As mentioned last week, Pet Shop Boys spent much of the first half of 1991 on a world tour which saw shows in Japan, the USA, Canada, France, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Holland, the United Kingdom and Ireland.  

All the while, there continued to be chart hits, so you wouldn’t have blamed Neil and Chris for wanting to take a break, but instead they worked on some new material to be part of a ‘Greatest Hits’ release that was scheduled for release in the run-up to the festive period.


DJ Culture was released on 14 October 1991.  It was well publicised that it was going to feature on the upcoming ‘Best Of’ compilation, so perhaps this was a factor in the relatively poor sales of the single – it entered the charts at #13, but disappeared out of the Top 75 within two more weeks.

It also suffered from a lack of radio exposure, certainly in comparison to earlier PSB singles.  There’s no real ‘killer’ chorus, and the downbeat nature of the lyric was certainly never going to make it easy for radio DJs to work up any sort of on-air enthusiasm – much easier to whoop and holler when you’re pressing the play button on an ironic U2 cover or a tune that would fill a dance floor.

Me?  Well, I was one of those who didn’t buy it at the time.  I don’t recall even hearing it anywhere (although I surely must have), until I got my Xmas copy of Discography, the name applied to the new compilation.   I need to also confess that I didn’t fall for its charms – it just seemed a touch too morose – but it’s one I’ve grown to appreciate in later years.  Not sure, however, if I’d ever include it on any ICA (Volumes 1-3).


mp3: Pet Shop Boys – DJ Culture
mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Music For Boys

It would be a very long time before I heard this instrumental b-side.  It’s very much a house number with a few influences to the fore – I always think of The KLF when the crowd noises are in effect – but at the same time it was sort of ahead of its time as there’s bits of it that seem very similar to what the Chemical Brothers would do a few years later. 

Discography was released on 4 November, three weeks after DJ Culture.  It contained 18 songs – as it said on the sleeve, it was the complete singles collection.   Surprisingly, it didn’t come in at #1, being kept off the top spot by a similar type of Greatest Hits package by Queen which had fallen to #2 to be replaced by Enya, whose new album Shepherd Moons went straight in at #1. I had no idea the Irish musician had been so successful back in the day – especially as this wasn’t the album which gave rise to the 1988 mega-hit single Orinoco Flow


The above is the sleeve for Was It Worth It?, the 18th and final track on Discography that was released as a single on 8 December.   It wouldn’t have been too much of a surprise to all concerned that its presence on Discography would affect sales, and it got no higher than #24, which made it the first PSB 45 not to crack the Top 20 since their commercial breakthrough.

Spoiler alert.  There would be another twenty-two singles released in the UK before there was a similar failure.  But that’s all for the future editions of this series.

Was It Worth It? gives more than a nod to the days when disco music ruled.  It is a HI-NRG tune which wears its heart on its sleeve, a paean to love that must be roared from the rooftops.  I’ve always found it to be a fun number, utterly joyous and camp, that is impossible not to try and dance to.  In some ways, it’s a waste that it was thrown away, more or less, as an extra track on Discography.


mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Was It Worth It?
mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Miserablism

Miserablism will have its fans, but my own view is that it pales into insignificance when compared to some of the earlier b-sides. 

It’s probably worth recalling that December 1991 was a time when the Pet Shop Boys were in real danger of going out of fashion.  Guitar music was to the fore, while a number of critics weren’t slow to suggest that Neil Tennant’s best work in recent months had come courtesy of his involvement with Electronic alongside Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr.

As it turned out, the next twelve months (and slightly beyond) was a very fallow period for PSB.  There were no high-profile activities other than Neil’s contribution to Disappointed, a new single released by Electronic in June 1992, before a new long-play video, Performance, was released in September, capturing the highlights of the world tour that had taken place back in the first half of 1991.

But what would 1993 hold in store?





And so we reach the 1990s.  Pet Shop Boys had, in just five years, become one of the UK’s most popular groups, notching up twelve Top 20 hits (including four #1s) and three albums that had all gone Top 3. 

This post covers the period September 1990 – October 1991 and will be one of the longest in this series.  There were four singles lifted from the album Behaviour, itself released in October 1990


So Hard was released on 24th September 1990.   It is about “two people living together; they are totally unfaithful to each other but they both pretend they are faithful and then catch each other out”, which seems akin to David Gedge territory.  Musically, it is very much of that late 80s/early 90s era – I certainly see it as a fairly close cousin to songs found on Technique, the 1989 masterpiece from New Order.


mp3: Pet Shop Boys – So Hard
mp3: Pet Shop Boys – It Must Be Obvious

The b-side is a love song.  Less full on musically than most of the material from the 80s and tempo wise, more akin to what was going to unfold over the next decade and beyond.  It’s not too cruel to say that it found its place as a b-side as the tune doesn’t really go anywhere.

