter and writer. She is best known as being one half of the duo Everything but the Girl from 1982 to 1999. She was a member of the band Marine Girls between 1980 to 1983 and since 2007 has been active as a solo artist.

<i>Walking Wounded</i> 1996 studio album by Everything but the Girl

Walking Wounded is the ninth studio album by British musical duo Everything but the Girl. It was released on 6 May 1996 by Atlantic Records in the United States and Virgin Records in Europe. The album saw the group adopting a more electronic and dance-based style, following the success of the remixed version of "Missing" from their previous album, Amplified Heart.

<i>Amplified Heart</i> 1994 studio album by Everything but the Girl

Amplified Heart is the eighth studio album by British musical duo Everything but the Girl. It was released on 13 June 1994 by Atlantic Records in the United States and Canada, and elsewhere by Blanco y Negro Records. The album was recorded and mixed in London from winter 1993 to 1994.

Ben Watt

Benjamin Brian Thomas Watt is a British musician, singer, songwriter, author, DJ and radio presenter, best known as one half of the duo Everything but the Girl.

<i>Eden</i> (Everything but the Girl album) 1984 studio album by Everything but the Girl

Eden is the debut studio album by the British musical duo Everything but the Girl. It was released on 4 June 1984 by Blanco y Negro Records. The album contains the single "Each and Every One", which peaked at number 28 on the UK Singles Chart. The cover design was by lead singer Tracey Thorn's former colleague in Marine Girls, Jane Fox.

Missing (Everything but the Girl song) 1994 single by Everything but the Girl

"Missing" is a song by British popular music duo Everything but the Girl, taken from their eighth studio album, Amplified Heart (1994). It was written by the two band members, Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt, and was produced by Watt and John Coxon. It was taken as the second single off the album on 8 August 1994 by Atlantic Records and Blanco Y Negro Records. It initially did not achieve much success until it was remixed by Todd Terry and re-released in 1995, resulting in worldwide success, peaking at or near the top of the charts in many countries. The release of the remixed version of "Missing" gave an indication of the band's future experimentation with more electronic dance music on subsequent albums.

<i>Temperamental</i> (Everything but the Girl album) 1999 studio album by Everything but the Girl

Temperamental is the tenth and, to date, final studio album by British musical duo Everything but the Girl. It was released on 27 September 1999 by Atlantic Records in the United States and Virgin Records in Europe.

Marine Girls were an English post-punk group from Hatfield, Hertfordshire, England. The group was formed in 1980, by two sixth form schoolfriends; Tracey Thorn and Gina Hartman. Originally, Thorn just played guitar and Hartman was the lead vocalist and percussionist. Thorn overcame her shyness and started singing too by the time they started making records. They were later joined by Jane Fox on bass and her younger sister, Alice, on joint vocals and percussion.

<i>Love Not Money</i> 1985 studio album by Everything but the Girl

Love Not Money is the second studio album by British band Everything but the Girl (EBTG), which consisted of Tracey Thorn and Ben Watt. It was produced by Robin Millar, recorded at Powerplant Studios in London and was released in the UK on 15 April 1985 by Blanco y Negro Records. It spent nine weeks on the UK Albums Chart, peaking at number 10. In the United States, Sire Records issued the album with two additional tracks.

<i>The Language of Life</i> 1990 studio album by Everything but the Girl

The Language of Life is the fifth studio album by British musical duo Everything but the Girl. It was released on 5 February 1990 by Atlantic Records and Blanco y Negro Records.

<i>Acoustic</i> (Everything but the Girl album) 1992 studio album by Everything but the Girl

Acoustic is a compilation album by Everything but the Girl, released in North America on 2 June 1992. In the United Kingdom, the duo had released the Covers EP for Blanco y Negro, which had peaked at number 13 on the UK Singles chart dated 07 March 1992, with this release expanded into a full album for its release abroad. The albums Worldwide (1991) and Acoustic were reissued together by Edsel Records as a 2-disc set in 2012.

<i>Home Movies</i> (album) 1993 greatest hits album by Everything but the Girl

Home Movies is a compilation album by Everything but the Girl featuring songs from their first eight studio albums as well as two newly recorded songs, a cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "The Only Living Boy in New York" and "I Didn't Know I Was Looking for Love". The album was released in 1993 and reached number 5 on the UK Albums Chart.

<i>The Best of Everything but the Girl</i> 1996 greatest hits album by Everything but the Girl

The Best of Everything but the Girl is a compilation album by English musical duo Everything but the Girl, released in 1996.

<i>Colours</i> (Adam F album) 1997 studio album by Adam F

Colours is the debut studio album by English drum and bass producer Adam F. It was released on 3 November 1997 through Positiva Records. The album features collaborations with Tracey Thorn, Grooverider, MC Conrad and Ronny Jordan. The first single from the album, "Circles", was initially released in 1995, but did not chart until its re-release in 1997, when it entered the UK Singles Chart and peaked at number 20. Other singles from the album included "Metropolis" / "Mother Earth", "F-Jam", and "Music In My Mind". Upon release, the album reached number 47 on the UK Albums Chart.

Wrong (Everything but the Girl song) 1996 single by Everything but the Girl

"Wrong" is a song written and recorded by English group Everything but the Girl. It was released in June 1996 as the second single from their album, Walking Wounded. A club remix of the song provided by Todd Terry went to number one on the US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart. The remix also reached number two in Italy and number eight in Canada and the United Kingdom.

<i>Love and Its Opposite</i>

Love and Its Opposite is the third solo studio album by former Everything but the Girl singer Tracey Thorn, released on 17 May 2010. The album was released on Thorn's husband Ben Watt's label Strange Feeling in the UK, and on Merge Records in North America. It was produced by Ewan Pearson, who also produced tracks on Thorn's previous album Out of the Woods. The album peaked at number 51 in the UK Albums Chart.

<i>Tinsel and Lights</i>

Tinsel and Lights is a Christmas album by British singer Tracey Thorn. It was released on 29 October 2012 on Buzzin' Fly Records. It is her fourth solo studio album.

<i>Solo: Songs and Collaborations 1982–2015</i> 2015 compilation album by Tracey Thorn

Solo: Songs and Collaborations 1982–2015 is a compilation album by Tracey Thorn, released in the UK on 23 October 2015. It features 34 tracks spanning her career as a solo artist and includes collaborations with other artists, including The Unbending Trees ("Overture"), Massive Attack ("Protection") and The Style Council. Further collaborations include tracks with Robert Wyatt and Hot Chip. The tracks are arranged over two discs. It is also available as a digital album, and as a shortened single-disc compilation.

<i>Record</i> (Tracey Thorn album) 2018 studio album by Tracey Thorn

Record is the fifth solo studio album by English singer and songwriter Tracey Thorn. It was recorded by Thorn with producer Ewan Pearson and a number of backing musicians, including singers Shura and Corinne Bailey Rae, drummer Stella Mozgawa, bassist Jenny Lee Lindberg, and guitarist Jono Ma. The album released by Merge Records on 2 March 2018 to mostly positive reviews from critics.

Each and Every One 1984 single by Everything but the Girl

"Each and Every One" is the second single by the British music duo Everything but the Girl, that reached #28 in the UK charts in May 1984. It was the only single from the album Eden and the US album Everything but the Girl.


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