Electric & Musical Industries was formed in 1931, initially releasing classical music, but went on to launch the Beatles, who changed the record label's operations and funded the company for years and years. The label's recording rules were further broadened by Queen and Pink Floyd. EMI ushered punk into the mainstream with Sex Pistols, and then embraced the New Romanticism and the polished excesses of Duran Duran. They made music videos big with Pet Shop Boys and made Brit Pop a thing with Blur, and were home to Radiohead. This is the inside story of EMI, one of the greatest British brands in recording history, as told by people involved with the record label's storied history, augmented by company and performance footage. [more inside]
Rafael Reyes is a former gang member, author, restauranteur, and founder of Diamond Dogs, an art and music collective for retired gangsters. Together with Tijuana electronic artist Dave Parley, he is also San Diego's Prayers, a self-described Cholo Goth (or killwave or occultwave) project combining 80s synths and electronic loops with autobiographical accounts of street life in Sherman Heights and occult themes. They've toured with The Cult and collaborated with the Pet Shop Boys (h/t to hippybear's recent post) on the strength of songs like Young Gods and their cover of Pet Shop Boys' West End Girls. [more inside]
Sometimes a music video completely recontextualizes the song. Pet Shop Boys' most recent single Twenty-something is one thing when you just hear the song, but the video makes it something else entirely.
BBC Radio 2 presents a 4-hour, 4-part career retrospective of Pet Shop Boys. The first two hours, Chart (Part 1, Part 2) cover their 11 main studio albums released during their 28-year relationship with the Parlophone music label. Hour three, Collaborate, covers their forays outside of pop music into musical theater, silent film scoring, ballet, and even a BBC Proms classical music piece. The final hour, The Pop Kids [which deviates from PSB naming conventions in ways that annoy me deeply -ed] looks at their most recent recordings, both done for their own label, X2. [more inside]
The Quietus examines the wobbly Pet Shop Boys' 1988 collaboration with Jack Bond, It Couldn't Happen Here [Vimeo], a film project created because PSB didn't want to tour, released as an accompaniment to their second album Actually.
To date, the film has only been available on VHS (now discontinued) and Laserdisc (also now discontinued). PSB has mentioned a new release in the past, but that hasn't manifested so far. Check it out while you can, whether you're a fan or not. Edgy art film at its divisive finest.
Maybe you know Tom Jones' theme from Thunderball. Funny thing: before they decided on that track, there was "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" sung by Shirley Bassey. And also sung by Dionne Warwick. And somewhere along the line, Johnny Cash had a turn at writing a Thunderball theme. Welcome to the wonderful world of James Bond themes that never were. [more inside]
Pet Shop Boys, still going strong after over 30 years, and still as inventive as ever, debuted their "orchestral pop biography in eight parts for electronics, orchestra, choir, and narrator" at the BBC Proms last night. A Man From The Future [audio only, BBC3 recording, available for 4 weeks, 1h55m] is an exploration of the life of Alan Turing. The performance includes Chrissie Hynde performing classic PSB accompanied by a full orchestra in the first half, and the premiere of AMFTF as the second half.
Andrew Collins started a blog in July 2013 - Circles of Life: The 143 - he's about half way through now. [more inside]
In a quick follow-up to this previous post... Pet Shop Boys have turned Ms Bliss's speech into a dance track: The Best Gay Possible (Oppressive Dance Mix). [more inside]
In 2004, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe teamed up with the Dresdner Sinfoniker to perform a new score at a presentation of Eisenstein's 1925 classic silent film Battleship Potemkin in Trafalger Square, London. It is estimated that 25,000 people attended the screening. The Pet Shop Boys' score and the film have been combined and are available to watch on YouTube. [1h15m] [more inside]
Looking around the room, the producers were thinking the same thing. Belolo grabbed a napkin and jotted down: “Indian, Construction Worker, Leatherman, Cowboy, Cop, Sailor.” Morali walked over to the Indian (Rose was, in fact, Lakota) who’d enticed them into the bar. He wasn’t shy. “Hey you, Indian—you want to be in a group?” (SLTheBeliever)[more inside]
For their new album and new tour, Pet Shop Boys have recorded and are performing a cover of Bruce Springsteen's 2008 song The Last To Die.
In 1984, British synthpop duo Pet Shop Boys released the first version of West End Girls (which after being rerecorded would arguably become one of the first #1 rap records). As a b-side, they included Pet Shop Boys, an eponymous track largely created by their (then) producer Bobby Orlando. This was only the first in a career-long focus on b-side tracks that continues to this day... [more inside]
Zbigniew Rybczyński's pioneering 1990 HDTV production, The Orchestra (58m), a study in layered images and classical music, a commentary on man in the 20th century. [more inside]
As he sings, the walls of the apartment begin to move off, and the city walls surrounding them begin to close in on them. Then the apartment it self goes, and the two lovers begin to run, battering against the walls of the city, beginning to break through as chaotic figures of the gangs, of violence, fail around them. But they do break through, and suddenly-they are in a world of space and air and sun. They stop, looking at it, pleased, startled, as boys and girls both sides come on. And they, too, stop and stare, happy, pleased. Their clothes are soft and pastel versions of what they have worn before. They begin to dance, to play: no sides, no hostility now; join, making a world that Tony and Maria want to be in, belong to, share their love with. As they go into the steps of a gentle love dance, a voice is heard singing. [more inside]
The 2010 Glastonbury Festival begins on the 23rd June at Worthy Farm in the village of Pilton, Somerset. [more inside]
Comic Book Urban Legends. Would you believe ... that a Marvel Comics editor became a Pet Shop Boy? that Wonder Woman's creator invented the real-life lie detector? that the first-ever Marvel / DC Comics crossover was The Wizard Of Oz? that the King of Rock & Roll found hairstyle inspiration in Captain Marvel, Jr? Three of these are true, one is false, but all of the behind-the-scenes tales compiled by Comics Should Be Good could prove blissfully detrimental to your afternoon productivity.
BBC Radio 2 -- Sold On Song The website for this show on BBC Radio 2 is pretty awesome; it's got a list of pages on various classic songs in their library (also sortable by artist), which includes song clips and (where available) clips from covers of the songs, taken from the same place -- check out the various It Must Be Loves (originally by
Madness Labi Siffre) -- my favorite will always be the Madness one, but the Lyn Paul version is actually pretty cool. There's also some weird and awful covers available for the picking. I've just been spending about an hour or two picking through random songs and noting on which ones are as good as the original or ones that just fall so very short. (They've also got lots of other content, like the songwriting guide, but the real fun is in the song pages, reading about these great songs and listening to other people do their own cuts on them. [All links go to text; all sound files are in RealAudio.]