I don’t normally want to get into the whole remix thing with singles, but given that the KLF did some work on So Hard……….

mp3: Pet Shop Boys – So Hard (The KLF versus Pet Shop Boys)

There’s a real nod to It’s Grim Up North as well as the choral aspect to Left To My Own Devices in the opening section of the track.


Being Boring was released on 12th November 1990. 

The duo’s fourth album, Behaviour had hit the shops a month previously.  It had entered the charts at #2 in its first week, but unlike the previous three albums, it failed to sustain sales over any extended period.  One of the reasons for this were some negative reviews that focussed on the downbeat nature of many of the tunes and lyrics. 

This lack of sales extended to Being Boring which only reached #20, the first time since the re-release of Opportunities that a PSB single hadn’t gone Top 10.  The version released as a single was a couple of minutes shorter than the album version, but was still ignored by daytime radio.  Nor could anyone see the very stylish black & white promo video, which had been made by fashion photographer Bruce Weber, as it was subjected to a ban thanks to it containing some shots of full-frontal male nudity.


mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Being Boring
mp3: Pet Shop Boys – We All Feel Better In The Dark

Does anyone else immediately think of Need You Tonight by INXS when hearing the opening notes of this b-side?   And then it sounds like an early Human League number…..before going all creepy and soundtrack like.   It’s one that Chris sings on and, as you’d expect, it’s more experimental and edgy than most other PSB songs.  

Being Boring, despite its poor sales, has become a real anthem over the years and is never far from the top of any lists when PSB fans mention their favourites. It also has tended to close the live shows over the years.

Fun fact.  I didn’t know this until doing a bit of research for this posting, but the music for Being Boring, along with a couple of other tunes, was written in Glasgow.  The duo had so enjoyed the city when they played there on tour in 1989 that they later decamped to a small studio in the west end of the city to come up with some new material.


The next single was released on 11th March 1991.

The plan was that How Can You Expect To Be Taken Seriously? would be the third single to be lifted from Behaviour.  It was going to be a very different mix from the album version. 

Whether it was the fact that Being Boring hadn’t done so well, or that the album had, by the beginning of February 1991, dropped out of the Top 75 after less than four months, but there was a change of mind.  The duo had recently recorded a HI-NRG, and very camp, cover of one of the biggest selling rock songs of the 80s for possible release later in the year, but this was brought forward to March 1991 with the decision that it be a double-A side with the remixed ‘Seriously’.


mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Where The Streets Have No Name (I Can’t Take My Eyes Off You)
mp3: Pet Shop Boys – How Can You Expect To Be Taken Seriously?

I still think this is one of the best jokes ever played on the music industry.  The title of the original PSB song on one side of vinyl while the other seems to poke a bit of fun at how serious U2, (and others like them) and their fans, were beginning to take themselves.  The deadpan delivery of the vocal on ‘Streets’ is such a contrast to the way Bono had thrown his everything into his performance of the song back in 1987 when The Joshua Tree had sold across the world in tens of millions.  And adding in the refrain of an easy-listening number from the 60s was just genius……

It was a timely reminder that music can and should often be about having fun.

The 12″ release had a new PSB composition included – I’m assuming it was meant to be the original b-side until the change of plan.

mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Bet She’s Not Your Girlfriend

Another New Order-esque tune, but with a frantic and all-knowing manic lyric from Neil, makes this one of my favourite PSB b-sides.    It wouldn’t have sounded out of place on the Electronic album which was just a few weeks away from being released…..


On 28th May 1991, the fourth and final single from Behaviour was released.  I’ve used the CD cover of Jealousy – the picture of Neil was used on the 7″, while the picture of Chris adorned the 12″ – with them coming together for the CD version.

This was the closing song on the album.  As was becoming the norm, it wasn’t a straight lift for the 45. The remix this time is about thirty seconds shorter but utilises a real orchestra at the end instead of relying on a sampler.


mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Jealousy
mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Losing My Mind

The b-side is the duo’s take on a song, written by Stephen Sondheim, for the 1971 musical Follies.   It wasn’t their first involvement with the song, as back in 1989 they had played on and produced a version that had taken Liza Minelli back into the charts since the 70s.  It’s still a staple of the PSB live shows.

I’ll finish things off with a little extra as a thanks for making it this far.

There was also a limited edition CD single issued in the UK. 


