Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
|Pet Shop Boys|
Genres: Dance & Electronic, Alternative Rock, Pop
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Similarly Requested CDs
What a rediscovery of PURE GOLD!!!! A masterpiece.
guillermoj | Washington, DC United States | 12/15/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I recently purchased "PopArt", which is a must have greatest hits collection like only Pet Shops Boys could release. In other words, worth every penny even at import prices. It's downright criminal that these guys are not ruling the airwaves here in the US. Because of "PopArt" I've gone back to my Pet Shop Boys CDs and put "Alternative" on and I still can't believe that I'd allowed this masterpiece to remain on the shelves for so long without listening to it.When Pet Shop Boys released "Alternative", which is a double-disc set of The Pet Shop Boys' B-sides, I bought it because I buy all that is Pet Shop Boys, but since I buy so many CDs sometimes some get overlooked and this was one of them. MY LOSS!!Far from being a superfluous collection of junk that most artists put out (i.e alternative mixes, unreleased mono, dub versions et al), this album contains a wealth of prime material that could have made for 2 consecutive hit releases. There is not a weak track in the bunch. Accordingly, this collection is a MUST not only for hardcore fans, but for casual listeners as the songs are all hit-worthy.One of the reasons why this release may be so good as that the boys seem to still live up to the concept that, in pre-CD days, many vinyl singles (45s) includes relevant and even essential B-sides as , for example, is the case with Queen's "We Are Tha Champions"/"We Will Rock You"). In fact, during the heyday of single releases, many B-sides were more popular than the A-sides.In a nutshell, Pet Sh have complilled 30 amazing songs that exempligy the wit, the finesse, and musicality that they bring to what so many of their peers are content to treat as trash. Although I love ALL the songs, among my favorites are "In The Night", "Paninaro", the amazing piano subtlety in "Jack The Lad", "Do I Have to"..... Also, the insert is extremely informative and gives you a peek into each of the songs. This is no rush job, but rather a masterpiece that was snuck into the marketplace. The boys should re-release this in another form to get new listeners to remind all these so-called dance acts that they are mere amateurs when compared to their older, wiser, and talented peers.I am listening to the first CD right now and I feel downright idiotic as it feels like an early Christmas 2004 present that I happened to buy for myself in 1995."
There is no alternative...
FrKurt Messick | Bloomington, IN USA | 09/21/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"At one point shortly after the release of Discography, my friend Monty and I were discussing the problem that we had, living in midwestern America, of being able to find the latest offerings of the Pet Shop Boys. While I had never experienced a problem of getting the latest albums, CDs, and videos in London, New York, or on the West Coast, living in middle America put me at a distinct disadvantage. While the albums were always available, the singles most often were not available. This was important because so many good items came only on the singles -- often the b-side and extra tracks contained on the singles were better than additional album tracks. And, of course, these songs were not available on albums. For any avid collector, this was a problem (these were the days before on-line shopping, when Amazon.com and other on-line vendors where not even in the planning stages). I speculated that it would be wonderful if the Pet Shop Boys would put together an album that contained all of these wonderful extra tracks. I was certain it would be popular, at least among the die-hard fans.Not long after this conversation, it was rumoured that just such an album was in the planning stages. Shortly after the release of Very and the singles from that album, Alternative was released. This was the one that I had been waiting for.Alternative is a two-CD set, produced originally as a special edition with a holographic front, and later press runs having a more conventional covering. All press runs, however, have contained the special book which includes an extensive interview with the Pet Shop Boys in which they talk about each of the 30 songs on these CDs in turn, discussing meaning as well as production issues around these tracks. 'This is the record that we fans have been waiting for: the collection that finally pulls together all those great songs tucked away on b-sides, double-packs, obscure formats. Whereas an a-side will require strict commercial and production standards, and the courage to act them out in front of millions, here you'll find the real Pet Shop Boys: dropping their guard, finding themselves free to experiment, to explore their obsessions and their own lives.'Given the long-term nature of this collection, these songs represent an historical record of the Pet Shop Boys; as a companion piece to Discography, the official 'greatest hits' collection of the Pet Shop Boys, Alternative serves to show another side, side-by-side, with the more popular front of the Pet Shop Boys. These are the songs that were released with the hits. These songs also show the development of musical tone and complexity, technical as well as lyrical, over the course of the first decade of the Pet Shop Boys' career. 