What's New? – Recent Updates & Additions

April 16, 2017

Happy Easter to all of you who observe the holiday! I've posted the final results of this past week's poll, in which I asked my site visitors their opinions of the prospect (unknown at this time) of additional bonus tracks on the re-reissues expected later this year of the first six Pet Shop Boys studio albums, which had previously been reissued in 2001 and which are slated to be issued again along with brand new reissues of the five studio albums that followed in their wake.

My new survey isn't just for the week ahead but for the entire remainder of April as I take a sabbatical for a little more than two weeks from website work, emails, and pretty much the internet and computers in general—at least as much as one can in this day and age. This poll will therefore run "on its own," without my checking up on or commenting on the running results, until Monday, May 1. And the question itself is pretty simple and straightforward (though perhaps your choice won't be): I'm asking you to choose what you consider to be the best sequence of three consecutive PSB studio albums.

I've found on YouTube a new acoustic cover version of "Domino Dancing" by one Justin Vancura. As I say on my Tennant-Lowe covers page, where I've just noted it, it may be "amateur"—in fact, its deceptively humble intro sounds very much so—but it gradually develops to the point where it sounds not only excellent but also quite professional. I really like it, and I hope you do, too.

Remember – I'll won't be responding to emails during my break, so please be patient if you write and don't get a reply for a week or two. Thanks, take care, and I wish you all the best during my absence!

April 15, 2017

Now that I've finally heard the Baba Stiltz remix of "Burn," I've decided to add a "2017 addendum" to my entry at #6 for what I regard as "the 14 strangest things the Pet Shop Boys have done."

April 12, 2017

I received my copy of Annually 2017 in the mail today, which allows me to add it to my page that lists books about the Pet Shop Boys. Since, as I write this, I've had it in hand less than an hour—during much of which time I've been busy making that very site update—I haven't had a chance yet to go through it. I'll be devoting much of my time this evening (and probably tomorrow evening as well) doing precisely that, after which I expect I'll be making quite a few corresponding site updates. Stay tuned!

Thanks to Dan Newton for catching and reporting a broken hyperlink on my "An Iconic Image" page to the website of the PSB tribute band West End Girls (who are apparently now defunct as a performing duo). Using a new link that Dan so kindly provided, I've now made the appropriate fix.

April 9, 2017

I've posted the end results of last week's survey, in which I asked my site visitors how they feel about the Pet Shop Boys recently promoting on their official website a "Stop Brexit" March on Parliament.

This week's poll anticipates the re-release sometime very soon of the PSB studio albums released since the last batch of reissues in 2001. If you recall, each of those earlier albums—from Please through Bilingual—was reissued with a bonus "Further Listening" disc of assorted other tracks from the corresponding time-period: single b-sides, remixes, demos, and the like, some of them previously unreleased. In all likelihood the newer albums—from Nightlife through Elysium—will receive the same bonus-disc treatment when they're reissued. But some fans have been speculating online whether that first batch of reissues from 2001 will also be re-released at the same time. And, if so, would they have the exact same bonus "Further Listening" tracks, or will there be some new additions, presumably offered to encourage fans who purchased them the first time around to buy them again? So that's the subject of my question this week. If those older albums (Please through Bilingual) are reissued again—and at this point we really don't know whether they will or not—would you like for them to include new bonus material, or would you prefer that they be exactly the same as before?

Meanwhile, regular site visitor and professed "Pet Shop Boys superfan" Andrew Dineley (whose Actually-inspired Christmas card with his partner Jason and their beagle Ruby has long appeared on my "An Iconic Image" page) has contributed a delightful, generously illustrated eight-page article on collecting PSB to the second issue of the new U.K. magazine Long Live Vinyl. If you're interested, it's readily available in shops across the U.K. and can be ordered online or downloaded for iOS or Android.

And speaking of fans, over the past few days I've added a couple of new names to my list of celebrity fans of the Pet Shop Boys outside of the field of music: American actor, writer, and entrepreneur Phil Elam (who happens to be a regular site visitor as well as a musician, but who is now becoming better known for his endeavors aside from music) and English author, journalist, and blogger Tom Hocknell.

April 8, 2017

Thanks to Steve N. for encouraging me to note journalist Jude Rogers's recent suggestion in The Guardian that the reference to Goldhawk Road in "Love Is a Bourgeois Construct" may be a playful nod to British film director Peter Greenaway. I've used this observation to expand a bit upon my pre-existing tenth bullet-point annotation about Goldhawk Road following my main commentary on that song, in the process including some observations that Neil has offered in response to what Rogers said about it. Doing so called my attention to the fact that "Love Is a Bourgeois Construct" is undoubtedly one of the most heavily "annotated" PSB songs here on my website—a testament, I suppose, to its wealth of cultural allusions, which Rogers also mentioned in her Guardian piece.