As well as the extended mix of Jealousy which had been released on the 12″ vinyl, there were two bonus tracks.  One was a new mix of So Hard, the first single to be lifted from Behaviour, while the other was an extended version and fresh mix of one of the best tracks on Behaviour and which must at some point have been under consideration as a single.

mp3: Pet Shop Boys – This Must Be The Place I Waited Years To Leave (extended mix)

Pet Shop Boys spent the first half of 1991 on tour, It began in Japan on 11th March, and took in the USA, Canada, France, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Holland, the United Kingdom and ending in Ireland on 17th June.  

The year ended with the release of a Greatest Hits compilation, including two new songs, both released as singles.  That’s exactly where this series will be heading next week.





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?






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.





And now we reach what I think is my favourite phase of the Pet Shop Boys between September 1988 and June 1989, and the three singles that were lifted from their third album Introspective, itself released in October 1988. And it’s why I’m temporarily deviating away from looking at all singles from an album in one posting.


Domino Dancing was released on 12th September 1988

Perhaps already tiring of being pigeonholed as purely a synth band, Pet Shop Boys in March 1988 had decamped to Miami for some recording sessions.  This was around the same time as when Heart had raced all the way to #1, and given what they were working on in the studios is perhaps the best indication as to why they had been so ambivalent to the previous 45.

They chose to work with Latino producer Lewis A. Martinée, the results of which saw far more musicians play on a PSB track than ever before.   The credits on the single list two additional keyboard players, a guitarist, a four-piece brass section and a backing vocal group in the shape of The Voice Of Fashion.

More than 20 years after the event, the memories of the recording sessions still could bring real excitement to Neil:-

“All the musicians on it are Cuban. There’s tons of people playing on it. This trumpet player came in who couldn’t really speak English and he played loads of notes for the solo, and so I said, ‘Can’t he play the tune, and then halfway through play loads of notes?’ and he did that, and it was great. And he came up to me afterwards and hugged me. I hate it when the solo has none of the tune in; it’s the jazz version of a remix not having any of the song in.

We made the seven-inch version, and then Lewis Martinée expanded it to the twelve-inch version on the album. Towards the end there are lots of edits, all done by hand. You could see all the white sticky tape going past. When Lewis Martinée finished the mix we suggested to him that he did a mix without the drums and that was done in half an hour. I’ve always liked that mix.”

All of which explains why I’m going to go beyond just the 7″ version.


mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Domino Dancing
mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Don Juan

Despite having a latin-sounding title, the b-side is a complete contrast to Domino Dancing having been recorded in London and featuring just Neil and Chris.  It’s a decent enough song but sounds rather sparse in comparison to the single.

The record-buying public didn’t really take to Domino Dancing as it only reached #7, which was seen as a bit of a let-down after two consecutive #1s.

But for me, the real majesty of the song can be found on the 12″ and CD versions, as well as on Introspective:-

mp3 : Pet Shop Boys – Domino Dancing (disco mix)

Here’s the mix without the drums that was referred to by Neil in his comments above. It becomes a totally different song:-

mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Domino Dancing (alternative mix)

It was also included on the 12″ and CD versions of the single.  A few years later, when Introspective was given an expanded re-release, the demo version of the song was provided.

mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Domino Dancing (demo version)

This had been recorded in Los Angeles in 1987, and the really interesting thing is the lack of lyrics for the verses, as they hadn’t been completed yet.





On the 14th August 1987, the ITV network across the UK broadcast Love Me Tender: A Tribute to the Music of Elvis Presley.  It’s a two-hour show to mark the 10th anniverary of Elvis’s death and it consists of singers and bands from all eras and all genres offering their take on some of the songs he was best known for.

The British Film Institute website provides an exhaustive list of those who were involved in some shape or form.  Pet Shop Boys stand out as just about being the only non-guitar or traditional rock based act taking part.

Such was the reaction to their appearance that the duo decided to do a proper recording and release it as a stand-alone single.



The single certainly divided opinion.   Elvis Presley, while not the first to record it, had been the first to have a hit with it in 1973.   A decade later, Wille Nelson enjoyed success with the song.  Both versions were derivative in that they were along the lines of what you’d expect a break-up song to sound like.  Pet Shop boys, however, went all HI-NRG and dancey on us.  The sort of sound that appealed to those who hadn’t carried any torch for Rent.  It was all over the radio stations after its release on 30th November 1987.  Just over three weeks later, and it was a most unlikely Christmas #1.


mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Always On My Mind
mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Do I Have To?

The b-side is a ballad.  It sounded quite different to most previous PSB tracks, but, as now can be seen with many of the b-sides, it was a sort of trial run for the sort of sound they would introduce on albums many years down the line. It’s rather gorgeous, albeit I didn’t fully appreciate it until those later albums got me more familiar with this side of PSB.


