Pet Shop Boys
Infobox musical artist |
Name = Pet Shop Boys
Pet Shop Boys livein Boston, 2006.
Img_size = 250
Background = group_or_band
Origin = London, England
Years_active = 1981–present
(UK, 1985–present) EMI (U.S., 1985–1995) Atlantic (U.S., 1996–1998) Sire (U.S., 1999–2001) Sanctuary (U.S., 2002–2003) Rhino (U.S., 2004–present)
Associated_acts = Electronic
URL = [http://www.petshopboys.co.uk/ Official Site]
Neil Tennant Chris Lowe
Tom Watkins Jill Carrington Arma Andon(North America only) Merck Mercuriadis(North America only) Mitch Clark Dave Dorrell
Pet Shop Boys are an English
electronic dance music duo, consisting of Neil Tennant, who provides main vocals, keyboards and occasionally guitar, and Chris Loweon keyboards and occasionally on vocals.
Pet Shop Boys have sold more than 50 million records worldwide. Since 1986, they have had 39 Top 30 singles and 22
Top 10hits in the UK, including four Number Ones: " West End Girls," " It's a Sin," "Always on My Mind," and "Heart."
As stated on the Pet Shop Boys official Website, they are working on a new
albumwith Xenomania(best known for their work with Girls Aloud), which will be released in early 2009.
Formation and early years (1981–1984)
Neil Tennantand Chris Lowemet in an electronics shop on Kings Roadin Chelsea, London. Realising they had a common interest in dance music, they began to work on material together, first in Tennant's flat, in Chelsea, and, from 1982, in a small studio, in Camden Town. It was during these early years that several songs that would later appear on future albums were created, including " It's a Sin," " West End Girls," "Rent," and "Jealousy."
Starting out, the two called themselves West End, because of their love of London's West End, but later they came up with the name
Pet Shop Boys, which derived from some friends who worked in a pet shop, in Ealing. They said that the new name "sounded like an English rap group."
Their big break came in August 1983, when Tennant was assigned by "
Smash Hits" to interview The Policein New York. The duowere obsessed with a stream of Hi-NRGrecords, made by New York producer Bobby Orlando, simply known as Bobby 'O'. According to Tennant: "I thought: well, if I've got to go and see The Police play, then I'm also going to have lunch with Bobby 'O'." They shared a cheeseburger and carrot cake, at a restaurant called the Apple Jack, on 19 August (two years to the day since Tennant and Lowe had met), and Orlando suggested making a record with Pet Shop Boys, after hearing a demo tape that Tennant had taken with him.cite book
last = Cowton
first = Michael
title = Introspective (Bobby Orlando excerpt at Alen's Italo Disco Universe)
url = http://www.italo-disco.net/programs/eBooks/Bobby%20O%20&%20PSB.pdf
format = PDF
year = 1991
publisher = Pan Macmillan
id = ISBN 0-283-99825-3] In April 1984, the Orlando-produced "
West End Girls" was released, becoming a club hit in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Though the track did not do well in the UK, it was a minor hit in France and Belgium.
igning with Parlophone: the debut album "Please" and the remix album "Disco" (1984–1986)
In March 1985, after long negotiations, Pet Shop Boys cut their contractual ties with Bobby 'O', with a settlement giving Bobby 'O' significant
royaltiesfor future sales. Hiring manager Tom Watkins, they signed with the London-based Parlophonelabel. In April, Tennant left "Smash Hits" (where he had progressed to the position of deputy editor), and, in July, a new single, " Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)," was released, reaching number 116 in the UK. The B-side to this single, "In the Night," was used as the theme for the UK television series" The Clothes Show", and would later resurface, in a longer remixed version, as the opening track to the duo's first remix album, "Disco", in 1986.
Unperturbed by the low chart position, the band returned to the studio in August to re-record "
West End Girls" with producer Stephen Hague. Released in October 1985, this new version initially entered the charts at a similarly low position, but began a slow rise, so that, by January 1986, it achieved the top spot. It was subsequently Number One in the USA, Canada, Finland, Hong Kong, Ireland, Lebanon, Israel, New Zealand and Norway, and sold an estimated 1.5 million copies worldwide. It remains the most-heard Pet Shop Boys song to date.
After the success of "
West End Girls," Pet Shop Boys released a follow-up single, " Love Comes Quickly," on 24 February 1986. The single reached number 19 in the UK Singles Chart, and was followed by their debut album, "Please", on 24 March. In June 1986, the band announced a European tour; however, their plans for a theatrical extravaganza proved to be too expensive, and the tour was cancelled. "Please" started Pet Shop Boys' penchant for choosing one-word album titles. New versions of second single " Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)" and album track "Suburbia" were also released in 1986, followed by a remix album, "Disco", in November.
"Imperial phase" with "Actually", the four UK #1's, and the movie "It Couldn't Happen Here" (1987–1988)
1987 started with Pet Shop Boys receiving both
BRIT Awardsand Ivor Novello Awards for " West End Girls". Later, on 15 June, they released what became their second Number One single, " It's a Sin." The single caused some controversy: Neil's school, St. Cuthbert's Grammar School, in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, chastised him in the press, while Jonathan Kingaccused them of plagiarising the Cat Stevenssong " Wild World." Pet Shop Boys later sued King, and won damages, which were donated to charity. The video to " It's a Sin" also saw their first collaboration with director Derek Jarman.
