What's New? – Recent Updates & Additions

Got the book!November 17, 2018

Neil's book arrived in my mailbox today—woo-hoo! Over the next few days, thanks to the notes Neil has provided for each song, I will very likely be gleaning bits and pieces of information for inclusion here on my website. In the meantime, stay tuned!

November 15, 2018

Thanks to Stuart R for letting me know that today's edition of the long-running U.K. television show Homes Under the Hammer featured "The View from Your Balcony" in a scene involving (what else?) a view from a balcony—the second time it's done so. I've now noted this fact in the pre-existing entry for that song at #66 in my list of Pet Shop Boys songs used in non-musical films and TV shows.

November 13, 2018

I'm pleased to note that my survey service provider, Sparklit, has come through and fixed the broken "Comments" feature for my poll this week. So you can now leave comments if you wish!

Although I'm still waiting for my copy of Neil's new book One Hundred Lyrics and a Poem to arrive in the mail (I've ordered it from Amazon.uk, and it's obviously slow going), I've been able to glean some facts from Neil's very informative introduction, an excerpt from which is posted on the Amazon website. This has enabled me to make a few updates. For one thing, I learned that the title of "Young Offender" was inspired by a paperback book that Neil saw in a used bookstore, resulting in a new annotation to my commentary on that song as well as its addition to my list of Pet Shop Boys songs with "literary references." I've also expanded a bit on the "mini-entries" for several songs that Neil wrote before he met Chris, specifically "Can You Hear the Dawn Break?" "She's So Eclectic," "Telephone Blues," and his very first song, "Has Anyone Seen My Cat," written when he was only nine. These items appear near the bottom of my page devoted to unreleased songs written by the Boys. I imagine that, once I get my hands on the book itself, I'll be doing some further updating.

November 12, 2018

The Quietus continues its critical love-affair with our musical heroes with a marvelous new article celebrating the recent 30th anniversary of Introspective, in which the writer proclaims it the Pet Shop Boys' greatest album. I can't say that I agree with that particular assessment—but I don't disagree by much.

November 11, 2018

I've posted the final results of this past week's poll, in which I asked my site visitors to choose the Pet Shop Boys single that is, in their opinion, the "most better" than its associated music video as well as the PSB music video they consider to be the "most better" than the song itself. My new survey for the week ahead is conceptually quite a bit simpler than that one. I've listed the PSB collaborations (with some slight "adjustments") that the Boys themselves have listed on their official website, and I'm asking you to pick the one that you would most like to hear them perform live in concert. (Hence, ones that they've already performed live on tour or during one of their occasional "residencies" are omitted.) Thanks to John McFadden for suggesting this poll question!

Incidentally, I've discovered that the "Comments" feature of my curent poll isn't working. I've investigated this problem, and it appears to be beyond my control, but rather in the hands of my survey service provider. I've submitted a request for them to look into it and, I hope, resolve it, but I have no idea how long this may take. Stay tuned for updates!

Meanwhile, an observation only peripherally related to the Pet Shop Boys – Earlier today I was listening on the radio to an interview with the late, great Johnny Cash during which he was talking about the inspiration for his 2002 song "The Man Comes Around," which also happens to have been one of the last songs he wrote before he died. He noted that it was inspired by a dream he'd had that had in turn been inspired by his reading a particular book at time, the title of which he cited as Dreaming of the Queen and described as being about dreams people in Britain had about Queen Elizabeth II. This of course sounds precisely like the book Dreams About HM the Queen and other Members of the Royal Family, which Neil Tennant has mentioned as an inspiration for the PSB song "Dreaming of the Queen." Struck by this fact, I went online and searched for references to books actually titled Dreaming of the Queen, but couldn't find any. As a result, I strongly suspect the book that Cash had been reading was indeed Dreams About HM the Queen and other Members of the Royal Family, but he had misremembered the title as "Dreaming of the Queen." This then makes me think that perhaps Cash was familiar with or at least had heard the PSB song. Cash was known for his often surprisingly eclectic tastes in music and his openness (as a listener, though not so much as a performer) to genres seemingly quite alien to him, cases in point being his famed remakes of Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt" and Depeche Mode's "Personal Jesus"—which, as it so happens, also appear on the same 2002 album as "The Man Comes Around." I find this prospect absolutely delightful.

