I hope you didn’t mind that last week concentrated on just one single. The reason for asking is that I’m sticking again today to just one single. the second to be taken from Introspective.
Left To My Own Devices was released on 14th November 1988.
I wrote about the single at some length back in 2017. I’m going for a slightly amended cut’n’paste from that piece.
Of all the Pet Shop Boys singles, my favourite is Left To My Own Devices. My first exposure to the song had come thanks to it being the opening track on the album Introspective. Just over 8 minutes in length, it was something to behold.
mp3 : Pet Shop Boys – Left To My Own Devices (album version)
I was quite bemused when I read it was going to be issued as a single given it was such a strange and almost surreal lyric. OK, the word love was contained within the chorus but it wasn’t quite boy meets girl or boy meets boy or girl meets girl material what with it also wittering on about Che Guevara drinking tea and setting the sounds of classical composer Claude Debussy to a disco beat. But somehow the madcap approach worked as it reached #4 in the UK singles chart when it was released in November 1988.
mp3 : Pet Shop Boys – Left To My Own Devices (single edit)
But it turns out that the album version wasn’t the one in which Neil and Chris, along with producers/engineers/orchestral arrangers Trevor Horn, Stephen Lipson and Richard Niles had really thrown the kitchen sink. Nope, for that you had to get the 12″ version which extended out to an incredible eleven and a half minutes, beginning with an unlikely drumroll before incorporating house, disco, brass, strings, operatic backing vocals and a more deliberate spoken rap from Neil. What’s not to love?
mp3 : Pet Shop Boys – Left To My Own Devices (disco mix)
The b-side is a bonkers sounding bit of music, the sort of thing that seems to accompany a character in a film having a drugs-induced breakdown or panic attack. And in the typically perverse way the boys were behaving at the time, the short version (3:38) was put on the CD and 12″ releases, with the full version (5:13) available only on the flip side of the 7″:-
mp3 : Pet Shop Boys – The Sound Of The Atom Splitting (extended version)
I went to see Pet Shop Boys last May at the cavernous Hydro in Glasgow. The set was a Greatest Hits type of evening, and so there were many highlights. The best, as far as I’m concerned, was Left To My Own Devices, which came in around a third of the way into the set. Full volume in front of 12,000 ecstatic fans. I was only sorry they performed the short version of the tune. I’d happily have danced away to the near 12-minute take on things.
9 thoughts on “PET SHOP BOY SINGLES (Part Six)”
Presumably The Sound Of The Atom Splitting was edited on 12″ to bring the total running time under 20 minutes. I thought the limit at the time was 25 minutes but I may be mistaken.
The only time I saw the Pet Shop Boys was their 2 song performance as part of the Trevor Horn retrospective at Wembley Arena 2004. The first song was…………’Left to my own devices’. My main recollection is that when they came on stage the volume went up several dB to unnecessary ear splitting levels. And of course they weren’t the headline – that was FGTH sans Holly J.
I was there to mainly to see ABC, Grace J and Dollar (yes – but not as a duo).
Cheers for the postings.
Found this on geowayne a site about PSB…
“It should be noted that, in July 2016, the track’s co-producer Trevor Horn reminisced to interviewer Chris Payne that he had provided the inspiration for this line, a fact that Neil confirmed in his book One Hundred Lyrics and a Poem. While working together, Neil had apparently asked him, “What are you doing next, after this?” to which he replied, “I’m going to put Debussy to a disco beat.” In return for using his words, the Boys awarded Horn a compositional co-credit (and its associated royalties) for the single’s b-side, “The Sound of the Atom Splitting.” And, as it turns out, Horn did indeed eventually put Debussy to a disco beat—namely, on the 1999 Art of Noise concept album The Seduction of Claude Debussy.” Nice!!
A highpoint in all sorts of ways- lyrics, tune, production, intent. The B-side is amazing too, a kind of electronic acid psychedelia for the late 80s.
As always from you, a great little piece about a big song. One of my favourites (though you still haven’t got to my favourite b-side yet).
Absolutely one of a kind. The orchestral builds and flourishes are immense! The bright on the floor house beat is key to allowing all the ideas and experiments to fit together. Neil’s “come on baby’s” are a highlight throughout the track for me.
I have always imagined the opening of The Sound of The Atom Splitting as an alternative ending to The Beatles’ A Day In The Life that transports the listener 20+ yrs into the future, dropping them into an Acid House maelstrom.
The disco mix of this song is one of my favorite things the PSBs ever did. I’m only just now realizing through this series that some of my fave PSB songs are on an album I don’t have! must rectify.
They did a similar thing on West End girls. the 7″ had the long version of A Man Could Get Arrested on the b-side and the 12″ had the shorter version.