Back catalogue countdown to Hotspot

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Dog
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Back catalogue countdown to Hotspot

#1 Post by Dog » Tue 17 Dec 2019, 7:46 pm

In the run up to a new album release I always like to revisit the back catalogue in anticipation. If anyone fancied joining me we could work to a bit of a schedule and share thoughts in this thread.

Here’s a daily listening plan, beginning tomorrow with Please and finishing with Super the day before Hotspot is released. Two days off for Christmas. Clearly if/when it leaks this whole thing goes out the window

Anyone interested? Feel free to dip in and out.

18/12: Please
19/12: Please Further Listening
20/12: Disco
21/12: Actually
22/12: Actually Further Listening
23/12: Introspective
24/12: Introspective Further Listening
27/12: Behaviour
28/12: Behaviour Further Listening
29/12: Very
30/12: Relentless
31/12: Very Further Listening
01/01: Disco 2
02/01: Bilingual
03/01: Bilingual Further Listening
04/01: Bilingual Remixed
05/01: Nightlife
06/01: Nightlife Further Listening
07/01: Closer to Heaven
08/01: Release
09/01: Release Further Listening
10/01: Disco 3
11/01: Battleship Potemkin
12/01: Fundamental
13/01: Fundamental Further Listening
14/01: Fundamentalism
15/01: Disco Four
16/01: Yes
17/01: Yes Further Listening
18/01: Yes etc
19/01: The Most Incredible Thing
20/01: Elysium
21/01: Elysium Further Listening
22/01: Electric
23/01: Super
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Re: Back catalogue countdown to Hotspot

#2 Post by Disco. » Tue 17 Dec 2019, 8:10 pm

Sounds very nice, although I celebrate Christmas on the 24th of December 😊

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Re: Back catalogue countdown to Hotspot

#3 Post by herts101 » Tue 17 Dec 2019, 8:13 pm

Great idea. I had thought of doing something similar so will try and join in.

I do struggle to listen to FLs end to end though due to the repetition of the tracks.


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Re: Back catalogue countdown to Hotspot

#4 Post by ArtHist » Tue 17 Dec 2019, 10:54 pm

A really lovely idea Dog! Though Disco 2 on New Year's Day will be a struggle! ; )

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Re: Back catalogue countdown to Hotspot

#5 Post by Dog » Tue 17 Dec 2019, 10:56 pm

ArtHist wrote:A really lovely idea Dog! Though Disco 2 on New Year's Day will be a struggle! ; )
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Re: Back catalogue countdown to Hotspot

#6 Post by Ghost within this house » Tue 17 Dec 2019, 11:02 pm

Great idea, Dog. I’m in.
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Re: Back catalogue countdown to Hotspot

#7 Post by Pod » Wed 18 Dec 2019, 12:18 pm

Might swap relentless to new years eve for obvious reasons!
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Re: Back catalogue countdown to Hotspot

#8 Post by Bucky Goldstein » Wed 18 Dec 2019, 10:32 pm

I suppose if you start 2020 with E Smooth, the year can only get better from then on...
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Re: Back catalogue countdown to Hotspot

#9 Post by Ghost within this house » Wed 18 Dec 2019, 10:52 pm

So. I got into Pet Shop Boys in the summer of 1988 when I bought Actually on vinyl while on holiday in France, aged 15.

I was instantly hooked, and it was their arch Cowardian lyrical style and the grand theatre of the electronics that did it.

I had the joy, then, of working back through their back catalogue, mail ordering things like the Suburbia double 7" gatefold...

My 'template PSB' was therefore Actually, and so buying Please was the first of many pleasant shocks. The cover, less revealing than Actually's, gave nothing away. The tighter, more uniform sound of Please took me longer to penetrate, but once it gave up its secrets....wow. It is still their most coherent 'concept' album.