The continued success of "
It's a Sin" was followed by the release of " What Have I Done to Deserve This?," on 10 August. Co-written with Allee Willis, and also featuring Dusty Springfieldon vocals, the single reached number two on the UK Singles Chart, and the U.S. Billboard Hot 100chart. Although the duohad wanted to release this track on their debut albumalready, they had been unable to track down Springfield, and were reluctant to record it with any other female singer, despite their record company's suggestions. Springfield's manager finally contacted them in 1986, following the release of "Please", and, towards the end of that year, she travelled to London to record " What Have I Done to Deserve This?" with them. It was the first track to be recorded for the duo's second album. Pet Shop Boys had been told that Springfield was "difficult" to work with, and even that she could no longer sing; however, her performance on the track put any such concerns to rest, and they began a collaboration with her, which lasted until the end of the decade. Included on their then forthcoming second album "Actually", the song became a massive worldwide hit, and resurrected Springfield's career, leading to her 1990 album, "Reputation", on which Pet Shop Boys were major contributing producers. This duetwas also the start of a series of collaborations with high profile musicians, going on throughout the band's career.
Also in August 1987, Pet Shop Boys appeared on "
Love Me Tender", a UK television programme, on ITV, commemorating the tenth anniversary of Elvis Presley's death. They were asked to perform one of their favourite Elvis tracks, and they narrowed it down to two options, "Baby Let's Play House" and " Always on My Mind," eventually settling on the latter. Curiously enough, their Presley cover would later be re-released in a 12"version, consisting of a medley, along with an acid housetrack by the duo, entitled "In My House." This extended version, consistently called "Always on My Mind"/"In My House," would later be included on Pet Shop Boys' 1988 album, " Introspective", with the 12" medley attached to the vinyl edition of their "Actually" album, and only marketed in the United States in such double release. 7 September 1987 indeed saw the release of the duo's second studio album, "Actually", followed by the single "Rent" in October, which reached number 8 in the UK. The final song on the album, "King's Cross," was revealed to have a strange prescience, when there was a fatal fire at the London undergroundsection of the station, in November of that year (part of the lyricsread: "Dead and wounded on either side/You know it's only a matter of time"). " The Sun" newspaper in the UK subsequently tried to get the track released as a charity single, but Pet Shop Boys would not allow this.
Towards the end of 1987, Pet Shop Boys started work on an hour-long
film, that would incorporate the songs from "Actually". Working with director Jack Bond, the short film grew into a full-scale movie, " It Couldn't Happen Here", starring Barbara Windsor, Joss Ackland, and Gareth Hunt. The film was eventually released in 1988 to mixed reviews. Footage from the film was also used for the music videoto " Always on My Mind," now released as a single on 30 November; it became both the duo's third Number One singlein the UK, and the Christmas number one singlefor 1987, infamously beating out " Fairytale of New York" by The Pogues.
1988 started with another collaboration.
Patsy Kensit's band, Eighth Wonder, had the song " I'm Not Scared" written and produced for them by Pet Shop Boys. The song became her biggest hit single, and Pet Shop Boys included their own extended version of the track on their " Introspective" mini-album. March 1988 saw the duo achieve their fourth UK Number One single(and their last to date), with a remixed edit of "Heart," different from the album version. This single version would be included in their first greatest hits album, ', whereas the album version would be used for their second retrospective, the double '. The video to the single, directed by Jack Bond, was a retelling of the Draculastory, starring Ian McKellenas the vampirewho steals Neil Tennant's fictitious wife. It was seen to be extremely ironic, since McKellen was a well-known gayfigure at the time (he came out in the 1970s).
In the 1996
BBC Radio 1 documentary"About Pet Shop Boys", Neil Tennant noted that their "Imperial Phase" ended in 1988. On 12 September 1988, Pet Shop Boys released a brand new single, " Domino Dancing," and in the documentary Neil recounts his disappointment when hearing the news that the single had reached number 7 in the UK Singles Chart. He felt that their major success was now over, and that it was going to be a challenge to remain successful going forward.
"Introspective", "Behaviour", the "Performance" tour, "Discography", and "The Crying Game" (1988–1992)
duo's third studio album, "Introspective", was released on 10 October 1988. This was in fact a 6-track mini-album, and was followed by the Trevor Horn-produced single " Left to My Own Devices," and a cover versionof the Sterling Voidsingle "It's Alright," in 1989. 1989 also saw the start of Pet Shop Boys' first tourever, in which they performed in Hong Kong, Japan, and Britain. The tour followed the ideas of the extravaganza that could not have been afforded earlier in their career. Derek Jarmanreturned to direct the performance, and he provided several films that were projected during the shows.
On 24 September 1990, a new single, "
So Hard," was released, and Pet Shop Boys' fourth studio album followed, on 22 October 1990. Entitled "Behaviour", it was recorded in Munich, with producer Harold Faltermeyer. The album was never intended to be a dramatic change in mood to their earlier albums, but it is noticeably subdued. It included the fan-favourite " Being Boring," the second single from the album, which only reached number 20 in the UK Singles Chart, their lowest placing at the time. The song was inspired by a quote by Zelda Fitzgerald: "...she refused to be bored chiefly because she wasn't boring," and was widely thought to be a commentary on the AIDSepidemic. The music videowas directed by film-makerBruce Weber. By this time, the duohad also parted ways with manager Tom Watkins, replacing him with Jill Carrington.Heath, Chris (2001). In "Behaviour" [CD liner notes] . London: Pet Shop Boys Partnership]
In March 1991, a cover of
U2's " Where the Streets Have No Name" as a medleywith " Can't Take My Eyes Off You," the 1960s pop songby Frankie Valli/The Four Seasons, was released as a non-album single, followed by the duo's first world tour. Named "Performance", the tour kicked off in Tokyo, on 11 March 1990. The tour also visited: the United States, Canada, France, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. The shows were designed by David Aldenand David Fielding, who had designed several sets for the London Opera. Before taking a break in 1992, Pet Shop Boys released, in 1991, an 18-track compilation, ', commonly referred to simply as ', which included all of their single releases up to then, two new singles, " DJ Culture" and " Was It Worth It?," and only omitted the three songs on the double A-side" How Can You Expect to Be Taken Seriously?"/"Where the Streets Have No Name/I Can't Take My Eyes Off You." Unlike the 2003 "" double collection (see below), the songs on this first greatest hits albumwere chronologically arranged, from the very first hit, " West End Girls," to the two new singles.
