A little bit of background as it’s something I was very much unaware of. This is all from the ‘History’ section of the Pet Shop Boys official website.
On 6th February 6 2002, the Pet Shop Boys begin a brief tour of English colleges. “We’d never done it before so I thought it would be a laugh,” says Chris. “The original idea was based on Paul McCartney and Wings just upping off and playing universities during the lunch break and stuff. It just seemed like a nice way to play lots of songs off the new album. And also to get a band together.”
Neil plays guitar, Chris plays keyboards are there are two other guitarists and a percussionist onstage. “It was really good having a band – noisy,” says Chris. “It was quite interesting because the Pet Shop Boys have never presented themselves as being musicians before on stage, with the exception of when we played at the ICA in 1984,” says Neil. “We’ve always presented ourselves within a visual context on stage, which has been what we’ve become well-known for, and all of a sudden we thought it would be quite interesting to present ourselves as musicians.”
At one concert, in Middlesborough, they encore with a version of Eddie and the Hot Rods’ “Do Anything You Wanna Do”. The tour is completed by a one-off date in Cologne, Germany, on February 16.
On 16th March, they record a live concert for BBC Radio 2 with their live band, playing a shortened version of their college tour set. Two days later, a new single is released.
mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Home And Dry
It is interesting that the BBC, and indeed Chris and Neil, now saw their natural home as being Radio 2 and not Radio 1, which is the station aimed at younger listeners with its playlists, certainly during the day, concentrating on the current chart hits.
This is not meant as an insult, but Home and Dry is a perfect Radio 2 song and PSB were very much an ideal Radio 2 group. The station is the most listened-to in the UK, and its DJs have the task of broadcasting a very wide range of content, including hits from bygone eras.
It’s a song that it is very hard to date as there are all sorts of 80s influences on it, but it has the crisp production standards of the 21st century. It got to #14 on the singles chart, which is a decent performance, given that a move to Radio 2 tends to come at a time when singers/groups are now seen as being more about their albums and live shows.
2 x CDs and a DVD version were put on sale. CD1 had the single plus two new tracks
mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Sexy Northerner
mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Always
The former is yet another superb b-side, full of humour and delivered with a knowing wink. Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty must surely have given this a listen and been proud that their influences were still very much to the fore.
The latter, while not as outstanding as Sexy Northerner, is one that would have raised hopes for the quality of the next studio album, given it was ‘deemed’ only good enough as an additional track on the lead single. It’s another wonderful Radio 2 record, with a hint just after the three-minute mark of the same synthetic trumpet blast that was found on West End Girls.
There was one ‘new’ track included on CD2.
mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Break 4 Love
Here’s an edit from wiki.
Break 4 Love is a song written, produced and recorded by Vaughan Mason, the principal member of American house music group Raze, the song’s original credited performer. The song, the group’s only significant US hit, featured vocals by Keith Thompson and Vaughan Mason, as well as sexual sound samples by Erique Dial. The single peaked at number 28 on the UK Singles Chart and topped the US Billboard Hot Dance Club Play chart in 1988. It is still considered a classic of the early house music genre.
In 2001, Break 4 Love was covered by Peter Rauhofer (an Austrian-American DJ/remixer who passed away in 2013) and Pet Shop Boys, released under the name “Peter Rauhofer + Pet Shop Boys = The Collaboration”. The single was not released in the United Kingdom but was a B-side to CD 2 of their single, “Home and Dry”.
It’s maybe a reminder to their long-term fans that, while they may have gone out on tour in the UK with some guitars to the fore, house/club/dance music was still very much in the DNA of the Pet Shop Boys.
A few weeks later, on 1 April, the eighth studio album hit the shops.
Release was a significant departure from the norm, and I now get why they went out on that type of tour at the start of 2002. It’s not a club or dance album, and was perhaps the duo’s way of staving off any sense of stagnation, or maybe their way of suggesting that they were intending to grow old with a touch of grace and style. Neil was approaching his 48th birthday, while Chris was almost 43 – no age at all in the grand scheme of things but it was now more than 20 years since they had started working together.
