THE GUARDIAN / Alexis Patrides
In early 1997, Everything But the Girl were at the height of their fame. Fifteen years into their career, they had executed a remarkable turnaround in fortunes. Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn had been dropped by their label after the release of their 1994 album, Amplified Heart, only to see a Todd Terry remix of its track Missing belatedly become a vast global hit: No 2 in the US, double platinum in the UK, topping the charts for weeks around Europe.
Their ensuing album, 1995’s Walking Wounded, was both their most successful, and curiously influential. Soon you couldn’t move for singer-songwriters plying their melancholy trade over drum’n’bass breaks or house beats: everywhere from Olive’s No 1 single You’re Not Alone, to Dido. Roni Size and Reprazent sampled them on their Mercury prize-winning debut album, New Forms. The singer Karen Ramirez covered another old EBTG song, I Didn’t Know I Was Looking for Love, in the style of Missing and scored a Top 10 hit. Then U2 asked them to support their US stadium tour, news the duo received while staying in an Australian hotel room so sumptuous it had enough space for a grand piano and offered breathtaking views over Perth.
It was at precisely this point – when the call came from U2 – that Thorn pulled the plug on EBTG, with the winningly nonchalant phrase: “Actually babe, do you know what? I think I want to stop now.” Always equivocal about the anxiety-inducing task of performing, Thorn was filled with “stomach-churning horror” at the thought of appearing in front of 60,000 U2 fans a night. Moreover, she wanted .....