However, during this period, Pet Shop Boys continued to collaborate with many high-profile musicians. They worked again with
Dusty Springfield, on the singles " Nothing Has Been Proved" (which was a song written for their soundtrackfor the film"Scandal" about the Profumo political scandal in Britain), and " In Private." The duo later went on to produce half of the tracks on her 1990 solo"Reputation" album. Pet Shop Boys were also asked to write and produce an album for Liza Minnelli, in 1989. The album, "Results", generated four singles, including the hit single "Losing My Mind," a cover versionof the Stephen Sondheimsong. The duo's own version of this appeared on their "Jealousy" single as a B-side. Neil Tennant also worked with Bernard Sumnerand Johnny Marron their first album as Electronic, whose first single, "Getting Away with It," co-written and co-produced by Neil Tennant himself, was released on 4 December 1989. Later, in 1991, Lowe also contributed to the Electronic project, by working on the track "The Patience of a Saint," for their 1991 album. Finally, in 1992, Tennant sang lead vocals on their non-album single "Disappointed," which was featured on the soundtrackto the movie" Cool World". In addition, a remixof " So Hard," by notorious electronic musicduo The KLF, released as a separate single, led to Tennant re- recordinghis vocals for the song entirely.
Pet Shop Boys set up the
Spaghetti Recordslabel in 1991. Their most successful release was the soundtrack to the 1992 film " The Crying Game", which featured Boy Georgeperforming the title song "The Crying Game." The song was produced by Pet Shop Boys, and featured Tennant on backing vocals. Other artists on the label included Scottish singer Cicero, The Ignorants, and Masterboy.
The "Very" era: "Very", "Absolutely Fabulous," "Disco 2", and the "Alternative" B-sides album (1993–1995)
In June 1993, Pet Shop Boys made a strong return to the
UK Singles Chartwith "Can You Forgive Her?." Taking its title from the Anthony Trollopenovel of the same name, the single reached number 7 on the UK Singles Chart, while its iconic music videofeatured the duoin orange body suits and tall dunce caps, in a world of computer-generated imagery. The theme was continued with the follow-up single, a cover of the Village Peoplesingle "Go West," which reached number 2 in the UK, with another computer-generated music video, this time inspired by the Soviet Union. The duo's fifth studio album, "Very", followed on 27 September, and is the only Pet Shop Boys album to ever reach Number Oneon the UK Albums Chart. It was produced by Pet Shop Boys, and mixed with additional production by Stephen Hague, who had produced their first album, and subsequently produced records by New Orderand Erasure. The other singles from "Very", "I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind of Thing," "Liberation," and " Yesterday, When I Was Mad," continued the theme of computer-generated videos, peaking with the "Liberation" video, which contained almost no real-life elements at all. All these videos were directed by Howard Greenhalgh, who continued to work with Pet Shop Boys well into the next decade. "Very" was also released in a limited edition to include an entirely new album, "Very Relentless", which was comprised of six all new heavy dance tracks, with a darker tone to the perky "Very".
In 1994, Pet Shop Boys offered to remix fellow
Parlophoneact Blur's single "Girls & Boys;" it was a club hit throughout Europe, and started a sporadic trend for Pet Shop Boys to remix other artists' music. Also in 1994, Pet Shop Boys released the 1994 Comic Relief single, "Absolutely Fabulous." The song started when Tennant and Lowe were playing around with samples from the BBCsitcom " Absolutely Fabulous" in the studio. They wanted to release a single, so approached lead actors Jennifer Saundersand Joanna Lumley, and suggested releasing it as a charity single. The single was released under the artist name of 'Absolutely Fabulous' too. Tennant and Lowe do not consider it as a Pet Shop Boys' single release, and it was not included on their last compilation CD of singles, ' (commonly referred to as '). The video to the single featured clips from the sitcom, along with newly recorded footage of Tennant and Lowe with the characters of Edina (Saunders) and Patsy (Lumley).
On 12 September 1994, Pet Shop Boys released the follow-up to their 1986
remix album"Disco", in the form of " Disco 2". The albumfeatured club remixes of the singles released from "Very", in a continuous megamixby Danny Rampling. Then, in October, Pet Shop Boys began their "Discovery" tour, which would see them visit countries that they had never performed in before: Singapore, Australia, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, and Brazil. The following year, a new version of the 1986 B-side to "Suburbia," i.e. "Paninaro," was released to promote a B-side collection album, "Alternative". The single, called "Paninaro '95," is based on the live version from the "Discovery" tour.
"Bilingual", "Nightlife", and the musical "Closer to Heaven" (1996–2001)
In November 1995,
Neil Tennantsaw David Bowielive at Wembley Stadium and met him backstage. Whilst discussing Bowie's recent album"Outside", Tennant mentioned that his favourite track was " Hallo Spaceboy." Jokingly, Bowie said that Pet Shop Boys should remixthe track, and, a week later, phoned Tennant asking for this to happen. The new version was completely re-recorded, and featured Tennant on backing vocals, using additional lyricsfrom Bowie's first hit song, " Space Oddity." The single was released on 19 February 1996, with Pet Shop Boys joining Bowie to perform the song on the BRIT Awardsand " Top of the Pops".