Heart was released on 21st March 1988. It’s a bit of a strange one in that the duo went back to the well of Actually to lift a fourth single from it, a full six months after the album had been released.  To be fair, it wasn’t a straight lift as a new mix that was, in places, noticeably different from the album version.


mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Heart
mp3: Pet Shop Boys – I Get Excited (You Get Excited Too)

The normal course of events for a fourth single to be taken from an album is to slide in around the #20 mark and then quickly disappear from you.  Not in this instance as Heart spent three weeks at the top of the chart.

The duo, despite continuing to air the song in the live settings in acknowledgement of its success, have both said it feels a bit lightweight and straightforward compared to many earlier and indeed later singles. It’s also the case that the b-side, while being enjoyable enough, didn’t really bring anything new to the table, being another HI-NRG dance number.

The fact that Heart proven to be their final #1 single probably adds to their feeling of annoyance and a view that chart positions aren’t everything.  It was also the case, although we didn’t know it at the time, that Neil and Chris were in early 1988 working on material that was radically different to what they were most associated with.  But that’s for next week.

Worth mentioning at this juncture that, despite yielding two #1 singles and two other top ten hits, as well as a non-album single also being a #1 hit, Actually never got any higher than #2 in the album charts, all of which led some snobbish critics to dismiss them as lightweight and inconsequential. How wrong could they be???





And now we reach the first imperious phase of the Pet Shop Boys between June and October 1987. Three singles were lifted from their second album Actually, itself released in September 1987.

One of the singles went to #1, while the others reached #2 and #8.  Oh, and while they were at it, they attracted the attention of a brand-new audience for one of the greatest female singers to ever have emerged from the UK, but whose chart hits had long dried up. 

As it turned out, a fourth single would be released from Actually, but that tale is more suited to next week’s instalment.


It’s A Sin was released on 15th June 1987

From the PSB website:-

It’s A Sin, a song that originally appeared on the demo Neil had in his pocket when he took Bobby O’ out to lunch, was released. “It’s about being brought up as a Catholic. When I went to school you were taught that everything was a sin”.

It reached #1 and caused several notable rumpuses. Jonathan King accused them of plagiarism (he later apologized and paid damages to a charity at their request). A teacher at Neil’s old school, St. Cuthbert’s Grammar School, Newcastle, got very steamed up about the picture Neil painted of his education and castigated Neil in the press.

The Salvation Army magazine, War Cry, put the Pet Shop Boys on the front page and noted, approvingly, “It’s interesting that someone’s raised the concept of sin in our modern life again”. Neil was also asked to appear with Cardinal Hume in a press advert for CAFOD; he politely declined the offer, explaining that he wasn’t a practising Catholic.

The song’s video, a sombre tale of guilt and punishment featuring the seven deadly sins, was the first time the Pet Shop Boys worked with Derek Jarman.

It entered the charts at #5 and then went to #1 where it spent three weeks.  It was also #1 in Austria, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.


mp3: Pet Shop Boys – It’s A Sin
mp3: Pet Shop Boys – You Know Where You Went Wrong

A really long track for a b-side, coming in at not far short of six minutes.  It’s a hypnotically, catchy number with a touch of Latino to the tune.  It was an early indication of the road that the duo would travel on their next again album. It’s long been a favourite of mine.


What Have I Done To Deserve This was released on 10th August 1987. It was a duet with Dusty Springfield, a much loved and appreciated UK singer but whose last hit single had been back in 1970. PSB had the song ready in time for the release of their debut album some eighteen months earlier, but an initial approach to Dusty’s management hadn’t worked out.  The success of West End Girls changed everything, and the singer flew from her California home to London to record her vocal.  It reached #2 and brought her to a new audience. In 1990, her new album Reputation went Top 20, giving her solo success again after two decades.


mp3: Pet Shop Boys with Dusty Springfield – What Have I Done To Deserve This
mp3: Pet Shop Boys – A New Life

For once, the b-side was a tad anti-climatic, but then again, this release was all about the majesty of the a-side, a song that one critic, writing retrospectively in 2017 said it was “possibly the greatest pop song in history”.


Rent was released on 12th August 1987. It was the third single to be lifted from the album Please, and perhaps this affected the sales of the 45 as it ‘only’ made #8.  It was, however, a slightly different mix from the album version and the 7″ version was some 90 seconds shorter.


mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Rent
mp3: Pet Shop Boys – I Want A Dog

Back in 1987, Rent was really under-appreciated.  There was a sense that PSB were at their best with the bombastic, dancey type numbers, certainly when it comes to 45s.  A mid-tempo, bittersweet love song about a one-sided relationship caused a bit of head-scratching.  There was also a reluctance among some daytime radio DJs and producers to feature a song which was seemingly about male prostitutes  – as it turned out, in one of the few instances where Neil Tennant chose to give an explanation to a song; he (many years later) said he had always regarded it as being about a kept woman in America, possibly the secret lover of a high profile politician.

