Pet Shop Boys: Search and Destroy

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Imagine for a moment that Napster gave you the option of deleting MP3s from other people's drives as well as downloading them. (Yes, it would be an asinine feature, but bear with me.) Which Pet Shop Boys songs would you download and which would delete?

Download: Pretty much the entirety of _Please_, _Actually_, _Behavior_, _Disco_, _Disco 2_ and _Alternative_.

Delete: _Introspective_. In a heartbeat. Worthless piece of dross.

Dan Perry, Thursday, 8 February 2001 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Download: "West End Girls", the Dusty Springfield collaboration, "Se A Vida E," "A Red Letter Day", the song about Disco Tex, and all of Very. I might download Very multiple times.

Delete: Behaviour and (the rest of) Actually.

Otis Wheeler, Thursday, 8 February 2001 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Download: "Introspective", the sophisticate's PSB album ;) No, seriously, it's got great luxurious versions of some lovely songs, and it works as a whole, and it's much more 'grown-up' than Behaviour too.

Delete: About half of everything since then, with the glorious exception of "Very". Particularly criminal tracks - "My October Symphony", "Absolutely Fabulous", all Trouser Enthusiasts mixes, "Before".

Tom, Thursday, 8 February 2001 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Download: West End Girls, they got it right in one try. Delete: the bloody rest.

Omar, Friday, 9 February 2001 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Delete: _Very_. Yes! All of it--Three times over.

Leave the rest.

alex thomson, Friday, 9 February 2001 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

I get to be vaguely contrary and say that you have to download all the albums through _Very_ and selectively remove a track or two from the rest to make a better experience.

Destroy...uh, no, that option's too cruel, Dan. You meanie.

Ned Raggett, Friday, 9 February 2001 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Lose it all. It's only good for 80s retro thoughts now.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 13 February 2001 01:00 (twenty years ago) link


_Introspective_ is vile and nasty. It has some absolutely loathsome stuff on it (Hello "Domino Dancing"! Hello "Always On My Mind"!), some blisteringly awful remixes (Hello "I Want A Dog"! Hello "It's Alright"!), one tired song that sounds like a Pet Shop Boys cliche written in five minutes (Hello "Left To My Own Devices"!) and one halfway decent song that, when examined closer, sounds like a PSB cliche (Hello "I'm Not Scared"!). It's more useless than an appendix.

If they had replaced the singles with the B-sides ("Don Juan", "The Sound Of The Atom Splitting", "Do I Have To?", "One Of The Crowd", "Your Funny Uncle") used the original version of "I Want A Dog" and the 7" mix of "It's Alright" that ended up on the "How Can You Expect To Be Taken Seriously?" CD single, _Introspective_ would have been phenomenal. In fact, until hearing _Alternative_, I had completely written off the _Introspective_ period as completely worthless.

When the only positive thing you can think of to say about an album is that it's short, you've got a problem. Set the damn thing on fire and jump up and down on it, sez I.

Dan Perry (RIP, Dejanews), Tuesday, 13 February 2001 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

Search: Go West (oh wait, they didn't actually write that one did they?) I can honestly say that it's really quite good and non-seizure inducing, if by "good" I mean not good at all, and if by non-seizure inducing I mean that doctors won't officially confirm it as a direct cause...

Destroy: Rent and Shopping. No really. Obliterate them utterly. Leave. No. Trace. Please, think of the children.

Kim, Saturday, 17 February 2001 01:00 (twenty years ago) link

two years pass...
Wow this is such an old thread!

anyway, in anticipation of PSB's 'PopArt' retrospective, here's my:

2xCD80 'portable' Pet Shop Boys go!


West End Girls (edit)
Love Comes Quickly
It's a Sin
What Have I Done to Deserve This?
Always on My Mind (edit)
Domino Dancing (extended album version)
Left to My Own Devices (edit)
Jealousy (edit)
My October Symphony
Where the Streets Have No Name (I Can't Take My Eyes off You)
Can You Forgive Her?
Dreaming of the Queen
Go West
Se a Vida E (That's the Way Life Is)
You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk
New York City Boy

(81:19 - my essential essentials, chronological by appearance as far as I know. Album versions except where noted - or not appearing on album - "edit" versions are from 'Discography' - same below)


Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)
Suburbia (edit)
Rent (edit)
Heart (edit)
I Want a Dog
It's Alright (extended album version)
So Hard
Being Boring (edit)
Bet She's Not Your Girlfriend
DJ Culture
I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind of Thing
The Theatre
One and One Make Five
Absolutely Fabulous (single version)
Home and Dry

(81:25 also chronological, the second order essentials)

Spencer Chow (spencermfi), Wednesday, 19 November 2003 00:45 (seventeen years ago) link

You need the 12" Disco mix of "Left to My Own Devices." Their best song.

Mr. Snrub (Mr. Snrub), Wednesday, 19 November 2003 01:26 (seventeen years ago) link

I actually had that in there, but had to cut it due to time constraints. the breakdown in Domino Dancing is like my favorite thing ever, so you could probably swap in the edit of that one for your extended "Devices"!

