PSB tracks that contain samples of other artists' music

Even if you don't count the digital sampling technology used by various keyboard instruments, Pet Shop Boys recordings still contain a lot of samples. But most of those samples are voices or other "nonmusical" sounds that Chris and Neil use in a musical way. Only in a few cases have they included samples from other artists' recordings. The following tracks are distinguished in this way. Please note, however, that this list does not include:

1. Birthday Boy

To underscore the Christmas-related theme of the song, it fades out with a sample taken from a recording of the Choir of Clare College, Cambridge, performing the Christmas hymn "In the Bleak Midwinter" (a setting by composer Harold Edwin Darke of a poem by the Victorian writer Christina Georgina Rossetti).

2. Forever in Love

This largely instrumental track contains quite a few samples. The "Take it from the top!" exclamation is lifted from the opening of Salt-N-Pepa's 1987 track "My Mic Sounds Nice." The queston "Y'all ready?" is a slightly sped-up sample from the 1988 track "Here We Go" by Marla Mar and The Good 'N' Plenty Cru. Recurring throughout the track is a segment of an "Arabic Chant (Allah)" from the 1991 Zero-G samples compilation Datafile One. And the recurring female vocal of "I feel it" is (or at least certainly sounds like) a somewhat "manipulated" sample from Moby's 1992 track "Next Is the E (I Feel It)"; it may sample a few other elements of the latter recording as well.

3. Happiness Is an Option

This track contains, in the words of the album's liner notes, "a recreated sample from the George Clinton Mixman Soundisc MIXSD-001." If it truly is "recreated," it might not actually belong in this list. But its source being a Mixman Soundisc made for sampling makes it a good candidate nonetheless.

4. Home and Dry (Dusan Go to Hell Mix)

This rare but quite official remix contains a sample from the 1982 rendition of "(The Best Part of) Breakin' Up" by Roni Griffith, produced by Bobby 'O' Orlando.

5. I Didn't Get Where I Am Today

This bonus track on the "Flamboyant" single makes recurring use of an electric guitar riff sampled from the opening of "Father's Name Is Dad," a somewhat obscure 1967 number (though it's been described as a "beat classic") by the British band Fire.

6. I Want a Dog (Techno Funk Mix)

Right near its start, this PSB remix by R.J. Rice and Eddy Fowlkes samples George Clinton saying, "Yeah, this is a story about a dog" (and perhaps a bit of percussion as well), from the opening of his 1982 single "Atomic Dog" (a U.S. #1 R&B hit, though it didn't get much airplay on "mainstream" pop radio).

7. It Always Comes as a Surprise

The introduction and conclusion of this song are built around a sample taken from the classic 1963 Stan Getz/Antônio Carlos Jobim/João Gilberto recording of "Corcovado (Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars)," featuring Astrud Gilberto.

8. The Man Who Has Everything

The woman singing "Come on and get you some more" several times in this track is sampled from "Let No Man Put Assunder" by First Choice, originally released in 1977, but remixed by Shep Pettibone in 1983. It's possible that it may have come from the original 1977 album version or one of its other remixes. But, at least to these ears, the 1983 Pettibone mix sounds as if it's the most likely source.

9. Men and Maggots

This instrumental from the Tennant/Lowe film score for Battleship Potemkin contains a sample borrowed from the pop standard "Charade," written in 1963 by Henry Mancini and Johnny Mercer, and as performed in the early 1990s by Henry Mancini and The Mancini Pops Orchestra with Chorus. Not being familiar with the Mancini recording myself, I have to go by one of my email correspondents, who tells me that the sampled segment (which comes from the start of "Charade") is the chime- or celeste-like tones that begin at about 0:21 into "Men and Maggots."

10. Miserablism

Neil has noted that this track, during its middle instrumental break, contains a brief sample from Shostakovich’s Twelfth Symphony. The specific recording of the symphony that was used, however, is uncertain (at least to me).

11. Music for Boys

The repeated "Oh, yeah!" was sampled from the 1991 track "Sanctuary of Love" by Zhana’ (full name Zhana Saunders). As it appears in the PSB recording, it's sped up a bit to raise it to a higher pitch.

12. Positive Role Model

Both the Boys' own rendition of this song and the Closer to Heaven cast album version contain an instrumental break from Barry White's 1974-75 hit "You're the First, the Last, My Everything."