In April, Pet Shop Boys released a new single, "Before," leading up to their forthcoming
album; the single reached number 7 in the UK Singles Chart. That same month, Tina Turneralso released her " Wildest Dreams" album, which featured Pet Shop Boys-produced track "Confidential." In August, Pet Shop Boys released a follow-up single, "Se a vida é (That's The Way Life Is)," a Latin American music-inspired track, featuring a drumsample from a track called "Estrada da paixão" by Brazilian act Olodum. This preceded the sixth Pet Shop Boys album "Bilingual", which was released in September. In December 1996, Neil appeared live with Suede, singing the Suede song "Saturday Night" as a duetwith Brett Anderson, and Pet Shop Boys track "Rent." Both live tracks were released with the Suede single "Filmstar," in July 1997.
Pet Shop Boys kicked off Summer 1997 with a sold-out three-week residency at the
Savoy Theatre, in London, in June. Entitled "Somewhere", and being promoted by a cover version of the song "Somewhere" from the musical " West Side Story", the shows used projections filmed by the artist Sam Taylor-Wood. Pet Shop Boys would later work with Sam Taylor-Wood again: in 1998, they recorded a version of " Je t'aime... moi non plus," originally by Serge Gainsbourg, with her, and in 2003, they covered the Donna Summertrack " Love to Love You Baby," and gave it a limited edition release credited to Kiki Kokova, a pseudonym used by Taylor-Wood for this project.
The majority of 1998 was spent with a series of live dates and minor releases, including a charity album of
Noel Cowardsongs, called "". The album included Pet Shop Boys' version of "Sail Away," along with songs performed by Elton John, Texas, Marianne Faithfull, The Divine Comedy, Suede, Damon Albarn, Vic Reeves, and Robbie Williams. Tennant also co-produced the Williams track, and provided backing vocals for Elton John. Tennant also provided backing vocals on Robbie Williams' " No Regrets" single, along with Neil Hannonfrom The Divine Comedy. Meanwhile, the band switched managers again as Carrington resigned, and was succeeded by Mitch Clark, who had previously worked for EMI International as Head of Promotion.cite web | author = Kenneth, Stephen | year = | url = http://www.sopetshopboys.co.uk/a-z.htm | title = A-Z of PSB | format = | work = | publisher = So Pet Shop Boys | accessdate = 2006-06-14 | accessyear = ]
During this time, Pet Shop Boys also began to work with playwright
Jonathan Harveyon a stage musical project. In 1999, many of the tracks recorded ended up on the duo's seventh studio album, "Nightlife", which also included the singles " I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Any More," " New York City Boy," and " You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk" — as well a duetwith Kylie Minogue, "In denial," about a father (Tennant) coming out to his daughter (Minogue), and "Closer to Heaven," which would later become the title of Pet Shop Boys' musical. Minogue later performed the track live, during her 2005 "Showgirl" tour, singing to a pre-recorded Neil Tennant. This is not the first time that Pet Shop Boys have worked with Minogue: in 1994, they indeed wrote a song for inclusion on her eponymous "Kylie Minogue" album, called "Falling," which was based around an unreleased remixof "Go West" with new lyricsby Tennant; however, Minogue and her record companydid not like the production sound of Pet Shop Boys' demo, and asked Farley & Hellerto finally produce the track.
1999 ended for the
duowith a world tour, which continued well into 2000, this time with the stage sets designed by architect Zaha Hadid. The tour took them to the USA, Canada, Japan, Europe, and the UK. In the Summer of 2000, they also played a series of festivaldates in Europe, including a performance at the Glastonbury Festival, where they performed on the main stage, on Saturday night, at 9.30 pm, to a triumphant reception. In 2000, they won their third Ivor NovelloAward, honouring their "Outstanding Contribution" to music. Throughout 2000, they continued to work on their musical, and in May they started workshopping the project, and finalising the plot and songs to be used.
The musical, "
Closer to Heaven", opened at the Arts Theatrein London, in 2001, with financial backing from Andrew Lloyd Webber's Really Useful Group. Reviews were mixed and, although the run was initially extended, it closed earlier than expected, due to poor ticket sales, in October 2001. Around the time of the London closure, Tennant said that they were in talks to take the musical to various locations in Europe (particularly Germany, which is a big market for Pet Shop Boys), and to take it to New York. Nothing further has been issued by Pet Shop Boys or Really Useful Group regarding these performances; in 2005, a series of performances were done in the Brisbane Powerhouse, Australia, though they were independent to Pet Shop Boys and the Really Useful Group.
Variety: "Release", "Disco 3", "PopArt", Live 8, "Back to Mine", and "Battleship Potemkin" OST (2002–2005)
After the mixed fortunes of "
Closer to Heaven", Pet Shop Boys returned to the studio to start work on their eighth album. After toying with genres including hip hop, they went for a stripped back acoustic sound as a complete change to the over-the-top dance musicof the musical. In 2002, they released "Release". Most of the tracks were produced by the duothemselves, and many of the tracks featured Johnny Marron guitar. The first single, " Home and Dry," featured a very peculiar video, directed by Wolfgang Tillmans, mostly consisting of footage of mice, filmed in the London Underground. The follow-up single, "I Get Along," had a video filmed by Bruce Weber, and following this they embarked on another world tour, although this time it was a stripped back affair, with no dancers, backing singers, costumes or lavish sets. They used two extra guitarists, ( Bic Hayesand Mark Refoy), a percussionist ( Dawne Adams), and regular programmer Pete Gleadall.
