What's New? Recent Updates & Additions
May 19, 2013
I've posted the final results of my poll this past week, in which I asked my site visitors which tracks from the Pet Shop Boys' soon-to-be-released new album Electric (aside from the advance-released "Axis") they're most looking forward to hearing and/or most excited about based on currently available information. This week's new survey steps away from the album itself and instead concerns the Electric Tour now under way. I'm simply wondering whether you've already bought tickets for one or more of its shows (or maybe have even already attended one of its early dates), haven't yet but are planning to, aren't planning to at all (for one of several different reasons), or are uncertain about it at this point.
Thanks to Robert Schulz for reporting a possible error on my "On This Day in Pet Shop Boys History" page. To play it safe—since I've been unable to verify it absolutely one way or the other—I've modified the text to remove the possible mistake.
May 18, 2013
I've made a few minor updates based on information gleaned from the Pet Shop Boys' concert the other night in Buenos Aires. First, there's the fact that they performed "Go West" instead of "Love Is a Bourgeois Construct," thereby consigning both songs to the "red category" (played only on some dates of the tour) in the Electric Tour section of my live setlist page. I've also made a few tentative additions to my still quite fragmentary entry for the new song "Thursday."
For those of you who don't mind "spoilers" (you've been warned, so please don't complain to me about it), there's not only a fairly poor-quality Buenos Aires audio recording of the latter song on YouTube but also—much more gratifyingly—some videos of excellent quality of the performances there of two other new Electric tracks, "The Last to Die" (here's the video link) and "Vocal" (as well as the link to this one, too).
Thanks to Keith R. Johnson for pointing out another YouTube link, this one to a fair-quality recording of "Love Is a Bourgeois Construct" in Santiago, which permits me to make some significant (though still tentative) updates to my commentary on that song as well.
Finally, I'm pleased to note that my home page FlagCounter has just recorded my first site visitor from the southern African nation of Zambia. I've made this addition to my "A World of Pet Shop Boys Fans" page, and I extend a hearty welcome to my Zambian visitor!
May 16, 2013
I'm grateful to two site visitors, Chris T. Peterson and "Richard" (I'm afraid I don't know any more of his name than that), for calling to my attention the fact that the title of the yet-to-be-heard Electric track "Shouting in the Evening" is inspired by a comment someone once made with regard to acting, particularly on stage. The trick, however, is that there's some disagreement as to who originated the phrase. Chris and Richard, as well as several online sources, note that it has been attributed to Patrick Troughton, perhaps best known as the second actor to portray the title character of Doctor Who. But I've learned that different sources attribute the phrase "shouting in the evening" to others. (Because of this, I've made note of this in a "questionable" item #30 at the end of my list of Pet Shop Boys/Doctor Who connections.) Playwright David Hare attributed the line to the son of actor David Tomlinson, who used it to describe what his father did for a living. But, more famously, it has also been ascribed to yet another actor, Sir Michael Gambon, who portrayed Dumbledore in the latter Harry Potter films. Gambon apparently once defined acting itself as "shouting in the evening"—and, as it turns out, it was the Gambon attribution that served as the direct inspiration for the song's title. At any rate, I've referred to these various attributions in an annotation to my still very fragmentary entry for the song.
Not that I'm complaining—I mean, no one's forcing me, are they?—but doing things like this before actually ever hearing the music in question is like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle when you have only a few of the pieces. And you don't even know what the completed puzzle is going to look like. Yet feeling compelled to try, anyway. Now, is that neurotic of me or what? Not that I'm complaining.
May 15, 2013
May 14, 2013
Using the official PSB website as an authoritative source, I've updated my live setlist table to incorporate songs performed at last night's Electric Tour concert in Santiago, Chile. I've also made a few other scattered updates, including some additions to my entry for the song "Vocal."
