Songs from the 80s
Pet Shop Boys - West End Girls
Now this is amusing. Here are Neil and Chris dressed as each other in a Top of the Pops performance on BBC1 of their first hit single, West End Girls. Its massive success propelled the Pet Shop Boys' 1986 debut LP Please into the Top Ten of the album charts in the UK.
Pet Shop Boys are, of course, Neil Tennant (singer) and Chris Lowe (keyboards). Their biggest-selling singles and albums were all in the 80s, and they have sold over 50 million records across the World. Since 1986, they have had 39 Top Thirty singles and 22 Top Ten hits in the UK. This includes four number ones which were all in the eighties; West End Girls, It's a Sin, Always On My Mind and Heart.
The duo's second proper studio album Actually went triple-platinum in the UK - I say "proper" because DISCO which was released before in November 1986 was a remix album.
Actually has often been described as the perfect pop album, and I tend to agree. The highlight of this album was the massive No.1 hit It's a Sin, a dramatic song about lead-singer Neil Tennant's troubled childhood.
This was certainly the best 80s album by the pair, and gave them some of their biggest hit singles, including What Have I Done To Deserve This? which featured Dusty Springfield, and gave her a career boost.
So far in their outstanding career, Pet Shop Boys have released eleven studio albums, four compilation albums, two live albums, four remix albums, one extended play and fifty-five singles.
The first Pet Shop Boys single, West End Girls, was originally released in 1984, but only reached No.121 in the UK charts. They didn't do any better with their second single Opportunities, and it only reached No.116.
However, in 1985 a re-release of West End Girls reached No.1 in both the UK and USA charts. The first album, Please, was a big success and reached No.3 in the UK album charts achieving Platinum.
Three more hit singles were released from the Please album; Love Comes Quickly (No.19), a re-release of Opportunities (No.11) and Suburbia (No.8). In these days singles sold in much higher quantities than they do now, so all of these would probably outsell even the No.1 single today.
Please was a strong debut album that was full of intelligent pop songs that deal with a whole array of issues including love, hate and thatcherism - the line "let's make lots of money" from Opportunities was on the mind of every thatcherite yuppie during the 80s.
TS Eliot's poem The Wasteland was the inspiration for West End Girls, apparently. It has to be said that there is much confusion about the lyrics, with some people believing that the song is about Newcastle Upon Tyne and not the East and West End of London. However, some sources state that there was a gay club in the Chinatown part of London called "The Dive Bar" at the time, and the line "a dive bar in a west end town" refers to this. Neil Tennant did not come out as being gay until the 90s, so maybe he was trying to drop hints right from the beginning of his pop career?
Pet Shop Boys and Liza Minnelli -
Losing My Mind
Losing My Mind was actually written by the American composer Stephen Sondheim for the 1971 musical Follies. Although the song has been covered by numerous artists including Shirley Bassey, Elaine Page and Cleo Laine, the Liza Minnelli version remains the most commercially successful.
Heart was Pet Shop Boys fourth and final chart-topping single and stayed at the top of the charts in the UK for three weeks during April 1988. It was the last single to be released from the synthpop duo's biggest-selling album Actually (3x Platinum in the UK and described as the "perfect" pop album by some critics) and their tenth single release overall.
I still have the CD single which is gathering dust somewhere, but I must dig it out again to listen to the b-side, which is a little gem entitled I Get Excited (You Get Excited Too), which is so good that I think it should have been released as an A-side at some point
Domino Dancing was influenced by Latin pop and was the lead single from the 1988 album, Introspective. It's not one of the Pet Shop Boys strongest songs from the 80s, but it still reached No.7 in the UK and No.18 on the U.S. Hot 100 chart and No.5 in the U.S. dance charts.
Below: The cover of the Domino Dancing single
The latest Pet Shop Boys album was released on July 15th 2013, and was the boys first album not to be released on the Parlophone label, instead, being released on their own label x2.
Elysium was the 2012 album by Pet Shop Boys, and you can hear a free snippet of each track by clicking the album sleeve image above. It seems to be dividing opinion amongst the customer reviews at Amazon, with some describing it as "dull" or "boring", mainly because it's not quite as upbeat as their Yes album. I guess you can't please all of the people all of the time, but the majority of people are giving the album very good reviews, with some claiming it's their best work yet, although those reviews are likely to come from hardcore fans of Tennant and Lowe.