Spencer Chow (spencermfi), Wednesday, 19 November 2003 01:29 (seventeen years ago) link

also, is this the first S&D thread???? Look how Dan phrases the question!

Spencer Chow (spencermfi), Wednesday, 19 November 2003 01:30 (seventeen years ago) link

Amazing non-single choices there, Spencer - nearly identical to the ones I would make ("My October Symphony" + "Miserablism" + "Decadence" + "Dreaming of the Queen" = genius). I wonder if Dan still dislikes Introspective, I used to hate it but it grew on me sometime in the past few years.

Vinnie (vprabhu), Wednesday, 19 November 2003 01:47 (seventeen years ago) link

I still dislike _Introspective_, yes. Not quite with the same fiery passion as before; more like a dull, simmering passion.

So predicatably, I would take "Always On My Mind", "Left To My Own Devices" and "Domino Dancing" off and put on "Don Juan", "You Know Where You Went Wrong" and "We All Feel Better In The Dark". Also, I'd be VERY tempted to bump "Heart" for "Jack The Lad".

Wait, I didn't notice this: you have "Liberation" and not "Yesterday When I Was Mad"?

Dan Perry (Dan Perry), Wednesday, 19 November 2003 03:11 (seventeen years ago) link

(I think this is the 5th Search and Destroy thread. I definitely didn't invent them.)

Dan Perry (Dan Perry), Wednesday, 19 November 2003 03:14 (seventeen years ago) link

Nothing they have done is so bad I fell it'd be worth deleting, apart from the awful album version of "It's Alright" that is.

However: Download/Search:
Most non-album singles (maybe save for "Always On My Mind"
And to some extent "Please", which was their best 80s album

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Wednesday, 19 November 2003 03:55 (seventeen years ago) link

I just got handed a copy of Popart to review and am using this thread to announce my joy. Joy!

Chuck Tatum (Chuck Tatum), Thursday, 20 November 2003 21:09 (seventeen years ago) link

For no reason, 20 favourite Pet Shop Boys tunes

Hey Headmaster (best b-sider ever)
Violence (Please version)
Kings Cross
I'm Not Scared
Nothing Has Been Proved
To Face The Truth
Love Comes Quickly
To Speak is a Sin
One of the Crowd
So Hard (KLF remix)
Love isa Catastrophe
That's My Impression
Music for Boys
If Love Were All
Getting Away With It
To Step Aside
Closer to Heaven

Chuck Tatum (Chuck Tatum), Thursday, 20 November 2003 21:16 (seventeen years ago) link

Does "Getting Away With It" count as a PSB tune (and if so wouldn't "Patience Of A Saint" be the better choice)?

Dan Perry (Dan Perry), Thursday, 20 November 2003 21:17 (seventeen years ago) link

Download - Their 80's songs
Destroy - Their 90's+ songs (with some exeptions of course)

daavid, Thursday, 20 November 2003 21:32 (seventeen years ago) link

Does "Getting Away With It" count as a PSB tune (and if so wouldn't "Patience Of A Saint" be the better choice)?

don't forget "Disappointed"!

Spencer Chow (spencermfi), Thursday, 20 November 2003 22:48 (seventeen years ago) link

PopArt is fantastic; so long since I've heard many of these songs... a few pleasant surprises in terms of the more recent stuff as well.
"Single Bilingual" particularly a revelation; I love the stomping latin percussion; very droll lyrics as well. Underrated single...
"Jealousy" is wonderful, as most probably know...
I had prior doubts about the track order, but it all seems to work wonderfully.

Tom May (Tom May), Thursday, 27 November 2003 23:59 (seventeen years ago) link

I won't get it because it has "Go West" as its first track, and in my mind "Go West" can't possibly exist as anything other than an album closer.

But if PopArt means as much to some kid as Discography means to me, then its existence (and mine) will be justified.

B*R*A*D (Brad), Friday, 28 November 2003 00:22 (seventeen years ago) link

Great act indeed!

- The original version of "One More Chance"
- Most of "Please"
- "Shopping", "Heart", "Suburbia", "Hit Music", "King's Cross" and "I Want To Wake Up" off "Actually"
- "Left To My Own Devices" and "Domino Dancing" off "Introspective"
- The entire "Behaviour" and "Very", particularly "I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind Of Thing" and "Yesterday When I Was Mad"
- The three non-album singles they released in 91-92
- The entire "Nightlife", particularly "Boy Strange"
- A couple of the slower, less dance oriented, tracks off "Bilingual"
- The entire "Alternative" compilation
- Most of their videos
- Saint Etienne and Gangway

- "Always On My Mind", "What Have I Done To Deserve This" and the awful new recording of "One More Chance"
- The dreadful album version of "It's Alright"
- The entire "Release" and most of "Bilingual"

Geir Hongro (GeirHong), Friday, 28 November 2003 00:30 (seventeen years ago) link

I hope it will mean a lot to youngsters out there... a Top 10 placing in the singles chart bodes reasonably well for them being on the radar... i.e. you didn't see Saint Etienne getting a single higher than #40 from their last record. The Pet Shop Boys seem still able to reach out to a wider audience... their material maybe isn't as good as it was, but it's still pretty affecting. It's only really comparison to the great heights they scaled that really makes their recent stuff seem bad.