I was hoping that the upcoming double-CD album Sing Me the Songs: Celebrating the Works of Kate McGarrigle (scheduled for late June release), featuring her children Rufus and Martha Wainwright along with assorted guests artists, might include Neil's (or perhaps even both Boys') rendition of "I Cried for Us." Unfortunately, that's not the case, with that song being handled instead by Rufus himself and friend Antony Hegarty of the band Antony and the Johnsons. Neither does Neil appear in the associated concert film Sing Me the Songs That Say I Love You: A Concert for Kate McGarrigle. While Neil did indeed perform that song in the "London edition" of the concert on June 12, 2010, I understand that the film documents the subsequent "New York edition" with a somewhat different lineup of guest artists. Nevertheless, I'm very much looking forward to seeing the film—and, if I enjoy it as much as I suspect I will, may spring for the CD set, too.
May 13, 2013
The Pet Shop Boys' official website today posted a Mixmag link to the new Boys Noize remix of "Axis" and noted that it will go on sale tomorrow on iTunes. I've appropriately updated both my commentary page for that song as well as my list of the Pet Shop Boys' remixers to include Boys Noize.
Some expressions of gratitude to pass on:
- Thanks to Eke Webb for catching a typo on my "On This Date in Pet Shop Boys History" page (for a previous day), which I've now corrected.
- Thanks also to Carlos Almaraz, who wrote to tell me about a new subsection of the Pet Shop Boys|Mexico fansite titled "Fanectric," which is meant to serve as a "virtual witness" to the Electric Tour. Sounds promising! I've updated my "PSB Links" page to include it.
- And thanks to Matthew Greenfield for finding that, at least according to some online sources, "Axis" made it to #196 on the U.K. singles chart. Neither of us has been able to verify this authoritatively, but I'm going with it in hopes that posting it will attract confirmation one way or the other. I've made note of this both on the aforementioned (and, if I may coin a word, "aforelinked") "Axis" page as well as on my PSB singles chart.
May 12, 2013
I've posted the final results of this past week's poll, in which I asked my site visitors how they feel about the front cover artwork revealed thus far for the Pet Shop Boys' upcoming album Electric—which serves as the focus once again for my new survey for the week ahead. This time I'm wondering which of its tracks (aside from the already digitally released "Axis") you're most excited about, most eagerly anticipating, and/or most looking forward to hearing based on the limited information available so far about each of the songs (in some cases amounting to little more than the title itself). Thanks so much to Mark R.Y. for suggesting this question! Actually, I had several terrific questions to choose from, and I struggled with settling on the one to ask next. It ultimately boiled down to picking the one that struck me as the most "timely." But I'll certainly be asking those other great questions in the weeks ahead!
May 9, 2013
I've decided to include the late Peter Rauhofer on my "In Memoriam" page by virtue of his remixes for and collaborations with the Pet Shop Boys, further enhanced by his own legendary status in the field of dance music quite apart from his work with our musical heroes.
Thanks to Amit Malka for telling me that the Israeli television show Dana's Morning is using "Pandemonium" as its opening theme music. Although I've so far been unable to verify this independently, I've gone ahead and listed it—with the qualifier "reportedly"—as a brand new entry (down at the bottom at #59) on my page listing PSB songs used in non-musical films and TV shows. It's not that I doubt you, Amit; it's just that I'm a painfully cautious sort who wants to cover my butt from a legal/factual perspective. Once I obtain corroborating evidence, the "reportedly" qualifier will go away.
Finally, José Cruz (aka JCRZ) has compiled Magnetic, a "digital mixtape" of some of his more recent "unofficial" remixes of PSB tracks. It's available for your listening pleasure on MixCloud. But please remember always to buy the originals. (Not that I don't believe many of my site visitors do that religiously anyway, without any further encouragement from me. Incidentally, as always, I can't vouch for the absolute safety and security of this or any other external link, over which I have no control. The risks, if any, lie totally with you.)
