What's New? Recent Updates & Additions
February 25, 2017
I've added two new entries to my page that lists, in chronological order, published novels that mention the Pet Shop Boys: the 2001 novel The Cosmology of Bing by U.S. author Mitch Cullin and the 2012 novel Formigas de Camisetas Pretas by Brazilian author Paulo Lima Soraggi. I'm virtually ignorant of the Portuguese language, but with the help of Google Translate and after some idiomatic jiggling of my own, I've provided a translation of the relevant excerpt from Soraggi's novel. I'm very grateful to one of my Portuguese-speaking site visitors, Alexandre, for reviewing my translation and providing a few edits to improve it as well as for catching a typo, now corrected. Thanks so much, Alexandre!
February 24, 2017
Thanks to Mark Binmore for letting me know that the BBC's The One Show used "Shopping" last night as background music during a segment on—what else?—shopping in London, despite the fact that, of course, that's really not what the song's about. Naturally, I've noted this in the entry for that song at #12 in my list of Pet Shop Boys songs used in non-musical films and TV shows.
Thanks also to Dave F. for telling me about a new interview with the Boys that appears in today's edition of the Shropshire Star. What I find most interesting about it, aside from the fact that it misspells Neil's surname throughout,* is that it seems to confirm, based on what Chris says, that the next PSB studio album—as expected, again apparently to be produced by Stuart Price—will be somewhat "darker" and more "melancholy" than the first two PSB Price-produced albums, Electric and Super.
*I can sympathize. Perhaps this error can be chalked up to inexperience on the part of the writer and/or editor. I'm embarrassed to note that in one of my earliest record reviews for my college newspaper—way back when I only about 19 years old—I repeatedly misspelled "Led Zeppelin." OK, so the band's name didn't appear on the cover of the album. It was still sloppy of me.
February 23, 2017
Thanks to Des for telling me about a delightful electronic sign posted by the ScotRail (Scotland Railway) service in conjunction with the Pet Shop Boys' recent show in Glasgow. It manages to squeeze in several PSB song titles. I don't have permission to reproduce a photo here, but I can point you to one of several images posted by others. (I hope that link will work for you; it does for me.)
Having received his permission to do so, I've added Henry to my Thank You page in recognition for his contribution of information yesterday (see just below). Thanks again!
February 22, 2017
Thanks so much to first-time correspondent Henry for pointing out what we both suspect is an intentional echo of a line from the 1938 Noël Coward song "The Stately Homes of England" in the Pet Shop Boys' "Building a Wall." I've noted this in a major expansion on my pre-existing annotation for that song on the line "Caesar conquered Gaul."
As a follow-up to my February 20 entry below that "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)" has joined the Super Tour setlist, I'm grateful to Martyn, Des, and Andrew for confirming that a brief "tease" of "Heart" has replaced a similar teasing bit of "Opportunities" during the lead-in to "Go West." I've updated my setlist page with a note to that effect. Thanks, guys!
February 21, 2017
February 20, 2018
Thanks to John McFadden for writing to confirm something I had already noticed from a few online reports and, in fact, had already recorded on my Pet Shop Boys concert setlist page—that they've added "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)" to the 2017 leg of their Super Tour—but was holding off on mentioning here until I'd received further confirmation. Confirmation received! Thanks again, John!
February 19, 2017
I've posted the final results of my previous poll, in which I asked my site visitors their opinion of "Let's Get Lost" by the Pretenders featuring Neil as guest vocalist with Chrissie Hynde. My new survey for the week ahead is based on one of my website's "PSB lists," namely the one in which I've listed Pet Shop Boys songs that, based on things Chris and Neil themselves have said, one or both of them don't particularly care for. Of these songs, I'm wondering which ones are (1) your own personal favorite, (2) your least favorite, (3) the one for which Chris's and/or Neil's dislike surprises you the most, and (4) the one that you feel is most "quintessentially PSB"—that is, the one that best represents or typifies them. Thanks so much to Niall McIlroy for suggesting this superb question, which I've slightly expanded upon (he didn't suggest asking about your least favorite; that was my idea).
February 18, 2017
Thanks to John Hunt for letting me know that last night's edition of the BBC late-night news/current affairs program Newsnight employed a portion of the mix of "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)" that appears on Disco as background music for a segment concerning the decreased value of the British pound in the wake of the "Brexit" vote. I've now noted this in the entry for that song at #6 in my list of Pet Shop Boys songs used in non-musical films and TV shows.