November 10, 2018

Thanks so much to several site visitors for enabling me to make a few updates today:

November 9, 2018

To follow up on yesterday's entry just below, I want to express my sincere appreciation to Andrew Dineley for letting me know about the recent two-part edition of the Permanent Record Podcast, a regular podcast on New Wave and Classic Rock music hosted by Brian and Sarah Linnen, in which they focus in great detail on the Pet Shop Boys album Introspective in observation of its 30th anniversary. Andrew—a frequent contributor to Classic Pop magazine, a graphic artist/designer, and a podcaster himself—was their guest in discussing this great album. He wanted to make sure I heard it not only because I would obviously find it of interest as a PSB fan but also because they mention me and this website (quite complimentarily!) several times. The lengthiest sequence involving me (with regard to "I Want a Dog") starts at around the 1:18:00 (that is, one hour and 18 minute) point in Part 1. So I've now noted it on my "I've Been Cited!" page. Thanks so much, Andrew!

Incidentally, it was in this podcast that I first heard the assertion that Ricky Martin may have appeared briefly in the "Domino Dancing" video, as noted below.

November 8, 2018

I learned today that, according to some sources, a young Ricky Martin appeared very briefly as an extra in a crowd scene—not as one of the main characters—in the video for "Domino Dancing." I don't have any confirmation for this assertion, however, so at least for the time being I'm listing it as a "possibility" near the end of my list of guest appearances in the Pet Shop Boys' music videos. I'll also soon be noting here exactly where I first heard this, but I would prefer to hold off on doing so until I've finished a certain task that I've set for myself, which I hope to complete within the next day or two. I'll then be less mysterious and provide a little more info. Stay tuned!

November 7, 2018

Thanks to Stuart R for writing to me about the 1992 novelty track "Take Me to the Fridge (Milky Milky)" by the comedy team Punt & Dennis, billed as "Mr. Strange and the Lactose Brotherhood." An obvious Pet Shop Boys parody—specifically of the arrangement of "Left to My Own Devices" and Neil's vocal in that song—I've long noted it in my entry at #5 for The Mary Whitehouse Experience in my list of performance parodies of the Boys. But the information and YouTube link that Stuart kindly provided has enabled me to expand a bit on what I say about it there. Thanks again, Stuart!

November 4, 2018

I've posted the end results of my survey of the past two weeks, in which I asked my site visitors about the first "PSB product" they ever bought, or at least owned after having received it as a gift. My new poll—which will run for just one week now that I'm resuming my standard "poll-per-week" schedule—may be a little more conceptually challenging than most. Here's how it works: I've listed each of the Pet Shop Boys' singles for which they also released a music video (not counting one of those mere "lyric videos" that have grown more common of late), and I'm asking you to compare the relative quality, however you define it for yourself, of the song versus its video. You may then place two votes: one for the song/video combo in which you feel the quality of the song itself is the "most better," so to speak, compared to the video, and the other for the combo in which you believe the quality of the video is the "most better" compared to the song. For instance, if you don't much care for both the song and its video—that is, you don't like either one of them—then that's not a good choice. But if you really like the song and don't like the video, or vice-versa, then it's an excellent candidate for your vote. Please note that you don't have to place two votes if you don't want to; if you prefer, you can vote in only one category. Thanks so much to Rashomon for suggesting this intriguing poll question!

Meanwhile, thanks so much to Gavin Kagan for alerting me to the fact that I had neglected, in my commentary on the song "The Truck Driver and His Mate,"to mention that lay-bys have a reputation for being gay cruising spots in the U.K. (just like their counterparts in the U.S., where they're known as "rest stops"). My guess is that this angle had struck me as so obvious that it didn't even occur to me to comment on it. Whatever the case, I've now rectified that oversight in my pre-existing item about lay-bys among my bullet-point addenda to my main entry on that song. Thanks again, Gavin!

An amusing sidenote completely unrelated to PSB, though quite related to one of my other favorite artists – I read a delightful comment on YouTube the other day in response to a posting of Cher's hit rendition of "Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight)":

"Now we know what the real Gay Agenda was: getting Cher to record ABBA songs."

