Explication

Explication

 
 
 
 
The band discuss their songs.


  [A Different Point Of View]
    Neil: "This isn't written from any kind of experience. The idea just came 
    into my head of 'a different point of view' and this irritating tune, and 
    I just worked backwards from that. The words are about arguing. You think 
    one thing and your lover thinks another. It's about people not believing 
    each other. It has no real significance. This song would have been great 
    done by Take That - I could imagine Mark Owen doing backflips to it. Chris 
    never liked this song.
    Chris: "I don't think I ever liked the 'a different…a different…' bit. I 
    did my best to mess it up.
    Neil: "Chris played the tune on orchestra hits, just to annoy me. And even 
    more annoyingly I really liked it. It's a really good pop song. I think 
    it's too poppy for Chris. Chris doesn't really like pop music, you know.
    Chris: "I'd like to be in the Beastie Boys. 
    Neil: "You don't like the Beastie Boys!
    Chris: "I love their last album.
    Neil: "You've kept that very quiet.
    Chris: "You don't know everything about me.

  [A Man Could Get Arrested]
    Neil: "This was originally written and recorded simultaneously in Bobby 
    'O''s office studio in spring, 1984. I was working in New York at Star 
    Hits and Bobby 'O' flew Chris over - he only got his ticket on the 
    morning of the flight - and then Bobby 'O' left town for three days and 
    we only recorded in his office, which really pissed us off because we 
    liked going into a proper recording studio. Anyway, we started writing a 
    song, and Chris had thought of this drum pattern and Bobby 'O' loved it. 
    I couldn't really think of a chorus - Chris kept saying it was a rip-off 
    of Shannon. But it was never finished at the time. The twelve-inch 
    version [CD2, track 1], released as the b-side of the 'West End girls' 
    twelve-inch, is the Bobby 'O' version, but because he never completed it, 
    we finished it. We did it the same night as we did our twelve-inch of 
    'West End girls'. 'West End girls' took all night, and at about four in 
    the morning we started this. We didn't spend long on it, and we were 
    never totally happy with it so then we agreed to do a different version, 
    a completely new recording [CD2, track 7]. The seven-inch version, which 
    was the b-side of the 'West End girls' seven-inch and which is actually 
    the longer of the two, is a really Eighties pop production by Steve 
    Spiro, who Tom Watkins was managing. We spent a week doing it with him. 
    We changed the structure and the order of the verses.
    Chris: "It's all real drums, real bass, real brass section.
    Neil: "The bass player of Status Quo is playing on this. He was a nice 
    guy, actually. 
    Chris: "This version has got a great middle section. The brass section is 
    like Sharon Redd, and we also get a fantastic Sharon Redd bit with the 
    handclaps and a complete breakdown.
    Neil: "The handclaps go from side to side. 
    Chris: "I love that bit. 
    Neil: "The song was inspired by an incident with a friend of ours where we 
    ended up being chased by these lads through Russell Square and onto 
    Kingsway. Bottles were thrown; there were bottles smashing in the 
    street.
    Chris: "And Neil nearly did get arrested. It's always Neil that has 
    scrapes with the law - I don't know if anyone's noticed that. He's 
    always high and mighty about it, but it's always Neil.
    Neil: "The rest is a portrait of Bobby 'O'. Bobby 'O' told us he would 
    never have sex with a woman unless she went to the doctor's first, 
    because he was obsessed with herpes. He said to me in the studio: '"If 
    you've got your health, you've got everything", that's what my doctor 
    said.' It went straight in there. And the chorus is totally Bobby 'O''s 
    approach to life: 'if you want to earn, learn how to do it'. There's 
    another Bobby 'O' line too, about his girlfriend: 'of course I told her 
    I loved her - not just 'cause she insisted'. She was nice, his girlfriend. 
    But I made the song into a story about someone who is trying to get his 
    girlfriend to have it off with him, basically, and he's so frustrated 
    that 'a man could get arrested'. He's driven to distraction. It's a song 
    about sexual frustration.

  [A New Life]
    Neil: "Helena Springs wanted us to write a song with her, and we went to 
    her house one Sunday afternoon. She'd already written an idea, which 
    became the bridge of this song, and we took that away and wrote the rest. 
    She also already had that part of the lyric: 'The night goes by…' I wrote 
    the rest of the words, except she had a good line we wanted to keep in: 
    'then rise the daylight sky'.
    Chris: "She had some lyrics that were very positive, and when Neil had 
    changed it around the song became more negative.
    Neil: "This version was made as a demo for her to sing. We sent it to 
    her because she was touring with Elton John at the time, and we never 
    heard anything back from her for ages and we were dead disappointed 
    because we thought it was a really good song. Then we got David Jacob to 
    mix it and put it on the b-side of 'What have I done to deserve this?' - 
    we had been recording 'King's Cross' with Stephen Hague and we stayed 
    one night to mix this. Helena Springs did her own version, for her solo 
    album which was never released, which she called 'A New Love'. Hers was 
    much more complicated. The words I wrote - which were for her to sing - 
    are about a woman leaving her husband, going to get a new life. She 
    doesn't know whether she's doing the right thing - she's creeping away 
    at night because he's repressing her. I like the line, 'how do you get 
    to heaven if you never try?' I don't know why but I always imagine Boy 
    George singing this.

  [A Red Letter Day]
    Neil: "The words quote the Bible, I'm afraid - 'what on earth does
    it profit a man?' it's an old idea - what's the point of having
    material wealth if you haven't got love? It's about waiting for
    someone to tell you they love you."
    Chris: "I don't like the style of this. The production lets this song 
    down. I think the song's better than the record. It's a bit 
    clippety-cloppity.
    Neil: "I like it. It's got a funny quality, though, particularly when 
    the out-of-tune choir come in, although I'd always liked that Russian 
    choir sound. By then, we'd got the idea the album was kind of global - 
    the Latin thing, New York - and so, almost just to make the concept 
    broader, I went to Moscow and recorded a Russian choir, The Choral 
    Academy Of Moscow. The conductor, Victor Popov, was the only one that 
    wore headphones at the recording session and the rest, about forty of 
    them, just sang. I was tearing what remains of my hair out. The 
    recording session was at the State Broadcasting House. The BBC were 
    there and they asked one of the kids if they enjoyed singing pop music 
    and they said, 'No, it's just a job'. 'Do you know the Pet Shop Boys?' 
    'No.' 'Do you like the song?' 'No.' I thought, 'Well, thanks a lot'. 
    Victor Popov said, at the end, 'work is work'. 
    Chris: "I was in Las Vegas for the Frank Bruno fight.
    Neil: "The song started off as Beethoven's 'Song Of Joy'. We thought 
    that, as 'Go West' is nicked from Pachelbel's Canon, why don't we go 
    through classical music, take the chord change of a famous piece of 
    classical music, put it to a 4/4 beat and see what it sounds like? So 
    we did this to 'Song Of Joy' and another song, 'Delusions of grandeur' 
    to 'Moonlight Sonata'. We really just used the classical pieces as a 
    starting point. This was originally called 'In C major', a big optimistic 
    song in C major. We were trying to write something anthemic. It went 
    'in C major…', where it now goes 'all I want…' It was a real struggle, 
    that first day. We both sat there endlessly trying to write melodies 
    for it.
    Chris: "We were into this thing of the bassline not being the rootnote 
    of the chord, which we learned from Danny Tenaglia.
    Neil: "Apparently that's the basic starting point for any bass player, 
    someone told me. It took us ten years to discover that. This is actually 
    a very unusual track. It's sort of Eurodisco but it actually has really 
    weird chords - you think it's just a descending chord change but it's 
    not. I always imagine an RAF unit marching to it. It took me ages to 
    think of 'red letter day' and write the words. In his speech when he 
    presented us with an Ivor Novello award Elton John said that it was 
    one of his favourite songs. He said he'd recently felt like giving it 
    all up and he put this record on coming out of the shower and changed 
    his mind. It has one of my favourite lines: 'but for all of those who 
    don't fit it/ who follow their instincts and are told they sin/ this 
    is a prayer for a different way'. I originally had a more explicit, 
    sort of gay rights bit, but I took it out. It's about waiting for 
    someone to tell you they love you. Possessions are meaningless, love 
    is everything, and everyone in the world has the same aspirations - it 
    doesn't really matter who they are, everyone wants love, to have some 
    excitement in their life, to have a sense of security at the same time 
    as to be loved…and it's very difficult to achieve. It quotes the Bible: 
    'what on earth does it profit a man?' Eventually, when I tried to sing 
    it, we realised that the key was wrong, so we redid the whole thing 
    and it stopped being in C major. Somewhere along the way we looked up 
    why 'red letter days' were called red letter days. 
    Chris: "Isn't it literally a red letter that used to be sent for a 
    special occasion? You get a red letter for being invited, or something.
    Neil: "When we were in Hong Kong in 1989 I had written this other piece 
    of music called 'Black sun', and when we were making the album I put 
    it at the beginning of 'A red letter day'. The SheBoom drums are slowed 
    down so that they sound threatening. I hadn't intended the choir to 
    sing on it but when I got to Moscow I found out that the tape they'd 
    been working off had this introduction on so they started singing this 
    bit too. Then when we were working with the three singers on 'Before', 
    one of them sang like an opera singer for this. And we put sleigh bells 
    going past - I kind of imagined sleighs going through Red Square. 
    Anyway, having faffed about with this for forever, we decided the 
    introduction was too pretentious so we took it off the album version, 
    though you still get the sleigh bells at the end. The following year 
    we decided to work with Motiv 8, who'd done the fabulous single 'Oooh 
    Aaah Just A Little Bit' for Gina G, and they reworked 'A red letter 
    day' for the single. They made the bassline follow the chords, and 
    put in a really good sequence towards the end. 
    Chris: "We made the worst video of our career for it. 
    Neil: "The single version we released didn't have the long introduction 
    on it, but it was always still on the mastertape of all the versions, 
    and on the b-side of 'A red letter day' we did release the original 
    full album version, which was called the 'Moscow Mix'. But the other 
    version here [CD2, track 12] is the complete Motiv 8 single mix with 
    the long introduction at its beginning, which has never been released 
    before.

  [Always In My mind]
    Neil: "We were approached by Central TV to be on a programme called Love 
    Me Tender, commemorating the tenth anniversary of the death of Elvis 
    Presley, and for some reason we agreed to do it. Rob Holden, who worked 
    with Tom Watkins, got us a load of Elvis cassettes and the first track on 
    the first one Chris picked up, Magic Moments With Elvis, was 'Always On 
    My Mind'.
    Chris: "I'm not a fan of Elvis Presley. The only songs I like are 
    'Suspicious Minds' and 'Always On My Mind'. I always like the Canadian 
    Mountie backing vocals on 'Always On My Mind', but we don't put those 
    in our version.
    Neil: "Originally we were going to do a house version of a song called 
    'Baby Let's Play House', which was a really good idea, but there wasn't 
    time or something. So we just started doing 'Always On My Mind' in the 
    studio with David Jacob for two days. Chris came up with the brass riff, 
    and I put a different chord in at the end of the chorus, a B flat, which 
    made it more disco-sounding. I changed the words slightly too and made 
    it ungrammatical: 'maybe I didn't treat you quite as good as I should' 
    instead of '…should have' because I wanted it to be more definite. And 
    then we went up and filmed it for the programme, and everyone said it 
    was fantastic. We dressed in leather, in clone outfits, and walked down 
    a railway track. That demo version [CD2, track 9] was released on a 
    seven-inch single with Japanese copies of Actually. We were going to 
    release it as the b-side of 'Rent' but Jill Carrington said, 'no, it 
    should be a single'. For the single version we just tarted up the demo 
    and put tank noises on it. The demo fades out sooner. They were furious 
    in America that it was a single because it wasn't on the album, and they 
    had to repackage the album with a twelve-inch of 'Always On My Mind'. I 
    remember travelling around Scandinavia doing promotion and EMI were 
    phoning up, trying to stop us releasing it. But we thought it stood a 
    good chance of being Christmas number one, and it was. The twelve-inch 
    [CD2, track 12] has Joss Ackland on it near the end, shouting 'Stop the 
    car!', taken from our film, It couldn't happen here. 'Always On My Mind' 
    wasn't in the film originally and then during the filming we decided to 
    release it as a single and a whole new scene was written for the film so 
    that it could be included. That's why the dialogue's so corny in that 
    scene. Joss Ackland ends up quoting 'What have I done to deserve this?' 
    It's hilarious. I think our film is arguably better than Spiceworld. We 
    also mixed another, short version of 'Always On My Mind' [CD2, track 13] 
    with Phil Harding, with no drums. I don't even remember doing it, to be 
    honest.
    Chris: "I like the way it ends.

  [Always In My mind/In My House]
    Neil: "We were very much aware of the fact that 'Always on my mind' had 
    been a number one single [see Actually sleevenotes] but hadn't been on 
    an album. When it was a single one of the twelve-inch versions had been 
    a mix by Phil Harding and Ian Curnow, and a new riff replaced the brass 
    riff. That's the tune at the beginning of this version. So we started 
    this mix quite stripped down, and then took it on a journey, through a 
    whole new bit, until you ended up back with it sounding like the original 
    seven-inch. The 'in my house' section at the time, believe it or not, was 
    supposed to be acid house. At the time there was the name 'acid house' 
    but the music didn't really exist. I added a rap, just continuing the 
    idea of the song. It was an interesting musical exercise trying to work 
    how to get back to the original tune, all flags flying. I think we used a 
    lot of bluster. At the end you can hear fireworks from J.J. Jeczalik's 
    fireworks party. J.J. was having a bonfire party and Julian Mendelsohn 
    went, so I said, 'Tape his fireworks - we can use those on the record'.

  [Absolutely Fabulous]
    This was the official Comic Relief record for 1994, with all proceeds
    going to charity. 
    Neil: "I know some people are horrified that we did a charity record, but 
    it just seemed a way of dealing with it.  It made it simple, because we 
    did the record for fun, not as a major artistic statement. It doesn't say 
    'this record saves lives' on the sleeve or anything.  And, of course, 
    we've always been inconsistent anyway.
    Chris: "Very under-rated. The title is a description of the track.
    Neil: "We were huge fans of the programme, Absolutely Fabulous, like 
    everybody else, and we had the idea one afternoon in the studio at Chris's 
    house of sampling good lines from the show. It took about three hours.
    Chris: "It sounds like an authentic Euro-disco record of the time. There 
    were tons of records like this then.
    Neil: "Actually the chord change is not remotely cheesy. You could make 
    something very beautiful with the chords. But we did it as a Euro thing 
    because we thought that was the kind of the music that they would make 
    if they made a record - what the characters would think was trendy. We 
    mainly sampled lines from the first episode: 'Lacroix, Sweetie…'
    Chris: "'Names names names…'
    Neil: "We thought it was hilarious beyond belief, so we sent it to 
    Jennifer Saunders who phoned up and said, 'How long does it take you to 
    do that?' I said, 'About three hours'. She said, 'It's very good'. So we 
    suggested it for Comic Relief for a) a reason to do it and b) Comic Relief 
    was the BBC so we'd have no problem getting the samples. As we've often said, 
    we really just did it as an excuse to have dinner with Jennifer Saunders 
    and Joanna Lumley.
    Chris: "Which we did.
    Neil: "It was hilarious. It was at Orsino. We were completely drunk. We 
    did a video with them at the BBC. Before that Jennifer had come to Sarm 
    West and done some ad-libs: 'it's the bloody Pet Shop Boys', 'ride on 
    time ride on time'.
    Chris: "She wanted to know what the dance clichés were. 'Let the music 
    lift you up'.
    Neil: "We thought the single was really funny and on its own terms really 
    successful, but the NME put us on the front cover and slightly slagged 
    it off, and in rock magazines it is often referred to as our second 
    great mistake. The first one, of course, being the film.
    Chris: "Both of which I think are fantastic. I think it's the highlight 
    of this CD. I was listening to it in the bath, laughing my socks off. 
    Which, of course, I wasn't wearing at the time.

  [Before]
    Neil: "In the song I'm talking to someone else saying 'if you went
    long enough...'.  It's the same message as 'Love Comes Quickly',
    really, but from a different point of view.  When you're feeling
    down about love, when you're in a difficult situation, suddenly
    things can straighten out.  The right person comes into your
    life.
    Chris: "I love this. There's nothing extraneous on it. There's no 
    unnecessary musical things happening. 
    Neil: "We set out to make it for America. This is the song described 
    by Atlantic records, our American label at the time, as a 'straight 
    out of the box smash'. It wasn't a hit there.
    Chris: "I love Neil's vocal style on this. 
    Neil: "It's very smooth. I sing like a girl.
    Chris: "Maybe you should sing like a girl more often.
    Neil: "It sounds like no other record we've made. It's a very gorgeous, 
    loving record. We wanted to work with Danny Tenaglia whom Tom Stephan 
    had recommended to us. We didn't really know Danny's work. We were 
    going to work with David Morales in New York, and David Morales's 
    agent cancelled two days before we were going. The studio was booked. 
    And Tom said, 'You should be working with Danny Tenaglia anyway', so 
    we phoned him up and he, now to my astonishment, just dropped everything. 
    Danny was a hip in-crowd thing at that point, but he wasn't the world's 
    most famous DJ. Now, of course, it would be a big event. 
    Chris: "And we discovered that Danny, unlike most DJs, can bloody play 
    the keyboards. Imagine our surprise. He did a great production job on 
    this. When he put the bassline on I thought 'wow', because he didn't 
    make the bassline follow the root note of the chords. 
    Neil: "We did it there in the studio.
    Chris: "We deliberately didn't arrive with anything.
    Neil: "It was based on two bits of songs Chris had written on his Ian 
    Wright tape that he put together, very reluctantly.
    Chris: "I'm always reluctant. It's two different songs being shoved into 
    one. It's a waste.
    Neil: "Danny had programmed some drums, and we put these bits in, and 
    then in the studio I started singing the 'before' thing and Chris said, 
    'Go and sing that immediately', because it's good to sing immediately 
    because you get the nuances. I forget nuances terribly easily. I went 
    back to the hotel and wrote all the words, and I sang it the next day. 
    The vocal sounded great and then the engineer wiped the third verse by 
    mistake. I think the three girls' vocals on it are lovely. At first 
    Danny didn't like it where they go 'before…before…before', but we 
    realised it was the hook of the record. It's the same message as 
    'Love comes quickly', really, but from a slightly different point of 
    view. When you're feeling down about love, when you're in a difficult 
    situation, suddenly things can straighten out. Suddenly the right 
    person comes into your life. The middle bits - 'there's a story of 
    a man who loved too much' - are slightly different. I think they're 
    about O.J. Simpson because that was on the telly the whole time then. 
    Chris: "This was just one of those things that sounded good from day one.
    Neil: "I don't know why it wasn't a bigger hit. It was a hit in England 
    but it did nothing in Europe. It's great when someone who you expect 
    to do some big white record does some gorgeous smooth black record. I 
    think it may be too linear. Quite quickly, you've heard everything. 
    My ear expects, on the second verse, something else to happen. We 
    tried to remix it in London but it didn't sound right - what we added 
    sounded too different from what we'd recorded in New York - so we didn't 
    use it.
    Chris: "I have to say that people are wrong sometimes. The trouble is, 
    we've set ourselves up as releasing big records, so if we do something 
    different people are always going to be disappointed.