Thanks also to Andrew Shaw for telling me about a most intriguing 2016 cover of "Later Tonight" by Charles Bobuck, a former member of the legendary avant-garde band The Residents (they of the infamous giant eyeball mask-helmets). I've noted this on my page that lists remakes of Tennant-Lowe songs. And if you would like to hear it for yourself, you may do so on Bobuck's Bandcamp page. I can assure you that it won't be to everyone's taste, but it's nevertheless well worth hearing.
From time to time I find errors online in reference to the earliest Pet Shop Boys recordings made with Ray Roberts and/or Bobby 'O' Orlando. I did so again earlier today. So, in a further attempt to set the record straight, I've revised my list of early PSB recordings made with Bobby 'O' to include those that they demoed in Ray Roberts's studio as well. Now, I realize this is a proverbial can of worms, and I fully acknowledge that I'm by no means the "final word" on this subject. In short, I may have some errors of my own. So if you believe that anything I outline there is indeed mistaken, please feel free to let me know. However, since I've already done my own research into this matter, I'm going to need more than a fellow fan's mere conviction that I'm in error. In other words, I'll need for you to cite some specific evidence, such as a documented statement made by Chris and/or Neil that I can see for myself, to prove it to me. Yes, I welcome corrections—I just want to make sure they really are corrections and not just more mistakes.
February 17, 2017
Great news today thanks to the recent Popjustice interview with the Pet Shop Boys: the long-anticipated next round of album reissues (or at least some of them, including the specifically cited Fundamental) with bonus CDs of additional tracks is slated for this coming April. We knew they were scheduled for sometime this year, but it's now quite nice to have a not-too-distant month attached to them. This interview also revealed "Dreamland" as the name of the song (mentioned just below in my February 15 entry) that Neil and Chris recently wrote with Olly Alexander of Years & Years. I don't yet have a preliminary entry for that song here on my website, but I'll probably put one up as a placeholder sometime this weekend.
February 15, 2017
I'm indebted to the Pet Shop Boys Community Forum for alerting me to the fact that Peter Robinson, writing for yesterday's The Guardian, has reported that Olly Alexander of the U.K. electropop trio Years & Years has been collaborating with the Pet Shop Boys in composing a new song for his band's next album. The title of the song, the title of the album, and its release date are all unknown at this time. But I'll certainly provide more information here as I learn more.
I've added to my PSB covers page a new remake of "Domino Dancing" by Hungarian artists Norbert Kristof featuring BoZaN. I realize of course that it may not be to everyone's liking, but I find it wonderfully atmospheric and quite beautiful. If you would like to hear it, it's been posted on YouTube.
February 14, 2017
❤ Happy Valentines Day! ❤ I've updated my Pet Shop Boys tours page with two more U.K. Super Tour shows just announced on the official PSB website: the Blackpool Empress Ballroom on June 21 and the Nottingham Motorpoint Arena on June 22.
Thanks so much to Gerard D. for telling me about today's entry of the long-running (like forever) Ripley's Believe It or Not cartoon, which features the Boys (among other things): namely, a fascinating fact that I've long noted (in considerably more detail) on my website's page devoted to "Strange But True Incidents Involving the Pet Shop Boys."
February 13, 2017
Thanks to Andrew Shaw for correcting me on a point related to my posting yesterday concerning George Harrison (see below). The interview in question took place in 1990 as opposed to "the late eighties" as I had originally posted. Correction now made in my "Beatles connections" on my other favorite artists page.
February 12, 2017
I've posted the final results of last week's survey, in which I asked my site visitors to choose what they believe would be the best first, second, and third singles from an imaginary Pet Shop Boys studio album consisting of twelve of their most popular single b-sides (assuming that they had never been previously released). This week's poll returns to reality by asking your opinion of the single "Let's Get Lost" by the Pretenders featuring Neil Tennant as guest co-lead vocalist.
Thanks so much to John M. from SoCal for telling me about a late-eighties interview with George Harrison in which he made a mildly disparaging tongue-in-cheek reference to PSB—but don't judge him too harshly because it's somewhat self-deprecating as well—a fact that I've now added to my list of "Beatles connections" on the page that lists my other favorite artists. If you would like to see it for yourself, it's available on YouTube, with the pertinent comments running from about 1:10 to 1:30.