April 6, 2017

The Pet Shop Boys' official website announced today that their Super Tour performance scheduled for June 5 at the Olympia Bruno Coquatrix in Paris has been canceled because, remarkably, French law apparently prohibits the use of lasers indoors, and they've been unable to find a suitable outdoor venue to take its place. So I've removed that date from my PSB tours page. Of course, one might wonder why they simply couldn't have the concert without the lasers. It's mostly about the music, isn't it? But, then again, artists have every right to determine for themselves the appropriate circumstances for presentation of their art. If Chris and Neil genuinely feel that they can't deliver a show of the quality they demand and their fans deserve without those lasers (at least not on such short notice), then it indeed behooves them—and, yes, their fans, too—to cancel the show. As Neil has stated, "In our shows we regard the music and the visuals as equally important."

Thanks also to Henrik Guldberg for correcting me on Roger Daltrey's appearance at the Royal Albert Hall concert this past Sunday evening. Rather than "introduce" the Boys, he actually "re-introduced" them at the end of the intermission period, during which he shared an anecdote about persuading them to perform this benefit show, apparently several years after he had first asked them. I've made the appropriate adjustment to my "PSB/Who" connections on the page devoted to my other favorite artists.

Although I haven't yet received my copy of Annually 2017 (and probably won't for at least another week, maybe more), someone has posted a brief segment of it in the Pet Shop Boys Community Forum—a segment that enables me to add, somewhat surprisingly, "Paninaro" to my list of Pet Shop Boys songs that one or both of them don't like.

That having been done, however, I ask those of you who have received your copies of Annually 2017 please not to write to me with suggestions of material drawn from it to add to my website. Part of the fun is finding that sort of thing for myself. I prefer to wait. Thanks in advance.

And that having been said, every now and then I find myself growing a little weary of the daily responsibility I've taken upon myself to maintain this website. That's a sign to me that it's time to take a break—a short sabbatical during which I won't have to make any site updates, respond to emails, or even touch a computer. So that's what I've planned for later this month. I'm going to "take off" nearly the entire second half of April before resuming work again on the site at the beginning of May. I haven't decided yet whether I'll let a two-week survey run "on its own" during that interval or whether I'll just let the site go "poll-less," so to speak, for a couple weeks. Needless to say, I'll let you know more as the time approaches.

April 5, 2017

Thanks once again to Andrew Shaw, this time for telling me about the Summer Sun and Winter Sun holiday brochures published in the U.K. by Thomson Holidays, which possibly sheds light on the line "Pick up a brochure about the sun" in "Left to My Own Devices." I've used this to make some modifications to the pre-existing second bullet-point annotation about that line following my main commentary on the song.

April 4, 2017

Thanks to Andrew Shaw for letting me know that Roger Daltrey introduced the Pet Shop Boys for their benefit performance Sunday night at the Royal Albert Hall, which triggers an update to my entry about this event among my "PSB/Who" connections on the page devoted to my other favorite artists. In the process, I noticed that I've been misspelling Daltrey's surname all this time, leaving out the e—now corrected, of course.

April 3, 2017

Using the results of the first part of my recent two-part album-rating survey, I've updated most of the album pages here on this site (starting, of course, with Please) with new star-ratings. I've also added an explanatory note about this on my home page, particularly for the benefit of new site visitors along the way.

Not surprisingly, video recordings of much of the Pet Shop Boys' special benefit concert last night at the Royal Albert Hall have already found their way onto YouTube. For instance, here's the opening number, "Left to My Own Devices." The recordings are hardly "professional quality," but many of them aren't bad at all. Watch out, however, for the ones that purport to stream the entire show to you if you click on a link in the video posting. Speaking only for myself, I don't consider those trustworthy; some could download malware onto your computer.

April 2, 2017

I've posted the final results of my poll of the past week, in which I asked my site visitors to assign a 0-5 star rating to each Pet Shop Boys album based on how they compare with all the other albums, regardless of the artists, with which they're familiar. Most interestingly, there were far fewer voters this week than there were in last week's "sister survey." I suspect the similarity of the two polls discouraged many would-be voters. If that's the case, then my new survey for the week ahead should offer a welcome change of pace. As many if not most of you know, the Pet Shop Boys recently on their official website promoted a "National March to Parliament" as part of the U.K. "Stop Brexit" movement. I'm wondering how you feel about this, either in general terms or specifically in relation to Brexit. Thanks so much to porkchopkid for suggesting this question, although I did make a few adjustments and additions to the choices he proposed.