May 8, 2013
The official Pet Shop Boys website announced yesterday that a second show in Oakland, California has been added to the Electric Tour schedule, so I've updated my Tours page accordingly. (And it's great to know that, apparently, the first show has sold out, or close to it!)
It's sad to learn of the death yesterday of Peter Rauhofer, best known in these parts for his 2001 collaboration with the Boys on "Break 4 Love." I'm trying to decide whether his role in the "PSB world" warrants inclusion on my "In Memoriam" page. (Generally, I include people there only if they've played a significant, extended roll in their careers.) I'll decide one way or the other within the next few days.
May 6, 2013
I just realized that I had neglected to include "The Last to Die" in my alphabetical list of songs originally by other artists covered by the Pet Shop Boys. I've now rectified that oversight with #21.
By the way, I didn't mean to suggest in my comment yesterday (see below) about the dearth of Electric Tour shows in the U.S. Midwest (just that one in Chicago) that it's in any way the Pet Shop Boys' intention or fault. I'm sure the challenge lies primarily with concert promoters who believe (rightly or wrongly) that they don't have much of an audience in the Midwest, at least compared to regions closer to the coasts. And if during earlier tours their ticket sales were weak in Midwestern venues, then it's completely understandable. Whatever the case, it doesn't change the fact that I do still feel sad for our fellow dedicated fans in the Midwest. I can only imagine how I would feel if I were still living in Minneapolis and my best hope were to pay for a flight to Chicago or to take on the grueling ten-hour drive there (if I remember correctly). But—please don't get me wrong—I certainly don't blame Neil and Chris themselves.
May 5, 2013
I've posted the final results of my survey last week in which I asked my site visitors whether they think I should list on my Pet Shop Boys covers page nearly two dozen new renditions of Tennant-Lowe songs by an essentially anonymous "indie" (borderline pro/amateur) artist who has made his recordings (which, as far as I know, don't include anything other than PSB songs) available on iTunes and a few other digital outlets. Since the majority voted for me to indeed list them, I've now done so. Starting today, you can find them—tracks by someone who calls himself "Paninaro"—listed there on my covers page. Actually, I seriously toyed with a compromise solution in which I would list his recordings along with those of several other similar artists in a separate section near the bottom of the page, but I ran into so many logistical challenges (tricky things like rules and consistency) that I threw my hands up, surrendered to what is perhaps inevitable, and listed them all song-by-song just as I've always done. It's just so much easier this way.
As for this week's poll, I'm sure you're not surprised to see that it concerns some of the big news this past week regarding the upcoming album Electric. There's been a good deal of discussion online concerning the album cover art, revealed a few days ago on the official PSB website, with opinions running the full gamut. So let's get down to some figures, shall we? I'm asking how you feel about the Electric album cover using a very simple scale ranging from "Love it!" to "Hate it!" (Of course, I offer a couple non-committal options as well.) I'm eager to see how it pans out, as I hope you are, too. And I bet it proves a lot more popular than last week's poll as well!
The official site has also just announced a new date on the Electric Tour: August 3 in Singapore. I've added this to my Tours page. Speaking of the tour, I just noticed that Chicago is the only Midwest stop on its North American leg. All of the other shows are in the East or West. That makes me really sad for Midwestern PSB fans—particularly since I'm a former longtime resident of another great Midwestern city, Minneapolis. I notice, however, that there still appear to be a few open slots around that time in the tour schedule, so I'm hoping that at least one or two other Midwestern dates may still be arranged. I think Minneapolis, Detroit, St. Louis, Dallas, and Houston, to name but a few, would all be terrific candidates for additional Electric Tour shows. Let's keep our fingers crossed for the sake of our fellow PSB fans in what is far too often regarded as U.S. "flyover country."