The "Release" tour took them first to several universities around the UK; not officially the "Release" tour, but entitled "The University" tour, these dates saw them perform at
Bristol University, Keele University, University of East Angliain Norwich, University of Teesside, Middlesbrough, and De Montfort University, Leicester. The proper "Release" tour then took them to Germany, USA, Canada, Spain, Italy, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, then another series of dates in the UK again, Switzerland, and onto Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, and then a first ever date in Thailandas the final show, at the large Bangkok Impact Arena, in front of 9,000 fans. The Bangkok concert was considered a "Triumphant success," Neil Tennant later commented on the official Website. A third single, "London", was only released in Germany, at the request of EMI Germany. It was never planned for release in the UK, although a promotional video was shot by the distinguished photographer Martin Parr, and it was serviced to some UK radio stations. Following a live stint on the John Peelshow on Radio 1, Pet Shop Boys released " Disco 3", in February 2003. The album followed their previous "Disco" albums, but this one also included new songs as well as remixes.
In 2003, Pet Shop Boys launched two new labels,
Olde English Vinyland Lucky Kunst, their Spaghettilabel being defunct. The first release on Olde English Vinyl was Atomizer's "Hooked on Radiation," followed by Pete Burns' "Jack and Jill Party" in 2004. The only Lucky Kunst release to date is the mentioned Kiki Kokova's version of " Love to Love You Baby." They also remixed Yoko Ono's " Walking on Thin Ice" in 2003, and Rammstein's " Mein Teil" in 2004. Another new manager, David Dorrell, was brought on board to replace Clark.cite web | author = Mosler, Tomas | year = | url = http://psb-atdeadofnight.net/chronology.php | title = Chronology | format = | work = | publisher = Pet Shop Boys at dead of night | accessdate = 2006-06-14 | accessyear = ] In November 2003, Pet Shop Boys released a second greatest hits album, ', a double compilation, commonly referred to simply as ' (so as to maintain Pet Shop Boys' tradition of one-word titles for albums), with two new singles: "Miracles," and "Flamboyant." Not chronologically arranged, as in the previous ', the tracks were divided into two discs: ' including the most traditional pop songs, and "" instead containing those works which were considered as being most experimental.
In September 2004, Pet Shop Boys appeared at a free
concertin Trafalgar Square, in London, where they performed, with the Dresdner Sinfoniker orchestra, a whole new soundtrackto accompany the seminal 1925 silent film" Battleship Potemkin". There were four further live performances of the work with the Dresdner Sinfoniker, in Germany, in September 2005, and the "Battleship Potemkin" soundtrack was released on 5 September 2005. In November 2004, Pet Shop Boys played at the Prince's Trustconcert called "Produced by Trevor Horn", a festival with artists who worked with famous British producer Trevor Horn. Other artists included Grace Jones, ABC, Seal, and Frankie Goes to Hollywood. In 2005, Pet Shop Boys was selected as the headline act for the Moscow Live 8 concert, in Red Square. They were received extremely well by the crowd in Moscow. Also in 2005, Pet Shop Boys was asked to put together the twentieth release to the " Back to Mine" series, an ongoing anthology showcasing artists' favourite music selections, with an emphasis on afterhours chill out music. As a condition, Neil Tennantand Chris Lowewere given one disc each, whereas all previous releases in the series consisted of only a single disc per group (see "").
Basically: "Fundamental", touring, "Disco 4", "Catalogue", "Concrete", and "Cubism" (2006 onwards)
Pet Shop Boys began 2006 remixing Madonna's single single, "Sorry," for release in February. The single reached
Number Onein the UK, and Pet Shop Boys' remixincluded new back-up vocals, performed by Tennant. Madonna subsequently used the Pet Shop Boys' remix, including Tennant's vocals, in her 2006 world tour production. In April, Pet Shop Boys released a new single, "I'm with Stupid," a commentary on the relationship between George W. Bushand Tony Blair. The promo video featured Matt Lucasand David Walliams, better known as the team behind " Little Britain". Lucas and Walliams portray Tennant and Lowe, parodying two of the duo's previous videos, "Go West," and "Can You Forgive Her?." The ninth Pet Shop Boys studio album, "Fundamental", followed in May. The albumwas produced by Trevor Horn, who Pet Shop Boys had previously worked with on " Left to My Own Devices," in 1988. The album was also released with a limited edition remix album, called "Fundamentalism", which included a version of " In Private," a song originally written and produced by Pet Shop Boys for Dusty Springfield, as a duetwith Elton John, and "Fugitive," a new track, produced by Richard X.
The week that "Fundamental" was released, a
documentary, entitled "Pet Shop Boys - A Life in Pop", was broadcast on Channel 4, directed by George Scott, and produced by Nick de Grunwald. The original broadcast was an hour long. In October 2006, a significantly expanded version lasting 140 minutes was released on DVD. The liner notes explain: "From their trailblazing first single " West End Girls" to their current position as Britains foremost pop duo, "A Life in Pop" traces every ground-breaking step in the 20-year career of the Pet Shop Boys. Starting in the respective home towns in the north of England, Neil Tennantand Chris Loweretrace their remarkable journey in their own words. The filmfeatures some previously unseen live performances, rare television appearances (including their first ever from Belgium, in 1984), and interviews with famous fans, collaborators and colleagues including Robbie Williams, Brandon Flowers, Tim Rice-Oxley, Jake Shears, and Bruce Weber. "A Life in Pop" is a fascinating in-depth documentary film chronicling the Pet Shop Boys' enduring success."