Not at all incidentally, yesterday I bought the CD Dancing Queen, Cher's new album of ABBA covers, and I must say it's pretty darn good. Mind you, I still prefer all the originals, but Cher's take on at least half of them give 'em a respectable run for the money. The aforementioned "Gimme Gimme Gimme," "SOS," and the stunning album closer, "One of Us," are particular standouts.

October 29, 2018

Thanks to Paul Atkin for letting me know about only the second remake of "Hit and Miss" that I'm aware of, this one by the Argentine singer/actor Jóse Tramontini. As I've now noted on my page that lists covers of Pet Shop Boys songs, it's quite a radical interpretation—so much so that if it weren't for the lyrics, it would be difficult even to recognize it! If you would like to hear it for yourself, you may do so on SoundCloud.

October 28, 2018

I stumbled upon an erroneous posting on YouTube late yesterday that permits me to add a new item at #22 in my list of tracks by other artists that have been mistakenly attributed online to the Pet Shop Boys. In this case it was the 2009 release "Can't Fight This Feeling" by Junior Caldera featuring Sophie Ellis-Bextor. The mistaken poster got Ms. Ellis-Bextor right, but misidentified her collaborator as PSB.

Thanks so much to David B. for catching an odd, consistent, and rather careless error on my part in which I had listed the release year of each individual track on my page devoted to The Most Incredible Thing as 2010 as opposed to the correct year, 2011. I've now made those corrections.

October 24, 2018

Thanks so much to Javier Richarte for informing me of several previously "unknown" unreleased but apparently "authorized" remixes of "Left to My Own Devices" created back in the late 1980s by the legendary Frankie Knuckles. I've now noted them as unreleased mixes on my page devoted to that song. Ordinarily I would be somewhat wary of such information, but Javier not only has strong credentials himself (as a radio host and producer) but he provided me with the reliable sources of his information. Now, all that being said, please don't ask me to offer the tracks myself; I don't have them and I haven't even heard them. Just knowing they exist is good enough for me. Meanwhile, thanks again, Javier!

October 23, 2018

Thanks to Georgiy for letting me know about the new recording "Костёр октября" ("Bonfire of October") by the Russian duo EK Boys, who had previously covered "West End Girls," as noted on my covers page. This new track is based harmonically on "My October Symphony" and also very likely contains samples from that Pet Shop Boys classic. Hence I've added it as a "possible" candidate at #47 in my list of tracks by other artists that sample PSB. If you would like to hear it for yourself, it's available on YouTube.

October 22, 2018

I'm back after having been "unavailable" for the past week. So I've now posted the final results of my somewhat controversial poll of the past two weeks (plus one day), in which I asked my site visitors which post-"Domino Dancing" (up through the Nightlife era) Pet Shop Boys single would, in their opinion, have had the best chance of being a major U.S. hit under different circumstances. My new survey for the next two weeks (minus one day) is the last of my current biweekly cycle, after which I plan to resume weekly polls. And I hope it will prove less divisive than this previous one. I'm simply wondering about the first "PSB product" you ever bought or at least owned after having otherwise received it, such as a gift. Was it one of their albums? If so, which one? Or was it a single? If so, from which decade? Or maybe it was something other than an album or single.

As for the aftermath of my absence – as you can imagine, I had a very large backlog of emails waiting for me upon my return. I haven't had time yet to reply to all of them, some of which will very likely result in some site updates. But I hope to get through them all by the end of the day today (Monday). And if you're one of those who wrote to me during the past week, I apologize for the delay in getting back to you; I expect to do so within the next 24 hours or so. Please stay tuned!

Joseph Whitcher wrote to point out a seeming error in my list of mixes for "Flamboyant," noting that the "demo" mix of that track was first released on a CD max-single. But as I replied to Joe, any information I provide about where various mixes can be found isn't intended to suggest the first appearance of said mix, but simply one or more examples of where it can be found, perhaps most readily. Nevertheless, I've gone ahead and updated my page for that track to include the information he provided, and have added Joe's name to my Thank You page!

Several of you have written to me about an excellent new interview with Neil in The Guardian online. Highly recommended—and thanks!