It’s Alright was released on 26th June 1989. It was the third single to be lifted from Introspective.
The timing of this release always seemed strange. It had been seven months since the previous single. The album from which it was taken had dropped out of the charts a month previously. Was there really any demand for it as a 45?
It turned out there was, as it went straight in at #5. It managed to hold its position in the Top 10 for a few weeks thanks in part to the marketing campaign which had involved the initial 26th June release being on six formats – 7″, 7″ limited edition sleeve, 12″, 12″ limited edition sleeve, compact disc and cassette single – that was followed up by a 10″ version on 3rd July and a 12″ remix on 10th July.
All told, including the remixes, there were six versions of It’s Alright across the various singles, none of which were identical to the version that could be found on Introspective. No wonder the people in charge of compiling the charts soon put restrictions on the multi-format method of boosting sales. I’m not entirely sure how much involvement Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe had with all of this, or whether it was down entirely to the label bosses.
It’s Alright was a cover song, although it very much sounded like a PSB original. It was originally written and recorded in 1987 by Sterling Void & Paris Brightledge, the former being one of the prominent DJs within the ever-increasing and influential scene associated with Chicago house music. The first version that PSB recorded was more than nine minutes long and closed off Introspective. The 7″ version was remixed and had the addition of an additional verse that addressed environmental concerns, but was edited right down to a little over four minutes in length.
7″ Limited Edition
mp3: Pet Shop Boys – It’s Alright
mp3: Pet Shop Boys – One Of The Crowd
mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Your Funny Uncle
The standard edition of the 7″ didn’t include Your Funny Uncle.
The two b-sides are a total contrast.
One Of The Crowd has, unusually, Chris on lead vocal, albeit he uses a vocoder as a partial disguise. The tune has always reminded a bit of one of those big hits from Adamski.
Your Funny Uncle is a piano-led ballad and a bit of a tear-jerker based on a true story. Neil wrote the lyric after attending the funeral of a friend who had died from AIDS. It’s not the usual b-side, but it is one of their loveliest numbers.
“All the details are true: the cars in slow formation, and so on. He did have an uncle, who had been in the army all of his life and suddenly found himself at the funeral of his evidently gay nephew who’d died of Aids. I think it must have been quite a difficult situation for him, but he was really nice and dignified and spoke to all of his nephew’s friends. I had to give a reading, and the bit I read was from the book of Revelations…at the end it says there’s somewhere where there’s no pain or fear, and I found it a really moving piece of prose, and attached it to the end of the song.”
The success of It’s Alright returned Introspective to the Top 40 of the album charts after a couple of months outside the listings. The album’s highest placing was #2, the third time in a row a PSB album had just come up short in attempts to dislodge an 80s mega-seller (Brothers In Arms – Dire Straits; Bad – Michael Jackson; Rattle and Hum – U2). Would the luck change as a new decade dawned?
4 thoughts on “PET SHOP BOY SINGLES (Part Seven)”
I forgot all about this song,
Not one of my favorites if I’m being honest.
I love this one. The 12″ mix is superb too. a definite highlight for me of the tour last year
Have always liked It’s Alright AND it’s b-sides, especially Your Funny Uncle, which was such a change from the usual.
Recording It’s Alright was one of PSB’s genius moves. Rather than just appropriate the sound and feel of Chicago House, they paid tribute to it by providing a iconic song of the genre more exposure than it had ever had. They also managed to really make it their own in the way they approached its production in collaboration with Trevor Horn. It was always a House Music Anthem, Pet Shop Boys made it a Pop Anthem as well.
The Album version opens with much of sound of the original intact. I have a soft spot for the percolating feel of the 10″ mix. It has a kitchen sink full of drama that skirts ever so close to being too much but never manages to go over the edge of that particular cliff.
There are also the DJ International remixes by Tyree and Rocky Jones and the song’s writer, Sterling Void. Tyree’s contribution is unabashedly ACIIIED! and 30+ years on I still have time for it. Jones and Void stripped out all of the Trevor Horn production and turned the track back to the basics of Chicago House with occasional Acid flourishes.