Release, and this is not meant as an insult, is a perfect Radio 2 album, helped by the fact that DJs could talk about the fact that Johnny Marr had added his guitar-playing skills to mlost of its songs. Sales, however, proved to be disappointing – the album did enter the charts at #7, but then disappeared from the Top 100 within four weeks. It took until July 2002 before a second single was taken from it.
mp3: Pet Shop Boys – I Get Along (single edit)
This slow, piano-led single was as far removed from the ‘atypical’ Pet Shop Boys singles as can be imagined. The version released as a single shaved about the best part of two minutes off the album version, but still came in at over minutes long. Those who just wanted to dance must have listened and wondered ‘WTF’? I’m not a fan. It entered the charts at #18, but was back out of them again within two more weeks, the shortest stay thus far of any PSB 45.
Again, 2 x CDs and a DVD version were put on sale. CD1 had the single plus two new tracks, both recorded at the same time as the sessions for Release, but held back with the intention of being extra songs on any singles. CD2 had some live songs as the additional tracks.
mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Searching For The Face Of Jesus
mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Between Two Islands
Given what I’ve written above about the album, neither of these should come as a surprise.
The year would end with another first, one that would have been unimaginable when they were releasing banger after banger. The duo recorded a session for John Peel on 2 October that was broadcast on 10 October.
Peel references the fact that London was slated as the next single, but it never materialised.
7 thoughts on “PET SHOP BOYS SINGLES (Part Sixteen)”
I really liked this lp when it first came out and think it still holds up well .
I remember getting a leaked CDr of the album complete with artwork, but called Now Printing. Not bad at all.
Thank you for taking us through the PSB history on Sundays. Really enjoy following the series.
“London” was released as a single in Germany to coincide with a TV appearance of the Pet Shop Boys. https://www.discogs.com/release/167242-Pet-Shop-Boys-London and https://www.discogs.com/release/167249-Pet-Shop-Boys-London
Likewise, I’m really enjoying this dive into PSB’s singles (you do these series so well). Ironically, for someone who didn’t immerse themselves in all things PSB during the 1980s and 1990s, I did start catching up in the 20th Century. Ironically, Release is one of the PSB albums that I’m most familiar with, thanks to now-dormant music blog All The Air In My Lungs. A highlight was reimagined or expanded editions of albums and in 2017, Release got the treatment, well ahead of the ‘Further Listening’ reissues:
I quite like both singles, though they’re not ‘go to’ tracks if I’m compiling a PSB playlist. The B-sides are all interesting in their own way. There was an additional new song on the DVD single format of I Get Along, too. Friendly Fire is a piano and strings-led ballad, arranged by Craig Armstrong, and the best of the bunch in my opinion.
Really enjoying this series. Sexy Northerner is definitely one of my Top 5 PSB B-sides. I’m just glad I bought the single, as my CD purchases had become a little erratic around that time .
I only recently got the US 2xCD of “Release” and initially, found myself flummoxed by it. I’m not one of those fans who demands “all bangerz” from Pet Shop Boys. They really attained their apex with “Behaviour,” but the first two singles here were awful to my ears. I found “Home + Dry” to be dishwater dull, but I’m apoplectic that the Beatlesque drivel that was “I Get Along” would ever pass muster as a Pet Shop Boys single. They pull every trick in the Beatles fakebook book on this one and as a result, the subtle synth ostinato that was battling against and guitars playing a single, repetitive, chord right…on…the…beat couldn’t help but roll over and play dead from the neck up. Knowing that Chris Lowe deliberately programmed his synths to sound like a french horn and strings makes me wonder if he lost a bet before this album was made. Without fail, this was certainly the worst Pet Shop Boys song I’d ever heard. And at 5:49, there was a lot of it to hear!
For me, the album doesn’t show any spark until “The Samurai In Autumn” then the second half managed to make gains as Pet Shop Boys [very] late in the game Laurel Canyon album. Fortunately, it ended with the twin peaks of “The Night I Fell In Love” with its meta-contextual evisceration of Eminem [which I had to look up after hearing the lyrics and sensing a context larger than the song] and “You Choose.” Which was one of those deceptively willowy tunes that on the third listen one begins paying attention to the lyric only to find a song of quiet devastation was actually being administered.
The scenario of why a love affair might not work out was economically yet incisively put forth; bereft of any anguished braying. His detached, low key, delivery was crucial to the commensurate power of his words’ blows. The resulting three minute ballad was as matter-of-factly shattering as anything I’ve ever heard in the Pet Shop Boys canon. And now I’m in awe of this song. Yes, this comment was hastily cobbled together from my early January post on “Release!’
And yeah, “Sexy Northerner” was [luckily] one of the bonus tracks on my US 2xCD version. Clearly an excellent PSB-side™!