What's New? – Recent Updates & Additions

October 13, 2018

This is just a heads-up to let you know that today is the last day that, on account of personal circumstances, I will be able to make any updates to this website or respond to emails that you may send me for a little more than a week. In the meantime, my current poll should continue to run on its own (knock on wood), continuing one day longer than usual for my two-week surveys. As noted previously, assuming all goes well, I should be able to conclude this poll, post the final results, and launch a new survey sometime on Monday, October 22 (although it may actually be Tuesday the 23rd in some time zones). If you do email me, please be patient; I'll respond as soon as I am able. Thank you so much for your patience and understanding!

October 11, 2018

In the wake of my recent observance here of the 25th anniversary of the release of Very, I overlooked a similar milestone yesterday: the 30th anniversary of the release of Introspective. But I was reminded by a fairly short but quite insightful online article looking back on that classic album. I invite you to read it as well using the link provided.

October 8, 2018

Site visitor Daryl G. wrote to ask me about a cover of "West End Girls" that he heard while in vacation in Verona and really liked, but he never learned who performed it. He described it and asked if I could identify the artist. I ran a search but none of the tracks that I had already listed on my page devoted to covers of Tennant-Lowe songs sounded like what he described. I did, however, discover one "new" cover that sounds very much as though it fits the bill quite well. From 2014, it's a remake by an Italian artist, Davide Marani, who calls his musical "chill-out project" Didascalis. If you would like to hear it for yourself, it's available for your listening pleasure on YouTube. Of course, I've also now added it to the aforementioned covers page.

October 7, 2018

I've posted the final results of survey of the past two weeks, in which I asked my site visitors their retrospective assessment of the Pet Shop Boys' album Very in the wake of the anniversary of its release. My new poll for the coming two weeks—actually, for just a little more than two weeks (more about that in a moment)—is based on a widespread but admittedly debatable premise: that, way back in 1988, the music video for "Domino Dancing" did irreparable harm to the momentum of the Pet Shop Boys' career in the United States, resulting in them never again having a major mainstream hit single there. Site visitor Adrian Williams suggested that I ask which of their subsequent singles over the next ten years or so (up through 2000) do you think would have, under different circumstances, had the greatest chance of having become a major U.S. hit single. In other words, if they had never unveiled such an allegedly—OK, more than "allegedly"—homoerotic video in 1988, which subsequent single would have been the best candidate for being a huge U.S. hit? Even if you disagree with the premises of the question—that the "Domino Dancing" single harmed their U.S. career and/or that their subsequent singles suffered commercially in the States as a result—please feel free to play along and choose the single that you think under any other different circumstances might have become a big U.S. hit. Thanks, Adrian, for an intriguing question!

Getting back to the length of time that I'm setting aside for this poll: personal circumstances will prevent me from switching to a new poll precisely two weeks from now, on October 21. Instead, I won't be able to conclude this poll until the following day, Monday, October 22—and, depending on your time zone, that may be Tuesday, October 23, for you. So this survey will run until then, after which the one that follows will run just a little less than two weeks. After that, I plan on resuming my "traditional" weekly survey schedule. In the meantime, thank you all for your continued interest and participation, and I apologize for any inconvenience.

October 6, 2018

Thanks so much to Andrew Shaw for letting me know that English journalist, blogger, presenter, and professional Doctor Who promoter/enthusiast Christel Dee is also very much a Pet Shop Boys fan, having written or talked about them on a number of occasions. I'm told, in fact, that on at least one occasion she has even Tweeted about my list of Doctor Who/PSB connections. Accordingly, I've added her to my list of celebrity fans outside the field of music.

October 4, 2018

Please join me in extending very Happy Birthday wishes to Chris Lowe!

September 30, 2018

Thanks to Oleg Pelykh for referring me to an excellent new opinion piece by writer Michael Bracewell stimulated by the upcoming release of Neil Tennant's new book One Hundred Lyrics and a Poem. One anecdote—possibly merely a "legend," as Bracewell himself notes—that I don't recall ever hearing before but which strikes me as especially delightful concerns:

… the occasion, years ago, decades even, when—so legend maintains—the young Pet Shop Boys knocked on the front door of Gilbert & George's ceremonial home in London's Spitalfields, to politely enquire whether the artists might like to create some artwork for their latest release. "Thank you," George replied, with equal courtesy, "but we never do anything that has a point."

I have no idea whether that ever actually happened. But if it didn't, it should have. It's too good never to have occurred. wink

September 25, 2018

I've added Adrian Williams's name to my Thank You page in recognition of his suggestion of a terrific poll question that I will likely be using for one of my next two surveys. More about that when the time comes. Thanks again, Adrian!

September 23, 2018

I've posted the final results of my previous poll, in which I asked my site visitors to respond to two questions about the inevitable—but hopefully not to come for many years yet—final studio album by the Pet Shop Boys. My new survey for the next two weeks is inspired by the fact that this coming Thursday marks the 25th anniversary of the release of the Pet Shop Boys' album Very. It's no secret that Very sits at the pinnacle of my list of PSB albums, but I'm wondering what you think of it after all these years. Do you consider it their all-time greatest studio album? Their worst? Or something in-between?

Since today signals the end of summer here where I live in the northern hemisphere, you might be expecting me to end my summertime biweekly/fortnightly polling schedule and resume weekly surveys. I do indeed plan on resuming my weekly poll schedule—but not yet. For personal reasons that I would prefer not to delve into, I'm going to continue the every-two-week schedule for another six weeks, until the first Sunday in November. Along the way, one of those upcoming polls will run just a little longer than two weeks, while another will run a little less. I'll provide the relevant details when the time comes. Until then, I hope you will excuse this delay in resuming my weekly polls. And, as always, I tremendouly appreciate your participation in them!