The ironic thing for me is I was very well acquainted with 'Discography', in the mid 1990s, but hadn't listened to it for years and years. So buying PopArt is allowing me to explore them anew.
Yeah, possibly "Go West" strikes me as not a perfect opener; "Very" being the PSB album I am most familiar with and the only one I actually own. The only thing I can say is that maybe a few tracks could have been added; "Your Funny Uncle", "Hey Headmaster"... that sort of thing. Possibly instead of stuff like "Paninaro '95" which isn't the most engaging (though I like in general the idea of this compilation being of all/most of their hits...).

The Pet Shop Boys, are probably the best *pop* group, in my life span. Certainly one of my earliest musical memories, at 4 or 5 was "It's a Sin", which bore a melodramatic, melancholic mark on me, I'm sure. That sample, the synth-orchestral minor key grandeur of it, it was *there* for me in 1987... and my memories from that time are very fragmentary. "Always on Your Mind" to a slightly less intense extent, I remember from the time as well. They are inextricably tied up in memory with their being my younger brother's favourite band bar none from 1993-97 roughly; I got to hear all their albums through him.

Seriously, can any group have been said to have achieved so much from 1985-2003, in terms of pop singles? With an eye also to some very good albums. Saint Etienne are very much personal favourites of mine, yet my appreciation of them has been in the last few years, and largely via the albums. It is a marker that I can't remember having heard their songs at the time of their early 1990s ascendancy; they never quite broke into the Top 10, which is where you have to be to get heard by a wide audience. Being a child I was only really exposed to very popular music, in terms of singles. I didn't start listening to the chart show until 1995.
Pulp could have been contenders... but they seem to have become more album focused, at least in the eyes of the public - no Top 10 singles for 6 years. A shame as "The Trees" was a wonderful single, and I liked most of the "This is Hardcore" singles.

I agree with many of your likes, Geir, but 'destroy' "Always on My Mind" and "What Have I Done to Deserve This?"?? Stellar singles, both, my good man.

Tom May (Tom May), Friday, 28 November 2003 01:35 (seventeen years ago) link

Certainly one of my earliest musical memories, at 4 or 5 was "It's a Sin"


Dan Perry (Dan Perry), Friday, 28 November 2003 05:14 (seventeen years ago) link

"Heart" scared me at 7-8 or whenever. Hey Dan 'Left to My Own Devices' WAS written in about 5 mins!

Andrew Thames (Andrew Thames), Friday, 28 November 2003 06:29 (seventeen years ago) link


I feel your pain, sir. We must beat these youngsters so that they know their place.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Friday, 28 November 2003 06:51 (seventeen years ago) link

Ned that's a pretty unconvincing excuse for your usual perversions.

Tim Finney (Tim Finney), Friday, 28 November 2003 08:00 (seventeen years ago) link

eight years pass...

dollar eye twinkling (admrl), Tuesday, 28 February 2012 14:53 (nine years ago) link

<3 the pumpkin head ladies at 2:40

dollar eye twinkling (admrl), Tuesday, 28 February 2012 14:54 (nine years ago) link

three years pass...


Yay: Bilingual, Fundamental, Yes, Electric.
Nay: Nightlife, Release (apart from the excellent 'Home and Dry'), Elysium.


The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 24 April 2015 00:08 (five years ago) link

'In Denial' and 'Leaving' would be my keepers from Nightlife/Elysium.

Not sure I'll ever understand the antipathy towards to Nightlife, here and elsewhere.

Maximum big surprise! (Nag! Nag! Nag!), Friday, 24 April 2015 01:27 (five years ago) link

that's what I was booing at

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Friday, 24 April 2015 01:51 (five years ago) link

three years pass...

So yesterday's interview with Neil re the forthcoming lyric book was really good

And he'll be chatting live with Michael Bracewell in forty minutes, there will be a stream

Ned Raggett, Monday, 22 October 2018 18:19 (two years ago) link

I wonder how they're getting on with the new LP...

Le Baton Rose (Turrican), Monday, 22 October 2018 18:27 (two years ago) link

Per the interview, recording is under way.

Ned Raggett, Monday, 22 October 2018 18:43 (two years ago) link

“Really quite often, a publisher says, ‘Let’s get Neil Tennant to write his autobiography’ and it’s quite nice that they do […] I’m not convinced my life’s been interesting enough."

Gah. I really can't think of a biography that I'd be more interested in reading.

Vast Halo, Monday, 22 October 2018 19:20 (two years ago) link

Live chat now running here:

Ned Raggett, Monday, 22 October 2018 19:48 (two years ago) link

I loved the occasional PSB anecdotes that punctuated Jarman's "Modern Nature".

djh, Monday, 22 October 2018 20:13 (two years ago) link

two years pass...

Does anybody know the back story as to why they split from Bobby O.? Apparently they recorded a whole album’s worth of stuff.

Mr. Snrub, Saturday, 20 February 2021 19:47 (one week ago) link

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