May 4, 2013
Thanks so much to Rory Simpson for (1) telling me about the use of "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)" in yesterday's edition of the BBC One television newsmagazine The One Show, which I've noted in the entry at #6 for that song in my list of Pet Shop Boys songs used in non-musical films and TV shows; and (2) catching some badly outdated text in my commentary on the album Elysium, which I've now adjusted appropriately.
Thanks also to Andrew C. (whom I've just listed on my Thank You page) for calling to my attention a new cover on YouTube of the officially unreleased early PSB song "Bubadubadubadum (All My Wasted Time)." Although this performance by a young singer-songwriter who goes by the stage name Danielle Ate the Sandwich may seem somewhat amateurish, she's actually an accomplished professional artist. So I've added it to my page listing cover versions of Tennant-Lowe songs. (To be honest, I had discovered this particular cover on YouTube myself maybe about a half-hour or so before Andrew wrote to me about it, but it took a slight bit of informative prodding on his part to get me to understand that, no, Danielle is not an amateur.)
My home page's FlagCounter reports that I've just recently received my first-ever site visitor from the small southern African nation of Swaziland. So I've added Swaziland to the appropriate section of my "A World of Pet Shop Boys Fans" page. And I extend a hearty welcome to my Swazi visitor!
Almost immediately after the first brief excerpt of "Axis" became available a few weeks ago, several fan-made "remixes" appeared online. I resisted making note of them here because I felt it wasn't quite right for people to be creating and posting derivative tracks when the original hadn't even yet been heard in its entirety. Well, now that the entire original has indeed been heard (and is available for purchase), I'm pleased to say that José Cruz (aka JCRZ)—whom we can count on for his almost invariably excellent unofficial remixes of PSB tracks—has posted his new "Low Voltage Remix" (great name!) of "Axis" on SoundCloud. I hope you like it. And thanks, José!
May 2, 2013
Yesterday the Pet Shop Boys' official website posted a link to a terrific new Stereogum interview with Neil and Chris, information from which has enabled me to make a few minor updates to my entries for the upcoming album Electric and one of its songs, "Thursday." I also obtained some updated info about their A Man from the Future project, which now seems tentatively slated for debut in the summer of 2014.
Thanks to Dave F. for telling me about another, much shorter online article also concerning PSB and Electric that appears to confirm that "Axis" is indeed the album's first single, including word that it will be "backed" by a remix by German producer/DJ/electronic musician Boys Noize (Alexander Ridha). Does this mean that there will a physical (CD and/or vinyl) single release after all? I imagine we'll learn for sure before too much longer.
May 1, 2013
As I was driving to work this morning, I was listening once again (as I so very often to) to Larry Flick's The Morning Jolt radio show on Sirius/XM OutQ. And I was thrilled to hear him play the brand new PSB track "Axis"! What was even more interesting, though, was that it was neither the full album version nor the video edit, but something even shorter, lacking the distinctive descending "processed piano" motif that opens the other two versions. Could it be a third official version, perhaps a "radio edit" that has already been serviced to radio stations? Or was it an "unofficial" edit that Larry himself (or someone working with him) made? I have no idea at this time.
April 30, 2013
It's a second day in a row of huge things going on in the world of the Pet Shop Boys. The official website has just announced all the dates on the North American leg of the Electric Tour, with tickets having already gone on sale for most locations. I've updated my Tours page accordingly. (And, yes, I've bought my own tickets! Woo-hoo!)
The official site has also debuted the new video for "Axis," the largely instrumental opening track of Electric. I've made some substantial additions to my admittedly still preliminary entry for the song itself, and I've added a brief bit about the video on my page that provides summaries of PSB music videos. Speaking of "Axis," it's now available for download on iTunes, where it's listed as a "single." And, after having bought it and listening to it repeatedly, I've added that song to two of my lists: songs in which Chris sings (or speaks) lead—in this case, a "co-lead" with Neil—and those in which the title doesn't appear in the lyrics, what few of them there are in this instance. (The official website, which has already posted the lyrics of "Axis," confirms the latter.)