My highlights:
1. Those quirky chords in the middle 8 of Two Divided by Zero;
2. Hearing West End girls in an album context and how the opening bars of Opportunities bleed in.
3. Not realising for ages that the 'party' before Tonight is Forever was actually the reprise of Opportunities
4. Loving the off-beat opening of Tonight is forever, which STILL I think has one of their finest verse melodies.
5. Not enjoying Violence, I want a lover or Why don't we live together ... until revisiting the album in the early 90s, interestingly... a bit older, and those songs meant more to me, and I understood the NYC sound and what it stood for.
6. Instantly loving 'Later Tonight' and playing it to my classical music-loving parents, thinking they would approve. Which they didn't. Neither they, nor I, really understood what the song was about....again, not until later... but the lyric 'He is the head boy of a school of thought that plays in your intentions' was probably the line that unlocked what Pet Shop Boys were about.
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Re: Back catalogue countdown to Hotspot

#10 Post by Dog » Wed 18 Dec 2019, 11:01 pm

Ghost within this house wrote:So. I got into Pet Shop Boys in the summer of 1988 when I bought Actually on vinyl while on holiday in France, aged 15.

I was instantly hooked, and it was their arch Cowardian lyrical style and the grand theatre of the electronics that did it.

I had the joy, then, of working back through their back catalogue, mail ordering things like the Suburbia double 7" gatefold...

My 'template PSB' was therefore Actually, and so buying Please was the first of many pleasant shocks. The cover, less revealing than Actually's, gave nothing away. The tighter, more uniform sound of Please took me longer to penetrate, but once it gave up its secrets....wow. It is still their most coherent 'concept' album.

My highlights:
1. Those quirky chords in the middle 8 of Two Divided by Zero;
2. Hearing West End girls in an album context and how the opening bars of Opportunities bleed in.
3. Not realising for ages that the 'party' before Tonight is Forever was actually the reprise of Opportunities
4. Loving the off-beat opening of Tonight is forever, which STILL I think has one of their finest verse melodies.
5. Not enjoying Violence, I want a lover or Why don't we live together ... until revisiting the album in the early 90s, interestingly... a bit older, and those songs meant more to me, and I understood the NYC sound and what it stood for.
6. Instantly loving 'Later Tonight' and playing it to my classical music-loving parents, thinking they would approve. Which they didn't. Neither they, nor I, really understood what the song was about....again, not until later... but the lyric 'He is the head boy of a school of thought that plays in your intentions' was probably the line that unlocked what Pet Shop Boys were about.
Awesome. Thank you for sharing. I agree it is one of their most coherent albums.
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Re: Back catalogue countdown to Hotspot

#11 Post by Dog » Wed 18 Dec 2019, 11:02 pm

Please was the first Pet Shop Boys album I bought, on cassette, most likely from WHSmith or Woolworths (RIP) in Halifax. It was summer 1987, I was 11 years old, and It’s a sin was all over the radio prior to its single release. I loved it, and a Smash Hits interview conducted on the set of the video sealed the deal - their humour and their world view we’re equally compelling. Actually wasn’t yet in the shops, so I had to delve into the back catalogue, and so my love affair began.

Two divided by zero is still my favourite ever song. I owned a Speak And Spell and loved the samples, the electro beat and the romantic lyrics. In my eyes this is perfection.

West End girls still sounds majestic. It never dates, such a classy track. I still love this one live.

Opportunities is another piece of perfection. I already knew this well from the Now 7 compilation, albeit in a different form. The production is stunning - it is so fully realised, so complete and standalone. I don’t think they’ve really done anything quite like this since.

Love comes quickly was new to me; it had passed me by as a single. It is still one of my favourites of theirs. What an achingly beautiful song. I don’t think I will ever tire of hearing it.

Suburbia is eclipsed by the epic single version and never really stood out for me on the album.

Listening in 1987, while side one was practically a greatest hits, side two was something else entirely - a real musical journey, taking in romance, London nightlife, one night stands, and maybe even something longer lasting. These five songs still sound so fresh and exciting and to me exemplify PSB at their finest. In the same way I love Madonna’s Lucky Star and Borderline, while they may have recorded more sophisticated work, the charm of these songs is their youthful naivety; they are unique and rooted in their timeframe.

Please still sounds fantastic from start to finish.
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Re: Back catalogue countdown to Hotspot

#12 Post by herts101 » Thu 19 Dec 2019, 12:04 am

What a treat. Just listened 43 minutes end to end.

Two divided by zero is such a great opener and grabbed me when I first heard it in 1987 as it does now with it’s narrative of travel and journeying to a new place. It’s also intrinsically linked now in my mind to the scenes in It Couldn’t Happen Here which I loved.