  [Being Boring]
    Chris: "We wrote it in Scotland. Neil bought a guitar.
    Neil: "We decided to go to Glasgow because we'd been there on tour in 1989 
    and liked it. We hired a little studio in a grim part of West Glasgow 
    and there was a guitar shop next to the studio where a man made guitars 
    so I bought this electric guitar. We did the music for 'My October 
    symphony', 'The end of the world', 'Being boring' and a rock song which 
    has never materialised called 'Love and war', which I always imagined 
    Bryan Adams singing: 'now you know the score/ that all is fair in love 
    and war/ and this is a war.' But the one plan we had when we went there 
    was to write a song called 'Being boring' and we wrote it very quickly. 
    I can remember Chris deciding that the song itself should go up into the 
    chorus like a Stock Aitken Waterman record - it's actually very 
    influenced by them in the way it changes key completely, going up a 
    semitone. The verse resolves on G and then it goes up to A flat for the 
    chorus which is a very Stock Aitken Waterman thing to do. We were quite 
    impressed by the way they'd always just shift up for the chorus. I'd got 
    the idea of writing a song called 'Being boring' after someone in Japan 
    said something about us being boring; it just seemed to be a very musical 
    phrase and I wrote it down. And I liked the idea of confronting this 
    image of the Pet Shop Boys being boring by actually writing a song called 
    that. I thought only we could write a song called 'Being boring'. And 
    then it gave me the idea of writing about this friend of mine from 
    Newcastle who'd died and whose funeral was written about in 'Your funny 
    uncle'. It's just about our lives together. He threw a party in Newcastle 
    in 1972 where you had to dress in white, and it was called The Great 
    Urban Dionysia, and it had a quotation on the invitation from 1922, from 
    Zelda Fitzgerald, F. Scott Fitzgerald's wife, which the phrase 'being 
    boring' had made me think of. The quote was: '…she covered her face with 
    powder and paint because she didn't need it and she refused to be bored 
    chiefly because she wasn't boring. She was conscious that the things she 
    did were the things she had always wanted to do.' It just made me think 
    about the way our lives had gone. It's three verses, in three different 
    decades. When we were recording it, we thought at one point of having 
    musical references to the different decades, but in the end we didn't. 
    The first verse is set in the 1920s, when the woman writes the invitation, 
    then we move forward to the hedonistic 1970s when I'm moving to London to 
    seek my fame and fortune. Someone said to us, 'the trouble with you lot 
    is that you'll have experienced everything by the time you're 18 - you'll 
    have nothing left to experience'. And then it moves to the start of the 
    1990s, when my friend has just died. It's just the sadness of having a 
    close friend die, because I always thought he'd be somewhere there with 
    me. When we were teenagers we would always discuss that we weren't going 
    to settle for boring lives, we were always going to do something 
    different. And then when it came down to it, I did become a pop star and 
    at exactly that time he became very ill.
    Chris: "We had loads of problems with this song getting the key right. 
    Neil: "The vocals are almost hushed. It's recorded very very quietly, and 
    I wanted it to sound like it was someone whispering in your ear. It's 
    hard to sing. That's why we didn't do it on the tour in 1991, though 
    eventually we added it as an encore because people - Axl Rose, for 
    instance - complained. The version which opens Behaviour started off 
    as the twelve-inch mix [CD2, track 4]. We got Julian Mendelsohn to do a 
    twelve-inch mix because the track didn't sound vibey enough, and as we 
    often do we hope that a twelve-inch mix will give us ideas which we can 
    use on the original version, as it did in this case. You've got J.J. 
    Belle playing the guitar forwards and backwards on it, and Dominic Clarke 
    played this plastic tube - that's the noise you can hear at the 
    beginning. We were just having a laugh in the studio.
    Chris: "The faster you spin it, the higher the note.
    Neil: "The instrumental section at the beginning was actually recorded 
    at the end of the track, and then edited onto the start. You can also 
    hear the influence of rave. The 'Funky Drummer' sample is on 'Being 
    boring', except that it was replayed. 
    Chris: "Harold Faltermeyer took for ages doing it, because the Synclavier 
    wouldn't quantize to what it needed so he had to do it all mathematically.
    Neil: "'Being boring' was released as the second single from Behaviour. 
    We were in our office one Sunday afternoon doing a photo session and it 
    went into the charts at number 36. I remember looking at each other. The 
    following week it did go up, and it limped into the top 20. But it's one 
    of those songs - it took on a life of its own, and suddenly everyone 
    really really liked it. Now it's one of people's favourite songs by us.
    Chris: "It just shows that chart positions aren't the be all and end all. 
    'Heart' isn't in the same league as 'Being boring'.

  [Bet She's Not Your Girlfriend]
    Neil: "Inspired by George Michael.
    Chris: "We can say that now. 
    Neil: "One of us saw a photograph in a newspaper of George Michael and a 
    woman and said, 'bet she's not your girlfriend'. People always assumed 
    that George Michael was gay but we didn't know for sure. When I actually 
    wrote the lyric I made it about me. When I was at school I briefly went 
    out with this girl, Krysia - who I still know and who used to run the Pet 
    Shop Boys fan club many years ago - and she was very beautiful and she 
    used to meet me outside the school gates occasionally, and people could 
    not believe that she was meeting me. And that's what I made the words 
    about. So all the verses are about me. The song is really about people 
    being bitchy. It describes me as 'shy, dry and verging on ugly'; that's 
    definitely how I thought of myself.
    Chris: "We wrote the music in the studio in Notting Hill. 
    Neil: "Then we recorded it with Pete Schwier in the gap between our two 
    Munich trips, at the same time as 'It must be obvious'. It's Chris music, 
    I can tell that. I think I considered it for the album, but Chris didn't.
    Chris: "I don't like having fun tracks on albums.

  [Betrayed]
    Neil: "'Betrayed' started off as a song that I wrote when I worked at 
    MacDonald Educational publishers. We were all sacked from our jobs in 
    1980 in a dispute over redundancies, and we occupied our offices for 
    three-and-a-half months and then we got our jobs back. There was a 
    freelancer whom I used to employ, a very good friend of mine, and when 
    we were all unable to work and sacked, she did my job. I just couldn't 
    believe it. I was betrayed. She was in the NUJ so she was a scab as well. 
    That inspired this song, and I'd also just seen The Coal-Miner's Daughter 
    with Loretta Lynn so that was also an influence. When we heard Dusty 
    Springfield was doing what became her final album in Nashville, her 
    manager Vicky Wickham phoned up and said, 'Do you want to write a song 
    for Dusty?' and we didn't have anything, but I had this song, which was 
    then a country song, and I sent it to her. And then Vicky said, 'Dusty's 
    not doing a country album'. She also said, 'Dusty says, "great words - 
    why don't you record it?"'
    Chris: "The reason we did it as jungle was because of something Neil 
    read on the Internet.
    Neil: "I read someone saying that the Pet Shop Boys have never done jungle 
    because Neil Tennant is too old and he doesn't like jungle. So I thought, 
    'Right! We're doing jungle!'. The template for this track was definitely 
    Walking Wounded by Everything But The Girl. I listened in the studio to 
    their arrangements on that album. Again, it's not really like any other 
    records we've made, but then we've never done any other drum'n'bass songs. 
    The good thing about b-sides or bonus tracks is that you always feel you 
    can do anything you want, and so on our b-sides you get an incredible 
    array of musical styles, because there's no reason you can't. I suppose 
    you can indulge yourself, in a way, which is not to say that they end up 
    self-indulgent. But you can do a swing version of 'Can you forgive her?' 
    or something that sounds a bit like The Beatles, which you probably 
    wouldn't do on an album.

  [Can You Forgive Her?]
    Neil: "It's not really a true story...it's based on pieces of my life,
    if you like, but it's not absolutely true.  It's about sexual frustration,
    but it also meant to be quite funny. 'Can you forgive her?' is about 
    someone not coming to terms with being gay and really being in love with 
    the first person they ever had sex with at school, and their girlfriend 
    knowing about this and being rather jealous about it.  It's a vicious 
    little thing, really.  Chris wrote the music to this.  I thought it was 
    a bit James Bondy when I first heard it - when we were doing the 
    arrangement I was thinking more of 'Goldfinger'.  It was the one 
    everybody was going mad about, though it wasn't our choice as first 
    single."
    Chris: "We're just puppets of the record company." (Select, Oct 1993)
    Neil: "It's a classic Pet Shop Boys beginning -- someone lying in bed
    in the middle of the night, unable to sleep.  It examines the
    relationship of a man who's been ashamed because his girlfriend thinks
    he's gay.  There's a little joke about it: "She's made you into some
    kind of laughing stock/Because you dance to disco, and you don't like
    rock."  The point of the song is whether he's going to become bitter
    and twisted.  People might assume that it's some kind of picture of
    me. But I'm not bitter and twisted." (laughs)
    Neil: "It was intended to be funny. We originally thought the first single 
    would be 'I wouldn't normally do this kind of thing' but we played EMI a 
    few tracks and they loved this. The Americans liked it too. I wrote the 
    words coming back from Rye on the train. I walked from Charing Cross 
    station home to Chelsea, making up the words in my head, and I started to 
    laugh when I thought of 'she's made you some kind of laughing stock/ 
    because you dance to disco and you don't like rock.' It seemed to sum up 
    the Pet Shop Boys. The title comes from the novel of that name by Anthony 
    Trollope - I was reading it on holiday and Jon Savage said to me, 'that's 
    a very modern title'. So I started with the title and then I had to 
    justify it. Chris wrote the music for it. It's in 6/8 time.
    Chris: "I think the starting point was wanting to do something that wasn't in 
    4/4 time. It doesn't really sound like anything else.
    Neil: "I like the way the 6/8 beat makes it sound sneaky. It's got a sneaky 
    quality to it and that may have inspired some of the words. It's about a 
    closet queen. The person in the song is so deluded he's pretending he's in 
    control and he's generously wondering whether he will forgive her for 
    insulting him in this way, when all she's done is actually say the truth to 
    him. He's probably gay, and his girlfriend has realised this, but he hasn't 
    admitted it to himself, and that's why he's in a bad mood with her. He looks 
    back to his boyhood when he was in love with someone from his school; his 
    girlfriend knows his first sexual experience was gay and is 'not prepared to 
    share him with a memory'. It's not an autobiographical song. I've never been 
    in that situation, and I've never had sex behind a bicycle shed.

  [Confidential]
    Neil: "This was written specifically for Tina Turner. Tina Turner had 
    indicated to us when we worked with Liza Minnelli - we bumped into her 
    once with Liza at a film preview - that she wanted to work with us. She 
    said, 'I'm so jealous that Liza got you guys first'. So we sat down and 
    listened to Tina Turner's Greatest Hits. We've always loved 'Let's Stay 
    Together', and I think we listened to the verse of 'We Don't Need Another 
    Hero'. We just needed to get the idea of her voice. There's also a sort 
    of sound, with the sax and everything. I suppose we were trying to write 
    something that was a little bit more r'n'b, but I don't think we really 
    succeeded in that. But in particular the sax intro, which was played on 
    an Emulator sample, definitely sounded like something from a Tina Turner 
    record. We wrote it at Chris's house. Chris was writing the music and got 
    a lovely chord change, and I saw that the headline in the Daily Mirror - 
    Pete Gleadall reads the Daily Mirror - was CONFIDENTIAL. I think it was 
    about a Tory sex scandal - it's our second song to be inspired by the 
    same person's misbehaviour, the first one being 'In Private'. That was on 
    his first sex scandal. I think it's a weakness that 'Confidential' has 
    exactly the same theme as 'In Private': a woman who's having a love affair 
    with a man who's married. Having said that, when Tina Turner recorded it, 
    she said, 'Oh yeah, I can relate to this'. We worked on it some more in 
    Sarm West and I re-sang the backing vocals and put in the harmony section 
    in the middle bit, and we did a quick mix of it and sent it to Tina's 
    manager. We didn't release our version until several years later, when it 
    was a b-side of 'Single-bilingual'. For Tina's version, which we produced 
    with Chris Porter, we used our programming, and in fact on hers you can 
    still hear Chris's Emulator sax solo. There are also the same backing 
    vocals, though I added to them. I kept turning them down but Tina kept 
    wanting more of them. It eventually appeared on her Wildest Dreams album. 
    I think Tina was secretly disappointed - she really wanted an 'It's a sin' 
    stomper. And actually Tina Turner doing an 'It's a sin' kind of thing 
    would be great.

  [Decadence]
    Decadence was written (originally around a sample from Aretha
    Franklin's version of "Say A Little Prayer") as the theme song for the
    Steven Berkoff film, but Neil didn't like the rough cut he saw of the
    film so PSB never actually offered the song for that use.  Neil: "It's
    got one of my most pretentious lines: 'Stop this caprice/You've got to
    cease/ This fin de siecle pretence'.  The fin de siecle at the end of
    the nineteenth century was also regarded as a decadent period.  The
    end of *any* age is sort of a decadent period..."
    Neil: "In my opinion, possibly our best b-side. I remember Bernard Sumner 
    saying to me, 'that track's too good to be on a b-side', and it is. This 
    came about because we were asked to write the title song for Stephen 
    Berkoff's film of his own play, Decadence, which starred Joan Collins. We 
    liked the idea of Stephen Berkoff and Joan Collins, so we wrote this. I 
    only had a vague idea of what the film was about. My words are actually 
    about a former friend, saying that he doesn't care about anyone, he just 
    cares about money. Decadence often prefigures the end of something, like 
    the Roman Empire. So the song is comparing someone's personal behaviour 
    to the end of an era. In this instance, the friendship crumbles. You 
    can't have a relationship with someone because they can't tell the truth, 
    they lie, their behaviour's just totally selfish. When I wrote the words, 
    Chris said, 'Oh no! It's an anti-decadence song. I'm not very happy about 
    that.'
    Chris: "I'm all about decadence. It's good, isn't it? 
    Neil: "It's got one of my most pretentious lines: 'stop this caprice/ 
    you've got to cease/ this fin-de-siècle pretence'. The fin de siecle at 
    the end of the nineteeth century was regarded as a decadent period - the 
    end of any age is sort of a decadent period. Musically, the song was 
    based on a sample from the beginning of Aretha Franklin's 'I Say A Little 
    Prayer'. That was the whole starting point.
    Chris: "I love sampling a famous piece of music and then building around 
    it. But I always want to keep the sample in and Neil always wants to take 
    it out.
    Neil: "You just use something as an inspiration. In the end all we've 
    taken from that is the rhythm. The chords aren't based on that. But 
    without that we'd never have written a song with that rhythm. We really 
    got into this track. We asked Johnny Marr to come and play guitar on it - 
    he's very Johnny on it; you can imagine him swaying from side to side - 
    and we got Richard Niles to do a string arrangement for a small orchestra. 
    I think we wanted it to sound glossy. I always think of a Rolls Royce 
    convertible driving on the Grand Corniche, and this is the kind of music 
    that should be playing. It's got a brilliant introduction. I was listening 
    to the Billie Holiday album Lady In Satin recently and noticed that every 
    single song starts like this. After we'd written it, we saw a rough cut of 
    the movie and we didn't like it, and we had nothing else to do with the 
    song so we put it on a b-side. Also, we were in a phase of doing b-sides 
    that sounded like the a-side, rather than offered a contrast, so 
    'Shameless' was on the b-side of 'Go West' and this was on the b-side of 
    'Liberation'.

  [Delusions Of Grandeur]
    Neil: "This is part of the take-a-chord-change-from-a-famous-classical-
    piece-of-music-and-write-a-new-song-over-it range. This is 'The Moonlight 
    Sonata' by Beethoven. On Chris's demo it was called 'Give Me The 
    Moonlight'. 
    Chris: "It's definitely in the 'Shameless' category.
    Neil: "It's arranged at the start a bit like in a Hollywood musical about 
    something happening in the theatre, where you get those scenes where 
    the curtain opens and it keeps going back and back and there's this 
    ludicrously huge spectacle that could never be in a theatre, then right 
    at the end it comes back to the theatre and the curtains close. The idea 
    came from the book Hadrian VII by Baron Corvo, who was an embittered 
    English writer living in Venice at the turn of the century. His book 
    is about an Englishman with megalomaniac fantasies who becomes the Pope. 
    It's imagining you're being crowned Emperor of the world - you hate 
    people because they've treated you so badly and so you want to rule the 
    world and get your revenge on them. When I was a child I had delusions 
    of grandeur - my earliest ambition was to be the Pope. And I had the 
    title 'Delusions of grandeur' for years and years and years, since the 
    1989 tour. It took me quite a while to write the words. Originally there 
    was a first verse which was cut out because the song was too long. The 
    'ring the bells' section is inspired by the D. H. Lawrence poem, 'A sane 
    revolution', which ends: 'Let's make a revolution for fun!'
    Chris: "It's another of our marching songs. 
    Neil: "Marilyn Manson would do this great. He's got the right kind of 
    snarly voice. It would really work as a rock song. Kind of Euro-rock 
    anyway.

