What's New? – Recent Updates & Additions

February 18, 2018

I've posted the final results of last week's survey, in which I asked my site visitors to pick their favorite Pet Shop Boys song that contains the word "love" (or some inflection of it) in its title. My new poll for the week ahead asks whether you tend to prefer for recordings of the Boys' songs to end with a fadeout (one of many examples being their first big hit single, "West End Girls") or to have what's commonly referred to as a "hard" or "cold" ending (one of many examples being the album/single version of "Can You Forgive Her?"). Or perhaps you don't have a definite preference. Whatever the case, I extend my thanks to Danny Rizzio for suggesting this question.

February 17, 2018

Thanks to Paul Atkin for telling me about a brand new, quite faithful remake of "Love Comes Quickly" by the Peruvian electronic trio R3GISTRO. (I imagine that's pronounced as if the 3 were an E.) I've now noted it on my page that lists covers of Pet Shop Boys songs. If you would like to hear it for yourself, it's been posted on Soundcloud.

Thanks also to Rob Bainbridge for letting me know that "It's a Sin" could be heard during this evening's episode of the U.K. comedy game show Through the Keyhole. I've included this occurrence in the entry for that song at #21 in my list of PSB songs used in non-musical films and TV shows.

February 16, 2018

I had another of my occasional Pet Shop Boys dreams last night—a rather short, simple one that also briefly featured a member of one of my other favorite recording acts. If you're interested, I invite you to read about it.

If you haven't already received it yourself in your email, you might also be interested in this "Letter from Neil and Chris."

To follow up on one of my notes just below for February 14 – Michael Gassner wrote back to tell me about an interview with Andreas Dorau in which he explained that the strange hybrid beast depicted on the cover of his Die Liebe und der Ärger der Anderen album is indeed meant to symbolize both love and anger, as I suspected. It even has a name: it's a wolpertinger, a mythical creature from Bavarian folktakes that blends various animals. (That is, different wolpertingers are hybrids of different sets of animals.) In this case, it's part swan and part hyena—not a cheetah as I had speculated. Thanks for helping to clear that up, Michael!

February 14, 2018

Happy Valentine's Day! I'm glad to see that my "love-related" poll question this week is proving quite popular. Thanks so much to everyone who has voted so far!

For the past several weeks I've been working on—and have now finally gotten around to posting—a brand new list for my "PSB Lists" section, a highly subjective one of my dozen favorite quatrains in the lyrics of Pet Shop Boys songs. I hope you like it and don't disagree too severely with my choices. Just remember: they're my personal favorites, so I can only apologize if some of your own favorites aren't among them. Needless to say, I could easily list another dozen great "PSB quatrains" (not to mention couplets, triplets, etc.), but I have to draw the line somewhere. wink

I'm grateful to Michael Gassner for letting me know about a 2017 German pop song that clearly alludes to a certain PSB track. Last year the German singer Andreas Dorau released his tenth studio album, titled Die Liebe und der Ärger der Anderen (translated The Love and the Anger of Others). Its very first song, "Liebe ergibt keinen Sinn“ ("Love Makes No Sense“), includes the following lines:

Liebe ist wenn man genau hinguckt
Nichts weiter als nur ein bourgeoises Konstrukt

Translated into English: "Love is, if you watch closely, nothing more than a bourgeois construct." That's a nice little nod to our musical heroes—and one of their songs in particular—don't you think? I've now recorded this fact in a new final bullet-point annotation to my entry for "Love Is a Bourgeois Construct." Thanks so much, Michael, for telling us about this new song, as well as for providing translations. (Incidentally, if you would like to hear Dorau's song for yourself, it's been posted to YouTube. In case you're wondering, that extremely bizarre image of a man caressing what appears to be a cheetah with the head and neck of a swan is from the album cover. Don't ask me what it signifies, though I strongly suspect it has something to do with the confluence of love and anger suggested by the album's title.)