The b-side is another excellent piece of mid-tempo music. The song would become better known a while later when an Italian-style disco beat was added to it for inclusion on the 1988 album Introspective.





My huge thanks to those of you who gave such warm welcomes to this new series.   Just to clarify on the Bobby Orlando releases that I mentioned last week but didn’t feature, the 45s will consist only of those had UK releases AND are mentioned on the PSB official website.

Part Two covers October 1985 – September 1986 and the four singles lifted from debut album Please, itself released in March 1986.


West End Girls was released on 28th October 1985 and went to #1 in the UK in January. It was subsequently #1 in USA, Canada, Finland, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, New Zealand and Norway.


mp3: Pet Shop Boys – West End Girls
mp3: Pet Shop Boys – A Man Could Get Arrested

Strangely enough, the 12″ contained a shorter version of A Man Could Get Arrested alongside a near 7-minute dance mix of West End Girls.  I’ve long thought this particular b-side is decent enough but has more than a few similarities to Opportunities, which suggests the duo were still trying to find their feet, musically.


Love Comes Quickly was released on 24th February 1986.  After the success of West End Girls, hopes here high of achieving something similar.  It only reached #19 while New Zealand and Spain were the only countries where it went Top 10. 


mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Love Comes Quickly
mp3: Pet Shop Boys – That’s My Impression

This b-side was, as it turned out, ahead of the curve as it offered up a sign of Pet Shop Boys as a club/dance act.  It’s certainly the first time you could link their sound with that of New Order. The song was certainly more than good enough to be included on the debut album, but didn’t make the cut, which I think was a mistake.

A month later, debut album Please entered the chart at #3.  It was the highest new entry that week, and the only two albums above it were Brothers In Arms by Dire Straits (which had been kicking around the top of the album charts for almost a year) and Hits 4, one of those compilation albums that sold in the millions back in the 80s.  

Fun fact 1.  West End Girls was included on Hits 4, which meant the song was on records sitting at #1 and #3 on the album chart.

Fun fact 2.  Please would spend 37 weeks on the album chart.  But it never got higher than its first week position of #3.


A new version of Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money) was released on 19th May 1986. It was a slightly edited version of that included on Please.   It reached #11 in the UK.


mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money)
mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Was That What It Was

Another quality b-side, if perhaps a bit PSB by numbers, but far superior to what many others were offering as a-sides.


On 22nd September 1986, a re-recorded version of Suburbia was released.  It reached #8 in the UK.  I won’t say any more as the single was feature on the blog just two weeks ago.  If you want to read more about the release, as well as listening to/downloading the tracks, just click here.





I genuinely pay close attention to feedback via the comments section, which is why the plan for a new Sunday series looking at selections from the many hundreds of 7″ singles sitting in a very large cupboard space in Villain Towers will now be put to one side.  I’ve already written around a dozen of proposed posts, but I’ll make use of these over the coming weeks and months.

Instead, Sundays are now going to be devoted to the singles released by the Pet Shop Boys

The thing is, if I was to do it at the pace of one single per week, I’ll still be working my way through them well into 2024 and probably have lost all sorts of enthusiasm for getting to the end.  So, what’s going to happen is that the singles will more often than not be broken up on an album-by-album basis, with just a few short facts about each song so as to avoid any one posting becoming too lengthy.  Oh, and for clarification, I’ll only be featuring singles that were released in the UK and are mentioned on the PSB website.

Which means neither of the Bobby Orlando produced singles will feature.  It’s just as easy to quote from the ‘Early Years’ section over at wiki:-

“Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe met in a hi-fi shop on King’s Road in Chelsea, London, in 1981. Tennant had purchased a Korg MS-10 synthesizer which sparked a conversation with Lowe. Discovering that they had a mutual interest in disco and electronic music, they became friends. In particular, the pair had a shared love of two electropop records: Souvenir by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD); and Bedsitter by Soft Cell, which reflected their lifestyles at the time. According to Tennant, he and Lowe would listen to “pioneers of electronic music”, including OMD, Soft Cell, Kraftwerk, the Human League and Depeche Mode.

“The duo began to work together on material, first in Tennant’s flat in Chelsea, then, from 1982, in a small studio in Camden Town. They say that their band name was taken from friends who worked in a pet shop in Ealing and were known as the “pet shop boys”. In August 1983, Tennant, who was an assistant editor at Smash Hits, went to New York to interview Sting. While there, he arranged to meet hi-NRG producer Bobby Orlando and gave him a demo tape containing It’s a Sin and Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money).