  [Disco Potential]
    Neil: "One night we ended up going on the town with Chris Evans and 
    Gazza and Chris's sister Victoria. The day had started with us 
    appearing on Richard and Judy and carried on from there: it was a 
    long night and we ended up at Justine Frischmann's house, who was 
    still going out with Damon Albarn, and there was a guy in the basement 
    of the house, who may have been one of Weezer, and we went downstairs 
    and started doing a jam session. Anyway, the following day someone 
    reminded me that the song we'd been jamming had been called 'Disco 
    potential', though I couldn't remember it at all, and I thought it 
    was a good title. Not long afterwards we were in the studio doing 
    b-sides for 'Somewhere' and I couldn't remember any of the jam but 
    I used the title. The music is Chris being The Chemical Brothers.
    Chris: "It's more The Prodigy than The Chemical Brothers. It's more 
    'Firestarter'. 
    Neil: "There's also something in this that's a kind of reference to 
    'Discotheque' by U2 which was out at the time. I think it's supposed 
    to sound a bit like Bono really doing disco. The words are about 
    Tamara Beckwith. Chris and I had seen a documentary about Tamara 
    Beckwith on the television, and we loved the fact that they used to 
    call Fulham Road 'the beach'. 'I'm just going down the beach,' they 
    used to say, because it's got all the trendy shops on it. 
    Chris: "It shows they've got a sense of humour.
    Neil: "'Daddy sells shares in a distant shore' has something to do with 
    what Tamara Beckwith's father did, but I've never quite worked out what 
    the 'disco potential' line means.

  [Discoteca]
    Neil: "I think "Discoteca" is a very intense song, which is
    difficult for people to understand because it's not stated very
    obviously. The song is about someone discovering they're HIV
    positive. I'm not HIV positive, but it's about a friend of mine
    who's quite young. When we were making the album he told us he was
    positive. He's only 24 or something. So the song is really about
    dealing with it. How does that change your life? How does that
    make you feel about things? How do you communicate what you feel
    to other people?" (The City Pages, October 16, 1996)
    "I had the idea that it would be about communication, and
    about how difficult it is for people to understand each other, and
    how difficult it is to understand oneself sometimes when you're in
    a deep emotional situation.The point of the song is contained in
    the lines: 'I'm going out and carrying on as normal'. What are you
    meant to do when something terrible happens to you? You carry on
    as normal. You go out clubbing or whatever to try and forget."
    Neil: "We started this in New York, in Unique studios, when we worked on 
    four songs: this, 'The view from your balcony', 'It always comes as a 
    surprise' and a song we've never finished, which sounds a bit like 
    Madness and a bit like The Walker Brothers, called 'Yes in a no kind 
    of way'. I'd liked this Spanish record that had used Spanish phrases as 
    a hook, and that had given us the idea to do something in Spanish. So 
    we asked Dainton to go to a bookshop in New York to get a Spanish 
    phrasebook, and started writing this music. It's got very odd chords. 
    Chris programmed the rhythm and did the verse chords.
    Chris: "Neil did the chorus chords.
    Neil: "If it is a chorus. Dainton came back with the Penguin 
    English-Spanish dictionary and a Berlitz phrasebook, and I flicked 
    through them, looking for phrases, and I thought, here's a good one: 
    'hay una discoteca por aqui?' It had a good rhythm and it'd work as a 
    chant: 'Is there a discotheque near here?' Then I also found, 'te quiero', 
    'entiende usted?', 'digame' and 'cuanto tiempe tengo que esperar?' - 'I 
    love you. Do you understand? Tell me. How long must I wait?' I think the 
    'How long must I wait?' came from the going-to-the-doctor's section. At 
    that point it wasn't going to have any more words. The following April we 
    decided to put words and a melody to the verse. To begin with, it had 
    totally different words and the tune was different. I was trying to make 
    sense out of the whole concept of why it was in a foreign language, and 
    at this point it started being about being lost in a country. Not knowing 
    where you are. Later in the year I changed it again, and the final 
    version is about someone dealing with HIV or Aids. There's a sense of 
    catastrophe. It's saying: how do you deal with something going so wrong? 
    Do you panic? Or do you go out and carry on as normal? Which is what I 
    think most people do. And then it uses the idea of being in a foreign 
    country as a metaphor: suddenly everything that was familiar is 
    unfamiliar. 'I don't speak the language, I can't understand a word.' 
    And in the chorus the person singing goes to the discotheque because he's 
    going out and carrying on as normal. It's quite a grim song, but it 
    sounds very beautiful. The start, a classic Pet Shop Boys start with a 
    sequencer line followed by a minor chord coming in, never changed from 
    the original demo. 
    Chris: "This is part of the 'Dreaming of the Queen' range of Pet Shop 
    sounds. It's got a very unusual bassline as well, and the drum pattern 
    is very odd.
    Neil: "When Chris first did the drum programming I couldn't get a handle 
    on it. I couldn't work it out. 
    Chris: "It sounds really big, doesn't it?
    Neil: "Well, it is big. There's twenty women called SheBoom playing drums. 
    SheBoom came down from Glasgow, and they looked fantastic. It was dead 
    loud in the studio. We thought we'd discovered a new sound. It's like 
    nothing else. It's all very moody.
    Chris: "I think it's very uplifting.
    Neil: "Well, it is. It's about survival. 
    Chris: "This wasn't a single, was it? We're mad.
    Neil: "The fans all hate this track.
    Chris: "Well, they're wrong.
    Neil: "We tried to record a single version of it, because we thought it 
    should be a single. After Bilingual was finished, we went back into the 
    studio. Katie Kissoon came in and sang 'one day we'll be free', because 
    we thought it sounded like a really clubby line. We used that as a hook 
    and did that version [CD2, track 8] and we really liked it but we thought 
    it wasn't a single. That version was never released, though it was the 
    basis of the version we played on the Nightlife tour in 1999. Then we 
    decided to re-record the whole track, and we had some Spanish-speaking 
    backing singers come in and sing the chorus with me - they also shout 
    'bacalao', which is Spanish for a type of salted cod, believe it or not, 
    but which I was told they shouted in Canarian clubs when they were very 
    excited by house music - and sped up the whole thing and did a totally 
    different version [CD2, track 10]. We spent ages and ages working on it 
    and then we decided it wasn't a single, so it was just released as a 
    b-side to 'Single-bilingual'. 
    Chris: "We used a Bobby 'O' type riff. It's like his 'I'm So Hot For You', 
    which itself was heavily lifted from The Human League's 'Don't You Want 
    Me'.
    Neil: "We were trying to get more of a chorus. I did this rap, and I took 
    the rhythm from Stretch And Vern's 'I'm Alive' which had just been a hit. 
    Chris ordered me to write a rap in the same rhythm as that, and I 
    dutifully complied.
    Chris: "He's a jobbing writer. 
    Neil: "What I actually say is: 'Understand the man who can talk in tongues/ 
    and you're ready to speak like a Shakespeare'. It seemed to mean something 
    at the time.

  [DJ Culture]
    Neil: "[DJ Culture was our reaction] to the attitude of the press
    regarding to the war in the Gulf.  The press wrote about the war if it
    had been a glorious war which we had won in a glorious way, and the
    use of the language which people used to desribe this came directly
    from the second World War...while the case was much more ambivalent. In
    World War II people fought against facism.  But with this war we
    first considered Saddam as our friend, we gave him weapons and the
    American even gave him a signal that it was okay to attack Kuwait. The
    essence of the song is in the first place insincerity; about George
    Bush who acted like he was Winston Churchill.  He referred to World
    War II and as a matter of fact; he sampled things Churchill said, just
    like artists do with records from the past.  That is why it is called
    'DJ Culture'."
    Neil: "This came out of two things. At this time Chris used to write on 
    a Fairlight in his sitting room in Islington, and he wrote a load of bits 
    and pieces, one of which became 'In private', one of which became - much 
    later - 'Dreaming of the Queen', and one of which became the chorus of 
    'DJ culture'. Then, when we were touring on the Performance tour, I wrote 
    down in my notebook this phrase 'DJ culture'. At the beginning of 1991, 
    just as we were about to go on tour, the Gulf War happened, and I'd had 
    this idea - rather a pretentious idea in some ways - of the way that 
    everyone talked about the Gulf War as though it was the Second World War. 
    It was a very odd war, the Gulf War, because it wasn't really 
    hand-to-hand fighting - it was like a computer game, almost, on 
    television. And at the end of the day no one really won it. At the same 
    time the cult of the DJ was becoming a big thing, and records being 
    sampled too, and I thought: people don't just sample records, they also 
    sample attitudes from the past. Things don't tend to be authentically 
    experienced now, they tend to be expressed as samples from the past so 
    that we all understand them, and that was what I really wanted to say. 
    People pretend President Bush and John Major are successful war leaders. 
    People pretend to sound concerned, or have that empty positivism. Musical 
    culture in particular had a relentless positivism that was completely and 
    utterly banal, a brainless positivism that just consisted of empty 
    catchphrases. There were a lot of bullshit attitudes going on in the 
    early Nineties, and the song is about how facile and pretentious modern 
    life was. The third verse is about how, if you have no history, you can 
    reinvent yourself. There's a reference to Madonna in it - 'She after 
    Sean'; after her marriage with Sean Penn broke up she sort of came back 
    as a sex goddess. 'Liz before Betty' is something Heather Carson, the 
    lighting designer, said on the Performance tour: 'that's so Liz before 
    Betty' i.e. Liz Taylor before the Betty Ford Clinic. It's one of those 
    things I've always liked, like 'West End girls', trying to be a bit like 
    The Wasteland meets Grandmaster Flash. In this there are all these 
    different voices like there are in The Wasteland. It also quotes from 
    Oscar Wilde who, when he was sentenced to two years' hard labour, after 
    the judge read the sentence, said, 'And I, may I say nothing, my lord?' 
    I misquote it on the record. He wasn't allowed to say anything. He was 
    just led away. The chorus is about how, with all the media and satellite 
    television channels, there are very few genuine responses to anything, 
    only fake ones, drowning out people's genuine responses, hence the Oscar 
    Wilde quote. We'd had the idea of writing a song with a song structure a 
    bit like 'West End girls': spoken words and a sung chorus. I wrote a 
    chord change which became the verse to lead into Chris's chorus.
    Chris: "We recorded it with Brothers In Rhythm at Sarm West. They'd done 
    remixes for 'How can you expect to be taken seriously?' and 'We all feel 
    better in the dark'. I loved their records, 'Such A Good Feeling' and 
    'Peace And Harmony', and also Sabrina Johnston's 'Peace In The Valley' 
    which they'd done. The funny thing was, all those records were really 
    uplifting piano house, and of course what we get is miserablist…
    Neil: "We went into the studio with Brothers In Rhythm to make two hit 
    singles for Discography.
    Chris: "Obviously an impossible task.
    Neil: "Chris spent the whole time saying, 'Obviously they'll both be flops'.
    Chris: "And I was right. I've always had a problem with the idea that you 
    write 'hits' for a greatest hits that haven't been hits, therefore it's 
    a bit presumptuous to put them on the album in the first place.
    Neil: "I agree. But I think it's a really good track, 'DJ culture', 
    actually, but it's not a huge international hit single. At the time this 
    was a record we thought might do something in America - are we insane? 
    But I love the chorus - we took the idea of Tessa Niles singing behind 
    me in the chorus from 'Absolute Beginners' by David Bowie; there's a 
    girl singing with David Bowie all the way through that and I've always 
    liked that. We did the twelve-inch [CD2, track 10] in the studio at the 
    same time. We weren't quite happy with the Brothers In Rhythm seven-inch 
    so we did the twelve-inch thinking we might get ideas for the seven-inch. 
    Then, quite some time later, we brought in Stephen Hague to work on the 
    seven-inch. He suggested I change the words in the chorus - in the 
    twelve-inch the words don't change when there's a double chorus, but in 
    the seven-inch I add the '…wondering who's your friend' bit. He also put 
    a string line in the middle section which is really nice.

  [Do I Have To?]
    Neil: "The idea came from Chris's frequent complaint while doing 
    promotion: 'Do I have to?'
    Chris: "Is that where it comes from?
    Neil: "That's where it comes from. I originally had the idea of writing 
    a song called 'Break his heart, don't break mine', the idea being that 
    someone you're going out with is two-timing you, saying, 'Do I have to 
    love you?' It's a really bitter song. I love the way that it's bitter 
    and very romantic at the same time. You're telling your lover what to 
    say: 'say this to them, say that to them, say what you like but you're 
    not finishing with me and that is that'. I like the line, 'it's a fatal 
    mistake that you're dying to make'. I wondered if I'd nicked it from 
    Elvis Costello or Bob Dylan or someone like that.
    Chris: "The bit before the chorus has the same chords as 'King's Cross'. 
    Neil: "Don't think that wasn't pointed out at the time. We did the whole 
    thing in two days because we wanted a b-side for 'Always On My Mind'. 
    If we were making it now, I would suggest making it shorter. It faffs 
    about a bit. It was the first time we worked with Bob Kraushaar. We were 
    trying to do something that sounded like David Sylvian. Chris wrote the 
    chorus and I wrote the verse. At the beginning, that's Chris Lowe playing 
    the piano live.
    Chris: "I can't believe I used to play the piano on records. I would never 
    do that now. 
    Neil: "Chris also plays a sax solo on the Emulator. Very David Bowie.
    Chris: "It's funny how our best b-sides tend to be the b-sides of the best 
    singles. 
    Neil: "I once went into a pub and this was playing. I was thrilled.

  [Domino Dancing]
    Neil: "That came from when we staying at a hotel in the middle of nowhere 
    in St. Lucia years ago. In the evening there was nothing to do except 
    play dominoes; this friend of ours always used to beat us, and he used 
    to do this celebratory dance." (The Face, April 1996)
    Neil: "We wrote this in the studio in Wandsworth a year and a half earlier, 
    but we could never think of a chorus for it. We thought it was a bit like 
    'La Isla Bonita' by Madonna.
    Chris: "Only in that it's Latin. I love this song.
    Neil: "We wanted to write something Latino because we used go to America 
    and hear all these Latin hip hop records and like them. We worked on it 
    some more in a Los Angeles demo studio. We'd just been on holiday to 
    Antigua, then flown to America to do some promotion, and booked this 
    studio in Los Angeles. This guy had a really neat demo studio, and, 
    being imperial, we used to drive over every morning in a stretch 
    limousine. We were working on this song, and we needed a chorus, and 
    Chris went 'well, you could just go like that…'
    Chris: "Put in another obvious chord change.
    Neil: "…and I immediately sang 'all day, all day…' When we had been in 
    Antigua, playing dominoes, our friend Pete would do a dance when he won 
    and Chris said to him, 'stop doing your domino dance', and I wrote in 
    my notebook: 'watch them all fall down, domino dancing'. I was thinking 
    of the domino theory: push one and they all go down. They used to talk 
    about the domino effect, that if Vietnam went communist, all of South-East 
    Asia would go. In the song the idea is that someone is so attractive that 
    everyone fancies them, and how difficult it is to go out with someone 
    who's fantastically attractive because you feel jealous. The people 
    falling down are the people she dances with; she's totally bowling 
    people over. It's a bit like a Cole Porter lyric with all these hot 
    ideas - the thunder crashing, the storm breaking in your heart, the 
    hot climate, the love being hot - all put together. At the end of the 
    song the singer has decided it's not working - he's going to tell her 
    to stop messing around or he'll leave. 
    Chris: "We were really pleased with the demo version [CD 2, track 3] we 
    did in Los Angeles. 
    Neil: "Even though there were no vocals in the verses of the demo, because 
    I hadn't finished all the lyrics at that point.
    Chris: "We liked all these great Latin hip hop records made by this bloke 
    in Miami, Lewis Martinée.
    Neil: "He was having all these hits with Exposé. We were so excited by 
    'Domino dancing' that we flew immediately to Miami and made the record 
    with him. We stayed in the Hilton on South Beach, which smelled of 
    hamburgers. There was this van there on the beach - Latin American 
    Party - and as soon as we saw that, we thought that would be the cover 
    of the record. Pete took a Polaroid, and that's the photo we used on the 
    sleeve. All the musicians on it are Cuban. There's tons of people playing 
    on it. This trumpet player came in who couldn't really speak English and 
    he played loads of notes for the solo, and so I said, 'Can't he play the 
    tune, and then halfway through play loads of notes?' and he did that, and 
    it was great. And he came up to me afterwards and hugged me. I hate it 
    when the solo has none of the tune in; it's the jazz version of a remix 
    not having any of the song in. We made the seven-inch version, and then 
    Lewis Martinée expanded it to the twelve-inch version on the album. 
    Towards the end there are lots of edits, all done by hand. You could see 
    all the white sticky tape going past. When Lewis Martinée finished the 
    mix we suggested to him that he did a mix without the drums [CD2, track 4] 
    and that was done in half an hour. I've always liked that mix. 
    Chris: "It brings out more of the beauty.
    Neil: "'Domino dancing' was the first new single released from 
    Introspective, and we were very disappointed when it only reached number 
    seven in the British charts. I remember driving back from my house in Rye 
    and listening on the radio when it entered the charts at number nine and 
    I thought, 'That's that, then - it's all over'. I knew then that our 
    imperial phase of number one hits was over. 
    Chris: "I was in Liverpool, I think. I remember stopping the car to listen 
    to the chart. The English don't generally like Latin-tinged music, anyway. 
    When you look back, the chart positions are irrelevant. I love this track, 
    so I couldn't care less.

  [Don Juan]
    Neil: "The basic song was written in the Seventies, in about 1978, before 
    I knew Chris. It was written on the guitar and was supposed to sound 
    Spanish, which was why I thought of reviving it to go on the b-side of 
    'Domino dancing'. While Chris complains that I write songs about Russian 
    history all the time, this is about the Balkans in the 1930s. I was 
    trying to write lyrics in the style of Façade by Edith Sitwell, a 
    sequence of poems she wrote with music by William Walton. Façade was very 
    controversial when it was first performed at Cheyne Gallery on King's 
    Road as Edith Sitwell declaimed it through a curtain with a megaphone 
    while the music was playing. 
    Chris: "Was it slightly pretentious?
    Neil: "In the Balkans in the 1930s, they were caught between Stalinist 
    Russia and Nazi Germany leading up to World War II. They had all these 
    funny monarchies. There was King Zog of Albania, King Boris of Bulgaria 
    and Prince Paul, the Regent of Yugoslavia, and they were all trying not 
    to be allied to Hitler while trying to stop Stalin annexe half their 
    lands. Don Juan is supposed to be Hitler or Stalin but I could never 
    quite work out which. I think it's Hitler. It's always interested me, 
    that area. I suppose it's the hopelessness of it. The song attempts an 
    Edith Sitwell use of words: 'an impasse has been reached with the teacher 
    of the rich'. It's like someone coming to their senses: throughout all 
    this decadence and complex language, they have this flash of complete 
    reason. 
    Chris: "Then it goes into a bit which is like 'Flashdance (What A Feeling)'. 
    Neil: "In the last verse, everyone's resigned. Marie Lupescu - I got her 
    name wrong; it's actually Madame Lupescu which is a bit embarrassing - 
    was the mistress of King Carol of Romania, and practically ran the 
    country. His wife was Marie and I confused the names. King Alexander 
    of Yugoslavia of Marseilles was assassinated by terrorists in Marseilles. 
    Chris: "We recorded our demo [CD2, track 2] at the same time as 'Domino 
    dancing' in Los Angeles. 
    Neil: "When we got there Chris wrote the 'I've got this sinking feeling' 
    bit of music.
    Chris: "A marvellous chord change, and it also goes with the lyrics. I 
    also added the housey stuff for the intro. 
    Neil: "We had the idea of calling it 'It would be a disaster'. But we 
    didn't. We released two versions of the finished song - the one here 
    [CD2, track 7] is the disco mix, the longer of the two.