Speaking of the official PSB website, it has just been announced there that a second date, September 6, has been added to their appearance at the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre in Dublin because the original date, the night before, has very quickly (in less than a day!) sold out. I've updated my PSB tours page accordingly.

Thanks so much to Simon from Newcastle for clueing me in on the fabulous setlist for the Pet Shop Boys' sold-out concert this evening at London's Royal Albert Hall (with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra and special guest Johnny Marr) to benefit the Teenage Cancer Trust. It really doesn't "fit" anywhere else on this website and doesn't even necessitate any updates to my setlist page (since all of the songs had previously been performed at other one-off shows), but I figured it would be nice to share the list here nonetheless:

Among the support vocalists were Sylvia Mason-James and Sally Bradshaw. And here's a photo posted on the official PSB website. I so desperately hope the show was filmed or videotaped for eventual DVD/Blu-Ray release.

April 1, 2017

I'm grateful to Peter Humphreys (whose name I've added to my Thank You page) for sharing his insights regarding the "grammatical controversy" stemming from the song "I'm Not Scared." I've updated my special page devoted to that subject with a brief excerpt from his email near the end.

March 31, 2017

Thanks to Andrew Shaw for letting me know that Chris Lowe attended last night's performance by The Who at London's Royal Albert Hall to benefit the Teenage Cancer Trust—the same venue and charity for the Pet Shop Boys' own concert this coming Sunday evening. I've used this information to provide a new entry for my "On This Day in Pet Shop Boys History" page (although it won't show up there again until next year) and to modify an existing PSB/Who connection on the page devoted to my other favorite artists.

March 30, 2017

The Pet Shop Boys continue to add dates to the 2017 leg of their Super Tour. Today they announced on their official website performances on July 3 at the famed Montreux Jazz Festival—which ever since the 1970s has welcomed artists well outside the field of "jazz"—and on July 22 in Turku, Finland. Naturally, I've updated my PSB tours page.

Speaking of my tours page, I've been asked how come I don't list there the Boys' benefit concert this Sunday at London's Royal Albert Hall with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra and special guest Johnny Marr. I don't list it there for the same reason I don't list other "one-off," "non-tour" shows. Although it does come during a break in the on-again, off-again Super Tour, it's quite clear that this is a very special "non-Super Tour" show, which will undoubtedly have its own unique setlist designed to take full advantage of both Marr and the orchestra. So I don't list it. That's all. And if I'm proven wrong and it turns out to be much more like than unlike the Super Tour shows, I'll simply change my mind and list it. I can do that, you know.

I almost forgot to write about my most recent "PSB dream"—my first in nearly six months—which I had just last night. The Boys don't actually appear in it, but the fact that they're mentioned in it is absolutely central to its plot. If you're at all interested in such (if you'll pardon the expression) nocturnal emissions of my subconscious mind, I invite you to read about it. That's assuming my whimsical but admittedly tasteless choice of words there didn't completely disgust you. wink

March 29, 2017

As I did at this time last week, I'm taking this opportunity to offer a mid-week report on the status of the current results for my survey this week. Perhaps not too surprisingly, the results so far are closely mirroring last week's results—except that most of the average album ratings (currently with just three exceptions) are trending a bit lower than they did last week. That actually surprises me somewhat. But I'm certainly not complaining. I like being surprised. It makes life so much more interesting. wink There have, however, been more than fifty fewer voters than at this time last week, which suggests to me that many may be "turned off" by such a similar poll following in the wake of last week's. It will be interesting to see whether the final tally of voters indeed ends up being significantly lower than for the previous survey. That may prove an important lesson for me.

March 28, 2017

Today the Pet Shop Boys' official website confirmed the September 5 Dublin show that I "leaked" here yesterday, and announced yet another new concert date: July 18 in Amsterdam. Unfortunately, they also noted that the organizers of the "Festival on the Wall" near Newcastle, at which the Boys were scheduled to perform on August 4, have canceled the entire event. So I've accordingly updated my PSB tours page with these adjustments.

March 27, 2017

The Pet Shop Boys announced today on their official website that they will be performing in Tel Aviv on June 10. I've made this update to my PSB tours page. And although it hasn't yet (as I write this) been confirmed by their website, at least a half-dozen other seemingly reputable sites are reporting that they have also signed on to perform in Dublin on September 5. I've made that at least tentative update to my tours page as well.

March 26, 2017

I've posted the final results of this past week's survey, in which I asked my site visitors to assign a 0-5 star rating to each Pet Shop Boys album based on how they compare with each other. This week's poll is the promised "Part 2," in which I'm asking you once again to rate each PSB album, only this time in comparison to all of albums you're familiar with, regardless of the artists. It will be interesting to see, however, whether the ratings tend to go up compared to last week's results since, after all, the vast majority of my site visitors are dedicated PSB fans, or whether they tend to go down because of the "competition" offered by so many other artists and albums.