'You could say that these 30 songs embody the changing nature of music software, as the seven-inch and 12-inch vinyl formats move to CD, then to remixes, then to double-packs, and son on. A variety of formats demands a variety of aesthetic responses, if you're not just going to hand everything over to a remixer.'In these songs, one will find a lot of the personal experiences of the Pet Shop Boys. In songs like A man could get arrested, Hey, Headmaster, and Your funny uncle, glimpses of experiences from the lives of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe, and some of their friends, are highlighted. Particularly, Your funny uncle shows a scene from life, from when Tennant had to organise the funeral for a friend, and met the relatives of his friend, who came from another social world. Sometimes humourous, sometimes poignant, the lyrics in these are reminiscent of Betjeman and Coward. Speaking of Coward, there are several songs in this collection which are remakes from other composers -- If love were all, by Noel Coward and Losing my mind by Sondheim are examples, the latter of which was done for Liza Minnelli, but here remade by the Pet Shop Boys themselves. Many of these are strong songs -- A new life and I get excited could be standard disco releases on their own. Others have a certain quirkiness about them. In the night highlights the possible experience of a Zazou, a French opter-out during the German occupation in World War II; Don Juan is an allegorical song with a great deal of history woven into the lyrics (try to decipher them without the liner notes!). Experimental music in songs such as The sound of the atom splitting reminds one of the experimental cinematic direction of Derek Jarman, a friend of the Pet Shop Boys. Philosophy and politics are highlighted in songs such as Miserablism and What keeps mankind alive.Through all of the songs, the electronic, sample-filled instrumentation, the rhythms and (for most) the dance aspect of the tunes comes through as classic Europop and Pet Shop Boys all the way.This is an unconventional album, and perhaps cannot be called an album in the true sense, for how many albums have had every track released as a single, yet none of them as the primary single for any release? This is a must-have for any fan of the Pet Shop Boys."
Better and better as the collection proceeds
S. Isaacs | Denver, CO | 05/15/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Want a really concise view of this band's progression? This collection does a brilliant job...or rather, the Boys do a brilliant job of making singles. Making sure it proceeded in chronological order was a fantastic idea. Here, you can hear how PSB went from merely being a great synth-pop duo to one of the best singles groups ever. These songs are nearly all catchy, delicious pop tartlets. And damn the argument that these are "merely" B-sides. These songs stand perfectly well on their own.
It took a while for the Boys to push the bounds of their (self-imposed?) cocoon, though. The synthesizers, whether droning or dizzying, maintain the same minor chord for four of the first five songs, and you fear that this is all this band is capable of. Not the most auspicious -- or interesting -- beginning. But with "Jack the Lad," and its calm piano introduction, some subtlety and dynamics begin to seep into the mix. Suddenly these boys are striving for something more than just the latest '80s hair pop singles. The angular, droll "I Want A Dog" (a different version than the one on Introspective) amusingly incorporates a dog's bark into the rhythm section, but the bizarre and chaotic "The Sound of the Atom Splitting" shows what happens when this band's reach exceeds its grasp. A somber "Your Funny Uncle" closes the first set.
The real fun starts with the second disc. A jerky rhythm tugs "It Must Be Obvious" along as Neil Tennant agonizes about unrequited love. Then he turns the tables on "Bet She's Not Your Girlfriend" and laughs at "every boy and man feeling lonely" who can't understand why the prettiest girl around is great friends with someone so "shy and dry and verging on ugly." Schadenfreude was never so luscious. Then he mocks even his melancholy self on "Miserabilism": "Just for the sake of it, make sure you're always frowning (Angst! Angst! Angst!)/ It shows the world that you've got substance and depth." At this point, not only are the tunes getting better, but the lyrics are becoming more incisive. Neil's interest in history even reveals itself in "What Keeps Mankind Alive?". Sounding like a reined-in "The Sound of the Atom Splitting," its complex chord progressions (and spit-inducing chorus) are too much for Neil to latch his voice onto without slipping off-key occasionally, though he seems as determined to do so as he is angry at the brutality of humanity.
The next five songs showcase the Boys at their absolute best. "Shameless" is a crushing, over-the-top satire on celebrity and the lengths one will go to get it, while the house-influenced "Too Many People" bemoans the need to change one's character depending on social situations. Both songs are sassy and fierce, and could have easily fit in the classic Very. From here, the mood slows down, with a gorgeous rendition of "Violence," (originally on Please) and "Decadence," in which Neil gives in to the temptation to sing in falsetto, and Chris decides to let impressionistic strings and acoustic guitar take front stage instead of synths. The Noel Coward-penned "If Love Were All" is respectfully treated as the showtune it is; originally written for a woman, the lyrics as sung by a gay man take on an added poignance, and sound very nearly revolutionary.
It's a far leap from here to the techno-influenced last two songs, both adept in their own right. But these boys are able to take on synth-pop, house, showtunes, techno, and classical, and craft excellent singles with their indelible stamp on them, and Alternative showcases this with aplomb. If you are a fan of the regular PSB albums, check this one out. You're in for a treat."