  [Dreaming of the Queen]
    Neil: "Well, the song itself is an anxiety dream.  I read
    somewhere that it's a very common dream for people to have in
    Britain where the Queen comes for tea, that's where I got the idea
    from.  And a very, very common anxiety dream for people to have is
    that they're walking down the street with no clothes on.  I know I
    quite often have that dream."
    Chris: "I've never had that dream!"
    Neil: "Oh, it's really, really common.  Maybe you're just a very
    secure person." (NME, 29 May 1993)
    Neil: "This is my favourite track on this album.
    Chris: "It's bloody good. I wrote the music for this.
    Neil: "I always loved the bit at the start - it's very un-Chris. It's a 
    fanfare. I think that's what gave me the idea about the Queen.
    Chris: "I always imagined that bit being sung but Neil could never hear 
    it. I imagined a big diva-type thing, but Neil was never going to think 
    of doing something like that.
    Neil: "Being the Julie Andrews in the group. That's Chris's accusation - 
    that I sound like Julie Andrews. Anne Dudley did a lot of work on this 
    arrangement. She has all sorts of funny references - when I mention 
    carriages, horns go off. The piano is so Jim Webb - Anne Dudley plays 
    it. There's so much going on here. The whole vocal is double-tracked in 
    octaves all the way through, and that's before auto-tune, so it took 
    forever. 
    Chris: "Which is very un-Neil.
    Neil: "I'd read that one of the most common dreams people share is that 
    the Queen comes round to their house. Sometimes it's an anxiety dream and 
    sometimes it's a nice dream. I already had the chorus, which was 
    originally 'only lovers left alive', from the title of a Sixties book 
    which Jon Savage gave me about a world where there were only teenagers. 
    We worked on that chorus when we were doing 'DJ culture' and I realised 
    that the song was about Aids and that 'no more lovers left alive' was 
    better. Then, one day, the window cleaner was around and I was typing out 
    the words to this song. Normally I get inhibited with people around, but 
    for some reason while he was cleaning the windows I thought of the idea 
    of dreaming of the Queen. It made sense because of Lady Di's work with 
    Aids, and the break-up of her marriage, so that she is saying 'there are 
    no more lovers left alive' because one of her friends has died of Aids, 
    and 'that's why love has died' about her marriage. And the Queen starts 
    to cry, because it's sad and true. It's the idea of living in a world 
    with no love. In the second and third choruses, it is the person singing 
    the song who is saying the words. It's a sadder song than you think. The 
    idea of the song is that the person singing it has got Aids. He says, 'I 
    woke up in a sweat…' He's having anxiety dreams about it, so maybe he 
    thinks he's got Aids.

  [Electricity]
    Neil: "I had some words in my Psion organiser which I'd written in
    Jamaica in January 1996. I had a dream one night that we were
    making a record with David Bowie, and when I woke up I remembered
    the song we had written in the dream.  It was called 'Friendly
    Fire' and it had lyrics like 'I'm an artist, honey...' which I
    used in this.  At a separate time I'd had the 'since Disco Tex and
    the Sex-o-lettes' idea, so I put them together."
    Chris: "When we were recording it we thought 'right, we need a
    sample on this' and we just flicked through what was on the telly
    right there and then, and there was this film with these really
    good bits: 'get out of here and take your cake with you', 'what
    are you doing here in San Francisco?'  'what does it all
    mean?'. If you flick through all the television channels you'll
    always get a great sample."
    Neil: "There's always some line that seems very profound, so I
    wrote the rest of the words as an answer to the question 'what are
    you doing here in San Francisco?'. The song is an interview with a
    drag queen. On the day I sang the vocal I had a really bad cold,
    so I sang quietly, and my voice had a funny texture to it. The
    chorus bits I sang about eight times and we put them together,
    this sinus-y chorus."
    Neil: "We had finished the album, more or less, and we were at Sarm West 
    with Bob Krausaar in March 1996, and we did this track in a couple of 
    days. It was one of those things where we were doing something else and 
    Chris wanted to do a new track because he was bored. The conversation at 
    the beginning was on the television in the studio. 
    Chris: "We flicked through what was on telly just then. If you flick 
    through all the television channels you will always get a good sample.
    Neil: "There's always some great line that seems very profound. In my 
    notebook I had the idea for a song about electricity with the 'power to 
    be' line.
    Chris: "Another rap.
    Neil: "It's almost a rap album. 
    Chris: "It's a bit Madonna doing 'Erotica' and 'Justify My Love'.
    Neil: "I love the line: 'it's the greatest show with the best effects/ 
    since Disco Tex and the Sex-O-Lettes'. In the Seventies I always loved, 
    by Disco Tex and the Sex-O-Lettes - whose name, unfortunately, was 
    misspelled in the original Bilingual booklet but has been corrected here - 
    their record 'Get Dancin''. It ended with Disco Tex saying 'my chiffon is 
    wet, my chiffon is wet'. This lyric is a monologue by a drag queen. She's 
    talking to a boy in a bar after she's done her show in which she lip-syncs 
    to a tape recorder with a couple of dancers: 'I take them on the road with 
    my reel-to-reels/ I'm an artist, honey - you know how that feels'. She's 
    on this tour, playing gay clubs around America. And I think she is an 
    artist. I've no idea why I wrote it. 
    Chris: "It's very atmospheric. 
    Neil: "The organ sound on this is so sleazy. It's very funky for the Pet 
    Shop Boys.
    Chris: "Yes. I don't know how we did it.
    Neil: "We decided to break all of our rules.
    Chris: "Oh yeah. We weren't allowed to do anything we normally do. So we 
    started off with it being slow.
    Neil: "It's 96 beats per minute, I think.
    Chris: "Whereas we'd normally do it over 120. And then we decided to only 
    use sounds we wouldn't normally use. You just had to think of what you 
    would do…and then not do it.
    Neil: "We lost interest in that after a while, but that's how we started 
    it.
    Chris: "I wasn't allowed to have a string pad, but then I decided to put 
    one in anyway. It's a bit influenced by the 2-Pac record, 'California 
    Love'. 
    Neil: "On the '…electricity' line I think I sound like David Bowie. My 
    voice sounds like it does on this track, very thick, because I had a 
    very bad cold and I could sing a different way.

  [Euroboy]
    Chris: "Another song with 'boy' in the title. It sounds quite Eastern 
    European.
    Neil: "Chris did all of the music. There are lots of vocal effects. 
    Chris is saying 'euroboy' low on the Vocoder; the high voice is me. 
    It's just sexy. We recorded it at the same time as the other 'Yesterday, 
    when I was mad' b-side, 'Some speculation'.

  [Falling (demo for Kylie Minogue)]
    Neil: "'Falling' started off as a remix Chris did of 'Go West'. He'd 
    re-harmonised it.
    Chris: "I made it an ascending chord change, but the 'Go West' melody 
    still worked over it. 
    Neil: "I thought the chord change he'd come up with was wasted on the 
    remix. Also, we didn't really need a remix of 'Go West', but we had been 
    asked to write a song for Kylie. And I thought this introduction sounded 
    pure Kylie Minogue. So this turned into our song for Kylie. When I heard 
    the chord change I immediately started to sing 'I'm falling in love all 
    over again'. I think this has the distinction of having one of the worst 
    lyrics I've ever written, even though I was writing from experience. It's 
    about realising you're still in love with someone when you've finished 
    with them. Writing it, I always imagined Kylie doing a very Kylie dance 
    routine, but this was for Kylie's first post-Stock Aitken Waterman album 
    and it was a little bit contrary of us to give her a song like that. 
    Kylie wanted to be New Kylie, not Old Kylie, and we were being very 
    contrary and did Stock Aitken Waterman Kylie. It's got that soaring 
    quality. She recorded it with Farley and Heller, and they did it as a 
    sort of deep house thing and she spoke the words rather than sang the 
    melody. I was very disappointed because I thought it was a strong melody. 
    We did this demo at Sarm West and mixed it. I really disliked the original 
    version of the first verse which is what Kylie sang - it began 'kiss the 
    past 'til it's better' which is terrible - so at some later point I 
    changed the lyric on our version. We nearly put this on a b-side but we 
    never did, so it's never been released. I think we forgot about it. 
    Chris: "Actually, I think it worked better as a 'Go West' remix.

  [Forever (Forever In Love)]
    Neil: "This was originally to be the b-side of 'Go West' at the end of 
    1992, the version we didn't end up releasing. I've never liked the first 
    verse of 'Forever'. Even now, I'm embarrassed by it. After we didn't 
    release it, I realised that you could take off the first verse, without 
    losing anything. Then it fitted on Relentess, where it was called 
    'Forever in love', but this is the original version. We liked the idea 
    that you'd got songs with little bits of verses, a David Bowie Low kind 
    of thing, unfinished songs in a way. 
    Chris: "Because I had this studio in the country I was writing a lot of 
    dance music which wouldn't work as traditional verse-chorus pop music. 
    I was writing stuff knowing that it wasn't going to be on Very, some of 
    which became Relentless, though there's still some other tracks lying 
    around, which I'm sure will never see the light of day.
    Neil: "It's about falling in love for the first time. I don't think I was 
    thinking about anything specific from my life. 
    Chris: "It's got a huge big disco bit in the middle, at 3.13. It comes as 
    a complete surprise. You're not expecting what's coming up next. And then 
    there's the obligatory house piano which had to go on every track then.

  [Generic Jingle]
    Chris: "We recorded this for when we stood in for Simon Bates for a week 
    on the Simon Bates show on Radio One in 1991.
    Neil: "We made a few jingles but this is the only one we could find. We 
    recorded this one specially in Sarm West. They said to us, 'you could 
    just do a generic jingle', and we thought, 'Oooh, "Generic Jingle".'

  [Girls And Boys]
    Neil: "When Blur were recording their third album, Tris Penna at EMI said 
    that they had this really good song. He said, 'Why don't you two produce 
    it because it's meant to be a disco song?' and played it to us. We thought 
    it was quite good, but we don't produce groups, it's a well-known fact. 
    But I was interested in Blur because I thought that Damon looked like a 
    pop star. They weren't very successful at the time. Later, we were in 
    Paris doing 'Go West' on French TV and we'd been given 'Girls and boys', 
    which was now finished, with the suggestion that maybe we might want to 
    remix it. We sat in the back of this limo and listened to it, and decided 
    we'd do it. We were being rather arrogant.
    Chris: "I knew we could do something with it. The chord change was good. 
    And the lyrics were good too.
    Neil: "So we phoned up EMI and said we'd do it but, in our typical way, 
    said that our version had to be the seven-inch. We were told that it was 
    too late but that our version would be the a-side in Europe. We did it at 
    Westside studios and Damon came down and listened.
    Chris: "We'd made it much more electronic. We replaced Alex's bassline 
    with an electronic bass part and added some sequencer lines. Alex has 
    never forgiven us.
    Neil: "Then, when we toured South America in 1994, we decided to perform 
    it ourselves. 
    Chris: "It was very enjoyable to play live.
    Neil: "We made it faster than our remix, and took out the guitar. This 
    version - which was on the b-side of 'Paninaro '95' - was recorded live 
    in Rio. Damon said to me, 'It sounds like you wrote it'.
    Chris: "I like the way Neil sings in the style of Damon. 
    Neil: "It's very difficult not to sing this song in a cockney accent.

  [Go West]
    Neil: "If you take away this outrageous image the Village People had,
    it's a song with a traditional classical-music chord change, exactly
    the same as Pachelbel's Canon.  It's a song that expressed this gay
    dream of moving to to the West Coast and living this ideal lifestyle.
    Of course, it was before AIDS, and no one knew that paradise wasn't
    necessarily going to exist...in hindsight, it had a very poignant
    quality.  We weren't doing a tribute to the Village People.  (Having
    said that (laughs), I think 'YMCA' and 'In the Navy' are great
    records.)"
    Neil: "Derek Jarman was having an exhibition for local Aids charities in 
    Manchester and asked us to do a concert for him at the Haçienda. We were 
    rehearsing in Nomis and we wanted to do a cover version. We were going to 
    do 'The Fool On The Hill' by The Beatles, and then Chris came in the next 
    morning and said, 'I've looked through my records and decided we'll do 
    this song called "Go West".'
    Chris: "Which Neil didn't know.
    Neil: "He played it to me and I said, 'this is ghastly'. I thought it was 
    ghastly beyond belief. Awful. Anyway, Chris just carried on regardless.
    Chris: "Neil just couldn't hear it.
    Neil: "Then Chris enticed me into it by pointing out that it was the same 
    chord change as Pachelbel's Canon. And that indeed worked.
    Chris: "I knew that would swing over Neil to my way of thinking.
    Neil: "Actually he just brushed me aside and said, 'I'm going to do it 
    anyway'. He said, 'You're going to like this, you know - you're going to 
    like this'.
    Chris: "I've always liked it. I've always been a huge fan of the Village 
    People, and I thought 'Go West' would suit Neil's voice. And I thought it 
    would be a good song to play at a Derek Jarman event - a song about an 
    idealistic gay utopia. I knew that the way Neil would sing it would make 
    it sound hopeless - you've got these inspiring lyrics but it sounds like 
    it is never going to be achieved. And that fitted what had happened. When 
    the Village People sung about a gay utopia it seemed for real, but looking 
    back in hindsight it wasn't the utopia they all thought it would be. 
    Neil: "When Chris put the chords in and played the tune on the French horn, 
    that's when I was sold on it. To be perfectly honest, I didn't even bother 
    to learn the Village People's words. I copied them off the record once, 
    and the first time we performed it, at the Haçienda, I had the words 
    written out and I put them down and the wind machine blew them away and 
    I had to improvise the words all the way through the song. 'Together! We 
    will…do something! Together! We will…all have to sing!' At that point I 
    think, as usual, we imagined it might be a b-side at some point.
    Chris: "Then we performed it again in America for a Lifebeat charity 
    concert in New York, and the Indian from the Village People came along.
    Neil: "And for the second time running the words blew away, but by that 
    time I was vaguely more familiar with them. From the beginning we had put 
    in the whole new middle bit - 'there where the air is free…' - which 
    doesn't exist in the Village People's version. Chris wrote the chords, I 
    think, and I wrote the new words. I don't think they're very good. 
    '...where the air is free…' - what does that mean? 
    Chris: "It's good.
    Neil: "I think 'the promised land' bit is good, because I'd isolated what 
    the core of the song is - it's about finding a promised land. Some of the 
    other lyrics are mine, only because I could never be bothered to work out 
    what the Village People were singing. The weird line - 'rustling, just to 
    feed' - I'm sure that's not what they sing. I've no idea what they sing. 
    We first recorded our version in 1992 as a one-off single. Chris had just 
    had a studio built in his house and we wanted to do a track to try it 
    out, so we did 'Go West'. We also went to America and recorded a choir - 
    I liked the idea of doing vocals like 'There Is Nothing Like A Dame' from 
    South Pacific on a pop record, a big choir of butch men, so we got a 
    group of Broadway singers in New York arranged by Richard Niles to 
    perform it in that style. We also put on seagulls from a sample CD, 
    because of the beach…'Go West'…California. I also, being a kind of 
    Guinness Book Of Hit Singles type of person, realised that 1992 would 
    be the first year we wouldn't have had a top ten single since we started 
    having hits, and that it would ruin our run. So, to be perfectly honest, 
    that was my main reason for wanting to release it before Christmas that 
    year. We mixed it with Mark 'Spike' Stent, and did b-sides, and then I 
    spoke to Tony Wadsworth, who was the managing director at Parlophone. He 
    phoned me up and said, 'What do you expect to achieve by releasing this 
    now?' And I thought, 'You're right - I don't know.' I couldn't say the 
    truth. If we'd been a hundred per cent happy with it we would have gone 
    ahead and released it anyway, but secretly between the two of us we 
    weren't happy with the mix of it. So we thought, let's not do it. I now 
    think the original twelve-inch [CD2, track 1], which has never been 
    released, is pretty good. It's dominated by this synth riff of Chris's 
    which isn't even in the final version. The version on this album is 
    actually even longer than the twelve-inch we were going to release in 
    1992 - we were going to fade it out much earlier. After we decided not 
    to release it, we asked Brothers In Rhythm to work on the track.
    Chris: "We thought the rhythm track wasn't good enough.
    Neil: "They re-did the bassline, and Steve Anderson put in some piano at 
    the beginning. We just kept on working on it. We took stuff away and put 
    some back. On the 'Spike' Stent version of it there's no brass in the 
    instrumental section after the first chorus because we'd taken it out. 
    We'd already got Richard Niles to do the brass arrangement you can hear 
    in the final version but when we first heard we absolutely hated it. We 
    thought it was too cheesy.
    Chris: "Brothers In Rhythm put it back in. 
    Neil: "And we realised it was perfect for the song. Then Stephen Hague 
    mixed it, and that was basically it. Then, after it came out, we had the 
    whole how-we-changed-Russia thing.
    Chris: "It does sound surprisingly like the former Soviet anthem, we have 
    subsequently discovered. It's remarkably similar.
    Neil: "We did bits in Moscow for the 'Go West' video simply because we 
    were going to Moscow for the launch of Russian MTV. It was just a 
    coincidence, and we thought, 'Where do you go when you're East? You go 
    West', so we did some filming in Red Square, pointing. But according to 
    this artist we know in Russia, people thought that we had done a song 
    that was based on the Soviet national anthem, and these Hungarian fans 
    wrote to us and said, 'I hear this song and I am frightened,' because 
    they thought it was suggesting that the Russians should invade Eastern 
    Europe again, because they would go west. Maybe that's why the Russians 
    like it. 
    Chris: "It's also incredible that it ended up as such a big football 
    anthem. Who would have thought that an obscure Village People song 
    covered by the Pet Shop Boys would become the song of football. It's 
    fantastic. I think it's our greatest achievement.

