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?