“From 1983 to 1984, Orlando recorded 11 tracks with Tennant and Lowe.  In April 1984, the Orlando-produced West End Girls was released, becoming a club hit in Los Angeles and San Francisco.  It was a minor dance hit in Belgium and France, but was only available in the United Kingdom as a 12” import.

“In March 1985, after long negotiations, the Pet Shop Boys cut their contractual ties with Bobby O, with a settlement giving Bobby O significant royalties for future sales. Hiring manager Tom Watkins, they signed with the London-based Parlophone label. In April, Tennant left Smash Hits magazine – where he had progressed to the position of deputy editor – and in July, a new single was released.”

Which takes us to Part One of the series.



Released on 1st July 1985. It came out on 7″ vinyl as well as two different 12″ versions. 


mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of  Money)
mp3: Pet Shop Boys – In The Night

12″ (version 1)

mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money) (Dance Mix)

12″ (version 2)

mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money) (version Latina)
mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Opportunities (Dub For Money)

Produced by J. J. Jeczalik (of Art of Noise) and Nicholas Froome, it was a flop, getting no higher than #116 in the UK charts.

In what would become a feature of PSB singles over the years, the b-side was a song worth listening to.  The version of In The Night that was included on the 7″ could also be found on both of the 12″ releases.

It’s also interesting that, from the outset, the duo were keen to import a Latina element to their sound, something that would really come to the fore a few years later.





Prior to deciding to go in randomly among the 7″ singles for the new Sunday series in 2023, I did give a brief consideration to Pet Shop Boys being the focus of an extended series in a similar fashion to The Fall in 2021/22.  I have been picking up second hand copies of a few of the 7″ singles in recent times, and there’s also the fact that many of their re-mastered and re-released CDs have been extended to include various b-sides and mixes from their singles.  In the end, I felt it would just be too tall an ask to actually track down everything, and besides, while I’m a huge fan, I appreciate not everyone who drops into TVV feels the same.

Here’s wiki on today’s offering.

Suburbia is a song by English synthpop duo Pet Shop Boys. It was remixed and released as the fourth single from the duo’s debut studio album, Please (1986), and became the band’s second UK top-10 entry, peaking at #8.

The song’s primary inspiration is the 1983 Penelope Spheeris film Suburbia, and its depiction of violence and squalor in the suburbs of Los Angeles; in addition, the tension of the Brixton riots of 1981 and of 1985 hanging in recent memory led Neil Tennant of the duo to thinking about the boredom of suburbia and the underlying tension among disaffected youth that sparked off the riots at the least provocation.

The various versions of the song are punctuated by sounds of suburban violence, riots and smashing glass, as well as snarling dogs on the re-recorded single version (extended even further on the music video), which were derived from typical scenes in suburbia. The Please version of the song sounds very sparse in comparison. The version used for the video was the song that appeared on the PopArt compilation in 2003.

mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Suburbia

The b-side has long been one of the duo’s most loved among the fan base, partly for the fact that the majority of the vocal, albeit more spoken than sung, is provided by Chris Lowe.

mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Paninaro

It is seemingly about an 80s Italian youth subculture whose members hung around US-style fast food restaurants and had preferences for designer clothing and disco music. Paninaro was actually released as a limited edition 12″ single in Italy in 1986.



20220525 Pet Shop Boys BIC Echo

Those of you who drop into Adam‘s Bagging Area will have read his glowing take on the Pet Shop Boys performance at the Manchester Arena when they played there in late May.

He’s not alone in praising the show, with just about every reviewer rushing to give it five stars, whether it was the set they had seen in Manchester, London, Cardiff, Bournemouth, Newcastle, Birmingham, Glasgow or Hull.

I’m not going to waste your time by repeating what everyone else has said suffice to add that the Glasgow gig was jaw-dropping in many places. They are at Glastonbury this coming weekend, and while the festival goers are unlikely to get the full two-hour extravaganza, they will not be cheated as the set will no doubt be drawn entirely from the songs they aired during the recent sojourn around the UK.

Can You Forgive Her?
Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)
Where the Streets Have No Name (I Can't Take My Eyes Off You)
I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Any More
So Hard
Left to My Own Devices
Single-Bilingual / Se a vida é (That's the Way Life Is)
Domino Dancing
Monkey Business
New York City Boy
You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk
Love Comes Quickly
Losing My Mind
You Were Always on My Mind
What Have I Done to Deserve This?
It's Alright
Go West
It's a Sin
West End Girls
Being Boring.

Far too many highlights to mention, but if forced to choose just the one, it would be Left To My Own Devices, which really came into its own when blasted out at full volume in front of 12,000 ecstatic fans who had waited two years for a great night out – the tour had originally been scheduled for Spring 2020.  Neil and Chris stuck to the 7″ version that went to #4 in the singles chart at the end of 1988.  I’d have loved it if they had treated us to this take on things:-

mp3 : Pet Shop Boys – Left To My Own Devices (Disco Mix)

Eleven plus minutes worth.  As made available on the 12″ version of the single.  It’s one I’ve long been on the hunt for a good quality copy at a reasonable price, but no joy.