  [Heart]
    Neil: "This is inspired by Phyllis Nelson's 'I Like You', which Shep 
    Pettibone produced, and is why we worked with Shep in the first place. 
    We decided to record 'Heart' for Actually with Shep. Before that, we'd 
    sent Narada Michael Walden a tape of this and 'What have I done to 
    deserve this?' and he said he was interested in working with us but he 
    couldn't hear the song. With Shep we just remade our demo - at the time, 
    as well as for the album we were doing it for a movie Steven Spielberg 
    was producing called Inner Space - but we didn't think that version [CD2, 
    track 2] was glossy enough, so it was never used. We then asked Andy 
    Richards, who worked with Julian Mendelsohn, if he wanted to do a song 
    with us. I only wrote the third verse when we did it with him and I think 
    I changed the lyrics a bit as well. The first version we did with him, 
    with the syn drum on it, ended up being the seven-inch single the 
    following year, in 1988, and has J.J. Belle playing guitar on it, but 
    for some reason we went off that and so then we asked Julian Mendolsohn 
    to mix the song for the album. He took out the guitar because he said 
    it was too complicated, and he actually accidentally wiped a bit off the 
    track - that's why it comes in going 'beat…beat…heartbeat'. He was 
    slightly embarrassed about it. This was the song we wanted to give to 
    Madonna, but we never even tried. And at one stage we were going to give 
    it to Hazell Dean. But then we decided we liked it too much and that we'd 
    keep it for ourselves. I think it's got one of the best middle bits we've 
    ever written. Of course, the words are just ordinary. I thought of the 
    verse on a bus going up the King's Road - I was going to Advision when 
    we were recording Please. I was passing Peter Jones and I started 
    singing, 'every time I see you/ something happens to me/ like a strange 
    reaction/ between you and me/ my heart starts missing a beat…' We started 
    writing it in Advision - Chris was just vamping at the piano one day for 
    hours and it sounded really brilliant. Chris forgot it but I remembered it.
    Chris: "I'm classic at forgetting things.
    Neil: "The song was originally going to be called 'Heartbeat' but just 
    before the album came out Jon Moss from Culture Club had started a group 
    called Heartbeat UK and they had posters all over London, so we decided 
    to change the title. We were very surprised when the single version got 
    to number one. By this time Bros were around, and at Massive Management, 
    Tom Watkins' company, they were saying they thought this would get to 
    number 15. But it went to number one and stayed there for three weeks. 
    I think the reason it was so successful was because it was a completely 
    straightforward love song with a wacky video. We did a twelve-inch of 
    the single version [CD2, track 7], which includes the seven-inch within 
    it. At the time it was rather daring having syn drums.

  [Hey, Headmaster]
    Neil: "This is a very old song, written on the guitar before I knew Chris, 
    and I remembered it one day. I don't know why. Chris wasn't in the studio 
    so I started to do a demo of this song, and I asked Pete Gleadall to get 
    some really heavy drum sounds up because I thought the song otherwise 
    would be kind of indie. It didn't take very long to do - it took about 
    three hours. The story's quite interesting - there's been a ghastly 
    scandal in the school. It's set at a minor public school. I think I'd 
    been reading some book. Before the First World War Oxford undergraduates 
    would go on reading weekends with their tutors. I always think there's 
    been some terrible sex scandal and the headmaster's about to be arrested 
    or something like that, because there's a whole shadow cast. But the song 
    doesn't spell it out, and I don't know. Actually, I think that at the end 
    of the song the headmaster is going to kill himself. I like the fact that 
    it has the word 'bibliophile' in it. The other week I was in a taxi and 
    the taxi-driver said, 'You're in the Pet Shop Boys, aren't you?' and I 
    said, 'Yes', and he said, 'You know what my favourite song of yours is?' - 
    and I thought he'd say, 'That "East End girls"…' - and he said, ''Hey, 
    headmaster'.' I said, 'That's a very odd one to choose'. He said, 'Was 
    that a true story?', and I said it wasn't.

  [Hit And Miss]
    Neil: "This dates back to the previous year. It's a very romantic song. 
    It's a bit Beatle-y. I wrote it on the piano at home, and then I came 
    up with the words at the end of 1994 on the Discovery tour. I play the 
    guitar on the record. I like the 'ooooo's. I don't think this sounds 
    much like any of our records. It's a rock ballad. It's about the end 
    of a relationship, looking back at the start of the relationship. 
    It's reminding someone why you were in love in the first place. It's 
    autobiographical.

  [Hit Music]
    Neil: "Chris and I went to this house near Croydon to write some songs and 
    we wrote 'King's Cross' and this. You may think it sounds a bit like 
    'Peter Gunn', which was a hit for The Art Of Noise. That's because we 
    were in a New York club, The Pyramid, and they were playing The Art Of 
    Noise version of 'Peter Gunn' and I found myself singing 'hit music - on 
    the radio' to it in the taxi on the way home. The sort of idea you think 
    of in America. So we did the song anyway. It's not exactly the same.
    Chris: "You can't copyright a bassline.
    Neil: "It's also very like 'Venus'. And the strings are a bit Beatle-y, a 
    bit like 'I Am The Walrus'. And the 'I've been working hard all day to 
    pay the bills I have to pay' line is a complete nick from the Abba song, 
    'Money Money Money'. It didn't occur to me until years afterwards. I 
    mean, it's not a very original lyric anyway. Someone at the time 
    suggested that I was obsessed with bills because I'd already mentioned 
    them three times in songs - I was actually rather horrified when I 
    realised that. But I like 'in Kensington or Spanish Harlem'. I wanted to 
    have two totally contrasting places. The best bit of the song is the end 
    where it goes into half-time. We did that because we always liked the 
    end of 'Careless Whisper' by George Michael. The song is partly about 
    the idea of pop music as a prop or a crutch, and about the annoyance and 
    banality of hit music - 'desperate hit music' - even as you really like 
    it. But it's really all about Aids, this song, though I sort of hid it 
    at the same time. There were some more direct references, but I took 
    them out because they weren't very good. It's about how sex had gone out 
    of the entire nightclubbing ethos because of Aids. Nightclubbing is about 
    sex, really, so when it's not, what's left?

  [How Can You Expect To Be Taken Seriously?]
    Neil: "In 1990 Bobby Brown was very popular, particularly the song 
    'Every Little Step'. Chris used to be able to do the dance.
    Chris: "I'd like to have been able to do it.
    Neil: "He used to do it backstage. So we decided to do a swingbeat song. 
    This was the song which made an American friend of mine take this album 
    back to the shop. He was so shocked we'd done a swingbeat song - he was 
    absolutely appalled. There's also a guitar solo by me, actually played on 
    the guitar. I'm also playing the power chords. We wrote this in Scotland. 
    I'd just got a distortion box. I think if I was really being honest the 
    idea for the lyric started with Bros. We'd had the same manager and we 
    were always rather fascinated by Bros. Bros came back with their second 
    album and they said to Terry Wogan on Wogan that they were 'about 
    longevity'. Chris and I just loved this so much - we used to go on and 
    on talking about longevity. The idea that you could be 'about longevity', 
    not that you would achieve longevity… it just seemed like a really weird 
    way of thinking. And of course, as it happened, Bros only had about three 
    months to go. The words are about the aspirations and pomposity of pop 
    stars and it just lists all these things that pop stars do and then says, 
    'how can you expect to be taken seriously?' There's the normal attack on 
    any number of rock stars supporting humanitarian causes. We'd ranted on 
    about this for the second half of the Eighties. 1990 was kind of 
    rainforest time, and the ozone layer. My point always was that these 
    were, and are, very serious issues and they were trivialised by pop stars 
    going on and on about them, and I predicted that pop stars would very 
    quickly lose interest in them and therefore the issues themselves would 
    seem to be tired early Nineties issues and no one would take them 
    seriously. I think I was right. There's also an attack on the Rock 'n' 
    Roll Hall Of Fame. When you think of how rock started as this amazing 
    rebellious thing, this fusion of country'n'western and r'n'b and some 
    wild white trash called Elvis Presley… and it ends up in an annual dinner 
    in the Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York with a lot of people in dinner 
    suits nominating each other to the a Rock 'n' Roll Hall Of Fame. It 
    always seemed sort of ridiculous to me to have institutionalised the 
    whole thing. The bit where I ask, 'Do you have a message for your fans?' 
    was a boy band thing - people hadn't had a message for their fans for 
    decades, since the sixties, and suddenly people were doing it again. When 
    I was writing the song Chris said, 'Do you think you should make the 
    words nastier?', because actually the words at the start were a bit 
    airy-fairy. It hadn't occurred to me, and suddenly I thought, 'Oh, it 
    should be really horrible.' It's a bit of a 'You're So Vain' concept, 
    really.

  [How I Learned To Hate Rock'n'Roll]
    Neil: "Another title I'd had lying around for ages, but the song was 
    written at Rocky Lane. We'd never written a song about hating rock 'n' 
    roll.
    Chris: "It's a bit ironic putting this after the previous tracks. I 
    think we don't really know what we like and don't like. 
    Neil: "The song is a statement about the things about rock 'n' roll that 
    I don't like - all the pomposity and hypocrisy and the rest of it. I'm 
    saying that when I grew up, I hated all these things. It suggests that 
    one once liked rock 'n' roll but was disillusioned by it. Really it 
    should be called 'How I became disillusioned by rock 'n' roll'. You get 
    disillusioned because it's insincere, everyone copies everyone else, 
    everyone sets themselves up as wanting to change the world and then 
    joins the rock aristocracy. We're going through it again at the moment. 
    Chris: "There's even a dance aristocracy now that's even worse. You've 
    got all the DJs flying around the world in private jets and swanning 
    around in Ferraris and going on about their wine collections. It's 
    dreadful. 
    Neil: "I don't know what we were trying to be musically on this. I don't 
    think it was ever going to be anything other than a b-side. The album 
    was sort of finished when we did it.

  [I'm Not Scared]
    Neil: "We originally wrote this for Patsy Kensit in 1987 and it had been 
    a hit for her group Eighth Wonder earlier in 1988, at the same time as 
    'Heart' was a hit. We used to meet Patsy Kensit at parties and she'd 
    asked us to make a record with her. We'd never produced anything for 
    anyone else before, and Phil Harding and Ian Curnow did tons of the work. 
    The original demo, which we'd written in 1985 in Camden Town at the same 
    time as 'Love comes quickly', had been called 'A Roma'.
    Chris: "One of my useless puns.
    Neil: "It was only an instrumental. We thought it sounded a bit like 
    Shannon. At the time Patsy Kensit had been in Absolute Beginners and 
    she was in this group Eighth Wonder and they hadn't had a hit, and she 
    was seen as a little girl and a controlled hype, and I thought the way 
    that she was perceived could be changed. I thought it would be good if 
    she could be seen as a strong woman. She seemed to me to be a very 
    strong-willed person, slightly ruthless even, and I didn't think it 
    was good that she was just portrayed as a sexy bimbo. Chris and I were 
    obsessed at the time by this record Princess Stephanie had made, 
    'Irresistible'. We liked that kind of French pop music and we liked the 
    idea of making Patsy a European pop star. I think we did a demo with 
    four verses but there wasn't room for all of them in her version. I 
    wanted the song to sound as though it was translated from French, hence 
    the line 'what have you got to say of shadows in your past?' I've tried 
    for years to rationalise the line 'tonight the streets are full of 
    actors'. I suppose it's just about people posing. 'Take these dogs away 
    from me…' is actually a quote, or a misquote, from a John Betjeman poem 
    called 'Senex', which is about it being disgusting to feel sexy when 
    you're old. In the song, the idea is that she's got this horrible 
    gangster boyfriend who's pushing her around but she's going to stand up 
    to him because she's not scared. The dogs are the hooligans and criminal 
    elements around them. So when I sing it I'm doing one of my 
    singing-from-the-point-of-view-of-a-woman songs. I'm singing it as a 
    woman. 
    Chris: "You don't get the spoken French bit in our version.
    Neil: "No. But, doing one of our filmic things, we decided to set it in 
    1968 in Paris, because there was something French-sounding about the 
    track anyway. The band at the start is taken from 1968 news footage, 
    and you can hear a fascist speech - it's from a counter-revolutionary 
    rally in Paris. I had been reading a book about that period at the time. 
    It was just the romance of revolution: students and workers. We got the 
    tape from ITN but we weren't allowed to use the newscaster, which was a 
    shame, because we wanted to put this bit over the end where he said, in 
    this camp posh voice, 'the workers of France are marching…' For our 
    version, we reinstated the missing fourth verse. It was after this track 
    that I started singing much higher. If you listen to the first two albums 
    I don't really sing high on them. We produced it ourselves with David 
    Jacob. We did it in a much more Europop way with Patsy and we felt we 
    could do it in a more luscious film soundtrack way, because the melody 
    line is very string-based and romantic. Our version also sounds more 
    electronic. It's very over the top. I think this is also the only song 
    we've written with a coda where a whole new bit comes at the end. 

  [I Get Excited (You Get Excited Too)]
    Neil: "This was originally done with Bobby 'O' in New York. The first 
    version of 'West End girls' had come out in England, and we were going 
    to America that weekend: I was going to Miami to interview Wham! for 
    Smash Hits and then I was meeting Chris in New York. It was meant to be 
    our Bobby 'O' single after 'One more chance', and he got some Puerto 
    Rican people to remix it, but it never came out. When we recorded this at 
    the beginning of 1988 it was going to be for Introspective. We wanted to 
    have a guitar on it and we phoned up Eric Clapton's manager to see if 
    Eric Clapton would play on it. Amazingly that was where our heads were 
    at at the time. They said no but they were very nice about it. When we 
    recorded it, we did the whole thing as we had done it on the demo, and 
    then I went to the loo - if I go out of the room Chris often gets 
    wickedly creative - and Chris turned it into a house track. Then we 
    decided to put in a middle bit with really silly words about the 
    neighbours talking. We got Stephen Lipson to play a really rock guitar 
    solo. 
    Chris: "I think we realised it would make a good b-side. In retrospect, I 
    think it might have been better as a Bobby 'O'-style record.
    Neil: "The basis of the song is the famous Oscar Wilde quote: 'we are all 
    in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars'. Originally it had 
    a funny lyric about being really excited about things. It had a rap where 
    I shouted things, and I know I mentioned lots of funny names like Dame 
    Anna Neagle at one point. I remember I made up the words 'I hear the 
    sound of the subway, the sigh of the heat/ the click of the vistors' 
    heels on the street' walking down Regent Street and I was rather pleased 
    with them. It's about being in New York. Being me, I don't think it ever 
    occurred to me that it sounded rude. It's never entered my head that it 
    had any sexual connotation at all. 
    Chris: "I think we can safely say that Neil's subconscious is very active.
    Neil: "It probably is, but it's not about sex - it's about being in New 
    York and being really excited about it. Though you've got no money and 
    you're having a grim time you're still excited. Two friends having a 
    laugh. Maybe they're excited because they're in love, but maybe they're 
    just tourists. I just like the idea of irrational excitement.	

  [I Want A Dog (Actually Era)]
    Neil: "'I want a dog' came from our friend Pete. He said, 'I want a dog. 
    A chihuahua. I've only got a small flat'. I laughed, and wrote it down 
    straightaway. Chris wrote all the music to it. The piano bit was going 
    to be the main tune and then Chris pointed out that it was a bit like 
    'look now, planet earth'. I remember David Jacob doing a very good 
    'meow' for us to use. 
    Chris: "It's an unusual track, this. Quite interesting. Probably spoiled 
    by my vocal.
    Neil: "We wrote it in the studio in two days, as a b-side for 'Rent'. I 
    think we were trying to do a Detroit techno thing. 
    Chris: "Of course, in those days with house music every record was 
    different. Dance music wasn't formulaic yet. I like the 'woof!' as 
    the snare drum. 
    Neil: "On it, Chris reads out a list of dogs. In the middle there's a 
    reference to Kraftwerk where he goes 'und dachshund'. 
    Chris: "Sardonically. It was good fun coming up with a list of dogs. 
    Though we don't mention Lakeland terriers, which is the kind of dog Neil 
    now has. It's one of our silly range, isn't it?
    Neil: "I think it's really sad, myself. It's about loneliness. It's why 
    people have dogs - for love and security. We always planned to write a 
    song called 'I want a baby' as a follow-up.
	
  [I Want A Dog (Introspective Era)]
    Neil: "We really liked the song, which was first released as the b-side 
    of 'Rent' [see Actually sleevenotes] and we thought it could be better, 
    We liked Frankie Knuckles, so we approached him to remix it. 
    Chris: "I really liked 'Your Love'. 
    Neil: "We went to New Jersey to this studio to hear the finished mixes. 
    He was a big guy, very gentle, and the mixes - there were four of them - 
    just sounded fantastic. It sounded really black and so there was this 
    incredible contrast with my voice. This was still, relatively, the 
    early days of house music. We drove around New York in a limo playing 
    the mixes.
    Chris: "It really went well with the Manhattan landscape.
    Neil: "When we got back to London we played it to Trevor Horn and Steve 
    Lipson, and Trevor said, 'See? Cheap gear sounds better'. Our version 
    was a bit experimental; this version had a kind of dark deep house 
    atmosphere to it. It brings out the song's sad sinister quality, and 
    it's got a fantastic rhythm track.
	
  [I Want A Lover]
    Neil: "We wrote this at Ray Roberts studio one night in 1983. Ray Roberts 
    had a bass guitar which I played. This is us doing gay disco - the words 
    are completely about going to a club and picking up someone. When we 
    first started writing together Chris was very keen that we should write 
    sleazy songs - it had never occurred to me before. It's about standing at 
    a corner of a nightclub and everyone's leaving and you've seen someone 
    you fancy, and who's going to make the first approach? It emphasises the 
    transitory nature of it - it was totally a pre-Aids song. It's recorded 
    with Blue Weaver who we'd met when we did the first single version of 
    'Opportunities'. He played on all the Bee Gees records and he was in Amen 
    Corner. He's a great keyboard player and programmer. 
    Chris: "Blue Weaver always understood disco.
    Neil: "He lived in Miami. He played at the White House with the Bee Gees 
    for President Carter - how much more disco than that can you get? There's 
    real guitar on it, played by a friend of Blue Weaver's. There was more 
    guitar originally - it sounded like 'Fame' in the middle - but we edited 
    it out. There's another car crash on this - a different car crash - and 
    there is a sample of Chris playing the trombone. Chris brought his 
    trombone into the studio. He wasn't very keen on doing it. 
    Chris: "Blue Weaver insisted. I learned the trombone when I was about ten. 
    My grandfather played the trombone.
    Neil: "It's got my favourite line: 'driving through the night, it's so 
    exciting', followed by a car crash. 
    Chris: "Was that the first song with a bass drum on the fours?
    Neil: "Yes, it probably was, and that's now what you'd think of as really 
    Pet Shop Boys. 
    Chris: "It's all about turning off the lights and it all getting a bit 
    steamy. Our records aren't sexy enough now. It's all bloody politics and 
    the intricacies of Russian history. No one wants to hear about that, do 
    they?
	
