Disappointed, once more...

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Drico One
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Disappointed, once more...

#1 Post by Drico One »

Tempus fugit. Cool World, a long-forgotten movie starring Kim Basinger and Brad Pitt, was released 30 years ago this month. No? Me neither. On its soundtrack was Disappointed by Electronic which had emerged as a single in the UK a few weeks earlier. I think it just might be my favourite non-Pet Shop Boys Pet Shop Boys track. Indulge me.

Clearly, Disappointed is non-canonical. Without Chris it has to be. But it meant an awful lot to me in the summer of 1992. Beside the fact that it is a gloriously downbeat take on hope showcasing a miserablist's optimism, it also offered the prospect of commercial redemption for those of us among the fanbase that had begun to fret that Pet Shop Boys were "down the dumper" and not long for this world, "cool" or not. So it worked on every level. The song was, essentially, about not being dumped, and its success suggested the much-feared dumper was a mirage.

By the end of 1991, Pet Shop Boys were seriously overexposed. In the space of 16 months, we'd had So hard, Behaviour, Being boring, Where the streets have no name (can't take my eyes off you)/How can you expect to be taken seriously?, Performance, Jealousy, Promotion, DJ Culture, Discography, Videography, and Was it worth it? A world tour and greatest hits had followed a "mature, melancholic, and autumnal" under-performing studio album. Chart entries at 36 and 24 for singles downbeat and up suggested that their domination of the singles chart was not only over - but that their careers were on the line. The Sunday Times described them as "commercial laggards".

Dance music had taken off. There was a sense that Pet Shop Boys were passé. To me, this missed the whole point of Pet Shop Boys. They were never simply about technology or mere "dancing". They were about songs, stories, words, and codes. They were about feeling. The superficial detachment of Tennant from Lowe's technological thrum was not "emotionless", as some would have it. On the contrary, the keen listener could absorb the humanity in his words in the contrast provided by the diaphanous, translucent cityscape that his ostensibly somnambulant musical partner devised for him to wander in. But then again, literate, intelligent and wry observation is always treated with suspicion in the context of pop music.

In the NME, the notion was posited that the rise of acts like the Prodigy and Altern-8 spelt the end for Neil and Chris. As if it were simply about the feet - rather than the head. Or both. An earlier NME/Melody Maker take - that they were "The Smiths you can dance to" - was always far more accurate. But the "dancing" was never really the main point. You could dance to them, but you didn't have to and you probably weren't arsed to. And it is this reticence to go all in on the dancefloor that, arguably, helped them endure. As an aside, I don't think it's a coincidence that Erasure's greatest commercial success came during this brief moment where technology was primarily employed almost purely in the pursuit of getting people out of their heads. Vince Clarke was always more of a raw technological purist, and Andy Bell always made more sense as a prancing nymph than as a tortured melancholic soul. Half the point with Neil and Chris was that it was about the head. And staying in it. Reluctantly or not. Moving and feeling.

But anyway, Disappointed. Four months on from tabloid newspaper reports that Neil was "bored witless" and the PSB end was nigh, out came Neil - sans Chris - with a new single. Instead, we had Barney and Johnny. A flicker of fear surged through the fanbase. Where was Chris? In truth, it didn't. If Getting Away With It had not similarly happened without Chris, we might have speculated feverishly. But my abiding recollection of my initial reaction to Disappointed was that it was a fantastic single worthy of Neil's lineage. To be honest, in this case, Chris really wasn't missed. The contrast of melancholia and euphoria remained. The downbeat was once again juxtaposed with the upbeat. And it crashed in to the chart at number 6.

Number 6! We had hope! Even allowing for the reality that three fanbases would show interest in this collaboration, this result settled my nerves about the PSB future. I did wonder what Chris might think. But in some ways it added to his mystique, and the humourous idea that he does nothing really. I was working in a nightclub at this time. As I cleared out customers in the downstairs bar before going up to the club each evening, I would play KLF's America, What Time Is Love? from a Now compilation or something at full volume to frighten off the stragglers. Then, on would come Disappointed. I learned to reverse the order because punters would stay on for Disappointed if I couldn't scare them away with the KLF first... Moving and feeling.

"Dreaming..."

Drico.
The pale kid that hides in the attic behind his PC...

Dog
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Re: Disappointed, once more...

#2 Post by Dog »

Interestingly, when Pet Shop Boys joined Electronic on stage at Wembley Hall in December 1991, Chris played The Patience Of A Saint, Getting Away With It and Disappointed. At the other PSB-less dates Bernard sang Disappointed.
Woof.

Nervously
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Re: Disappointed, once more...

#3 Post by Nervously »

Is it for fear of finally unmasking yourself that you won't write a book about PSB, Drico?

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daveid
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Re: Disappointed, once more...