Album: Introspective – Pet Shop Boys
Review: Los Angeles Times, 13 November 1988
Author: Dennis Hunt

Dancing and Thinking

Britain’s Pet Shop Boys specialize in dark, brooding dance music – thinking man’s dance music, if you will. They give you strong rhythms but scuttle the usual fun-fun-fun frothiness in favor of moody, cynical lyrics. None of that “dance with me, baby” nonsense for these guys.

“Introspective” is the duo’s best work yet and quite possibly the dance music album of the year. As usual, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe manage to stretch the limits of dance music without tampering with its essential funkiness.

The Pet Shop Boys have a very British approach to dance music, merging European techno-pop with American soul rhythms. This high-tech sound is personalized with Tenant’s echo-chamberized vocals that come across as a dispassionate drone, a ghostly monotone that sometimes sounds like a voice from the dead that contrasts the sunny rhythms.

The six cuts on “Introspective” are just the way the dance-music crowd likes them: long (the shortest is 6:15 minutes) and souped up with clever symphonic touches, underscoring a passion for remixing. The most remarkable song in this collection is “I Want a Dog” – an eerie ode to canine companionship. Only this dynamic duo could turn such a mundane subject into a dynamite dance tune.

JC adds…….

Last year, I included a very spiteful review from Rolling Stone that was less than complimentary about UK synth-bands.  It’s refreshing to read something from just a few years later which more than redresses things.

I bought a copy of a remastered version of Introspective not too long after I got the new turntable earlier this year. It very much added to my happiness.  There’s an awful lot of music that reminds me of a similar-era New Order…’s little wonder that Bernard and Johnny were so keen for Neil to help out with Electronic.

mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Left To My Own Devices (remastered)
mp3: Pet Shop Boys – I Want A Dog (remastered)

Both made available for you at 320 kpbs.


I’ve stolen these words from Richard Buskin, penned in December 2010 as his intro to an on-line piece, primarily about the production techniques engaged on the song, for the website Sound on Sound.

Protests against Catholicism have taken many forms, Martin Luther nailing his objections to the cathedral door, but the Pet Shop Boys chose to make theirs in disco…

It was the mid‑’80s, synth pop was at its height, and in the process of creating a song with Chris Lowe that would subsequently mesh orchestral stabs, layers of keyboards, tons of echo, and assorted samples of Latin masses into one of the genre’s most overblown, theatrically dramatic, disco‑oriented masterpieces, Neil Tennant vented against the conflict between guilt and desire engendered by his Catholic upbringing.

“At school they taught me how to be,” he wrote poetically of his education at St Cuthbert’s High School in Newcastle upon Tyne, “So pure in thought and word and deed, They didn’t quite succeed. For everything I long to do, No matter when or where or who, Has one thing in common, too. It’s a, it’s a, it’s a, it’s a sin…”

Featuring a characteristically thin, coolly dispassionate Tennant lead vocal set against the backdrop of Lowe’s splashy melodic mélange, ‘It’s A Sin’ was the second Pet Shop Boys chart‑topper in the UK and the best‑selling European single of 1987, hitting number one in more than half a dozen countries and also making the top 10 in the United States.

It also happens to be the song that got me thinking Pet Shop Boys might just be a cut above your run-of-the-mill synth duo, of which there were many in that decade. There are days when I think it’s their finest ever moment, but there are days when I want to bestow that honour on Heart. And then again, I hear Rent and think that might be the one…..and then I play Being Boring followed by Left To My Own Devices and I realise that I’ll never make my mind up.

No matter what, I don’t think it can be argued by anyone that It’s A Sin is not an absolute classic, deserving to be brought to you at 320 kpbs this Monday Thursday Morning, direct from the album Actually:-

mp3: Pet Shop Boys – It’s A Sin

And while I have the album on the turntable, this makes sense:-

mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Rent

And while that’s spinning around, I’ll go and dig out this slightly crackly 7″ as the mix is different, and better, than the album version:-

mp3: Pet Shop Boys – Heart


THE JOY OF (a mixed) SEX (duet) : Couple #9

Dusty Springfield is one of those singers I really should know more about. Her records, however, were not among those in the collections of any members of my extended family and the only songs I got to know, as I grew up, were those that were staples of the Golden Hour segments or request shows – I Only Want To Be With You, I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself, and You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me being the ones that come to memory.