I'm finally able to make what will almost certainly be the last update for Super on my list of showings of PSB albums on selected publications' year-end lists. Village Voice has at long last released its listing for 2016 albums, and while technically Super "made" the list, it was hardly among that publication's "best" for 2016. You see, VV listed nearly 1400 albums, and Super ranked only 491. So I'm not going to say it made the "year-end list" for Village Voice. And lest you suspect this poor showing is on account of some bias against PSB, please note that roughly half of all PSB albums have made the Village Voice "best" lists through the years, including the immediately preceding album, Electric. It just appears that, in this case, Super didn't cut the New York critics' mustard.
February 11, 2017
Yesterday the official Pet Shop Boys website made the surprising announcement that, instead of putting out another copy of their longtime fan publication Literally, they will resurrect their old concept of an annual hardback publication titled Annually—previously released only once, back in 1988—with a brand new edition scheduled for release April 1, now available for pre-order from the aforementioned official site. (Needless to say, I've already placed my pre-order. If you're interested as well, I strongly recommend that you place your own order ASAP. If I remember correctly, the previous issue of Literally sold out very quickly!) As a bonus, this limited-edition publication will be accompanied by a special CD featuring new mixes of "Undertow" and "Burn" as well as a new version of "Left to My Own Devices," probably based on the arrangement used on the Super Tour. I've updated my entries for those three songs with placeholders for these new mixes. I've also added pertinent new entries (Baba Stiltz and Tuff City Kids) to my page devoted to the Boys' "official" remixers.
Incidentally, the fact that these remixes of "Undertow" and, very likely, "Burn" will soon be released commercially on 12-inch vinyl (also announced yesterday in a "Pet Text") strongly suggests that PSB will be making a serious bid for one or both of these songs to find their way onto the Billboard dance charts, thereby further extending the Boys' already astounding run as legendary figures in the sphere of dance music. Ever since the release of Super, a great many fans (myself included) have been clamoring for these songs—"Burn" in particular—to be released as dance singles. It appears that this fervent wish may at last be coming true.
Meanwhile, thanks so much to Erika for telling me about the appearance of a snippet of PSB lyrics on yesterday's edition of the hugely popular U.S TV game show Wheel of Fortune: "I've got the brains, you've got the looks" from "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)." It really doesn't "fit" permanently anywhere on my website, but I feel it at least worth mentioning here.
February 9, 2017
Once again I've updated my PSB tours page to include new festival concerts announced today on the Pet Shop Boys' website. This time around it's July 8 at the Cruilla Barcelona Summer Festival and September 10 at Bestival in Dorset.
Every now and then, maybe once every three or four years, I'll get an email from somebody maintaining steadfastly that the Pet Shop Boys aren't really gay. The explanation that usually accompanies this assertion is that Neil "came out" in the 1990s only as a marketing gimmick, or something to that effect. Today I received another such message—actually two of them from the same person—accompanied by some other quite remarkable claims, including that Neil and Chris actually write most of Madonna's material for her, that Chris has "women all over him," and that Neil has four children to his credit. At any rate, since I have received another of these occasional assertions, I've decided to add this subject toward the end of my FAQ section. And many thanks to the person who was kind enough to write to me about this. I do appreciate it.
February 7, 2017
February 5, 2017
I've posted the final results of my poll of the past week, in which I asked my site visitors to choose what they feel would be the comparative quality of an imaginary Pet Shop Boys studio album composed of twelve of their most popular single b-sides (assuming, for this scenario, that they had never been previously released). As I suggested this time a week ago, my new survey for the week ahead—which, by the way, is my
800thpoll—is a sequel, which I wouldn't be running if most voters had felt that the imaginary record from last week's poll wouldn't have made a good PSB album. But seeing as how most voters did feel it would have made a good album, I'm now asking which three songs you think would make the best singles from such an album, and in what order those imaginary singles should be released.
Thanks so much to Erik H. for catching and reporting a longstanding typo in my entry for the song "Heart," which I've now corrected.
And thanks to both Marc R. and David B. for noticing that the song that I added yesterday to my list of unreleased Pet Shop Boys songs, "I'm Keeping My Fingers Crossed," was already in the list under a slightly different title, "Keeping My Fingers Crossed" (minus the "I'm"). So I've removed the new duplicate entry and modified the original with a reference to Peter Hook's book. Sometimes it's difficult to keep track of everything, so I'm glad I have you all to keep me on my toes!
February 4, 2017
The Pretenders/Neil Tennant duet of "Let's Get Lost" had its world debut today on Graham Norton's BBC Radio 2 show, which you can listen to online. (The Chrissie Hynde segment begins at about the 1:30 mark, she begins talking about the song at about 1:42, and the song itself begins playing at around 1:42.)