Never so much of a fan of West End girls, but the synth baseline in Suburbia is right up my street and I remember trying to perfect it on the synthesisers at school for hours. I’ve been watching the BBC4 TOTP reruns recently and it’s amazing how prominent the keyboard players in bands were at that time, and Suburbia really sums up that whole scene for me. My favourite track.

Side B, does spark a lot of 14 year old memories. Like Ghost, I remember seeking parental approval for Later Tonight as it sounded classical, and being frustrated that my father disapproved of the lyrics of “I want a lover” as they were probably about homosexuality! Such was middle England in the 80s...

Violence took me ages to get into. Probably not until the Hacienda remix, but Tonight is forever and Why don’t we live together, still give me a great instant euphoric hit.

Listening back to it all now I think it’s important as a link back to the early 80s, NYC sound. If the Pet Shop Boys have been anywhere near trendy or credible, then (alongside their remix collaborators) this is the album that allows them to show that clearly, and whilst they’ve never craved that acceptance, I do think it’s helped in their evaluation by the wider public.

Looking forward to listening to all the others!


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Re: Back catalogue countdown to Hotspot

#13 Post by Dog » Thu 19 Dec 2019, 3:08 pm

Please Further Listening

Late 1987 was my time for catching up with everything I’d missed so far in PSB land, including the Please b sides and remixes. I rehomed my Mum and Dad’s old record player in my bedroom and used to sit on the floor and watch the needle travel across the vinyl. Tracks would often jump in the same place each time - I still remember these ingrained imperfections when I playback many of these tracks.

The 7” version of A man could get arrested remains a firm favourite. I love that full sound. This would have fitted well thematically with the album. I remember being shocked to find there was a further, different version hiding away on the 12”.

I didn’t hear In the night until the Arthur Baker remix was firmly lodged in my brain, so the 7” always feels weaker by comparison.

That’s my impression and Was that what it was? have a similar lo-fi feel to me. I do like Neil’s shouty bit at the end of the former - he should do more of that. Given the latter was actually a remix, I wondered if the original was vastly different.

Paninaro remains an absolute masterwork... I love this so much. The sounds are amazing.

I became obsessed with their remixes, and particularly the numerous iterations of the two versions of Opportunities. A local record shop used to stock a small number of their import 12”s which I’d check regularly.

The quality of these tracks is undeniable and as a collection this Further Listening album hangs together really well in its own right. I bought the six reissues first time round back in 2001 when Neil and Chris signed copies in London’s Tower Records, taking in a showing of Closer to Heaven that same evening. Happy days indeed.
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Re: Back catalogue countdown to Hotspot

#14 Post by Ghost within this house » Thu 19 Dec 2019, 3:25 pm

Love the Original mixes of Opportunities....and always think of that loony stuff from the video.

While the Shep mixes of Love comes quickly and West End girls are hard to top, both Dance mixes are excellent.

For the B sides - Jack the lad is an underrated classic. I was actually playing Satie’s Gymnopedies on the piano a lot at that time, mainly for seduction purposes (they are easy enough to play while ‘giving eyes’), and have memories of my mother playing them when I was very little, so Jack the lad has some strong resonances for me...

And I have one question- I first heard Was That What It Was? on 12” and I think it was a different mix to the one on FL. can anyone enlighten me?
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Re: Back catalogue countdown to Hotspot

#15 Post by Dog » Thu 19 Dec 2019, 3:53 pm

Ghost within this house wrote:For the B sides - Jack the lad is an underrated classic. I was actually playing Satie’s Gymnopedies on the piano a lot at that time, mainly for seduction purposes (they are easy enough to play while ‘giving eyes’), and have memories of my mother playing them when I was very little, so Jack the lad has some strong resonances for me...

And I have one question- I first heard Was That What It Was? on 12” and I think it was a different mix to the one on FL. can anyone enlighten me?
I love Jack the Lad and it was only relatively recently I heard the Satie pieces which were a revelation.

Pretty sure only one version of Was that what it was? has ever appeared. It’s credited as a Shep Pettibone remix but I think it’s documented that it was actually his engineer that worked on it.
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