In the meantime, thanks to Andrew Shaw for telling me about a delightful new "PSB connection" with one of my other favorite artists, The Divine Comedy: that back in 1998 the latter covered "Chasing Sheep Is Best Left to Shepherds," the composition on which the new PSB track "Love Is a Bourgeois Construct" is at least partially based. I've of course now made note of this in the "PSB connections" section for The Divine Comedy.
April 29, 2013
I've made quite a few updates to my section on the upcoming new album Electric (rescheduled for release in mid-July) based on announcements made today on the Pet Shop Boys' official website. We now know the names of all of its tracks, but information about nearly all of them remains spotty. We're still awaiting the other promised news about the North American dates on the Electric Tour, but I'll make the appropriate updates later on, after those announcements are made as well.
Although it may seem extremely premature to do so, I neverthless think it reasonable to add the as yet unheard Electric track "Bolshy" to my list of PSB songs with "Russian connections." If I should turn out to be wrong about it, I'll of course make the necessary correction when the time comes. I've also added British singer/rapper Example to my alphabetical list of artists with whom the Boys have collaborated by virtue of his appearance on the Electric track "Thursday."
Meanwhile, thanks to Steve N. for telling me about a marvelous new BBC Radio 4 documentary on the subject of the "middle eight" or "bridge" in songs. It includes a snippet of the Pet Shop Boys' "It's a Sin," but it would be very well worth listening to even without this small "PSB connection." And, yes, you can listen to it online. While we're on the subject, I think my all-time favorite PSB bridge is the one from "DJ Culture." And, from my own perspective, I've found that middle eights are very often my favorite parts of songs. I suspect it's because they generally add an element of drama and tension to songs that might otherwise be lacking in that area.
I've also added both Mhwal and Damon L. Jacobs to my Thank You page in appreciation for the extremely thoughtful and interesting emails they recently sent me recently offering intriguing insights into, respectively, "Legacy" and "Invisible." I'm undecided at this point as to whether I will actually allude to any of those insights in my own commentaries on those songs. But, whatever I decide, I'm very grateful for the input.
Finally, thanks as well to Matthew Greenfield for informing me of the use of a brief bit of an "Absolutely Fabulous" remix in today's new episode of the BBC television show Homes Under the Hammer, the third time that I know of for that particular program to make use of PSB music. I've noted this in my entry for that song at #45 in my list of Pet Shop Boys songs used in non-musical films and TV shows.
April 28, 2013
I've posted the final results of last week's poll in which I asked my site visitors whether they consider Introspective a "studio album"—as opposed to, say, a "remix album." Incidentally, now that this poll is complete, I can safely confirm, without biasing the results, that the Pet Shop Boys themselves do indeed consider Introspective a studio album, like the large majority of the voters, myself included.
I had a larger than average turnout of voters last week, perhaps because of the question's Yes/No simplicity. So I'm going to ask a similarly simple question in my new poll for the week ahead. But despite the same kind of Yes/No response, it's conceptually a very different affair. You see, there's an "indie" artist—perhaps just a highly skilled amateur, but the whole "amateur vs. professional" thing has become quite blurred of late—who, working under an obvious pseudonym, has recorded roughly two dozen covers of PSB songs and made them available online, such as via iTunes. And, as far as I know, he has recorded (or at least offered) nothing else. I find myself torn over whether to make note of these covers on my page devoted to renditions by other artists of Tennant-Lowe songs. On the one hand, they are covers, and you can even purchase them online. On the other hand, they smack (in my opinion) of a sort of one-way musical obsessiveness, exacerbated by the fact that the singer sounds as though he's consciously mimicking Neil as a vocalist, although the musical arrangements generally differ markedly from the PSB originals.