By the way, once these surveys are all done, I plan on posting the averages and modes (pluralities) on my main page for each of the rated albums.

March 25, 2017

Thanks so much to a newer site visitor, Ian Innes, for sharing his very detailed observations about "King's Cross" largely based on Derek Jarman's video for the song. They expand somewhat on the possible "gay cruising" interpretation of the lyrics that I had already touched upon in my commentary. I've noted some of Ian's insights in a new bullet-point annotation. And, in recognition, I've added Ian's name to my Thank You page.

March 23, 2017

The Pet Shop Boys' official website announced today that they will be performing two Super Tour concerts in Sweden (in Rättvik and Östersundon) on July 27 and 28. I've updated my PSB tours page with this information.

March 22, 2017

Since the nature and technology of my poll this week prevents me from providing the usual real-time current results, I figured I would take a traditional page from the BBC record charts and offer some "mid-weeks." For fear of unduly influencing the outcome, I won't identify any specific albums, but I will say that, so far, star-ratings have been provided by a little more than 250 voters. Three Pet Shop Boys albums are enjoying mode (plurality) ratings of 5 stars, while four of them—those three plus one other—have average ratings (allowing fractional figures) above 4. And one album is in "bomb mode," thus far with a plurality rating of zero.

Taking all of the albums into account, the single most frequent rating is 3, which means "average." I believe that speaks quite well of the validity, so to speak, of these ratings. That is, one would fully expect "average" to be the single most common rating in a relatively unbiased poll. So this tells me that, yes, most of you, despite being dedicated PSB fans, are approaching this survey in a very thoughtful and generally objective manner. Bravo!

March 19, 2017

I've posted the final results of my poll this past week, in which I asked my site visitors to choose their favorite character portrayed by Neil (other than himself) in the lyrics of the Pet Shop Boys' songs. My new survey for the week ahead is the first of two parts (more about the second part in a moment), and it's something that I'm amazed I've never done up to this point. I'm asking you to assign ratings of from zero to five stars to most of the Pet Shop Boys' albums (those aside from hits collections and releases in which someone aside from themselves is the primary performing artist for most if not all of the songs) based on how they compare to each other—that is, just to other PSB albums. In fact, because you'll be comparing them only to each other, it's inevitable that some will receive higher ratings than others—in fact, I believe that some should receive quite low ratings, whereas others should of course be rated quite high. (It's next week's poll where you'll be able to assign star-ratings to these same albums based on pop music releases in general by any artist.)

By the way, I hope you like how the stars (and bomb) in this survey work. It took me hours to get them to work correctly, and I've only been able to test and verify their functionality on Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari, and Opera. I'd love to test it on Firefox as well, but for some reason I simply haven't been able to figure out, I can't get Firefox to work on my computer. Whatever the case, I certainly hope it works on your browser. If not, however, please feel free to send me an email with your ow album-by-album 0- to 5-star ratings.

And I shouldn't let the day go by without acknowledging the passing yesterday of a true rock and roll pioneer and genuine legend, Chuck Berry, at the age of 90. While his specific style of music really wasn't much to my liking (personally I don't care much for fifties rock'n'roll), his tremendous importance as one of the founding fathers of rock cannot be denied. What's more, he wrote some terrific songs, at times displaying a simple, rustic poeticism that an old lyric-hound like me can't help but marvel at. My favorite Berry compositions, as much from a lyrical as a musical perspective, are "Roll Over Beethoven," "Memphis" ("Last time I saw Marie she was waving me goodbye / With hurry-home drops on her cheek that trickled from her eye" is an absolutely delightful couplet), and "You Never Can Tell (C'est La Vie)." But let's just say, shall we, that his biggest chart hit—his 1972 cover of Dave Bartholomew's "My Ding-a-Ling," recorded live in Coventry, England—is best overlooked.

March 18, 2017

I've updated my Pet Shop Boys Tours page with the news, just announced on the official PSB website, that they will be bringing their Super Tour show to the Rock in Rio festival in Rio de Janeiro on September 15.

Thanks to Erik H. for letting me know that the "Undertow" EP has now been posted on iTunes—although it doesn't appear to be available for downloading yet, at least not by me. But it states there the lengths of its tracks. So I've updated my entries for that song, "Burn," and "Left to My Own Devices" with the corresponding track-length data. (At first I thought that the Baba Stiltz remix of "Burn" comes might qualify for inclusion in my list of the ten longest commercially released "official" PSB remixes, but it falls short.)