What's New? – Recent Updates & Additions

July 23, 2017

A modest little discovery I made earlier today means that I'm able, for the second time in the space of one week, to add a new item to my "Merely to Clarify Matters" section: a 1994 house-music track by Rhythm Inc. titled "Hold On (My Heart)," which bears a Tennant-Lowe co-writing credit because it borrows its lyrics from "Heart." Although I had previously listed it on my covers page, the additional information I've learned about it leads me to award it this "promotion," so to speak. I will, however, continue to note it on my covers page as well with a link to its new entry.

July 22, 2017

Having received his permission to do, I've added David Cooper's name to my Thank You page in recognition of his helpful input yesterday (see just below). Thanks again!

July 21, 2017

Thanks so much to David Cooper for alerting me to an oversight: that I had neglected to include on my "On This Day in Pet Shop Boys History" page the fact that, 15 years ago this evening, our musical heroes brought their Release Tour show to the Oxford Apollo. Oversight now corrected!

Having received his permission to do so, I've added Rob Bainbridge's name to my Thank You page for his contribution of information noted just below. Thanks again!

July 20, 2017

Thanks to Rob Bainbridge for informing me that "Pazzo!" recently made its first appearance in a non-musical TV show, so I've now added it as a new #82 in the corresponding list.

July 19, 2017

Yes, I promised that I wouldn't mention it again—unless I received definitive clarification. But I believe I've now received precisely that. The Pet Shop Boys' own publishers (thank you so much!) has confirmed that, as best they can tell, the Lowe-Tennant co-composing credit for "Moonlight Shadow" is, I quote, "just an error on the label copy." There you have it. But to help forestall any future queries or confusion on this matter, I've added "Moonlight Shadow," with appropriately explanatory comments, to the short list of tracks in my "Merely to Clarify Matters" section, where other such anomalies are also noted.

Thanks as well to Martijn for letting me know about the 2016 book Weapons of Math Destruction (love the punning title!) by mathematician/author Cathy O'Neil, which refers (on page 154) to the 2011 incident—already long noted on my "Strange But True Incidents Involving the Pet Shop Boys" page—in which the IBM supercomputer Watson confused PSB with Oliver Twist. There she describes PSB as a "1980s techno-pop band." OK, she's one of my fellow Americans, so I forgive her for regarding our musical heroes as strictly an 'eighties act. At any rate, although I don't think I need to update my entry on this subject with any mention of O'Neil's book, it's good to know that at least one other writer has now consigned this remarkable incident to long-term print.

July 17, 2017

One of my regular site visitors, Steve N, has suggested an alternate interpretation of "One-Way Street" that I find most intriguing. I've noted it in a new second bullet-point annotation to my main commentary on the song.

July 16, 2017

I've posted the final results of my poll of the past two weeks, in which I asked my site visitors to choose the five Pet Shop Boys they believe would constitute the most "awesome, kickass dance set." My new biweekly survey is one I've had waiting in the wings for a couple months. It's based on the concept of "cognitive dissonance"—the psychological or emotional discomfort one can experience from being forced to deal with apparently contradictory observations or beliefs. In this case, I'm wondering which Pet Shop Boys album has caused you the greatest cognitive dissonance, or something like it. To put it another, perhaps simpler way, which PSB album is the most unlike what you expected from them? Unlike most of my surveys that focus on albums, I'm not limiting the choices this time to just the studio albums; they're all in the running. And let me give you a little teaser with regard to my own vote in this poll: I bet you'll be really, really surprised by the one I'm choosing. In fact, I suspect I'll be one of the very few who vote for it. But you'll have to wait two weeks to find out what it is. wink

July 15, 2017

Thanks so much to long-time site visitor Mika Hagman for inspiring me actually to do something with a "PSB curiosity" that I've known about for a very long time but never really knew what to do with. It concerns the December 1982 release by Smash Hits magazine of a promotional flexi-disc titled "Happy Christmas from the Stars," which has the distinction of boasting the first-ever "record credit" for either of the future Pet Shop Boys. Nudged by a posting by Mika in the "Comments" section for my current (but soon-to-end) poll, I've finally decided to note this special release and credit on the page I've long devoted to "Strange But True Incidents Involving the Pet Shop Boys." And since this list is chronological, that particular item now serves as the very first item on that page. Thanks again, Mika!

On account of another commitment, there's about a 50/50 chance I'm going to be a little later than usual posting my "switchover" to my next survey for the fortnight ahead. But even if I am late, it almost certainly won't be by more than 30-60 minutes. I hope this doesn't pose any inconvenience, and I appreciate your patience with such occasional inconsistencies.