The second single to be taken from the album was "Minimal." The
duofilmed the video to the single in Paris, with Dan Cameron. The single was the first of theirs to be playlisted by London's biggest radio station, Capital Radio, in a decade. Pet Shop Boys began a world tour in June 2006, in Norway. The show was designed and directed by Es Devlin, the award-winning British theatre designer, and choreographed by Hakeem Onibudo. Between 15 June and 10 September 2006, Pet Shop Boys played a series of concert dates across Europe, mainly at assorted festivals and outdoor venues. These included two dates at The Tower of London, on 28 June and 29, and a single show at Thetford Forest, supported by Lorraine. These dates also included performances of " Battleship Potemkin", in Germany and Spain. On 1 May 2006, " Battleship Potemkin" was also performed at the Swan Huntershipyard, in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, with Pet Shop Boys accompanied by the Northern Sinfonia orchestra.
On 3 October 2006, the long-delayed U.S. release of their "" hits package was issued by
Capitol Records. During 2006, Pet Shop Boys worked with Robbie Williamson his new album, "Rudebox", producing two tracks: a cover versionof "We're the Pet Shop Boys," written by My Robot Friend(which they have also recorded themselves, and released as a B-sideto "Miracles," in 2003), and " She's Madonna," a duetwith Tennant, allegedly about Guy Ritchie's affair with Tania Strecker, prior to his relationship with Madonna. On 10 October 2006, Pet Shop Boys embarked in Montreal, on the North and Central American leg of their world tour, which took them through Canada, the USA, and Mexico, concluding on 16 November. A DVDof the show in Mexico City was released on 21 May 2007, entitled "Cubism". It was recorded on 14 November 2006, in the Auditorio Nacional, Mexico City, and the film was directed by David Barnard(who has in the past directed similar films for Björkand Gorillaz).
On 16 October, "Catalogue" was released from
Thames & Hudson, a 336-page hardcover book, written by Philip Hoareand Chris Heath, detailing their entire visual output ( photography, as well as the designof record, video, tour, book, and fan club magazine) from 1984 to 2004. Neil Tennant comments in the book: "In the beginning we made a decision - and it was in our EMIcontract - that that we would have control over how everything worked; that obviously the songs mattered hugely, but the way they were presented was going to matter hugely as well; and that we were never going to give up on that." Pet Shop Boys supported the publication of the book with signings in London, New York City, and Berlin. Also on 16 October, the third single from "Fundamental", "Numb," was released. It was written by Diane Warren, and is the only song on the album not written by Tennant and Lowe.
On 23 October 2006, "Concrete" (originally titled "Concert" but changed at the last minute to the originally-planned title) was released. It is a double CD of the complete
Mermaid Theatre concert, with the BBC Concert Orchestra, featuring guests Rufus Wainwright, Frances Barber, and Robbie Williams. A 90 minute "director's cut" of the concert aired on BBC 6 Music, on 28 August 2006. A small exhibition of portraits of Pet Shop Boys opened in the Bookshop Galleryof London's National Portrait Gallery, on 30 October 2006, and ran to 28 February 2007. On 7 December 2006, Pet Shop Boys were nominated for two 2007 Grammy Awards. These were 'Best Dance Recording' for " I'm with Stupid," and 'Best Electronic/Dance Album' for "Fundamental".
Pet Shop Boys were supposed to conclude 2006 and commence 2007 by performing at the
Concert in the Gardensat Edinburgh's Hogmanayparty, but the event was cancelled at short notice, due to bad weather conditions. In February 2007, their 'Stars Are Blazing' remixof The Killers' "Read My Mind" was released. During this period, the Pet Shop Boys said that they were in the studio, writing and recording new material. During the latter part of 2006 and early 2007, Neil Tennant served as executive produceron Rufus Wainwright's new album, " Release the Stars", recorded in Berlin. He also sang backing vocals on a number of tracks, most notably on "Do I Disappoint You," and "Tiergarten."
Pet Shop Boys continued their world tour, albeit with a slightly different production and set-list, on 14 March 2007, in
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and then played concerts in Argentina, Chile, New Zealand, and Australia (as co-headliners of the V Festival2007), Norway, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Germany, Switzerland, France, The Netherlands, Great Britain, Denmark, Ireland, Sweden, Italy, Spain, Belgium, and Singapore. Pet Shop Boys released the mentioned live DVD, "Cubism", in May 2007, via Warner Vision. The DVDfeatures a live show, recorded at the Auditorio Nacionalin Mexico City, in November 2006. [ [http://www.side-line.com/news_comments.php?id=22784_0_2_0_C Pet Shop Boys release "Cubism" live DVD] ] . Pet Shop Boys "played" at the free festival Secondfest, in the online virtual world Second Life, on 30 June. [ [http://www.side-line.com/news_comments.php?id=24087_0_2_0_C Pet Shop Boys to play live in Second Life] ]
On 8 October 2007, Pet Shop Boys released "
Disco 4", the latest in their series of remix albums. Previous sets have focussed on remixes of recent tracks (or including new songs, in the case of " Disco 3"), but the fourth in the set differed in that it was largely made up of remixes, completed by Pet Shop Boys, of other artists' work, over the past decade. These include The Killers, David Bowie, Yoko Ono, Madonna, Atomizer, and Rammstein. Only two tracks by the Pet Shop Boys, remixed versions of "Fundamental" tracks " Integral" and " I'm with Stupid," were included. The official Parlophonepress release stated: "Pet Shop Boys' "Integral" will have a limited service to club and selected radio DJ's, whilst a politically-inspired video for the track will be made available through YouTubeand the Pet Shop Boys' Website."
