Here Comes the Bear (aka It's the Bear aka Headstrong)
by "The Bear"

Writers - Lowe/Connell
First released - 2008
Original album - B' Jesus Said Paddy EP (The Riders of the Night)
Subsequent albums - (none)
Other releases - (none)

As most diehard Pet Shop Boys enthusiasts know, Dainton Connell, aka "The Bear," was the Boys' longtime friend and, for many years, their bodyguard, handler, and personal assistant. He was a frequent presence in their entourage, and he appeared in a number of their music videos: "So Hard," "Jealousy," "Was It Worth It?" "A Red Letter Day," and "Somewhere." His sudden death in October 2007 in an automobile accident in Moscow shortly after having taken part in birthday festivities for Chris at a nearby restaurant is one of the most tragic episodes in PSB history.

This strange yet oddly compelling track—released as "It's the Bear" and also, in an obscure promo or bootleg (there seems to be some ambiguity about it), as "Headstrong," but according to sources within the PSB organization more correctly titled "Here Comes the Bear"—is one of the more intriguing legacies of his involvement with the Pet Shop Boys. Dainton and Chris went into the studio in the early 1990s to work on it, perhaps with an eye toward possible single release under Dainton's name. But they must not have felt it worthy since they ultimately shelved it aside from printing a small number of vinyl copies which were then distributed to a few friends and DJs.

It might never have had a public hearing had it not been for Dainton's untimely passing. As it turned out, however, it surfaced in early 2008 as a "bonus tribute" to Dainton on an EP curiously titled B' Jesus Said Paddy by a punkish nine-man band of Arsenal fans called The Riders of the Night. (While most of the EP is by the group, "It's the Bear" is by Dainton and Chris.) Following this, Neil and Chris decided to make a gift of the track and all rights in it to Dainton's widow to do with as she pleases, including exploiting it commercially.

As for the recording itself, frankly, it almost defies description. Something of a hybrid between rave music and what would soon come to be known as "trip hop" or "acid rap," its three chief features are:

In many ways, it shouldn't work. And, to be sure, fan reactions have been mixed. While it's true that Dainton's premature death grants the recording an air of poignancy that it wouldn't otherwise have, it nevertheless also has a strange appeal that—especially after repeated listenings—makes it grow on you. I personally can't help but think that, had Dainton and Chris decided to release it officially for themselves, perhaps as a one-off novelty single, it might have achieved some success in the often highly unpredictable U.K. singles market.


List cross-references