July 14, 2017

I have one more speculative update about the mysterious Tennant-Lowe co-writing credit for "Moonlight Shadow," which I've discussed over the past two days (see below)—and then I promise I'll shut up about it unless/until I get definitive clarification. Another site visitor (thanks, Rob!) has pointed out that there was a 2002 techno/dance remake of the song by Groove Coverage that, at least according to some sources, also boasts the Lowe-Oldfield-Tennant credit. So it's possible that this was the source of the credit in the first place, which was then needlessly picked up by Blackmore's Night for their later version. No PSB sample is unambiguously evident in the Groove Coverage rendition, either, but at least its style makes such a thing somewhat more likely; perhaps there's a different mix/remix that indeed includes such a sample. It may also make an outright error more likely as well. My source within the PSB organization, in fact, believes that's what precisely it is: a "publishing error," which apparently happens more often than we folks outside the music industry realize.

At any rate, as I said, I'm now calling a moratorium on any further postings on my part on this particular subject—again, unless I somehow learn the definite, absolute, final truth.

July 13, 2017

The Pet Shop Boys' official website today pointed to a new online interview with Neil that includes a link to hear the previously unreleased song "One-Way Street," which will be released in a couple weeks now as a bonus track with the reissue of Fundamental. I've updated my page devoted to that song to provide my first impressions upon listening to it a few times, although I'm sure that I'll be making some adjustments and additions in the days and weeks ahead as I go about "digesting" it, learning more, and gaining further insights. For instance, thanks to information provided by Neil in that interview, I'm able to add this song at #39 in my list of PSB songs with literary references. Stay tuned for more, I'm sure.

An update on my posting yesterday (see just below) about the "'Moonlight Shadow' mystery": one of my site visitors (thanks so much, Nick!) was kind enough to send me a scan from the CD booklet for the Blackmore's Night album All Our Yesterdays and, sure enough, the songwriting credits there for "Moonlight Shadow" are "Music & Lyrics: Neil Tennant, Michael Gordon Oldfield, Christopher Lowe." So it's not just an "internet fallacy." But those liner notes say nothing more about it; they don't explain why the Boys get a co-writing credit on a song that they had nothing to do with—unless it's indeed an otherwise uncredited sample. In the meantime, I've received input from a few other site visitors regarding my sample theory. One agrees with my speculation about the Blackmore's Night track possibly containing a sample from "Suburbia," while another suspects it may be the sounds of "bells" sampled from somewhere on Electric. Of course, we're still in the realm of mere guessing here. Most interestingly, however, I've heard from a representative of the PSB organization, confirming that Neil and Chris know nothing of it themselves. That makes me wonder: are artists always kept informed of when someone legally samples their work, or is that sort of thing often handled by the publishing companies and/or management without the artists' knowledge?

July 12, 2017

I've encountered a most perplexing mystery that want to share with you. It may be nothing more than an error that, once made, has been repeatedly replicated elsewhere, as online falsehoods so often are. But, then again, maybe there's more to it than that, and one or more of you may in fact know something about it. So here goes—

I've found several references online (including in Wikipedia, Discogs, and AllMusic) to the 2015 album All Our Yesterdays by Blackmore's Night, fronted by the famed ex-Deep Purple/Rainbow guitarist Ritchie Blackmore and singer Candice Night, in which one of its tracks, "Moonlight Shadow"—a cover of the familiar 1983 Mike Oldfield hit—is assigned the composing credit "Christopher Lowe / Michael Oldfiend / Neil Tennant." Huh? The original Oldfield version of "Moonlight Shadow" is credited solely to Mike Oldfield. Yet here's the Blackmore's Night remake repeatedly credited to Oldfield and the Pet Shop Boys, with no apparent explanation (at least that I've been able to locate thus far).

At first I figured that the Blackmore's Night rendition must have incorporated or sampled some elements of a PSB track, thereby earning our musical heroes the credit. But after listening to it several times (as you, too, can do on YouTube and elsewhere), heck if I can detect any such thing. If it's there, it must be awfully subtle. The only thing I can hear that sounds even remotely similar to any recordings by the Boys is a brief bit of percussion near the beginning that sounds as though it may—and this is a big "may" as far as I'm concerned—have been derived from "Suburbia," but that's an extremely wild guess on my part. I mean, even if that is the case, is it enough to merit a co-compositional credit?

So I'm turning it over to you, my faithful site visitors. Can any of you shed any factual or at least speculative light on this? Can you hear "anything PSB" in the Blackmore's Night recording that I'm missing? Do any of you have an actual physical copy of the album All Our Yesterdays, which you can check to see whether this astounding songwriting credit indeed appears there as well? Or do you believe that this is just an outlandish mistake that has somehow been picked up by several otherwise highly reputable online souces? But that then begs the question of how such an error—if that's what it is—got started in the first place. Then again, even the Barnes & Noble website, for heaven's sake, lists Chris and Neil among the album's "composers." So there must be something to it. But what? Discerning minds want to know!