The problem, however, is that two of those are ballads and the teenage me didn’t have any time for such slush. Dusty Springfield, in my mind, was just another 60s singer of as much relevance in the post-punk world as Cilla Black, Sandie Shaw and Petula Clark, all of whom had been just as ever-present on those radio shows.

It was astounding, therefore, to read that the Pet Shop Boys were huge fans as indeed were a number of other bands who were emerging in the 80s (Sandie Shaw had, of course, already been championed and had her career revived by The Smiths). It was only then that I came to realise there was much more to Dusty Springfield than well-known ballads and that she had, in fact been something of a pioneer in bringing soul and Motown to the wider attentions of UK audiences. It therefore made perfect sense for the pioneers of modern era electronic dance music to suggest a hook up, which they did to great effect in 1987:-

mp3 : Pet Shop Boys (featuring Dusty Springfield) – What Have I Done To Deserve This?

It’s one of those rare PSB numbers in which Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe called on some outside help with its writing. The co-credit sits with Ailee Willis, someone who, through a friend of a friend, had been commissioned to do some artwork of the band. As they posed and chatted with the painter, they were delighted and astonished to learn that Ailee Willis was the same ‘A.Willis’ who had helped write some of the Earth Wind & Fire songs, not least the majestic Boogie Wonderland and the poptastic September. The minute the painting commission was complete, the boys asked her to work with them and the result was the song they would later present to Dusty Springfield as a suggested collaboration.



It was Heart which made the rundown of my 45 45s at 45 but I reckon now that of all the Pet Shop Boys singles, my favourite is  Left To My Own Devices. My first exposure to this particular track was the LP version at just over 8 minutes:-

mp3 : Pet Shop Boys – Left To My Own Devices (album version)

It would become the second 45 to be lifted from the LP Introspective which itself was an unusual album for the fact that it was far removed from the normal process for pop/dance acts to release as singles with it being made up of lengthy songs and the versions issued singles had to be heavily edited for radio play.

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 and climbed all the way to #4 in the UK singles chart.

mp3 : Pet Shop Boys – Left To My Own Devices (single edit)

But it turns out that the album version wasn’t the one that they had also thrown in 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 was put on the CD and 12″ releases with the full version only on the flip side of the 7″:-

mp3 : Pet Shop Boys – The Sound Of The Atom Splitting (extended version)





I’m only going to say a few short words today.

This rundown would have had no credibility whatsoever if the Pet Shop Boys didn’t make an appearance.

No other band or act has made so many top-class singles during my 45 years on the planet as Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe. I think (at 2015)  it is approaching 60, including four #1s, and a further thirty-eight that made the Top 30. You can’t argue with the facts…..this is a very special pop group.

And this damn near perfect pop song was one of those that reached #1, back in 1988.

mp3 : Pet Shop Boys – Heart

Here’s yer b-side

mp3 : Pet Shop Boys – I Get Excited (You Get Excited Too)

Oh and you know how I’m also always going on about great live acts – well, their show at the SECC in Glasgow back in 1991 was one of the best I’ve ever seen.


Those who are quick to dismiss Pet Shop Boys have got it all wrong. I reckon they’re about as great a singles act as has ever been, and not just in my lifetime, and they have confounded just about everyone with the truly groundbreaking and breathtaking live tours over the years.

And let’s not forget that some of the lyrics penned by Neil Tennant are as poetical and beautiful as anything that the great singer/songwriters armed with an acoustic guitar have ever produced.

mp3 : Pet Shop Boys – Rent

One of my favourite singles of theirs dates from 1993.  It was their 13th Top Ten hit in the UK and took the storyline of a man refusing to accept his gay tendencies and thus finding himself trapped inside a loveless, useless and cruel relationship where he is continually being mocked by his wife or girlfriend….a plot that has been used every now and again by soap operas the world over.

mp3 : Pet Shop Boy – Can You Forgive Her?

It also has a very lovely b-side….with a lyric Morrissey himself might have penned, or at the very least inspired:-

Hey, headmaster, what’s the matter with you?
Why you always so serious? Why so blue?
All the kids in the school have seen you
being patient with the boys who fool you
when you used to hit them with your ruler
so independent too

Hey, headmaster, what’s the matter with you?

There’s a crisis rumoured in the school
The boys have cut their hair short to look cool
Examination time is drawing near
Disintegration of the football team
No one seems to want to play for real
in classroom, club or pool

Hey, headmaster, what you gonna do?

There’s an invitation in the post
to a reading party on the coast
Pack your bags up, you old bibliophile
Get together with your friends
who will give you time to think and time to kill
with independent hosts

Hey, headmaster, aren’t you gonna go?
Hey, headmaster, aren’t you gonna go?

mp3 : Pet Shop Boys – Hey, Headmaster