13. Psychological

This track contains a sample from a remarkably obscure source: a 1991 recording of the "Song of the Most Holy Theotokos" (Theotokos is a Greek term meaning "Mother of God," in reference to the Virgin Mary) as performed by (and apparently composed specifically for) soprano Tatiana Melentieva, excerpted from Svete Tikhiy ("O Gladsome Light") by the contemporary Russian composer Aleksandr Knaifel (born 1943).

14. Radiophonic (Demo)

The Boys' demo rendition of this song, released as a bonus "Further Listening" track with the 2017 reissue of Nightlife, contains sampled vocals from the 1979 U.K. hit "I Don't Want to Be a Freak (But I Can't Help Myself)" by the band Dynasty. A sample of their female vocalists half-singing, half-whispering the title line is often repeated during the instrumental opening of the demo and subsequent instrumental breaks. Delightfully, Neil even joins in a few times, himself intoning "I don't want to be a freak" first at about the 1:40 point in the track and again several instances later.

15. So Hard

It's essentially a part of "PSB folklore" that this track contains a brief sample lifted from a porn film of a young man or woman (opinions differ on this point) moaning the words "It's so hard." But it's distinctly possible that this sample was actually taken from the 1987 record "Deeper N Deeper" by the underground dance-club band Modern Rocketry. (Yes, I've heard it myself.) Now, it's also quite possible that Modern Rocketry had sampled it from a porno flick. But it does seem much more likely that the Pet Shop Boys borrowed it from the record rather than directly from a film. Otherwise, these two different recording acts would've had to independently sample the exact same line from the exact same blue movie. And that seems rather unlikely to me.

16. The Sodom and Gomorrah Show (Demo Version)

The "Demo Version" (so far available officially only on U.K. iTunes, as opposed to the very similar "Original Demo" released with the 2017 reissue of Fundamental, from which the following seems to be absent) contains a sample of Eminem saying "Pet Shop Boys" lifted from his obscure "Canibitch" track, in which he imagines running our heroes down in a car.

17. Somewhere

The single version and "PSB Extended Mix" contain some relatively unmusical samples from a performance of the West Side Story song "Cool" (most likely the famed 1961 movie soundtrack—one of the best-selling motion picture soundtracks of all time), notably the line "You wanna live in this lousy world?" spoken by Russ Tamblyn in the role of Riff. Some other "non-musical" samples are taken from the film Menace II Society—although, unlike the former, these have been removed from the 2023 remaster that appears on Smash.

18. Suburbia (live version on the Pandemonium CD)

This live rendition opens with a sample borrowed from the start of some (but not all) mixes of the 1994 dance track "Maracana Madness" by E-Klektik. I'm not at all sure, however, whether the E-Klektik track itself sampled it from some other source, though (from the sound of it) it strikes me as highly probable. It's worth noting—and probably not at all coincidental—that "Maracana Madness" was remixed by (among others) "Les Rythmes Digitales," which was a pseudonym for none other than Stuart Price, who also created the live mixes/arrangements for the Pet Shop Boys' Pandemonium tour, "Suburbia" included.

19. To Step Aside

This track contains very noticeable and distinctive samples from a recording of Spanish Gypsy music, which the Boys chose because they felt it sounded like the chanting of religious pilgrims. These samples were drawn from a 1995 sample CD titled World Colours published by the German company Best Service.

20. Two Divided by Zero (live version on the Pandemonium CD)

The introductory portion of this live rendition incorporates the sampled beat from the "Original 12-inch Dub" of Shannon's 1983 post-disco classic "Let The Music Play"—a song with which the Boys have been involved on another occasion as well.

21. We All Feel Better in the Dark

The repeated "Pump that beat" (?) phrase is probably a digitally modified borrowing from the 1986 track "Pump That Bass" by Original Concept. In addition, it almost certainly includes a brief snippet ("Get down!") taken from Loleatta Holloway's extensively sampled 1980 dance classic "Love Sensation."

22. West End Girls

It's a documented fact that many if not most mixes of the 1984 original Bobby O version of the Pet Shop Boys' first hit contain samples of the legendary soul singer James Brown's voice (those occasional "I… I… uh… uh…" punctuations), though Lord only knows which specific Brown track(s) they're taken from. In apparent recogntion of these samples, one of those Bobby O mixes is even titled the "James Brown mix." These samples did not reappear, however, in any mixes of the version of WEG that the Boys re-recorded the following year with producer Stephen Hague for the album Please—the version that became an international #1 hit.