Although Pet Shop Boys' "Fundamental" tour was declared on their Website to be officially ended, they have recently announced further concerts in
Zaragoza, Barcelona, Valencia, Bucharest, and Dublin. According to their official Website, Pet Shop Boys are back in the recording studio. They are working with Xenomaniaon their forthcoming album, to be released in early 2009. Pet Shop Boys are set to appear on Girls Aloud's new album "Out of Control", collaborating on the track "The Loving Kind". [ cite web | url=http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/bizarre/article1767103.ece | title=Cheryl's song plea to Ashley | work= The Sun| publisher= News International| author= Gordon Smart| date=2008-10-03 | accessdate=2008-10-03 ]
The dynamic of Pet Shop Boys' image lies in the duo's public personalities — Tennant is perceived as an erudite intellectual, articulate, and verbose in speech; while Lowe, now almost always seen in his trademark attire of hat and sunglasses (since as early as 1985),cite web | author = | year = 1995 | url=http://www.petshopboys.net/html/interviews/news2.shtml | title = Pop Perfection | format = | work = | publisher = "
The Guardian" | accessdate = 2006-06-09 ] appears as guarded and terse, but nevertheless behaves as casual, flippant and fun-loving. They have maintained a consistent pattern for interviews, in which Tennant is the primary speaker, answering questions at length, while occasionally being interrupted by brief, generally humorous interjections from Lowecite web | author = Sawyer, Miranda | date = 5 September 2004 | url=http://www.petshopboys-online.com/index.php?from=psb&menu=interviews&interview_id=14 | title = "I refuse to be restricted by background - or fear" | format = | work = | publisher = " The Observer" | accessdate = 2006-06-09 ] cite web|author = Perera, Sasha|date = 25 May 2006 | url=http://www.evolutionpublishing.com.au/sxnews/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=380&Itemid=40 | title = Pet Shop Politics | format = | work = | publisher = " SX News" | accessdate = 2006-06-09 ] (which is comparable to the concept of a comedic double act).
They have also been seen as willfully contrary, defying expectations of
record labels and the music industryin terms of commercial image, self- promotion, and the nature of their own music. In their early years, Pet Shop Boys seemed to be mostly defined by the things they refused to do. A 1986 quotation by Lowe, taken from an " Entertainment Tonight" clip, and subsequently sampled in their own song "Paninaro," is often cited as the prime example of this: cquote|I don't like country and western. I don't like rock music, I don't like rockabillyor rock and rollparticularly. I don't like much, really, do I? But what I do like, I love passionately.
This also formed the foundation of the band's early reputation as being anti-rock
music, and more properly aligned with disco and dance music culture. (See, e.g., their appropriately titled 1997 B-side, "How I Learned to Hate Rock and Roll," and their then new 1991 song " DJ Culture," from the "" compilation.) Eventually, however, these differences were reconciled — a process that symbolically culminated with Pet Shop Boys' performance at the 2000 Glastonbury Festival, which was the surprise highlight of the three-day event. Tennant expressed his gratitude to the crowd by thanking them for "being kind to us," and that they were "Glastonbury virgins."
This band dynamic has played a role in their public image as well. Early in their career, the
duowere frequently accused of lacking stage presence, said to be a deliberate reaction to the hyper-cheerful music of the time, demonstrated by bands such as Wham!. A typical early performance featured Lowe in the background hitting the occasional note on a Fairlight synthesiser keyboard, and Tennant singing, but otherwise passive, in the foreground.
However, when they first began touring, in 1989, they were heavily influenced by
operaand theatrestaging. Derek Jarmanstaged their first tour, making a series of films to be projected behind the costumed singers and dancers. In 1991, they brought in David Aldenand David Fielding, from the English National Opera, to create the staging and costume design, for a show which made no attempt to involve or even acknowledge the audience, and pushed the choreographyand stagingcentre stage. Subsequent tours have used artist Sam Taylor-Woodand architect Zaha Hadidfor stage design. Their latest tour, ongoing in 2006 and 2007, was conceived and designed by theatre designer Es Devlin, with choreography by Hakeem Onibudo.
Traditionally, Pet Shop Boys have always favoured
avant-gardetailored fashions. Tennant has referenced the designers of his suits in certain interviews, and Lowe has often sported outfits and glasses made by Issey Miyake, Stüssy, and Yohji Yamamoto's Y-3for Adidas. Presentation has always been a major theme for the Pet Shop Boys, and the duo have dramatically "re-invented" their image twice in their career. In 1993, when promoting their "Very" album, they wore brightly coloured costumes, and used state-of-the-art computer technologyto place themselves in a modern computer graphic world. This concept of re-invention was revisited for the promotion of their "Nightlife" album, in which they transformed their look, wearing wigs and glasses, with stylized futuristic urban wardrobes. In 2006, both Tennant and Lowe were seen on stage and in photographs wearing clothes designed by Hedi Slimane/ Dior Homme.
The duo have always been interested in the
artwork, design, and photographyfor their own releases. PhotographerEric Watson helped shape the original image of Pet Shop Boys, creating many of their photographs and videos, from 1984 to 1991. In design they have primarily worked with Mark Farrow, who designed the cover of their first Parlophonealbum release, in 1986. The collaboration between Mark Farrow and Pet Shop Boys is comparable to the designer/band relationship of Peter Savilleand New Order, Anton Corbijnand Depeche Mode, or the epic-length collaboration of Simon Halfonand Paul Weller. Their record sleeves are quite often very minimal, and the attention to detail is obvious, down to the fonttype and style. In October 2006, they released a 336-page hardcover book entitled "Catalogue", showcasing their accomplishments in artwork, design, and of course, music. This retrospective of work is certainly one of the most comprehensive anthologies any music artist could have.
duoemploy a programmer, Pete Gleadall, to oversee the computers (which are all actually running live) and play keyboards, as well as backing singers, which include long time singer Sylvia Mason-James. The boys have used Katie Kissoonin the past for vocal duties, and have used other musicians: Danny Cummings, Jodie Linscott, and Dawne Adams(percussion); Scott Davidson, and Dominic Clarke(keyboards / programming); Mark Refoyand Bic Hayes( guitarists), as well as the late J.J. Belle( guitars and percussion). For the 1999-2000 "Nightlife" tour, the boys employed New York City-based Peter Schwartz(keyboards / programming) as their musical director, programmer, and keyboardist. As with previous tours, backing tracks were sequenced on a computer playing sounds from a rig of synthesizers.