  [I Want To Wake Up]
    Chris: "I went into the studio on my own and did an entire backing track 
    by myself, which I loved, and handed it over to Neil to write some lyrics. 
    Neil: "I'd written a song on the guitar before I knew Chris, a rocky kind 
    of thing called 'I heard what you said'. When I originally wrote it I'd 
    literally just heard 'Love Is Strange' and 'Tainted Love' on the radio - 
    originally it said 'songs like "Tainted Love" and "Love Is Strange" and 
    "Yesterday"' but 'Yesterday' got taken out. I took these words I'd 
    written and started singing them to Chris's tune. It's about unrequited 
    love. At the beginning the narrator is really saying, 'I want to wake up 
    from this nightmare of unrequited love' and by the end it has changed to 
    'I want to wake up with you'. Which was a single by Boris Gardiner, but 
    that didn't occur to us until afterwards. The idea is that being with 
    someone is like a dream, or a nightmare. We got Shep Pettibone to produce 
    it. The 'oooo-oooo-ooo-ooo-ooo's are a complete New Order rip-off, from 
    'Everything's Gone Green', I think. At the end of the song I'm doing 
    harmonies for the first time. On this album, everything was trying to be 
    more ambitious than Please. We also mixed a more atmospheric version, 
    without drums, to see what it would sound like [CD2, track 1], but it 
    was never released.
	
  [I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind Of Thing]
    Neil: "I was going to Edinburgh to see a painting by James Pryde, which I 
    own, exhibited in the National Gallery of Scotland, and I can remember 
    quite clearly in the taxi on the way to the airport - the bit where you 
    drive past those skyscrapers on the M4 going to Heathrow where the road 
    goes up - I suddenly thought, 'I wouldn't normally do this kind of thing'. 
    Maybe it was because it was what I was thinking - I wouldn't normally fly 
    back and forth from somewhere in a day. And it was in my head all day 
    long; I had the whole thing, the whole song. It was all very easy. And we 
    were in the studio the following day and did a demo, and the version on 
    the album isn't very different. Stephen Hague put the little guitar riff 
    at the front - we just had the piano.
    Chris: "For the single version [CD2, track 7] we roped in some hip and 
    happening dance producers. 
    Neil: "The Beatmasters took the guitar riff and made the whole thing much 
    more Sixties. At the time I thought I preferred the single version, but 
    now I quite like the economy of the album version, and I like the 
    instrumental break Chris wrote in the middle, and that's different in the 
    seven-inch. It's a song about a reserved Englishman, falling in love and 
    going bonkers. It's partly based on my own experiences, but it would be a 
    mistake to think of it as a picture of me, because I'm not a totally 
    reserved person. It's written a bit like a Noel Coward song - it's a list 
    song, just a lot of things he wouldn't normally do. I was very pleased 
    with the line about taking all my clothes off and dancing to The Rite of 
    Spring. I always used to like the cartoons in The Observer by the American 
    cartoonist, Feiffer where a woman would say, for instance, 'this is my 
    dance for spring…', and jump in the air, and then there would be a funny 
    pay-off line. I always imagined it being like that. I think the man in the 
    video who does that bit is somewhat disappointing. I remember when we 
    finished the album I went to Manchester and played it to Johnny Marr and 
    when I put this on he started laughing, and laughed all the way through it.

  [In The Night]
    Neil: "We had the musical idea of writing a song with the same chord 
    change and tempo as 'Opportunities', which it was going to be the b-side 
    of. We thought you would then be able to mix one into the other. The 
    words were inspired by a book I read about Paris in the occupation, 
    Paris In The Third Reich: A History Of The German Occupation, 1940-1944, 
    by David Pryce-Jones; I read about these people called les Zazous who 
    were like prototype beatniks. They were apolitical and used to grow long 
    hair and listen to American jazz music, which of course was illegal under 
    the Nazis. They were very existentialist and sat round talking about love 
    and the meaning of life. I was just fascinated that they were totally out 
    of the context of their times; that you had this beatnik culture in the 
    middle of the Second World War in occupied Paris. The lyric mentions the 
    clubs they went to, like Select and Le Colisée. They also sneered at the 
    masculinity of both the resistance and the Germans; I suppose I 
    sympathised with them. The song looks at the moral implications, 
    because the Nazis hated them and the Resistance hated them, because they 
    were fatalistic and didn't participate in the resistance, and the song 
    asks whether that's collaboration. It revolves around the chorus - 
    'there's a thin line between love and crime and in this situation/ a 
    thin line between love and crime and collaboration' - because the fact 
    of the matter is that if you're not really against something, you're for 
    it, and in a way they collaborated with the Nazis by just carrying on a 
    normal life. So, in the end, I am criticising them. We recorded it in 
    PWL. Tom Watkins said there was this really good engineer at PWL called 
    Phil Harding, and he'd done a mix of Bronski Beat's 'Why?' so we worked 
    with him and his programmer Ian Curnow. We recorded it across two nights 
    because they were working during the day on Brilliant's album. We'd work 
    from ten o'clock at night until ten o'clock in the morning. Chris had 
    already written the music on Blue Weaver's Fairlight.
    Chris: "It was so boring making 'Opportunities' over three weeks that we 
    decided to beaver away on the Fairlight while they were doing that, and 
    we knocked this out. And the great thing was, the bloke who was mastering 
    the record thought this was the a-side and that 'Opportunities' was the 
    b-side. 
    Neil: "When I sang it, I tried to sound like Donovan, because I was 
    thinking of a Donovan song, 'Goo Goo Barabajagal'. Although he was a 
    hippie he had a rather cool way of singing.

  [In The Night 1995]
    Neil: "We re-made 'In the night', which was originally the b-side of 
    'Opportunities' [see Please sleevenotes], in 1995 in a new instrumental 
    version for The Clothes Show, because they'd used it as their theme for 
    so many years and wanted a new version. Chris changed the chords slightly.
    Chris: "I put in a fourth chord. Just to change it. It's very house-y. 
    It's house heaven. 
    Neil: "At the time we also tried to record another new version of this 
    more like the original, trying to mix the Phil Harding version with the 
    Arthur Baker version, but we gave up. 
    Chris: "We turned this version into a bit of an opus.
    Neil: "As Chris pointed out at the time, it has symphonic form. It has 
    three movements. This is one of these tracks that I think is rubbish 
    until I listen to it, and then I find myself enjoying it. 
    Chris: "There's a mad bit near the end where it suddenly goes faster.
    Neil: "The voice at the end is Sylvia Mason-James. We got her in to sing 
    'hey yeah'.

  [If Love Were All/Can You Forgive Her]
    "If Love Were All" and the swing version of "Can You Forgive Her?"
    were arranged by Richard Niles for Neil to perform live with Niles'
    group Bandzilla.  When the date of the gig came around (25 Mar 94)
    Neil had a cold and couldn't perform, but he recorded these versions
    with a live orchestra a month or so later.  (The Bandzilla gig was
    also slated to include a vocal version of "Overture To Performance",
    unfortunately never recorded.)
    Neil: "While we were doing 'Decadence', Richard Niles and I discussed how 
    'Can you forgive her?' would sound good as a swing tune by a band. 
    Richard Niles said that if I would sing it with him and his group at a 
    concert they were doing, he would do an arrangement of it as a swing 
    tune. He also wanted me to sing another song, and I'd always liked the 
    song by Noël Coward, 'If Love Were All' - in fact it's my favourite song 
    by Noël Coward. It's not often recorded, the full song. Normally you just 
    get the end bit. There isn't actually a recording of Noël Coward singing 
    the verse. I knew it from a live recording of Judy Garland singing it. 
    But I like its philosophy about love: 'I believe, the more you love a 
    man, the more you give your trust, the more you're bound to lose…' I 
    think I should have double-tracked it, but I left it very vulnerable. I 
    can barely sing it - I had to go back and record the vocal again because 
    I didn't like what I did the first time. Richard Niles produced it, and 
    suggested certain phrasing. The arrangement sounds very Radio Two. It 
    reminds me of my childhood, listening to The Light Programme. It's a very 
    unusual track for us. I ended up not singing at Richard Niles' concert 
    because I got flu.

  [It Always Comes As A Surprise]
    Neil: "It's a love song, it's quite obvious what it's about; the
    excitement at the start of a love affair, when someone seems
    magical and different and you're thinking 'How amazine, I'm here
    with you'. The two characters are two different types of people -
    personality-wise, age-wise, culturally - so it's a surprising pair
    of people. It's autobiographical."
    Neil: "This was originally a Phil Collins-style ballad, and Chris 
    Porter very sensibly said, 'Aren't you trying to do this album in a 
    sort of Latin style - why don't you do it in a Latin style?' And we 
    thought: 'Why don't we do that?' It starts off with a sample from 
    Astrud Gilberto's 'Corcovado', then a berimbau comes in. I've always 
    loved the sound of this Brazilian instrument. 
    Chris: "We put Astrud Gilberto backwards, which we thought would hide 
    that it's her, but the fact is that she sounds the same backwards as 
    she does forwards.
    Neil: "We paid to use it. It comes back later in the song. When the 
    rhythm kicks in, it always reminds me of 'La Vie En Rose' by Grace 
    Jones. The guitar on this song was played on a keyboard, as well as 
    two guitarists having a go at it. What you hear on the record is a 
    mix of all three. After the middle bit, which goes down chromatically, 
    you get a cool sax solo. It's so like Stan Getz. 'Cocktail jazz', 
    as a Rolling Stone critic would call it. There's loads of bottom end.
    Chris: "I don't know why we don't have lots of bottom end all the time. 
    Neil: "It's a very straightforward love song, saying what it says: you 
    fancy someone so much you're surprised you've ended up with them. You 
    can't believe they wouldn't rather be with someone else. It was 
    inspired by the relationship I was in at the time. I wanted this to 
    be the first single off the album but Chris wouldn't have it. We 
    could never work out a good edit of it, anyway.

  [It Couldn't Happen Here]
    Neil: "We'd written this song 'Jealousy' - one of the first songs we wrote, 
    which would eventually be recorded for Behaviour - and we wanted Ennio 
    Morricone to do the string arrangement. So Tom Watkins tracked down Ennio 
    Morricone's manager and he came to Sarm West and we played him 'Jealousy' 
    and he liked it, but months passed and in the end Ennio Morricone didn't 
    want to arrange 'Jealousy' but he said he'd write a song with us. They 
    sent over this song in Italian which sounded like David Bowie in about 
    1970. It was a funny song about a man building an ark. We liked the tune 
    of the chorus, so we took the tune of the chorus and wrote a new verse, 
    and that was what became 'It couldn't happen here'. We sent it to Ennio 
    Morricone and heard nothing. Finally Chris and I went to see the film 
    Blue Velvet one night and we liked the music, which was written by Angelo 
    Badalamenti, who later became very famous for doing the Twin Peaks music, 
    so we thought, 'let's get him to do the arrangement instead'. We were 
    recording the song with Stephen Hague and I remember we had a bit of a 
    row with him because he hadn't arranged an orchestra to record Angelo 
    Badalamenti's arrangement. So, instead, Blue Weaver brought in his 
    Fairlight and spent two days programming the entire arrangement using 
    orchestral samples. It took three different passes of the Fairlight to 
    record all the parts, and actually it gives the whole track a very eerie 
    quality we would never have got from an orchestra. It sounds tighter, 
    and also more weird. So, ultimately, it was a happy accident. It's 
    probably my favourite track on the album. I remember Dusty playing it 
    as one of her favourite records on Radio One, saying it reminded her of 
    Elgar. The lyric is about this friend of mine who was diagnosed with 
    having Aids. In the first verse we are all teenagers in Newcastle in the 
    whole glam period, and the song describes the Newcastle scene: 'in 
    six-inch heels quoting magazines' - we'd always buy Harpers & Queen. We 
    were all very ambitious. 'Who do you think you are?' refers to the idea 
    that gay people were too public. There was a lot of anti-gay rhetoric in 
    the Eighties. And then Aids comes along. I remember my friend and I 
    discussing Aids, and how people said it wasn't going to develop in 
    England like it had in America. We said it couldn't happen here.
    Chris: "Originally the line continued '…just before it did', which I 
    never liked. I always thought the word 'did' was too funny.
    Neil: "In time-honoured fashion, Chris got it removed by laughing at it. 
    The song then becomes about how Aids affected the gay community, and the 
    way people reacted to the gay community and suggested it was almost as 
    though the gay community had been too visible and had themselves to 
    blame. There was a lot of that going on at the time. The third verse 
    reflects how people just reacted illogically to the whole thing and 
    weren't able to react like it was a normal illness. The line about 
    'battle scars' refers directly to my friend because he'd just recovered 
    from having pneumonia. I played him the song and he liked it, but I don't 
    think he knew what it was about. Or maybe he did, but I didn't tell him 
    and I didn't want him to know.

  [It Must Be Obvious]
    Neil: "This is a hilarious song. It started off as a joke about whatever 
    must be obvious and I came up with the couplet: 'Everyone knows when they 
    look at us/ of course they do, it must be obvious'. Which I thought was 
    hilarious. Then, having written those lines, it turned into another 
    unrequited love song, about being in love with someone and everyone 
    knowing apart from the person you're in love with. I've always liked 
    the lyrics because it mentions The Sound Of Music: 'it feels like the 
    flight of the Von Trapps…' There's also a Noel Coward reference, to his 
    short play Shadowplay, in which two people go back in time.
    Chris: "It's quite interesting, the backing track.
    Neil: "It was written in Glasgow, hence the guitar. Great snare fills - 
    that's what makes this track. 
    Chris: "It's very funny quantization. Everything is quantized to 
    triplets. 
    Neil: "It was the b-side of 'So hard'. Jill Carrington played it to 
    someone from another record company who said, 'You might get a lot of 
    people saying that the b-side's better than the a-side'. At the time, 
    Chris wouldn't have this on the album.

  [It's Alright]
    Neil: "We bought the album Acid Tracks, which was the third The House 
    Sound Of Chicago compilation, and we were listening through to it at 
    Sarm West while we were recording something else, and 'It's Alright' by 
    Sterling Void was on it, and we absolutely loved it. We suggested to 
    Trevor Horn that he recorded it with this girl harmony group he was 
    working with at the time, The Mint Juleps. And he started to do it with 
    them. Chris: "They didn't like it, did they? 
    Neil: "When we started working on Introspective and were working with 
    Trevor on 'Left to my own devices' we listened to what he'd done on 
    'It's Alright', and decided to do it ourselves. This first version, 
    which appeared on the album, was very much based on the original Sterling 
    Void record. 
    Chris: "Trevor Horn was very concerned with what the song was about. 
    He went on and on about it. That's why Neil sings 'I hope it's going to 
    be alright'. I've always preferred the original Sterling Void lyrics. 
    The original line was 'it's going to be alright' and Neil added an 
    element of doubt.
    Neil: "I did, but then halfway through the song I throw the doubt out of 
    the window in a flurry of optimism.
    Chris: "I remember Neil and Trevor talking about it for ages. 
    Neil: "We were never quite happy with the album version - it's got a much 
    more of a raw sound than the rest of the album and I think it's the 
    weakest track - so we re-recorded it with Trevor Horn for a single. I 
    wrote some new lyrics - Trevor asked me to write another verse, which I 
    did, setting up more problems. The original lyric was more political, and 
    I brought in ecology in the second verse. My understanding is that the 
    song goes from uncertainty to optimism. In fact, we re-recorded 'It's 
    Alright' twice. The first attempt [CD2, track 12] has got the same start 
    as the eventual single version - that's all we kept, though we did let 
    this version slip out later on a ten-inch single. It's got a really 
    pretentious bit in the middle: 'There's a boy standing by a river/ 
    There's a girl lying with her lover/ There's a statesman standing at a 
    crossroads/ There's a soldier polishing his gun'. I was saying that 
    people were standing at a crossroads and there could be war or it could 
    be peace. We took it out because it was fantastically pretentious and not 
    very good. Though there was a feeling at the time - this was early 1989 - 
    that the world was somehow changing, because of Gorbachev and South 
    Africa and the rest of it. Trevor mostly did the third version [CD2, 
    track 14], which became the single version, without us, because we were 
    busy making Liza Minnelli's album. The third version was great. He had 
    a new programmer, George DeAngelis, who had been working at PWL. Trevor 
    had the idea of Chris saying, 'It's going to be alright', so you can hear 
    that too. Chris: "I hate it. It spoils the record.
	