February 11, 2018

I've posted the final results of my poll of the past week, in which I asked my site visitors whether, if they had to pick just one studio album to be the only music they could listen to for a very, very long time, they would pick a Pet Shop Boys album (and, if so, which one?) or an album by some other artist. Now, considering that Valentine's Day occurs next week, you shouldn't be surprised that this week's survey bears a distinct "love connection." I've listed each PSB song (ones that they have written, performed, and/or been both credited as "co-artists") in which the word "love" or an inflection of it appears in the title. I'm simply asking you to choose your own personal favorite from among them. How lovely. wink

Meanwhile, thanks to Alexander B. for sharing a couple of observations about "Into Thin Air" that I've used (1) to expand my pre-existing final paragraph for my main entry on the song and (2) to add a new final bullet-point annotation concerning the likely influence of trance music—and possibly Jam & Spoon's "Stella" in particular—on that track. And thanks as well to Michael from Kassel, Germany for catching a very careless error I had made in the latter, which I've now corrected.

February 10, 2018

Thanks so much to Pete Schofield, who has shared a good deal of information gleaned from a "PSB publication" that I don't own a copy of: the program from their 1991 Performance Tour. So far I've added—

I'm still going through everything that Pete has sent me, so there may be additional updates yet to come. Stay tuned!

February 9, 2018

To my page that lists cover versions of Pet Shop Boys songs I've added a rendition of the seemingly inevitable "It's a Sin" by Death in Rome, a German "neofolk" band with strong goth/metal inclinations. It appears on their new album V2. I haven't heard it yet and can't point you to an online recording, but it's been documented on Discogs and elsewhere.

February 8, 2018

I don't often do it anymore, and I have terribly mixed feelings about it, but in this case I just can't resist pointing you to an unofficial, fan-made "extended dance mix," posted on YouTube, of a Pet Shop Boys classic—in this case, "King's Cross." What I love about it is that it's exactly what it professes to be: an extended mix that doesn't actually add much of anything new to the original (other than a few extra bits of percussion) but instead only lengthens the track by "extending" segments that were already there. To put it another way, it doesn't attempt to change it in a substantive way aside from simply making a brilliant thing last a little longer. I hope you like it, too.

February 7, 2018

Thanks to Nigel M. for telling me about a cruise-ship rendition of "Inside a Dream" that's available on YouTube. Most interesting. But I won't include it on my page that lists cover versions of Pet Shop Boys songs because I regard this as more or less a "karaoke-style" performance—someone singing to the Boys' own instrumental backing track. The "professional" status of the singer and of the performance itself are irrelevant as far as I'm concerned.

February 6, 2018

Thanks to both Jens Boldt and Jeff Durst respectively for alerting me to and then helping me to clarify an ambiguity regarding a Bobby 'O' "Single Version" of "West End Girls," which is essentially identical to the so-called "Nouvelle Version Edit." I've noted this fact (different names for the same version) in my list of mixes for that song.

February 5, 2018

You may be interested in an old article from 1995 that long-time site visitor leesmapman pointed me to. About halfway through, it tells the story of how Guns N' Roses vocalist Axl Rose—whose fondness for the Pet Shop Boys, Behaviour in particular, and "Being Boring" even more particularly is well known and well documented—had a phone call with Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails fame—whose fondness for PSB and Behaviour is also known and documented, though somewhat less so—in which they learned of each other's interest in our musical heroes:

"Man, I like that, but I'm too embarrassed to tell anyone."

I said, "Me, too." 

As I suggested, it's really nothing "new," but it's nice to be reminded of it. Thanks, leesmapman!

February 4, 2018

I've posted the end results of last week's survey, in which I asked my site visitors whether, if they had to choose between them (and couldn't have both), they would prefer buying tickets for and attending a live Pet Shop Boys concert or purchasing a DVD/Blu-ray of the same show (which of course they could watch over and over again, as often as they wish). My new poll for the week ahead is inspired by a lengthy conversation I heard on the radio just a few days ago in which people were discussing a bizarre scenario in which they could have only one rock/pop studio album to listen to for the rest of their lives, and no other music but that. Under such extraordinary circumstances, which album would they choose? (Albums cited by the various radio commentators were Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life, Fleetwood Mac's Rumours, and The Clash's London Calling, among many others.) So I'm asking you pretty much the same question. If you were faced with such a difficult decision, do you think you would pick a PSB studio album—the only music you could listen to for a very long time—or an album by somebody else of your choice? And if you would choose PSB, which studio album would you pick?