Thanks to Gavin Kagan for telling me about the title of previously unknown unreleased alleged* Tennant-Lowe track, "I'm Keeping My Fingers Crossed," mentioned in Peter Hook's new book Substance: Inside New Order. I've added this title to my list of unreleased Pet Shop Boys songs. (But please note my update described just above under February 5.)
*How's that for a string of qualifiers?
February 2, 2017
The Pet Shop Boys' official website today announced that:
February 1, 2017
While listening yesterday afternoon to "If There Was Love," an interpetation came to me of what I regard as one of the most remarkable couplets to emerge from Neil Tennant's pen—
There's a hole in the sky as distant and vast
As our moral vacuum and growing as fast
—that I'm amazed never occurred to me before. It now strikes me as obvious. The "hole in the sky" very likely alludes to the seeming absence of God in the modern world, which correlates to a growing "moral vacuum" since, after all, God is traditionally regarded (at least by those of religious inclination) as the foundation of morality. As far as I'm concerned, this reaches into the very heart of the song. I've updated my commentary on the song to reflect this point.
Thanks, not so incidentally, to both Andrew Shaw and Dave F. for reminding me that the "hole in the sky" reference could be to the hole in the ozone later—very much in the news when the song was written. And I've also noted that it could refer to a black hole as well. But, as I state in my commentary, these alternate interpretations by no means undermine the absent-God concept. Andrew was also kind enough to bring to my attention a numerical error, now corrected, in the introductory paragraph for my page that lists songs that the Pet Shop Boys recorded by Bobby 'O' Orlando. Thanks again!
The official PSB website announced today that the Boys are scheduled to appear at the "Festival on the Wall," August 4-6, along Hadrian's Wall in the U.K. county of Northumberland. Although the PSB site didn't cite the specific date for their performance, I've found seemingly reliable information elsewhere that asserts it will be Friday, August 4. So I've now gone ahead and updated my PSB tours page to include this show. (If we later find that this performance's setlist and staging is quite different from that of the Super Tour, I'll remove it from that page since I don't track "one-off" shows there.)
January 31, 2017
Based on information provided by Neil in the booklet accompanying the 2001 reissue of Please, I've found that the Pet Shop Boys recorded "That's My Impression" at least three different times: first at Ray Roberts's studio, then with Bobby 'O' Orlando, and then finally (the released version) self-produced during the Please sessions while that album's producer, Stephen Hague, was otherwise occupied. It was the "middle version" recorded with Bobby 'O' that surprised me. I've therefore added "That's My Impression" to my list of songs that the Boys recorded with Mr. Orlando.
Thanks to Des for telling me about a delightful item from the Shortlist website that relates "40 Pieces of Wisdom from Pet Shop Boys Lyrics." While I can't agree with the purported "wisdom" of all of them (as a cat-lover, for instance, I'm not partial to the selection from "I Want a Dog" ), I truly appreciate this little bit of recognition for PSB lyrics.
January 29, 2017
I've posted the final results of last week's two survey questions, in which I asked my site visitors to pick the Pet Shop Boys (1) studio album and (2) "special project" that, in their opinion, took them farthest from their musical "comfort zone." This week's new poll sets up one of my occasional imaginary scenarios and calls for a choice based upon it. In this case, I'm listing twelve of the Boys' single b-sides that received the highest ratings in my periodic "Rating Project" surveys and asking you to imagine that they were never released before, but instead have just been released as the tracks on a brand new PSB studio album. How would you compare such an album with all of their other studio albums? Would it be one of their best? One of their weakest? Or somewhere in the middle? Perhaps complicating matters is the fact that the overall quality of an album may not be determined merely by the quality of the individual songs but also by how well those songs "fit together." At any rate, I hope you enjoy contemplating this question.
Incidentally, I already have a pair of possible "sequel" follow-up questions waiting in the wings, but which one I use—maybe even whether I use either of them—will depend on the particular outcome of this survey.
January 28, 2017
On several occasions through the years site visitors have asked me to explain why certain Pet Shop Boys songs are my favorites, just as I have with my least favorites. I've decided to go ahead and do so, at least at this time with my list of my favorite cover songs by the Boys.
January 26, 2017
Eliza Niemi of the band New Love Underground—which covered "A New Life" several years ago—has posted her solo rendition on YouTube. I've now noted this as an expansion on the pre-existing entry for that song and band on my page that lists cover versions of Tennant-Lowe songs.
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