  [It's A Sin]
    Neil: "One day in 1982, when we were in Ray Roberts' studio in Camden, 
    where we used to write songs in the early Eighties, Chris started playing 
    those chords, and it sounded very religious to me, like a hymn, and I 
    started singing 'it's a, it's a, it's a sin', and I wrote the words in 
    about five minutes. Having thought of the phrase 'it's a sin', I thought 
    'what's a sin?' and having been brought up as a Catholic you thought 
    everything was a sin. You're told that thinking about it is as bad as 
    doing it. The song was meant to be kind of big and funny and camp. 
    Chris: "Neil played cowbell. We were obsessed with cowbells in those days.
    Neil: "The middle bit, which became the 'father forgive me' section, was 
    from another song Chris had written and I said, 'let's put that in "It's 
    a sin".' We spent ages working on it. It was originally very Euro and had 
    a different tune, very French-sounding. We demoed it in New York with 
    Bobby 'O'. We thought of recording it with Stock Aitken Waterman for 
    Please because we like 'So You Think You're A Man', the Divine record 
    they did, but Pete Waterman didn't like the song. We also submitted it 
    to Divine's manager and were going to send it to Ian Levine for Miguel 
    Brown to do but they'd just done 'He's A Saint, He's A Sinner' so when 
    I phoned him, he said, 'Another song with sin in the title is no good, 
    is it?' When we recorded it for Actually, we decided to make the whole 
    record gargantuanally Catholic and over-the-top. There was the famous 
    faff where we went to Brompton Oratory with Julian Mendelsohn and 
    recorded the ambience. You can hear it in the background of the 'father 
    forgive me…' section. Chris: "These days we'd have gone for a cup of tea 
    and a cake and let him do it.
    Neil: "There was a man cleaning candle-holders and we recorded that too. 
    Then we went to Westminster Cathedral and there was a priest who was 
    preaching - you can hear him at 0.39 - and there was a choir who sang 
    'amen' which is at 4.44. '20 seconds and counting', at the beginning, 
    was a sample on Andy Richards' Fairlight and I just said, 'let's use 
    that'. It's from one of the Apollo missions. It has absolutely no 
    relevance whatsoever. And then I brought in a Catholic prayer book with 
    the Confitior, which is from the Latin mass, and recited that in Latin: 
    'I confess to sins I have committed in my past…' Julian produced it, but 
    we then weren't totally happy with it. We made a seven-inch version of 
    it which we never released but I didn't think my vocal sounded good 
    enough. So we gave it to Stephen Hague to work on it some more.
    Chris: "He took out half of the orchestra hits.
    Neil: "I did some of the vocal again and he put a vocoder or harmoniser 
    with the vocals. Tom Watkins didn't like Stephen Hague's mix but we went 
    with it. But this wasn't going to be the first single from the album. 
    'Heart' was agreed to be the first single. It had 'You know where you 
    went wrong' on the b-side and we'd done artwork for it with Chris and 
    I smiling, because we were so sick of people saying 'please smile'. Then, 
    one day, we were in Paris promoting 'Suburbia', the famous time we had 
    to rehearse miming on the radio and we threw a major wobbler because it 
    was so stupid. Anyway, Tom Watkins phoned up and said, 'Right, no one at 
    EMI dares say this to you but everyone thinks you're mad not releasing 
    "It's a sin" because it's easily the most commercial track on the album. 
    I know you're not going to listen to anything I say but I think you 
    should think about it.' So we did. We were going to use the same artwork, 
    but Jill Carrington - who worked at EMI and later became our manager - 
    said, 'No, it's stupid for "It's a sin".' So we did a new session with 
    Eric Watson in a church in Spitalfields. We did the twelve-inch with 
    Stephen Hague [CD2, track 5] - it was just an extended, exciting mix.
	
  [Jack The Lad]
    Neil: "It started with a knock-off of one of Erik Satie's Trois 
    Gymnopedies. We'd had the idea that there was going to be a Neil track 
    and a Chris track on the 'Suburbia' single; Chris's track was 'Paninaro' 
    and this was mine. The idea of calling a song 'Jack the lad' came from 
    Big Audio Dynamite, whose song 'E=MC2' had a very similar chord change 
    to 'West End girls'. On 'E=MC2' there's a sample from the film Performance 
    which says, 'Who do you think you are - Jack the lad?' And I had been 
    reading about Lawrence of Arabia at the time, and about the spy Kim 
    Philby: people who go too far, and people who practice deception. The 
    second verse refers to the fact that Lawrence of Arabia is supposed to 
    have been homosexual - 'telling lies in public, breaking codes at home, 
    underneath the blankets…' When I say, 'Are you only Jack the lad?', I'm 
    saying: are you just messing about? 'To feast with panthers…' is a 
    reference to Oscar Wilde who said that when he was going out with all 
    these rent boys it was like feasting with panthers because they were all 
    so dangerous and it was all likely to destroy him. Which, of course, it 
    did. Lawrence of Arabia, Oscar Wilde and, in the third verse, Kim Philby - 
    they each lived as an establishment figure but lived another life at the 
    same time. The song is asking why they're doing it. It is just for 
    bravado? 'Are you only Jack the lad?' Or, another suggestion, 'They must 
    have hurt you, Jack'. Is it some kind of resentment against your fellow 
    upper class people that makes you want to betray them? It's a sort of 
    anti-bravado song in a way. It's saying: why not come to terms with all 
    this resentment you have? 'We all fall' - everyone makes mistakes. When 
    I sing 'this is your only religion' I'm suggesting that to not be 
    restrained has become the main point of their lives. To never want to 
    grow up and face responsibilities. I'm kind of talking about myself there 
    as well.

  [Jealousy]
    Chris: "It's got cobwebs on, this song.
    Neil: "It's the first proper song we wrote. Chris wrote the music for this 
    in his parents' house in Blackpool. It was about 1982.
    Chris: "That year I was at college in Liverpool and I used to go home 
    quite often. There was a piano at home, in the dining room, and I'd sit 
    playing it. I would doodle, normally, and not be able to remember 
    anything I'd done, and I'd think: I'm just wasting creative juices here - 
    what I need is a computer that's going to be able to save it all for 
    posterity. But one day I sat down at the piano and this just came out. 
    It was probably meant to be a bit like that big ballad in the Seventies, 
    'You're A Lady' by Peter Skellern - 'you're a lady, I'm a man' - which 
    was very popular with the Lowe family. 
    Neil: "Chris actually liked it so much he made a cassette - he was 
    bubbling with excitement - and it was the moment when I realised we were 
    actually quite serious about writing songs together, because he actually 
    did that. There was a sort of commitment. I knew I was quite serious 
    about it, but I didn't really know whether Chris was. This was before 
    we'd ever been in a studio. I was amazed at the sophistication of the 
    music. He said, 'Why don't you write some words for that?' 
    Chris: "It was probably the first time I'd ever constructed a song.
    Neil: "The structure has never changed since he recorded it in Blackpool. 
    The first time we went into the demo studio - we hired it with my 
    redundancy money from Macdonald Educational - we did three songs, 
    'Bubadubadubadum', 'Jealousy' and 'Oh dear'. Chris just played it on the 
    piano and I sang it live, and I think maybe he overdubbed strings. Chris 
    had said he wanted it to be very intense, so I wrote about jealousy. When 
    I first met Chris, my other friend called Chris was very jealous, and 
    that inspired the song. My friend and I had an argument once where he 
    said, about Chris Lowe, 'You see a lot of him, don't you?' because the 
    other Chris was my official best friend and this wasn't a part of his 
    life. I turned it into a story. It's about unrequited love. The 'strangers 
    roaming the street' was about the King's Road at night.
    Chris: "There's some good lyrics in there, like 'you didn't phone when you 
    said you would'. You know when you stay in and they say they're going to 
    phone at eight o'clock and they don't phone all night and you go 
    absolutely bonkers?
    Neil: "We considered doing 'Jealousy' on Please, and again on Actually; in 
    1986 we did another demo of it in Wandsworth. But I think we didn't 
    record it then because we didn't want to have too many old songs on 
    Actually. On Behaviour we just remade the Wandsworth demo. The orchestra 
    is all samples played by Harold Faltermeyer, but on the single version - 
    it was the final single from Behaviour - we used a real orchestra. I 
    think we re-did that because of Musicians' Union rules - we'd had a 
    problem with them, and we thought it would be easier if we were going 
    to play the song on TV shows. We also remixed it so that it sounded 
    slightly more electronic, and there's an extra sequencer line it. The 
    twelve-inch version [CD2, track 8] has a long introduction over which 
    I quote a Shakespeare speech about jealousy from Othello. I only knew it 
    because I did Othello for A-level, by the way. It's Iago, who has put the 
    idea into Othello's head that his wife is being unfaithful to him, and so 
    Iago says to the audience, as an aside, 'not poppy nor mandragora nor all 
    the drowsy syrups of the world shall ever medicine thee to that sweet 
    sleep which thou owedst yesterday'. I always loved that line at school. 
    When we were recording the twelve-inch I didn't know how you pronounced 
    'mandragora' so I phoned up our foremost Shakespearean actor, Ian 
    MacKellen, and he told me.

  [King's Cross]
    Neil: "This was started off in a house near Croydon and then demoed in 
    Wandsworth. It's basically a remake of the demo we did there. The idea 
    came when we were driving through King's Cross with these two friends of 
    ours, Pete and Steve, and Steve actually muttered, 'someone told me 
    Monday, someone told me Saturday…' and I thought, 'King's Cross…what a 
    good idea for a song'. I have no idea what he was actually talking 
    about. It was about a football match or something. I liked the idea 
    that you'd been given contradictory instructions, and it gave me the 
    idea of a song where you're being pushed around. And then I thought, 
    'wait until tomorrow, and there's still no way'. I wrote it down when we 
    got to Chris's flat. I started writing the music on my guitar and to 
    begin with it was very very Bob Dylan. The demo was much slower, more 
    hymn-like. King's Cross is the station you come to when you come down 
    to London looking for opportunity from the North-East, then the most 
    depressed part of England. And there's lots of crime around King's 
    Cross - prostitution, drug addicts, and a lot of tramps come up to you 
    there. I just thought that was a metaphor for Britain - people arriving 
    at this place, waiting for an opportunity that doesn't happen, waiting 
    for the dole queue or some documentation for the NHS. It's about hopes 
    being dashed. You can read a book about what you should do, or write a 
    letter to the paper, and still nothing happens because no one cares. The 
    first line sets up the song. It's an angry song about Thatcherism. Mrs 
    Thatcher came in on the promise of firm government and I'm interpreting 
    'the smack of firm government' literally as hitting someone. That's what 
    firm government tends to mean - you hit the weakest person, the man at 
    the back of the queue. I think there's something almost Biblical about 
    'only last night I found myself lost…' It's like an epic nightmare. 'The 
    dead and wounded on either side, it's only a matter of time,' is another 
    Aids reference. At the end - 'so I went looking out today' - there's 
    a detective, and he's looking for someone, and this mythical place, 
    King's Cross, is the end of the line, the place from where there is no 
    escape but death. It's the death of all hope. And I'm saying that waiting 
    there isn't enough. You've got to break out, you've got to react, start 
    a revolution. You can't just behave in a fatalistic way. I still think 
    it's one of our best songs, and I love the video where Chris gets off 
    the train that Derek Jarman made of it for our 1989 tour.
    Chris: "It's very sad. 
    Neil: "When we recorded it with Stephen Hague, he suggested that it should 
    have a key change in the middle, which we added. He also went and 
    recorded the trains going through North London to King's Cross, which 
    you can hear. The last verse came from an argument I had with my best 
    friend from Newcastle. He was very down, and he said we'd got where we 
    were because we'd had so much good luck and he hadn't had good luck. He 
    said, 'you can't deny, Neil, you've had a lot of good luck in your life'. 
    I said, 'it's not about good luck - it's a matter of knowing what you 
    want to do and sticking with it'. I felt a bit guilty the next day. 
    There seemed to be this appalling contrast between the ways our lives 
    were going. In the original running order of the album 'King's Cross' 
    was the first track. My friend listened to it and said, 'well, that's 
    great, you've managed to make the album sound really boring'. After the 
    album came out there was the King's Cross fire, and The Sun wanted us to 
    release it as a charity single. 
    Chris: "And in our film It couldn't happen here, there was a man on fire 
    when it's playing.
    Neil: "That was very spooky. Jack Bond, the director, asked the widow of 
    someone who'd been killed and she said, 'you should leave it in'.

  [Later Tonight]
    Neil: "This is played by Chris on the piano in Advision. Stephen Hague 
    insisted. He thought it would be great if we played something live on the 
    album.
    Chris: "I'm amazed I agreed.
    Neil: "I sat on a stool and sang the song, and Chris played the piano, and 
    we had dim lighting and it was really lovely and I really enjoyed doing 
    it. 
    Chris: "I would never do that now. 
    Neil: "You play a solo.
    Chris: "How come I'm doing that? It's absolutely absurd.
    Neil: "This is such a sad song. This is the most gay song we've ever 
    written, practically, and no one noticed at the time. It was about three 
    of us staring out of the window from the Smash Hits office at a cute boy 
    walking down Carnaby Street. He was a mod. The line 'he is the head boy 
    of a school of thought' was quoted in Select magazine as being one of the 
    terrible lines of all time; I thought it was a good line. I've always 
    thought we'll put this song in a musical at some point. It was originally 
    written on a guitar. The song is saying that the boy is so out of your 
    reach you will never meet him…but then, you wait till later. Maybe it's 
    destiny, or fate, because tonight always comes. So it may happen. Really 
    it's about sex and class. People who like rough trade, it's an idealised 
    and frustrating idea because you're fancying them for something they're 
    not - they don't consider themselves to be rough trade. There was a whole 
    other verse: 'you stare like a fellow new to town who can't believe his 
    eyes/ through plate glass you can always see so much you want but can 
    never touch'. It wasn't very good.

  [Left To My Own Devices]
    Neil: "'Left to my own devices' started off as an instrumental Chris wrote 
    in EMI's demo studio in Abbey Road. We had asked Trevor Horn to do a song 
    with us but we hadn't written it. We'd got to know him while making 
    Actually in Sarm West. 
    Chris: "We'd always liked his productions.
    Neil: "'Slave To The Rhythm', particularly. 
    Chris: "'The Look Of Love' by ABC.
    Neil: "And The Art Of Noise. I've always liked big orchestral pop music. 
    I've always liked Phil Spector's records, and the big Beatles records 
    like 'A Day In The Life' and 'I Am The Walrus', and Trevor comes out of 
    that school of production. Also, he was fun. We'd chat with him in the 
    studio and have a laugh.
    Chris: "He's very good at anecdotes. He's always got one about being in a 
    backing band for someone up in some Northern club.
    Neil: "Hazell Dean, for instance. And he'll tell you about how he played 
    Madison Square Gardens as the lead singer of Yes. Also, he has this way 
    of looking at you and his glasses seem to go opaque and you get this very 
    blank look from him.
    Chris: "It's hilarious.
    Neil: "So we thought it would be fun to work with him, as indeed it was. 
    We went into Abbey Road, the day before we'd arranged to meet him, to 
    write something. Chris was doodling on the keyboard, and I was reading 
    the Melody Maker and making phone calls and thinking 'I can't be 
    bothered - can we go out for lunch?', and suddenly Chris got a bassline 
    and I suggested we put it with these chords he had and it sounded quite 
    good. Chris was in quite a hard-working mood, so he programmed it and I 
    progressed onto the NME and then I realised - with joy - that I was 
    singing to myself 'left to my own devices I probably would'. I don't know 
    where it came from - it certainly wasn't Melody Maker. 
    Chris: "It was more like a Motown song, to begin with.
    Neil: "The demo was much more moronic. It was slower than the finished 
    record. I put onto it these guitar power chords from the Emulator and 
    suddenly it was seriously happening so Chris read the Melody Maker and 
    I did this mix where it built up from not very much to this enormous 
    throbbing thing. It got louder and louder and louder until it distorted. 
    Chris: "Neil was enjoying himself.
    Neil: "Across the road from the studio Trevor Horn and Jill Sinclair had 
    a little flat which they used for making demos, and I played Trevor a 
    cassette of this instrumental. He was quite interested in working with 
    us, but when the track was playing it got so distorted that he stood up 
    and turned it down in case it damaged his speakers. A very Trevor moment. 
    He said he didn't want to judge this song because it had no words, apart 
    from 'Left to my own devices'. Two mornings later I sat down at the 
    typewriter. I thought, 'I've got to write this bloody song'. I didn't get 
    out of bed at half past ten, I used to get out of bed at half past nine, 
    as I still do, but I just thought it sounded better. I know that the 
    'party animal' was my friend Jon Savage because he always phoned up in 
    the morning. Actually he's not a party animal but in the Eighties he'd 
    go out more and we'd talk about what had been going on. Originally it was 
    going to be 'drink some tea, maybe if you're with me, we'll drink some 
    coffee'. When I thought of 'do some shopping' instead, I knew everyone 
    would say it was pathetic - another Pet Shop Boys song mentioning shopping 
    - but I decided 'coffee' was even more pathetic. Even though it is the 
    kind of thing I'll do - I'll decide on my own I'll drink some tea, but 
    if someone comes round I'll offer them coffee. The line 'pick up some 
    brochures about the sun'…sitting in front of me on the table that morning 
    were some brochures about holidays in Italy, because I knew a travel 
    agent who'd given me these brochures about Italian villas. And then it 
    goes into a major childhood experience: 'I was always told you should 
    join a club…' Which is completely not true, by the way. That's when I 
    realised what the song was about - that this person goes through life 
    always doing what he wanted to do. I liked the idea of writing a really 
    up pop song about being left alone. 
    Chris: "I wonder what I would do if I was left alone.
    Neil: "I had been to see my parents not long before and my mother had said 
    to me that she worried that when we were children we each had a corner of 
    the garden - mine was the top left-hand corner - and I used to spend a 
    lot of time there. I had a bit of bush in my corner and when it rained 
    you could sit under there and you didn't really get wet and I used to 
    like to sit there for hours and hours playing with my toy soldiers. I 
    used to make caves for them there and bury them with twigs and leaves 
    over the top, and then soil over that, so that they were secret caves, 
    and only I knew where they were. This was when I was about eight. And I 
    used to pretend not to be a Roundhead but to actually be a Cavalier - I 
    used to jump around the garden pretending I was on a horse. My mother 
    used to say she worried that I wouldn't have any friends because I'd sit 
    there and live in a fantasy world. When she heard this song she said she 
    was worried by the line 'I was a lonely boy, no strength no joy', but in 
    fact I wasn't remotely lonely. The third verse was originally a rap in 
    the middle of one of the first songs Chris and I ever wrote, 'It's not a 
    crime'. The rest of the lyrics went: 'Love is all I want to see/ now I 
    want you here with me/ through the morning afternoon/ all night long is 
    none too soon/ and oh I've got the time/ I've got the time/ and oh it's 
    not a crime/ it's not a crime/ Now I've fixed it we're all alone/ don't 
    look back and don't go home/ through the morning afternoon/ lock the door 
    and lose the key…' 
    Chris: "Of course it was a crime then. But it was a bloody good song.
    Neil: "The song is a day in the life of someone, so it starts off with 
    getting out of bed and being on the phone and drinking tea and all the 
    rest of it, and it ends up with coming home.The last section of 'Left to 
    my own devices' is meant to be a dream. That's why everything is jumbled 
    up - Che Guevara is drinking tea and takes to the stage in a secret life. 
    Che Guevara becomes a drag queen in the dream; that's what I always 
    imagined. The 'Debussy and a disco beat…' section was written in the 
    studio with Trevor. I mentioned that it should sound like Debussy, and 
    Trevor said, 'I've always wanted to do Debussy to a disco beat'. I was 
    going to mention Che Guevara in 'Domino dancing'. I'd been very 
    interested in him since I was 14 when I'd bought his book on guerrilla 
    warfare. So I paired him with Debussy to combine revolution with beauty. 
    By this time I was making the words very exaggerated and camp, though 
    writing a book and going on the stage were both things I had wanted to do 
    when I was young. 
    Chris: "I just wanted to get married and settle down with kids.
    Neil: "I had put on a guide vocal of the first three verses and the chorus 
    at Advision, and the guide vocal is the one they used on the album. Trevor 
    and Steve Lipson put it into the Synclavier, and I never changed it apart 
    from putting harmonies on the chorus. Trevor Horn had this fantastic idea 
    that we would programme all the keyboards and the computers, we would 
    commission an orchestral arrangement, and then we would go in and record 
    the whole thing live: the machines, the orchestra and the vocal. And it 
    would all be done in one day. Six months later the record was finished, 
    because it wasn't quite as simple as that. Trevor was working on a Simple 
    Minds record at the time, and also with Paul McCartney. This was the 
    first time we worked with the arranger, Richard Niles. We did the 
    orchestral session at Abbey Road, and we were slightly appalled by it 
    when we first heard it. Trevor said, 'now, don't worry - if we don't 
    like anything we can edit it out'. But we were quite shocked.
    Chris: "There was too much of it. 
    Neil: "But in the end we kept most of Richard Niles' arrangement, which is 
    actually really brilliant, and we ended up working with him a lot after 
    that. We really liked the idea that you had a dance track with this vast 
    orchestra playing. The opera bit - 'I would if I could' - is sung by the 
    opera singer Sally Bradshaw. Trevor had the idea that she should sing 
    'house' at the beginning because there were lots of records in the chart 
    at the time that would go 'house music'. We did the seven-inch version 
    [CD2, track 11] much later. We went back into the studio in the autumn 
    of 1988, and I think we improved it. Steve Lipson plays guitar, and we 
    added some extra backing vocals - Trevor got his mate Bruce Woolley to 
    sing backing vocals on it because he could sound like me and I wasn't 
    available.

