Back to MineBack to Mine: Pet Shop Boys

Released - 2005
Chart peak - (didn't chart)


Not really a Pet Shop Boys album, Back to Mine: Pet Shop Boys is one of a series of 28 British various-artists compilation albums put out by the DMC (Dance Music Collective). The first was released in 1999 and the last came out in 2008. Each Back to Mine collection consists of tracks selected by a particular person or band, the premise presumably being what they might play back at home after spending a night out. (Hence the name of the series, "back to mine" being British slang for "back home" or "back to my place.") The first few editions were compiled by popular DJs, but soon the scope expanded to embrace musicians and popular performers. The general pattern for Back to Mine—to which the PSB collection adheres—is for each track to run directly into the next.

The Pet Shop Boys' Back to Mine set was the twentieth album in the series. Neil and Chris agreed to do it only on the condition that each could have his "own" disc. As a result, the PSB set is one of the few in the series to consist of two discs. Together they offer a fascinating glimpse into the influences and tastes that have combined to create the "PSB style."

Perhaps not surprisingly, Chris's disc is, with a few exceptions, upbeat and dance-oriented, whereas Neil's leans more toward classical and "ambient" works (I'm tempted to refer to the latter as "New Age," but that, I suppose, might be demeaning), again with a few notable exceptions. To put it another way, Chris's set is mostly music for revving up; Neil's is mostly music for chilling out. While interviewing Chris around the time the Boys' Back to Mine came out, "Jonty Skrufff" of noted this difference in mood between the two discs and asked Chris whether he and Neil had "dramatically different tastes." Chris replied, "No, we have overlapping tastes, but these are probably the two extremes."

It's especially interesting—and delightful—to note the one performer shared by Chris's and Neil's sets: Dusty Springfield.

The following listing of the tracks follows the pattern "Track Title" (Writer[s]) by Performer (Year of recording). In a few cases I offer my own personal footnotes, provided after the lists.

Disc 1 (Chris Lowe)

Disc 2 (Neil Tennant)

1Readers of this website and other dedicated PSB fans know the tremendous importance of the Flirts' "Passion" to the history of the Pet Shop Boys. It was one of the early tracks in which Chris and Neil found a common musical thread, so to speak, and it proved a major influence on their early sound. I'm personally a bit disappointed, however, at the particular mix Chris chose to include on Back to Mine. Though extended to more than eight minutes, it doesn't include all of the song's verses, and it lacks the deep, creepy voice ("a voice from the crypt," as I described it way back when) repeatedly intoning the title. In my humble opinion, that voice lent the original version much of its dark, ominous power. Incidentally, I find it wonderful to think that, back in the early 1980s, I was groovin' to a relatively obscure dance track that Chris and Neil were simultaneously enjoying in their own relative obscurity. In fact, it was while I was a graduate student at the University of Minnesota in the early 1980s that I helped put together the setlist for a ULGC (University Lesbian/Gay Community) campus dance. If I remember correctly (and I'm virtually positive I do), "Passion" was among the selections that I chose for inclusion.

2"Ti Sento" has at times been mistakenly identified as the title of an unreleased PSB recording, as noted in my list devoted to such errors. Chris and Neil had at one time contemplated producing a cover of this song for Dusty Springfield, but those plans were scuttled.

3"I Was Born This Way" is a pioneering recording in the history of "gay music," as it were. I wrote briefly about both the original 1975 rendition by Valentino and this, Carl Bean's 1977 cover version, in my 1994 book Rock on the Wild Side: Gay Male Images in Popular Music of the Rock Era. Chris himself has been quoted as saying, "I chose 'I Was Born This Way' … in order to give strength and hope to gays and lesbians around the world who may be living in countries less tolerant of homosexuality than the country in which I live. The song has the same emotional impact on me as 'Ain't No Stopping Us Now' by McFadden and Whitehead."

4Of course, Dusty Springfield had collaborated with the Boys on "What Have I Done to Deserve This?" and half of the album Reputation. I should note that Dusty's rendition of "Goin' Back," one of Neil's selections, is the best version I've ever heard of that song, which I consider to be Carole King's most beautiful composition. Yet it's not nearly as well known as a great many lesser songs of hers. I often wish she had included it on her classic album Tapestry rather than on its far less popular and often ignored predecessor, Writer.

5Dettinger and Lobe were both subsequently tapped by Neil and Chris to remix "The Sodom and Gomorrah Show" and "Minimal," respectively, for the Fundamental limited-edition bonus disc Fundamentalism.