Pet Shop Boys – Vocal

If there’s a song which defines Pet Shop Boys‘ most recent album Electric, it’s probably Vocal – it could almost be a song about this album. It’s every bit as good as anything else on here, and it’s also an enormous track.

This single isn’t for the mass radio market – there’s no radio edit here (there’s one on the promo version, but nothing that was ever commercially released) so the first track is the truly exceptional album version, clocking in at six and a half minutes. As a way to introduce this CD, it can’t be faulted.

Stalwart Pet Shop Boys fans will quickly note the lack of b-sides here – excluding a couple of one or two track releases, this is actually their first single ever to lack its own bonus track. Given the quality of the Thursday and Love is a Bourgeois Construct b-sides, that’s perhaps no great loss, but it does seem a shame.

Still, there are plenty of remixes to choose from, starting with a dub from Rektchordz, which is pretty decent. It takes a few vocal chunks, adds a big Euro bass line, and some huge house beats, and that’s about the sum of it. At least it’s better than the version that follows, Armageddon Turk‘s Tear Gas mix, but it’s still difficult to find anything particularly positive to say as a commentary. It’s a dub mix.

The Tear Gas mix turns what was a very good song into a fairly dull slab of modern trance, full of high-treble synths, and effect-laden riffs and swell sounds. At least it has a full vocal, otherwise it would probably be largely without merit.

Pet Shop Boys‘ old friend Tom Stephan turns up next with his version, as half of Cucaracha, and The Cucarachas Mix is a fairly pleasant house mix, with a slightly insane rhythm, a simple house bass line, some cow bells, and not an enormous amount else.

Then comes JRMX with his club mix, and after everything else it seems like a breath of fresh air. It’s really just another trance mix, which yet again seems to fail to find anything particular to highlight in the original, but somehow it’s both close enough and different enough to stand out from the rest.

Any one or two of these mixes, if placed alongside some interesting new tracks, would have helped form a pretty strong single package, but there’s just too much of the same here. The tribal beats and screechy swells of Nacho Chapado and Ivan Gomez‘s remix aren’t any better than anything else, and it just seems pretty interminable.

Eventually it does end, and perhaps unexpectedly Rektchordz‘s full vocal mix turns out to be much the same as the dub version we heard earlier, just with a few more of the words included. It’s still one of the better versions though.

You could probably be forgiven for missing WAWA‘s version after all that – hidden amongst a mêlée of almost identical versions, it really doesn’t stand out, although it’s actually one of the better takes. It’s followed by another dub version, this time from Cucaracha, and then the hour of remixes is finally over.

So Vocal proves once and for all that a great song doesn’t necessarily make a great single package, or even a good set of remixes. This is really more of a case of a missed opportunity than anything else.

You can still find the Vocal single as a download, although the CD version seems to be hard to lay your hands on now.

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