July 11, 2017

Thanks to regular site visitor Martijn for calling my attention to a print usage by a writer of the term "imperial phase," borrowed from Neil Tennant and rightly credited to him, that occurred several years before the one I had originally cited as the earliest I was aware of. Hence I've updated my discussion of that subject in #2 of my list of terms coined by the Pet Shop Boys that have been adopted by other writers.

July 10, 2017

Today is the birthday (or, as a good friend of mine insists on saying, "birth anniversary") of one-half of the Pet Shop Boys. Happy Birthday, Neil!

I'm very pleased to have heard from Christian G, who nearly a quarter-century ago was one of the little boys who performed a parody/tribute to the Pet Shop Boys on a German TV show. Christian was good enough to provide the month and year of the performance, of which I had been uncertain until now. Thanks so much, Christian!

July 9, 2017

I was delighted to read in our local newspaper today one of its main rock critics, in an article about Prince's former backing band The Revolution (who are currently engaged in a "tribute tour"), referring to Prince's "imperial phase." I believe it's the third time in just the past few months that I've observed writers using that particular term coined by Neil Tennant, and the first time that I've seen one do so in a U.S. newspaper. There appears to be little doubt now that it has gained rather widespread entry into the rock/pop music critical lexicon. I just wonder how many of its users actually know who coined it?

I've also noticed that earlier today, at least according to my home page's Flag Counter routine, I received my first-ever site visitor from the small African nation of Malawi. So I've updated my "A World of Pet Shop Boys Fans" page accordingly, and I extend a very hearty welcome to my Malawian site visitor!

July 8, 2017

I've noted on my page that lists cover versions of Pet Shop Boys songs by other artists a recent remake of "I Get Excited (You Get Excited Too)" by the Danish synthpop duo Am Tierpark. I find it particularly noteworthy by virtue of the chord progression that they apply to the song, noticeably different from that of the original. If you would like to hear it for yourself, you may do so on YouTube. (Incidentally, while "Am Tierpark" doesn't mean anything in Danish, it translates to "At the animal park" in German, inspired by the fact that the duo—vocalist Claus Larsen and keyboardist/programmer John Mirland—decided to form their musical act while walking together at a Berlin zoo. Remarkably, they had their first gig just two days later.) While it's always a pleasure to hear new renditions by other artists of PSB songs, that's especially true when the song in question hasn't already been done to death, as in the case of "It's a Sin."

July 5, 2017

Thanks so much to Steve N. for suggesting that I add Neil's pre-PSB demo "All Things to All Men" to my list of Pet Shop Boys songs the lyrics of which don't contain the song's title. As I explained to Steve, I don't feel that it qualifies for the "list proper" since, after all, it's really not a "PSB song," but I do think it deserves at least a mention at the end of the list along with the similarly "non-PSB" track "Subculture." So that's where I've noted it.

Thanks as well to Nikolay Tikhonov from Russia for letting me know about another marvelous image to add to my list of tributes to the iconic cover of the album Actually. This one (which I really like), posted on the remarkable DeviantArt website—where you can see it in much higher resolution—is by a Russian artist/musician who goes by the moniker Goldyfox. Check it out!

July 4, 2017

Happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans and to anyone else who observes the holiday!

I don't yet know whom to credit, but I've discovered a new Lego®-based image for inclusion on my page devoted to takeoffs on the iconic cover of Actually. And I've also noted there another such takeoff, this one by the Berlin-based graphic-design team We Love You All. Delightful!

I've just noticed that over the weekend, while I was out of town, my home page's "Flag Counter" routine recorded my website's first-ever site visitor from the nation of Papua New Guinea. Therefore I've updated my "A World of Pet Shop Boys Fans" page accordingly, and I extend a hearty welcome to my Papua New Guinean visitor!

July 3, 2017

Thanks to Dave F. for letting me know that the seemingly ubiquitous "It's a Sin" was used day before yesterday as background music during an ITV4 broadcast of highlights from the Tour de France Stage 1 trails. I've noted this in the entry for the song at #21 in my list of Pet Shop Boys songs used in non-musical films and TV shows.

July 1, 2017

I've posted the final results of my survey of this past fortnight (well, almost), in which I asked my site visitors whether they were going to buy (or had already pre-ordered) the upcoming reissues of the Pet Shop Boys albums Nightlife, Release, and Fundamental. (Nor surprisingly, the vast majority of you are indeed planning to buy all three.)

