Nightlife (B-side) (Updated 19 December 2011)

I’ve always found myself enjoying the B-side’s and unreleased tracks from the Release album more enjoyable than the album itself. And Nightlife continues this trend. It was a B-side to Home and Dry (it featured on the UK DVD single). In terms of lyrics, its simply about how “we all need people who know how to party”. Its kind of like an advocate for the benefits of going down town to have a good time. It reminds me to an extent of Saturday Night Forever for that reason, but the two songs sound nothing alike really. Interestingly, its actually the only song that shares its name with a Pet Shop Boys album, although originally it was written for the Closer to Heaven musical (which was originally going to be called Nightlife). I have to agree with Neil’s comments that it sounds a tad Bee Gees, originally Pet Shop Boys contacted Bee Gees to record it with them for inclusion on Nightlife but they never responded. On that note, as it deals with the issue of night-time culture, I actually think this could have fitted on quite well in Nightlife so its pretty unusual for a Pet Shop Boys song in that regard. The song was then considered for inclusion on Release, but PSB weren’t happy with that particular mix. Personally I’d rather it was a B-side, I don’t think it would fit on Release at all. Neil’s voice does take some time to get used to on this track I find, he seems to implore that similar sort of high-pitched breathy type style used in Before. Its a track that is criminally overlooked I feel, and one of the reasons I am so looking forward to Format!
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Behaviour is 21!!

Behaviour turns 21 today. Its only four years older than me (does feel like its more than that if I’m honest) The album for a good while was one of my least favourite PSB albums. However on repeated listening that changed and now its not only my favorite PSB album, its also in my top 3 of all time. My October Symphony is a serious contender for favorite song of all time too. Its a brilliant album, with many of the songs I’ve related to and different times and have gained inspiration/comfort from. Its an album I’ll always be grateful that was made! Happy 21st Behaviour!

Introspective (Updated June 18th 2012)

Introspective is the 3rd studio album by the Pet Shop Boys. It is their best selling album overall and also remains a favourite with critics and fans alike. When I originally wrote this post, I was critical of the album, but I’ve been listening to it quite a bit lately and I have to admit that I now would consider it among my favourite Pet Shop Boys albums!

This is a very unusual Pet Shop Boys album. Firstly, the album only contains 6 tracks (leading some fans questioning should it be classed as an EP), however, these are all long. In fact, every song on the album is 6 minutes at the least. This also goes against the grain of many traditional albums containing songs that are the more standardised length of 3-4 minutes. This concept was one that they had envisaged since work commenced on the record. Initially, this definitely made the album one of my least favourite Pet Shop Boys albums as I felt that the extended mixes more often than not just didn’t add anything to the tracks. I have to admit though, that the tracks have grown on me immensely and I actually prefer some of them to their shorter versions! The only track that I feel is bettered on the single release was It’s Alright. Whilst you have to admire them for going against the grain with this album you could argue it also hindered them to a degree: some fans may have been disappointed that the singles were very different to the album versions. Neil himself admitted in a speech to the Oxford Union that he regretted the album being released so soon after Actually and that the 12″ nature of the tracks may have been a hindrance to the band and the success of their next album, Behaviour which is one of their least successful commercially.

Interestingly also, the album only features two songs written specifically for the record itself. These being Domino Dancing and Left To My Own Devices. Always On My Mind was actually released as a single a year prior to the albums release during the Actually era, I Want A Dog was a former B-side and I’m Not Scared (which was written by Pet Shop Boys for Eighth Wonder) and Its Alright are cover versions. Also, all of the albums tracks were singles or at least featured on one in some format: Eighth Wonder released I’m Not Scared as a single and I Want A Dog was a remix of the original, which had featured as Rent’s B-side. Despite the songs coming from all these different places though the album is still consistently good, there’s no track on the album I can say I out rightly dislike. I do have one grievance with the album though.

My biggest gripe with the album, it does feel like all the songs were gathered up from different places to to speak. Apart from the length of the tracks, there isn’t really any particular themes or sounds with the album that ties it all together, and makes it work as a collective group of songs. The songs themselves are all good, but they don’t fit together I feel. Having said that, you could argue there is a slight underlining concept to the album: that of clubbing. The tracks are all extended in length which would obviously cater to clubs and DJ’s. Not only that, but closing track It’s Alright is a cover version of a house music track, house pioneer Frankie Knuckles remixed I Want A Dog for the album and Neil felt the the album title of Introspective sounded “a little ravey”. Not only that, but Always On My Mind also is mashed up with an acid-house track called In My House.

Also, the title of the album came from the fact that they are dance songs, but have introspective lyrics, along with the additional aforementioned reason that the title sounded ravey. Personally I have to wonder why they didn’t save the title for Behaviour, as its autobiographical nature featured on a number of songs and overall themes of reflection would make that more suitable surely. I can’t say that I Want A Dog, despite being a very strong track is a particularly introspective song but that’s just me. The album was actually going to be titled bounce initially, in reference to the fact they have bouncy bass-lines.

Overall,I have to say this album has grown on me so much. Initially, it would have been one of my least favourite Pet Shop Boys albums, but now I feel its becoming one of my favourites!