Meanwhile, thanks to James S. for pointing me to an online article about the paninari or "sandwich boys" who inspired the PSB song "Paninaro." Not only does it briefly mention the Pet Shop Boys but it also provides insight into the likely inspiration for at least some of Chris Lowe's fashion sense in the 1980s.

September 17, 2018

Thanks to a couple of my site visitors for separately telling me about two interesting new items, both involving Germany in one way or another. First, Daniel B. informed me of the 2015 novel 89/90 by German author Paul Richter, which earns a spot in my chronological list of published novels that mention the Pet Shop Boys by name. Daniel was also kind enough to provide a translation of the original German text, although I've modified it a bit to take a little better advantage of idiomatic English. Second, Marco Lucht told me about yesterday's episode of the German television show Kaum zu glauben! ("Hard to Believe!"), which employed the PSB track "Winner" during one remarkable segment. So I've created a new entry for that song at #85 in my list of Pet Shop Boys songs that have been used in non-musical films and TV shows. Thanks again, Daniel and Marco!

Shifting gears a bit, at the end of my current survey, which concludes this coming Sunday, I will start a new poll that concerns the question of the "greatest" Pet Shop Boys album—although, as a word of warning, the actual form that question takes will probably not be what you think it will be. wink I'm just sayin'. At any rate, today I read a piece by one of my favorite film critics, the deeply insightful Mick LaSalle—whose film criticism often extends well beyond the movies into wider cultural critique—that I found quite prescient and well worth considering when pondering this upcoming question. Since I deal with popular music, not movies, I'm taking the liberty of substituting the word "album" in the following excerpt where LaSalle originally wrote "movie," but the thrust of his observation remains the same:

[A]t a certain level of quality, deciding which great [album] is the greatest is a matter of deciding what you most value and what you can live without, a process that not only is subjective but also involves subjective judgments about things other than the [album]. Ultimately, all art can be considered flawed because of what it leaves out. Nothing can encapsulate the fullness of life. But great art seduces us into not feeling the absence of what's missing, even as it throws a shadow larger than itself, suggesting a larger world. How these elements are perceived changes from person to person and is subject to fashion, so no [album] can be the best.

That's something I will be pondering as I approach my next survey, and perhaps you can, too.

September 16, 2018

Thanks so much to John McFadden for telling me about a segment this morning on Bobby's Late Breakfast, a program on the independent Irish radio station Newstalk, during which reporter/presenter Henry McKean talked about his fondness for the Pet Shop Boys' debut album, Please. Listening has enabled me to add McKean to my list of celebrity fans of PSB outside the field of music. (His love of the Boys' music clearly extends well beyond just that one album.) If you would like to listen yourself, it's available online; the "timing" isn't available, but the pertinent portion begins roughly halfway through the program.

September 14, 2018

Thanks to Alex O'Brien for sharing with me his alternate interpretation of "Shopping," which I've now described in a new final bullet-point annotation to my commentary on the song. In the process, I also expanded a bit on my main commentary as well. Actually, I don't think this new interpretation is so much an "alternative" as it is complementary to the standard (and, I strongly believe, still essential) one that concerns the privitization of nationalized industries in Britain during the Thatcher era.

One of my regular site visitors has asked me about the fact that I have an http website address as opposed to https, which results in Chrome and perhaps other browsers indicating that my site is "Not secure." He was concerned that this might discourage some potential site visitors and was wondering whether I would be doing anything to address the situation. As I replied to him, I've decided against investing the additional time, effort, and especially money—an average of about $300 per year!—it would require for me to register and set up a "secure" site. "Security" of this sort is generally important only for websites that require registration for use (in other words, a username and password), collect personal, confidential information, and/or take online payments of any sort (via credit cards, PayPal, bank accounts, and the like). I don't do any of those things, so my site really doesn't need to be "secure," particularly considering the costs involved. If I lose some site visitors who are scared off by my "Not secure" status, that's life. I'm not losing any sleep over it. But I have added a new note about this to my home page. Thanks to John M. for asking me about it!

I know I have a number of regular site visitors in North and South Carolina, which are being battered and flooded today by Hurricane Florence. On a more personal level, I have relatives in North Carolina, and even more in neighboring Virginia, where I grew up. So the storm and its effects are very much on my mind right now, and will continue to be in the days ahead, which will probably bring even more flooding further inland. I'm also thinking about the Philippines, Taiwan, and China, currently coping with the threat of Typhoon Mangkhut. I've never been in the direct line of fire of a hurricane, but I have experienced a few sideswipes, and those are bad enough. I hope everyone stays safe, or at least as safe as possible under the circumstances.

Only peripherally related to the Pet Shop Boys – For those of you who may erroneously think of Chris Heath only as the Boys' Boswell (for his books Pet Shop Boys, Literally and Pet Shop Boys versus America, not to mention his all-but-ubiquitous contributions to their assorted publications and tour booklets through the years), you may be interested in his lengthy interview article, "The Untold Stories of Paul McCartney," newly published in GQ and available online. It's receiving a good deal of attention on account of some of the more remarkable revelations Heath was able to pull from the usually quite guarded Sir Paul. If you're the least bit interested in McCartney and/or the Beatles, I highly recommend it.