As I mentioned the other day, some unexpected circumstances have forced me to end that survey and launch my new biweekly poll one day early. It's a question I had originally planned to ask last time, but the announcement of the release date of the reissues had persuaded me to postpone it. So now I get to propose the following scenario: if a DJ were to ask you to put together a "killer dance-music set"—yes, something that people would actually be dancing to—consisting of exactly five Pet Shop Boys tracks, most of which had made it onto the Billboard Dance Club Songs chart (or its antecedents by other names), which five would you choose? Thanks so much to porkchopkid for suggesting this question, although I did make a few adjustments so that what I'm asking isn't precisely what he had suggested. I hope you don't mind the modifications, porkchopkid!

As a reminder – Starting early Saturday, I'm going to be out of town and pretty much out of touch, with no computer access, for at least two days. I expect, if all goes well, to be back by early Monday. In the meantime, if you write to me with any questions, suggestions, or notices of errors, please keep in mind that I probably won't be able to reply—and I certainly won't be able to take any action on my website—until I'm back. In the meantime, thank you for your understanding and patience.

June 30, 2017

After having listened repeatedly to the "new" (that is, previously unreleased) song "Reunion" on the marvelous Popjustice website, I've significantly expanded my commentary on the song. Please keep in mind, however, that these are pretty much my first impressions, and I certainly reserve the right to make both major and minor changes later on as I hear it more often and "live with it" for a while. And as for the song itself, it's definitely a keeper; as Popjustice states, it "really doesn’t seem like it should have been lying around for so long."

June 29, 2017

Today the Pet Shop Boys, on their official website, posted some additional information about the previously unreleased track "Reunion," which will appear on the upcoming Release reissue "Further Listening" bonus disc. I've used this info to make a few updates to my still very preliminary entry for that song. They also announced that it will soon be available, albeit only for a very short time, to those who have pre-ordered the digital version of the reissue; I'm not among them, however, since I'm holding out for the physical edition. (Call me old-fashioned. wink)

Something very unexpected has suddenly come up that is going to force me out of town and away from my computer most of this coming weekend. So instead of ending my current poll and starting a new one on Sunday as I had originally planned, I'll make the switch one day early. So the current poll will end and the new one will begin on Saturday. I hope this doesn't pose any significant inconveniences. (And, by the way, there's nothing to worry about. Although I would prefer not to discuss right now my reasons for being unavailable this weekend, it's nothing bad. In fact, I would describe it as a good thing that simply surfaced with little or no advance notice.)

June 26, 2017

Thanks so much to Richard A (whom I've just added to my Thank You page) for calling my attention to the fact that, as related in Chris Heath's book Pet Shop Boys, Literally, several songs on Actually—namely "One More Chance," "It Couldn't Happen Here," and "Rent"—originally boasted lyrics that weren't used in their final versions. I've modified my entries for those three songs to make note of these unused lyrics. I'm not, however, adding them to my list of "Pet Shop Boys songs with 'extra lyrics'" because, as I state in the introduction to that list, I don't include songs in which extra lyrics have never appeared in released versions, which is precisely the case with these three tracks.

To my list of celebrity fans of the Pet Shop Boys outside of the field of music I've added English author and journalist Paul Burston. My source is the recently published book Good As You: From Prejudice to Pride – 30 Years of Gay Britain by Paul Flynn, which states that Burston "went into the interview as a Pet Shop Boys fan and remains one." What interview is he talking about? It's the famous 1994 interview in Attitude magazine in which Neil publicly "came out." Burston was the interviewer.

I've also drawn from that same book a most interesting but perhaps highly questionable bit about "A Man Could Get Arrested" that I've now noted in a new second bullet-point annotation to my commentary on that song.

June 25, 2017

I'm very grateful once again to Erik H, this time for alerting me to a little-known fact that frankly threw me for a loop, but which I've since independently verified as absolutely true: that Sterling Void's and Paris Brightledge's original 1987 recording of "It's Alright," which the Pet Shop Boys famously covered the following year, was actually spelled "It's All Right." I've revised my main entry for the song, modifying both the first paragraph and the first bullet-point annotation, to make note of this remarkable fact and to speculate (or, perhaps more accurately, wonder) briefly why Neil and Chris may have changed the spelling—if indeed it was them who first changed it—especially when you consider that "all right" is traditionally considered more "correct" than "alright." Whatever the case, thanks so much, Erik!

By the way, if you doubt that the Void/Brightledge original was spelled "It's All Right," the Discogs website offers definitive proof.

June 24, 2017

Thanks to Erik H. for reporting a couple typos, now corrected, on my page devoted to the song "Fugitive," as well as for pointing out that its seven-inch version was also released as part of the digital EP bundle for "Beautiful People." He has also inspired me to modify slightly my annotation to my commentary on "A Powerful Friend" in which I briefly discuss the line "Spends all his days en coucher."

Thanks also to Steve N. for spurring me to clarify a comment made in the first paragraph of my entry for "Tall Thin Men" with regard to how the song plays with certain gay stereotypes.