… and probably

23. "It Must Be Obvious" (The KLF U.F.O. Remix)

It must indeed be obvious that The KLF's "U.F.O. Remix" of this song contains, in true KLF fashion, all sorts of samples, including a good deal of ambient noise. Identifying all of the samples would be a virtually impossible task. It has been claimed, however (in Wikipedia and elsewhere) that assorted brief segments from The KLF's own early 1990 album Chill Out are included. Having listened to that particular piece of music—and, in my opinion, I'm using that term somewhat loosely in this particular case—I believe it's a quite reasonable assertion. But since I can't verify it with certainty, I'm classifying it here as "probable."

24. & 25. Hey, Headmaster and One Thing Leads to Another

The rhythm/percussion tracks of these two songs are very likely based on a drum loop sampled from the 1969 record "Amen, Brother" by the U.S. funk/soul band The Winstons. In both cases the speed and pitch of the loop has been shifted somewhat, and in the latter case it's enhanced with additional percussion. But this sample is hardly unique to these PSB tracks. That particular drum loop—lifted from a brief drum solo within the original Winstons recording—has been used so often in hip-hop and dance music that it has acquired its own nomenclature: the "Amen Break." Some critics, in fact, have estimated it to be the single most sampled audio segment in popular music history.

… and maybe

26. K-Hole

It's possible, though by no means certain, that the same "Amen, Brother" drum loop sample noted just above is also used—again sped up and somewhat distorted—in portions of this track from Closer to Heaven. It's also quite possible that some strings and trumpets from the 1982 Boys Town Gang dance remake of "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" make a brief and subtle appearance, buried deep in the mix, starting at about the 2:38 mark of "K-Hole," lasting for five or six seconds.

27. Was It Worth It? (Dub)

An online KLF discography (which now appears to have gone defunct) once asserted that the "Dub Mix" of "Was It Worth It?" contains samples from The KLF's "Six Hours To Louisiana, Black Coffee Going Cold." Apparently if you turn the volume way up and listen closely during the last fifteen seconds, you will hear the samples. Further, as one of my site visitors has pointed out, this same mix sounds as though it contains a "heavy breathing and percussion" sample from Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus." (The possible sample, repeated many times, runs in various spots in the track, most noticeably from about 1:40 to 2:06.) When a fan asked about this, however, in the Q&A section of the official PSB website, Neil denied knowledge of any Depeche Mode sample appearing in their songs. So there are two possibilities:

At least for the time being, we'll have to leave it at that.

28. Sodom (a Trentemøller remix of "The Sodom and Gomorrah Show")

It has been alleged (on Wikipedia and elsewhere) that this remix contains samples from the classic New Order track "Blue Monday." Apparently the supposed samples are brief high-hat strikes heard at three different points in the mix. I would never have noticed such an extremely subtle thing. What's more, I have no idea whether this assertion is indeed accurate, although other objective observers have offered their own confirmations based on close listening.

29. Love Life

The opening and underlying riff sounds very much as though it may be a modified sample (transposed to a different key) from the 1978 disco hit "Cuba" by the Gibson Brothers. If it's not actually a sample, it was almost certainly at least inspired by the older track.

30. Playing in the Streets

Some of the heavily distorted "background music" (so to speak), sound effects, and voices that appear near the beginning of this raucous Nightlife-era track may have been lifted from the closing moments of the controversial 1997 mass-murder videogame Postal by Running with Scissors (yes, that's the name of the company), the credits of which attribute "Music and Ambient Sound Effects" to Christian A. Salyer. The similarities are certainly striking, but there's enough room for doubt in my own mind that, without some sort of "official" confirmation, I'm hesitant to put this in anything more definite than the "maybe" category. If, however, the Boys actually did sample Postal, I do hope they obtained permission. In keeping with the extremely violent nature of the game, its closing credits state (no doubt tongue in cheek) that "Copyright infringement will be punishable by death in any country accessible by air travel."

31. Boy Strange

Because Chris and Neil repurposed portions of "Playing in the Streets" (see just above) for the instrumental lead-in to "Boy Strange," the latter song may also include samples from Postal. Without confirmation one way or the other, all I can say is that it sounds as though that's a distinct possibility.

… but definitely not

At about 2:36 there's the first of several "echoing" keyboard chords that are strongly reminiscent of the similar echoing keyboard chords that dominate the classic 1996 track "Born Slippy" by the U.K. duo Underworld. Some fans online have cited this as another case of sampling. But close listening indicates that sampling is definitely not what's going on. Influence and/or inspiration, perhaps, but not sampling.