February 3, 2018

Thanks to Justine Tobin, whose name I've just added to my Thank You page, for alerting me to the fact that a number of references in my main entry for The Most Incredible Thing needed to be updated (as well as a typo that needed correcting), which I've now taken care of. Justine also shared a good deal of additional information relevant to that ballet (composed, of course, by Chris and Neil) and its U.S. debut next month in Charlotte, North Carolina. If would you like to see the Charlotte Ballet's promotional trailer for this production, you can watch it online. (Please note that the photos used in this trailer are taken from the Sadler's Wells production.) There's no official confirmation yet from either the Charlotte Ballet or the PSB organization, but it is generally hoped—is it too much to say "expected"?—that one or both of the Boys will be traveling across the pond to attend one or more of the upcoming performances. Speaking of which, it's my understanding that there are still plenty of seats available for the March 9-18 shows, so if you're interested, it's not too late. Tickets can be purchased online. (Unfortunately, my own schedule and commitments in March, both personal and professional, prevent me from attending myself. frown)

January 31, 2018

Thanks to Andrew Shaw for confirming that the previously publicized event this evening at the Barbican Centre in London, in which Neil along with Mark Farrow would be interviewed on the subject of the Pet Shop Boys "visual image"—part of a series of presentations on the subject of "The Look of Music"—indeed took place as scheduled. I've updated my "On This Day in Pet Shop Boys History" page accordingly (although, depending on where you live, it may not show up there for you until this day rolls around next year). Andrew was also kind enough to inform me that it was revealed during this interview that the notorious promo 12-inch single sleeve for "Before" that featured a photo of a flaccid penis was Chris's idea. (No, not Chris's penis—just his idea.) I've now made note of this fact in my main entry for that song.

January 30, 2018

Sometimes I'm forced to correct a "correction." Two days ago (see just below) I revised my list of mixes for "The Sodom and Gomorrah Show" to reflect a mistaken supposition that two demo versions I had listed there were actually one and the same. But, as it turns out, two site visitors separately wrote to me today to affirm that my original posting was correct: there are indeed two different officially released demos, easily distinguishable in that one has, near the beginning, a high-pitched voice squealing, "Hello everybody, welcome to the Sodom and Gomorrah Show!" whereas the other does not. I've now reverted back to listing two demos, though also adding an explanatory note in hopes of avoiding further confusion down the road. Thanks so much to David B. and to Paul Scott (the latter of whom I've just added to my Thank You page; David was already there) for independently contacting me about this.

January 28, 201

I've posted the final results of my survey of the past week, in which I asked my site visitors to choose the most "earwormy" Pet Shop Boys single. Since my previous several polls have had a large number of items to choose from, I figured I should take it easy with this week's survey—and make it easy on you, too—by offering one of my rare polls that has just two choices. So I dug into my large backlog of questions suggested by my site visitors to find one that fits the bill. I've been sitting on this one for quite a long time, so I'm pleased finally to get around to it. If you had to choose between purchasing tickets to attend in-person a live Pet Shop Boys concert or buying a DVD/Blu-ray of the same show, which would you prefer? Do you go for the excitement and immediacy (and expense) of a one-time event, the memory of which you'll surely savor for a very long time, or do you opt for a far less expensive but also more "removed" and less exciting recording of that same show, which you can then watch and enjoy over and over again, as often as you wish? Thanks so much to porkchopkid for suggesting this most interesting question—quite some time ago.