#4 Post by daveid »

"Where is Chris?" is a question that resurfaced recently in a different context. I wonder if anyone thought - for one tantalising moment - that this was the much-longer for Electronic reunion and that Neil would be joined by Johnny and Barney.

This song also meant a lot to me in the summer of 92. I was 15 and was listening to Capital FM all the time. I thought it was one of the most beautiful songs ever made and to this day it's one of my go-to slices of euphoria. I think it's even better than GAWI.

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daveid
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Re: Disappointed, once more...

#5 Post by daveid »

Nervously wrote: Sat 16 Jul 2022, 12:33 pm Is it for fear of finally unmasking yourself that you won't write a book about PSB, Drico?
Would that count as a semi-autobiography? 😉

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Re: Disappointed, once more...

#6 Post by Dog »

Those three singles:

Getting Away With It
Get The Message
Disappointed

Are as good as pop music gets.
Woof.

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MikeyC
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Re: Disappointed, once more...

#7 Post by MikeyC »

Drico One wrote: Sat 16 Jul 2022, 11:32 am Andy Bell always made more sense as a prancing nymph
You can be a passionate PSB fan without resorting to this.

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Drico One
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Disappointed, once more...

#8 Post by Drico One »

MikeyC wrote:
Drico One wrote: Sat 16 Jul 2022, 11:32 am Andy Bell always made more sense as a prancing nymph
You can be a passionate PSB fan without resorting to this.
Resorting to what? Andy Bell’s whole shtick was to be the lovelorn, often wronged, fairy nymph - or Satyr - fighting for love and acceptance whilst bedecked in lycra. Meanwhile, a musically gifted garden gnome, who barely moves, provides the accompaniment to his surreal adventures in the magical forest.

I’m a fan. The flamboyant showmanship of Erasure at their best has always been one of the wonders of modern pop.

Drico.
The pale kid that hides in the attic behind his PC...

TallThinMan
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Re: Disappointed, once more...

#9 Post by TallThinMan »

Dog wrote: Sat 16 Jul 2022, 5:51 pm Those three singles:

Getting Away With It
Get The Message
Disappointed

Are as good as pop music gets.
100%. I couldn’t agree more. I think Get The Message is really underrated, but not by Johnny Marr who still counts it as one of the best things he’s done.

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jasonjohn
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Re: Disappointed, once more...

#10 Post by jasonjohn »

At the time I always wondered if the song wasn't about Chris. Neil just letting loose about earlier days, and Bernard and Johnny giving him the space to do that, like good friends do. Unlikely, but a fun thought.

Chris was also entirely absent from a top 5 track for me: Breathing Space. Not that it matters, he's strongly prominent in every PSB success.

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Debussy
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Re: Disappointed, once more...

#11 Post by Debussy »

Dog wrote:Those three singles:

Getting Away With It
Get The Message
Disappointed

Are as good as pop music gets.
Absolutely. The winter sun in NZ streams into the lounge as I play these three. Wondrous.

Sent from my SM-T870 using Tapatalk


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Re: Disappointed, once more...

#12 Post by Eleven »

Probably Chris was with Cicero filimng "That Loving Feeling" and helping with the album production or with Ian Wright making "Do the right thing" , doing Boy George "The Crying Game" and some other music on that soundtrack or just making *Very/Relentless"

So please, please, tell the whole story next time. Your writing is way too good to tell half truths.

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Re: Disappointed, once more...

#13 Post by leesmapman »

Eleven wrote: Sun 17 Jul 2022, 7:02 am Probably Chris was with Cicero filimng "That Loving Feeling" and helping with the album production or with Ian Wright making "Do the right thing" , doing Boy George "The Crying Game" and some other music on that soundtrack or just making *Very/Relentless"
We didn't know back in 1992 though, did we?

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Disappointed, once more...

#14 Post by Dog »

For Chris’s mindset around this time there’s a really interesting interview conducted on 18 March 1992 and published in Literally issue 8. Some choice extracts below including his thoughts on Electronic.

https://www.petshopboys.net/html/litera ... age_1.html

Do you think you're better friends with Neil now than when "West End Girls" came out, or not?

Probably not, in many ways. During the initial success, and before it, we spent a lot of time together and we used to go out a lot more: go to clubs a lot more and restaurants a lot more. And right through to the end of Actually we spent nearly all our time together because we were on a lot of promotional trips. From when "West End Girls" was a hit until the end of Actually we were together all the time. Out of necessity really. Because of that, I think then you have to force yourself to spend time apart. It's like being married to someone, and you find that neither of you has your own life. You're just leading a complete Pet Shop Boys life, and you forget you're Chris Lowe and Neil Tennant.

