Category: Pet Shop Boys

Pet Shop Boys – Actually

ARTIST: The Pet Shop Boys                 PetShopBoysActually

TITLE:  Actually

YEAR RELEASED: 1987

CHART ACTION: #25 US, #2 UK

SINGLES: It’s a Sin (#9 US, #3 Dance, #1 UK), What Have I Done to Deserve This (#2 US, #1 Dance, #2 UK), Rent (#8 UK), Heart (#1 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Shopping

LINEUP: Neal Tennant, Chris Lowe

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Second album by the dance pop duo is a world-wide smash, and solidifies their claim to be the leaders of dance pop.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Sometimes sounding like they’d rather be somewhere else, the Pet Shop Boys make another album that filled turntables and dance floors in 1987. It still sounds fresh today, even if everyone knows the main songs.

Tennant and Lowe’s pop craft is on display with the big hit “What Have I Done to Deserve This”, while many of the other cuts pair their dance sounds with more serious lyrics and themes. It’s not all sunshine and parties on this album.

That serious element doesn’t make it as ear candy fun as their first album, as a couple of the slower cuts aren’t as successful musically. It’s still fun for the most part, though the US market didn’t rush out to embrace it as they did their debut.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Dusty Springfield, featured on the big hit “What Have I Done to Deserve This”, had a career renaissance after this was released.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a version with remixes and extended cuts.

GRADE: B+: I prefer their debut. This is OK but the tone shift on a couple tracks leaves me unsatisfied.

Pet Shop Boys – Please

ARTIST: Pet Shop Boys 220px-PetShopBoysPlease

TITLE:  Please

YEAR RELEASED: 1986

CHART ACTION: #7 US, #3 UK

SINGLES: West End Girls (#1 US, #1 UK), Love Comes Quickly (#62 US, #19 UK), Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots of Money) (#10 US, #11 UK), Suburbia (#70 US, #8 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Two Divided by Zero

LINEUP: Neil Tennant, Chris Lowe

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: UK electronic dance duo releases a lush, synth-driven record full of danceable and hook-filled tunes.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: One of the ubiquitous songs of the 80’s is “West End Girls”. That thing is played in supermarkets, on radio stations, as bumper music on TV. It’s still everywhere – and that’s a testament to the Pet Shop Boys’ ability to create memorable hooks and lush arrangements using Lowe’s synthesizers and Tennant’s gifts of vocal and melody.

The rest of the album, while not as memorable, is just as hook-filled. Singles like “Opportunities” show the sarcastic side of Tennant, while “Two Divided By Zero” is inventive by using samples along with the synths.

It’s a darn good debut, and more than just an album of the 80’s. The sound is pretty timeless.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: “Opportunities” and “West End Girls” were originally released a year before the album came out, but in different mixes and recordings that the duo scrapped when they left the producer.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, a whole second disk of b-sides and remixes.

GRADE: A-: While this definitely is an 80’s album, it sound doesn’t place it in that decade. It was rather forward looking in sound and style.