Thanks to Jens Boldt (whose name I've just added to my Thank You page) for alerting me to a likely error in my list of mixes for "The Sodom and Gomorrah Show," in which I had noted two different demo versions of that song. I believe I was mistaken about that and there's actually only one such released demo, although different iterations of it may differ by one or two seconds. I've made an adjustment accordingly. (Please note, however, the December 30 update above.)

January 27, 2018

Thanks so much to Pete Schofield for providing me with details about the booklet distributed at the July 2016 "Inner Sanctum" shows at the Royal Opera House in London. From this I've added a new item at #15 in my list of my all-time favorite one-line descriptions of the Pet Shop Boys and I've expanded a bit on the pre-existing annotation to my commentary on "Rent" that concerns Neil's intentional avoidance of any sort of linking word or phrase between the lines "I love you" and "You pay my rent."

January 24, 2018

To my list of celebrity fans of the Pet Shop Boys outside of the field of music I've added English visual/conceptual artist Jeremy Deller. As evidence I cite a CNN article published just yesterday in which Deller is quoted in reference to the Boys, "I like them a lot." I think that counts.

January 23, 2018

As noted on the Pet Shop Boys' website, the 2018 edition of their official publication Annually, scheduled for release April 2, is now available for pre-order. Last year's edition sold out quickly, so if you're interested, you should hop on it! You may order it directly from PetShopBoysShop.co.uk.

January 22, 2018

Having received his permission to do so, I've added Adris to my Thank You page in recognition not only for his correction noted on January 19 (see below) but also for pointing out "legit" sources for two relatively hard-to-find mixes of "West End Girls": Shep Pettibone's Mastermix and the "Nouvelle Version." Thanks again, Adris!

January 21, 2018

I've posted the final results of last week's poll, in which I asked my site visitors to choose the twelve Pet Shop Boys songs written or co-written by Neil and Chris that they would include on an imaginary Ballads compilation. My new survey for the week ahead is something of a "flipside" to the one that I ran week-before-last, using the exact same set of songs. If you recall, I previously had asked you to pick the PSB single that had reached (or had come closest to reaching) your "lifetime hearing quota." By contrast, this time I'm asking you to pick the single that is, in your opinion, the biggest earworm—the one that, after hearing (or even after just thinking about it) is the most difficult to get out of your head. I find the contrast between these two questions most intriguing; the earlier one dealt with songs you're not very interested in hearing again, whereas this week's question concerns songs that (if you're anything like me) you actually become somewhat desperate to hear again, or at least keep "replaying" in your mind because of their "earwormy" quality. Thanks so much to Richard A. for suggesting this question!

January 20, 2018

I've just learned that Neil isn't the only Pet Shop Boy to have received credit for contributing (in his case, backing vocals) to the 2016 Hidden Cameras track "Ode to an Ah." According to the generally quite reliable Discogs website, Chris also receives credit for "additional recording." I've updated my entry for that song accordingly.

January 19, 2018

Ray ThomasIt was only today that I regretfully learned of the January 4 death of Ray Thomas, one of the founding and longtime members of one of my favorite bands, the Moody Blues, of a heart attack likely linked to his protracted struggle with prostate cancer. Ray was perhaps best known for his flute solo in "Nights in White Satin," though he made a great many other important contributions to the group's classic output, not the least of which was his bass/baritone voice amidst their vocal harmonies. I'm grateful that he lived long enough to know of the pending induction of the Moodies this coming April into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which he noted online the day it was announced. In this way he closely parallels the famed singer (and Pet Shop Boys collaborator) Dusty Springfield, who was similarly aware of her election to the Hall of Fame Class of 1999 but succumbed to breast cancer shortly before the induction ceremony itself.

Meanwhile, thanks so much to Adris for alerting me to an apparent error in my list of mixes for "One More Chance." It appears that I had listed the same Bobby O mix (with the timing of 4:43) twice under two separate names; I believe there are actually only two different Bobbby O mixes as opposed to three. I've now eliminated this seeming redundancy, although I'll still need to conduct some additional research, as time permits, to make absolutely sure that I'm not establishing a new error in the process of correcting an old one.