On using computers and playing live shows, in a 1991 interview by
Chris Heathfor the "Performance" DVDsleeve notes, Neil Tennantcommented that: cquote|There is nothing actually on tape, Several synthesiser-based groups use tapes extensively, but we don't. The reason we don't use musicians to play it all is that we are a computer-based group. That's how we make our music. That is the kind of music we like: electronic music. That's how we make records: we program computers. There's no sneaky secrecy about anything. Everything is done in an entirely logical way. Chris Lowealso commented, in the same interview by Heath, that: cquote|Apart from the guitarand extra keyboards, it's all sequenced using MIDI. You set it up and it just plays. The machines are rack mounted, and each one plays a different part.
Neil Tennanthad neither confirmed nor denied rumours about his sexuality during the 1980s. Tennant "came out," as it were, in a 1994 interview for "Attitude", a UK gaylifestyle magazine. Lowe, meanwhile, has remained tight-lipped about his own orientation, although he has opined (in a 1996 BBC radio documentary) that there is, basically, but one sexuality, which suggests that he may consider the terms "gay" or "straight" to be constricting labels. The duoare sometimes incorrectly assumed to be a couple (in the 1990 biography" Pet Shop Boys, Literally", Tennant recalls that even their ex-manager, Tom Watkins, was under this impression for a time, which inadvertently fueled up even more rumours about their preferences).
Pet Shop Boys are seen as significant figures in
gay culturefor such songs as "Can You Forgive Her?," " It's a Sin" (for which gay director Derek Jarmanproduced the video), " New York City Boy," and their cover of Village People's "Go West." They have written a song about a young male fan spending a night with a rapper, based on Eminem, called " The night I fell in love," and a song about coming out, "Metamorphosis." Their 1990s single "Being boring" dealt with the gayexperience and the devastation wrought by the AIDScrisis; the song (and its supporting video, filmed by Bruce Weber), though being one of their lowest-charting singles, remains one of their most popular. However, Neil Tennant has stated many times that his lyricsare not specifically gay. Many of their songs are written from an ambiguous view point, that can be taken any way the listener perceives it, and this goes some way to explain why a large segment of their die-hard fans are heterosexual.
Pet Shop Boys have performed and worked with many artists considered to be gay and
bisexualicons, such as Dusty Springfield, David Bowie, Elton John, Liza Minnelli, Boy George, Kylie Minogue, Madonna, and Pete Burns. Pet Shop Boys attempted to organise and perform in a planned 2001 tour of out gay musicians, entitled "Wotapalava". However, the plans were later put on hold, and the idea seems to have been discarded.
As of 2003, Pet Shop Boys were ranked by Billboard's
Joel Whitburn(in his book "Billboard's Hot Dance/Disco 1974-2003") as the fourth most successful act on the U.S. Dance/Club Play charts, behind only Madonna, Janet Jackson, and Donna Summer.
In October 2005, a Swedish
tribute bandcalled West End Girls had a number three hit singlein their home country, with a cover versionof " Domino Dancing." In January 2006, they released their own version of " West End Girls," and an albumwas also released in June. Pet Shop Boys also have several tribute bands in the form of Birmingham-based Pet Shop Noise, who have been performing locally for many years, and Seattle-based West End Boys.
Madonna's album "
Confessions on a Dance Floor", released November 2005, includes a track called "Jump," which has close similarities to " West End Girls."Fact|date=November 2007 An interview at Popjusticewith Stuart Price, who produced Madonna's album, revealed the track "Jump" was a complete Chris Loweinspiration. Apparently, while recording the album, Madonna blurted out at one point: "Pet Shop Boys! I fucking love them!" Pet Shop Boys then remixed "Sorry," the second single from the album. Their mixhas proven to be a favourite, as even Madonna has used their version in her 2006 "Confessions" tour. The history between Madonna and Pet Shop Boys goes back to 1988, with the song "Heart." In the liner notes to their 1991 greatest hits album, "", the band states that: cquote|When we wrote this song ("Heart") we wanted to submit it to Madonna but didn't dare risk disappointment. The Pet Shop Boys kept the song for themselves, and it ended up going to Number Onein the UK. Later, in 1991, Madonna was referenced in a tongue-in-cheek lyric, in the song " DJ Culture," soon after she and Sean Pennhad divorced. Tennant writes: "Like Liz before Betty / She after Sean / Suddenly you're missing / Then you're reborn." Tennant refers to the "re-invention" Madonna was going through at the time (in fact, "Re-Invention" is how she entitled her comeback tour, after a long absence from the live scenes).
David Tennant, currently the star of " Doctor Who", took his stage name from Neil Tennant. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2007/jul/09/mediatop1002007.mondaymediasection22 "The Guardian"] ] The actor's real surname is McDonald, but he needed a stage name for Equity, as there was already an actor registered with the name David McDonald.
As of 2008, Pet Shop Boys have released fifty-five singles, and nine "proper"
studio albums (one of which, " Introspective", is in fact a long playingmini-album, featuring six originally extended tracks), as well as twenty-two among various types of compilations, remix albums and EPs, including one live album, and two soundtrack and score albums.
References, sources and footnotes
* [http://www.petshopboys.co.uk/ Pet Shop Boys Official Website]
* [http://www.psb-discography.com/ Pet Shop Boys Detailed Discography]
* [http://www.petshopboys-forum.com/ Pet Shop Boys unofficial discussion forum]
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