To make a long story short, I'm turning the question over to you, my site visitors. Do you think I ought to list these covers, if only for the sake of "completedness"? Or should I ignore them in the same way that I've traditionally shunned other entire, cut-rate albums of nothing but PSB covers that clearly mimic the originals, recorded by anonymous studio personnel? I promise to abide by the final outcome unless someone on the losing side makes (using the "Comments" feature or in some other way) such a compelling argument for the opposite position that I find myself unable to ignore it.
So, yes, I guess the final choice does still rest with me. But the outcome of the poll will certainly be a major influence on my ultimate decision.
April 27, 2013
Using information recently posted on the Pet Shop Boys' official website, I've added several new Electric Tour dates (in Turkey, Greece, and Indonesia) to my Tours page. And I imagine you've already heard by now, but just in case—this coming Tuesday the official site will also be announcing the release date for the upcoming new album Electric, its tracklist, and its cover art, as well as Electric Tour dates in North America. Big day Tuesday!
Thanks to Keith R. Johnson for offering a valuable suggestion related to obtaining missing missing email contacts. And I'm extremely grateful to my trusted contact within the Pet Shop Boys organization for getting back in touch with me so quickly! I'll be much more diligent from here on out in making sure my precious contact info is properly backed up.
April 25, 2013
Last night I had my first dream about the Pet Shop Boys in more than five months, its plot undoubtedly inspired by the upcoming Electric Tour. Naturally, I've documented this on the page devoted to my PSB dreams.
April 23, 2013
After experiencing some serious problems on my computer over the past week, a good friend and I attempted a major clean-up. And in the process, we accidentally caused a catastrophic system failure. To make a long story short, I've lost lots of files on my computer—fortunately many (but not all) were backed up, including my website files—and for more than two days I was without email. I've also lost all my old email contact addresses, too. An important lesson I want to share with you all: never trust an automated backup system to be as thorough as you might expect it to be. I've been dismayed at the amount of data that my automated backup system did not backup.
Fortunately, I'm now able to receive and send email again, access the internet, and make site updates. I'll be busy over the next week or so trying to get my computer back up to speed, although I may have to purchase some new applications. At any rate, I'm by no means "fully recovered," but my computer and I are both in much better shape than 24 hours ago. Wish us luck toward a full recovery!
April 21, 2013
I've posted the final results of my survey this past week in which I asked my site visitors to match each song on Elysium with a different previous Pet Shop Boys studio album on which they think it would best fit. Considering my past couple of surveys have been unusually complex, I figured it was high time to run a much simpler poll. So this week's poll is a simple Yes/No question, although I also offer a third "I don't know and/or I don't care" option for those who either can't or don't wish to decide. Apparently there's some disagreement among fans as to whether the 1988 PSB album Introspective should be considered a "studio album"—that is, a major release consisting of all or at least mostly new tracks recorded in the studio, as opposed to a "non-studio" album, such as a live recording, an anthology ("greatest hits" or "best of," b-sides collection, archival materials, etc), a remix album, and the like. So that's what I'm asking: do you consider Introspective to be a studio album? Or is it a remix album—or, for that matter, something else? Thanks to Gordon Gray (skyhigh), whom I've just added to my Thank You page, for suggesting this question!
April 20, 2013
Thanks to both Eke Webb and Andrew Shaw for noticing that I had misspelled the surname of Sir Ian McKellen on several pages (though not on others), so I've now made the necessary corrections.
Thanks as well to Ram S. for calling attention to the fact that my commentary on "King's Cross" could use some freshening up of its verb tenses to acknowledge the fact that the corresponding section of London has undergone major economic improvements in recent years. I've made those adjustments, too.
Finally, I'm also grateful to David B. for letting me know that "In the Night" could be heard in a November 1988 episode of Alexei Sayle's Stuff by virtue of a parody of The Clothes Show, which used that Pet Shop Boys song as its theme music. I've made the appropriate update to my list of PSB songs used in non-musical films and TV shows, where "In the Night" has long appeared at the #2 spot. Thanks, David!
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