And we do have different interests. Neil's gone off the club scene a bit over the years. He's not really into raving at all. He's not into staying up all night and then finding out where the next party is. Neil's become a lot more interested in classical music, going to art galleries and reading. I've never been a great book reader, I always find art galleries a bit boring... I mean, I'd rather buy the postcards of the works of art in a bookshop rather than actually see them, because often I think they look better as postcards.

Does it annoy you when Neil listens to lots of classical music?

No, because I'm not normally in the room when he's listening to it. But everything I'm interested in is of now, and so even though classical music has got a lot to offer - I think of classical music as "what great bits to sample" - I find a lot of it really twee.

A lot of the orchestration is very clever, but I think the tunes are often not very good. When I did go to classical concerts I was always interested in Schoenberg and that kind of stuff. I think music has advanced considerably since the days of a lot of classical music. But Neil is totally into history as well, so when Neil listens to classical music he doesn't just listen to the music, but he reads about what was happening in that particular era of history. It's not just the music. And so our taste fits totally with how we see things. I'm not really interested in history. I'm just interested with what's happening at the moment.

Do you care what Neil's lyrics say?

Well, yeah. I very rarely comment on Neil's lyrics because I'm not a lyricist or anything and he's got his own thing to say. Sometimes I'll say "what's that all about?", but... I think Neil probably thinks this sometimes about something like "My October Symphony", he's going on about the Russian Revolution or whatever and it becomes so personalized to him that it doesn't necessarily communicate anything to the listener at all. I think I probably prefer Neil's lyrics when they're more direct and concerned with love or more everyday issues, rather than some historic perspective on things. On Please a lot of the lyrics you can relate to them on a much simpler level. Like "I want a lover tonight". You can see where he's coming from there. I prefer that. And I always like sexier lyrics. But while I might make a general comment about things like that, it's up to Neil. If I want to express something then I should write some lyrics. But I'm not going to because they'd be crap (laughs).

Are you annoyed when Neil does things with Electronic without you?

Not really. I've enjoyed the whole Electronic thing, not so much for the music but because I really like being friends with Bernard and Johnny and that whole Manchester posse. The actual records are secondary to the friendship.

Do you ever feel he shouldn't do things without you?

No, I don't think that at all. I mean, I might want to do things without him, though I probably wouldn't because I'm too lazy. But I don't find working with more than one person easy. I'm not a team person. If there's a team thing going on I'll not be involved or be very much at the back. I've always liked solo sports. At school I never liked it when we had projects to do as part of a team. I don't work well in that kind of situation.

Will you ever make a solo LP?

I wouldn't mind doing a solo LP. I quite like the idea, but the trouble is, firstly when people do solo LPs they're normally crap, so I would have this thing in the back of my mind that it was probably crap. And I wouldn't want people to think there was a rift in the group and all that business. And it can kind of upset the chemistry, all these things going. I might do one for myself actually, and not release it. Sometimes I play stuff to Neil on the Fairlight that he doesn't like, and the stuff he doesn't like I might develop. It would be stuff that was rejected for the Pet Shop Boys but which I still felt was quite good.

How would you feel if Neil did a solo LP?

Well, Neil's always talking about doing his Noel Coward LP. It wouldn't bother me at all, really. Of course, both of us would find it very annoying if the other person's solo LP did well (laughs). There's no doubt about that.

Do you ever think about the Pet Shop Boys splitting up?

Not really, because although I think I'm dead progressive and I apparently like change, really I'm not into change. The idea of splitting up is "oh, what a palaver". I couldn't go through the headache of all that. I like things to carry on quite happily as they are. It doesn't really cross my mind at all. I suppose I've considered it at some point only because everybody questions the situation they're in. Probably during a promotional trip years ago. But all you ever need is a break, and really I'm quite happy, and get happier as the years go on and it gets less stressful.

So you think the Pet Shop Boys might go on more or less forever?

I certainly see no reason for it to end.
Woof.

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Re: Disappointed, once more...

#15 Post by Dog »

And there’s the 1992 interview with Neil in issue 9:

https://www.petshopboys.net/html/litera ... age_1.html

Do you think it annoys Chris when you sing songs for Electronic?

I think Chris has mixed feelings about it, but I don't know, because of course he would never say anything about it. I mean, I did the records with Electronic because I like doing them with Johnny and Bernard, and so does Chris when he's worked with them, but Chris can't be bothered to spend a lot of time in the studio when he doesn't have to. I'm quite happy to do that.

Does it worry you that you singing “Disappointed" with a different group might be confusing for the public?

Yes, in retrospect it does, but actually I really like the record. I don't know how confusing it is. Someone told me they thought the Pet Shop Boys had broken up because I'd made that record. Maybe there's something in it. But it's totally rectifiable when our next record comes out. And I always think one of the strengths with the Pet Shop Boys is the cast of characters. It isn't just the two of us: you buy into Derek Jarman, you buy into Electronic... that's one of the things I, personally, like about us.
Woof.

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