Artist of the Week – Pet Shop Boys

Here’s another one from the archives, again from late 2004, from my old radio show Music for the Masses. In the fourth week, the artist of the week was Pet Shop Boys. Apologies in advance for any inaccuracies, oddities, unintended plagiarism, or anything else like that.

Pet Shop Boys were formed in August 1981 when music journalist Neil Tennant and dropout architecture student Chris Lowe met by chance in a London electronics shop. In 1984, after three years of recording rough demos, Tennant arranged a recording session with the New York-based electro producer Bobby O, with whom they recorded their first two singles, including the classic West End girls, which saw huge underground success.

Following this, they were signed to Parlophone in the UK, reissued West End girls, and the rest is history. The rest of the singles from the first album Please were less successful, but they still managed two more top ten hits. However, it was with their second album Actually that they really saw huge success. The album only reached number 2, but it yielded three number ones and two further top ten hits.

1988 saw the release of their third album Introspective, which would ultimately go on to become their best selling album ever*, yielding further hits, and they started the 1990s on top form with another studio album Behaviour and their singles album Discography.

Their return in 1993 saw one of their biggest hits ever with the smash hit Go West only just missing out on the number one position, and the album Very eclipsing the success of many of their previous albums.

The 1990s saw a steady decline in their success, but they continued to release some of their best material with 1996’s Bilingual and 1999’s Nightlife exploring between them aspects of dance and South American music. Their most recent album, unfortunately also their least successful to date, Release, saw a complete change in direction, with a guitar-based project.

They released their second singles collection PopArt last year, and this saw some success, and they are currently touring far-flung reaches of the world, as well as planning further events to accompany the live accompaniment to the film Battleship Potemkin which took place at Leicester Square in September. They will most likely be back next year with a new album.

This is repeatedly claimed by Neil Tennant in interviews, but I’ve come to doubt it in recent years – Actually seems a much more likely candidate.

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