  [Liberation]
    Neil: "It's a straightforward love song. The incident referred to in 'all 
    the way back home at midnight/ you were sleeping on my shoulder' never 
    happened, but it is about the relationship I was in at the time. There's 
    nothing more to say about it really. The music was triggered by 
    Prokofiev's music for the ballet, Romeo and Juliet. There's a version for 
    piano, and in the theme for Friar Lawrence, the first two notes - just 
    the first two notes - triggered the melody. I was lying in the bath at 
    home listening to this and I suddenly thought of the melody for what 
    became 'Liberation' and ran downstairs to work it out on the piano.
    Chris: "Doesn't it sound a bit like 'Being boring' - the same drum pattern 
    and the same bass?
    Neil: "J.J. Belle plays guitar on it. It was never a struggle, this track, 
    which is why I don't remember much about recording it. You normally 
    remember things when they're a bit of a struggle. I think the song is 
    about how, in a way, a relationship is trapping you, but it makes you 
    feel free. And I'm saying: don't worry. It's one of our 'live for today' 
    songs, like 'Tonight is forever'. It's terribly sweet, this song. There 
    were always a lot of 'complications' and 'obligations' and 'hesitations' 
    in my relationship, and it's saying: maybe we will make it work and maybe 
    we won't, but it's fabulous now and it's worth enjoying the fact - and 
    that makes you feel free.

  [Losing My Mind]
    Neil: "Our version of this is basically just the demo we made before 
    recording it with Liza Minnelli, which we released much later on the 
    b-side of the 'Jealousy' single. This disco mix is the longer of the 
    two versions. This was done in our ZZ Top period, putting electric 
    guitar samples on everything. The show Follies, by Stephen Sondheim, 
    had been on in London, which is where this song comes from. In the show, 
    two girls who used to be showgirls get married, and they both come back 
    to New York for the party for the demolition of the theatre they used to 
    work in. One woman would rather have married the other husband, and in 
    this song she describes how she lives in the Midwest and every day she 
    thinks about the man she loves. When I saw the show I thought this song 
    could be a hit record. It's a very beautiful song, though we obviously 
    did it in a less sensitive way. We went into RAK demo studio to do this 
    version as an experiment to see if it would work for Liza, and Chris came 
    up with the riff that sounds a little bit like 'Physical'. Liza hated the 
    screaming bit, which was taken from a sample CD, and refused to have it 
    on her version. On reflection I think she was right, because it's a bit 
    gimmicky. The same day as we recorded this, we recorded the demo for 
    'Nothing has been proved'.

  [Love Comes Quickly]
    Neil: "This was written in the studio in Camden on the same evening we 
    wrote the song that became 'I'm not scared', and they both have very much 
    a similar mood. We were in our beautiful Italian disco mood that evening. 
    This was in 1984 or early 1985, right towards the end of the time we were 
    working in Ray Roberts' studio, and it was a much more mature-sounding 
    track for us than we were used to. I was playing some chords, and Chris 
    was playing some bass notes which made the chords rather interesting, and 
    I immediately came up with the chorus and the 'ooo-ooo-ooo', and then I 
    just sang the melody with some fake words. And we really really loved it - 
    we thought we'd written a hit single. Not long afterwards we had our a 
    meeting with the head of A&R at EMI, Dave Ambrose, and then we had to 
    drive from EMI's offices to a pub in Fulham Road where he was meeting a 
    man who was going to put Duran Duran on stamps in South America. And I 
    said, 'You must hear this new track we've done - it's great'. It was very 
    difficult to actually get him to listen to anything. I remember turning 
    it up in the car. Anyway, by the time we got to the pub in Fulham he 
    announced he was going to sign us, but I was slightly frustrated because 
    I don't think he'd really taken in what a lovely track it was. There was 
    another song on the tape, called 'Beautiful beast', totally camp nonsense 
    which had this line we always laughed about - 'then you caught me there 
    within your snare, you beautiful beast' - and had the most corny tune, 
    and Dave Ambrose loved that. And I was trying to play him what I thought 
    was the most amazingly cool 'Love comes quickly', about which he said 
    absolutely nothing. So maybe we got signed on the basis of 'Beautiful 
    beast'. But Stephen Hague always loved this song, and when we were 
    recording it for Please he did an accidental thing with the production.
    Chris: "We used a sequencer on this track, and the sequencer shifted the 
    bassline by a sixteenth, so that it played off the beat, and that was 
    what he worked on.
    Neil: "This and 'Two divided by zero' were the tracks on the album that 
    were what we wanted to be like: very electro, the middle-range sequencer 
    part holding everything together, and also incredibly beautiful. We loved 
    the handclaps fluttering from side to side, which we'd loved ever since 
    that Sharon Redd record 'Never Gonna Give You Up'.
    Chris: "High strings, too.
    Neil: "This was the first appearance of a high string line, which has 
    appeared in nearly every record we've ever made since. Stephen Hague 
    said we should have a middle bit - he was right - and he wrote the first 
    two chords, where it goes 'I know it sounds ridiculous…'
    Chris: "They're really good, though.
    Neil: "That's why the songwriting credit is 'Tennant & Lowe/Hague'. We also 
    decided we needed a sax solo, and always being labels kind of people…
    Chris: "It was the Eighties.
    Neil: "…we thought, 'let's get the sax player from Roxy Music, Andy 
    Mackay'. So Andy Mackay came in with his wife, who was fabulous, a real 
    rock wife. We spent most of the time chatting to her. Andy Mackay played 
    for hours and we used a tiny bit on the fade out. It's a good bit, 
    though. We wanted the twelve-inch [CD2, track 8], which we did with 
    Stephen Hague, to sound even more Italian disco. We wanted to just have 
    more of it. When we finished it, we had an acetate run off and Chris and 
    I went down to this club off Charing Cross Road we used to go to, the 
    Jungle, and we got the DJ to play it. It was all very very exciting. It 
    didn't clear the dancefloor. I remember that Stephen Hague was puzzled by 
    the lines 'it may seem romantic/ and that's no defence/ love will always 
    get to you'. The whole song was about how you can suddenly fall in love 
    with someone and you can't help it. I was writing something gorgeously 
    romantic, but I don't think it was about my life. Unless, now I think 
    about it, it was about a friend falling in love, going through the 
    traumatic start of a relationship, always rushing off and bursting into 
    tears. The song is about the surprise. When you fall in love with someone, 
    it's totally disruptive. You're having a comfortable life, and suddenly 
    everything's just turned upside down. All your priorities change. But the 
    song is also saying that, after it's happened, you suddenly realise you 
    hadn't really been alive at all.

  [Metamorphosis]
    Neil: "This started out as a song we did with Mark and Trevor, the
    dancers and rappers on the Performance tour, using a backing track
    we'd written in Scotland when we were writing songs for
    'Behaviour'.  We had Sylvia Mason-James sing the chorus bits and
    they did this incredibly fast rapping, but they didn't like the
    end result so it never got issued.  We thought about recording our
    own version for 'Very', but it took me ages to decide what I was
    going to write about.  I had the first lines for ages 'please
    allow me to try and explain/I'm living proof that man can change'
    - and then it occurred to me it should be about being gay.  About
    not wanting to be gay, and then being gay and all the rest of it.
    So it is completely autobiographical and more or less true."
    Chris: "I just rapped the odd line over Neil, like those rap
    records do."
    Neil: "'Metamorphosis' had been around for ages. It started as an 
    instrumental Chris and I wrote in about 1989 when we were in Scotland 
    writing songs for Behaviour. We gave it to Mark and Trevor, two of the 
    dancers on the Performance tour, and they did a rap on it. It was 
    Trevor's title, 'Metamorphosis', though I wrote the chorus for their 
    version: 'you grow up and experience this/ a total metamorphosis'. It 
    was a positive song about not getting into trouble with the police 
    and stuff like that. But then they became the group Ignorants and 
    they didn't like it - they thought it was too uncool. Then we did a 
    version based on that original backing track, and that didn't really 
    work either. 
    Chris: "It sounded great in the studio but when we took it home it 
    sounded crap.
    Neil: "It was too slow. It was irritating - we were stuck with the 
    original tempo. Trevor rapped at twice the speed and, unfortunately, 
    I can't do that. I tried, in the privacy of my own home - at one point 
    I was going to do Trevor's rap - but I eventually realised that I would 
    never be able to do it. We asked Jam & Spoon to work with us on it, but 
    they didn't like the song. We'd been approached to work with K-Klass 
    and so we got them to produce it. They came down to London from 
    Manchester and spent a week or so doing it. They really did it all - 
    they had their own programmer, keyboard player, engineer. They changed 
    the music of the verse and I worked out how to get from that into the 
    chorus. Sylvia Mason-James sings the chorus, and Chris does a bit at 
    the end of most of the choruses, and at the end of the last verse. I 
    like those bits.
    Chris: "I never like my bits. I've got a terrible voice.
    Neil: "It was very difficult thinking of all the words for this, and also 
    thinking of the voice to do it in. Me rapping is a difficult issue 
    in a way, because you always think of rapping in an American accent. 
    I couldn't think of what to write the lyrics about if it was called 
    'Metamorphosis', and then I wrote the first two lines - 'please allow 
    me to try and explain/ I'm living proof that man can change' - and I 
    suddenly thought, 'Oh, it can be about coming out - about not wanting 
    to be gay and then being gay and all the rest of it'. And that's what 
    it is. It's pretty much autobiographical. I like 'the long term 
    suppression of an adolescent urge'. There's a quotation from the Beatles 
    in it: 'somebody spoke and I went into a dream'. I thought it was 
    good to say these things in a form of music which is considered rather 
    macho. The thing about a rap song which I had never realised, which has 
    given me a lot of respect for people who rap, is that they eat up an 
    incredible amount of words. 
    Chris: "Maybe this came a bit too soon on the album, but it's good.
    Neil: "Hidden in this album there's a New York dance album as well: 
    'Metamorphosis', 'Before', 'Saturday night forever', 'Electricity'.

  [Miserablism]
    Chris: "Is it a real word? That's the first question.
    Neil: "It's become one, I notice. I've seen it used. I think we wrote 
    this at the beginning of 1990, during the shoe-gazing period, when 
    Morrissey was huge as a solo artist. It's another song sort of written 
    from the point of view of being Morrissey - the first song like that 
    being 'Getting away with it', the Electronic single, which I wrote most 
    of the words of. 'Getting away with it' is looking at Morrissey's persona 
    of being miserable and all the rest of it, and saying that he's been 
    getting away with it for years. It's meant to be humorous. 'Miserablism' 
    is a satire, a little like 'How can you expect to be taken seriously?' 
    What bugged me about the shoe-gazers always looking really miserable is 
    that people think someone like that is really serious. It's something 
    that endlessly bugs me in pop music - that someone with the style of 
    being serious is always accepted as being serious. And also that anyone 
    being playful is then not taken seriously, whereas actually being playful 
    is actually more difficult than being 'serious', and possibly can end up 
    being a lot more serious at the same time. The words to this song were 
    inspired by someone telling me that they asked their father on his 
    deathbed what it was like, and he said: 'is is, isn't isn't'. And I 
    thought that was a great quote, and a very kind of miserablist way of 
    looking at the world. There's no romance - the only thing that exists is 
    what really exists.
    Chris: "And of course it was quoted by Clinton only a couple of years ago. 
    'That depends what the definition of "is" is'. A direct reference to the 
    lyrics of Neil Tennant.
    Neil: "Anyway, as quite often with us, in the middle bit you get the real 
    sentiment. It sounds a bit pretentious, but it says: 'if "is" wasn't and" 
    isn't" were/ you can't be sure/ but you might find ecstasy'. We recorded 
    it in Germany for the album. It was meant to sound Giorgio Moroder-ish. 
    Harold Faltermeyer thought it should be a single when we were doing it, 
    and it was on the album until very late in the day. Doing these reissues, 
    we found all the Behaviour half-inch mixes together on one huge reel, and 
    you can see where 'Miserablism' has been cut out. We decided that it was 
    too jocular. It was mostly Chris who didn't want it. I think it's a really 
    good song.
    Chris: "It's alright.

  [Music For Boys]
    Neil: "Chris did this track upstairs at Sarm West while I was in a 
    different studio doing something else. 
    Chris: "This was influenced by going to Crazy Club at the Astoria on 
    Saturday nights. I used to go every Saturday, and it was when there was 
    all the stadium house - all very masculine music, a lot of lasers and 
    dry ice. Apparently this track was conceived to go with a film I said 
    I was making, an experimental movie called Film For Boys, but I have no 
    recollection of that.
    Neil: "I remember that. Chris had, at this point, acquired a Bolex camera 
    because he did a video for Cicero, for the remake of 'Heaven Must Have 
    Sent You Back To Me'.
    Chris: "That was good fun, that video. But I was never really going to 
    make a film. I did two versions of 'Music for boys' - this is the one I 
    like best. 
    Neil: "It's called the ambient mix - don't ask me why.
    Chris: "Well, it's a lot more ambient than the other mix.

  [My October Symphony]
    Neil: "My favourite song on the album. The beginning, where they're 
    shouting 'October' in Russian, is also taken from Shostakovitch's 
    Second Symphony. 
    Chris: "It's very ravey. House piano.
    Neil: "We wrote the music for this in Glasgow, hence the guitar. I'd also 
    bought a wah-wah pedal. On the finished record we had Johnny Marr playing 
    the guitar. We faffed around for ages with the song because we couldn't 
    work out how to make it work. Originally it had more words - the lines 
    were longer - and I thought it sounded naff. I also tried to do a rap. 
    Then I realised I could make it shorter and we could use the 'ooo's. We 
    had a copy of Marvin Gaye's What's Going On in the studio - we always 
    have a point in the album where we say, 'Let's make it like Marvin Gaye'. 
    We realised there was something really good about having two voices doing 
    different things at the same time, but I have never been very good at 
    doing the other thing, so we got Jay Henry who had sung on the previous 
    tour to sing on it. I'm also singing all the way through in low and high 
    octaves together. We got the Banalescu Quartet to play on it. During our 
    Derek Jarman tour they were the support act and at the first concert they 
    played, astonishingly, Shostakovitch's Eighth String Quartet to the 
    whole bemused audience. 
    Chris: "It wasn't my idea.
    Neil: "This is one of my songs about Russia. I had been reading this book 
    by Ian MacDonald about Shostovokitch and I was just fascinated by the 
    idea that all artists in the Soviet Union used to produce official works 
    of art to commemorate the October Revolution, and therefore that all 
    composers had written an October Symphony, celebrating the great 
    achievements of the October Revolution. And then when the whole thing 
    collapsed, and those values were regarded as worthless, people were 
    left with these works of art that were valueless. Shostakovitch's were 
    revealed as actually being in opposition to the regime and all having a 
    subtext of opposition to communism in them. I was just thinking of some 
    composer looking at their October Symphony and wondering how they could 
    salvage it. The verses are explaining what's happening in Russia: it's 
    all very confusing, because they used to march in October, 'so shall I 
    rewrite or revise my October Symphony - change the dedication from 
    revolution to revelation?' The composer is wondering whether, by just 
    changing two letters, you could sort of claim that you'd never believed 
    in the revolution anyway. He's someone who has compromised to survive. 
    The song mentions different revolutionary periods in Russian history. It 
    asks, 'Shall we worry about February?' because the February Revolution 
    was the first revolution in 1917, the middle class parliamentary 
    democracy revolution which was overturned by the Bolsheviks. November 
    was the end of the First World War. December was when there was the 
    famous Decembrist Conspiracy. The October Revolution - which happened 
    in November because the Russian calendar is different - was the Bolshevik 
    revolution of 1917. Or, as we now say, the Bolshevik coup d'etat. In a 
    way, the song is really about confusion. When three generations have 
    been brought up to believe in a strict ideology and suddenly the ideology 
    is abolished, you don't really know what to think to any more. I always 
    felt that pop songs should be able to be about contemporary life, and 
    these changes in Russia were a very powerful thing that was happening, 
    that was changing the world at the time. But also it's a song about 
    music. Consequently in it we have quite an interesting mix of musical 
    styles: it's quite rave, it has this Marvin Gaye thing going on, and at 
    the same time it has this very classically-arranged string quartet. The 
    end always reminds me of Yellow Submarine, where they go to Pepperland.

  [Nervously]
    Neil: "This was written by me, primarily, before I knew Chris, but I could 
    never finish the end of the song. I'd written it on acoustic guitar. I 
    was going out with a woman when I wrote it. I wonder what she thought of 
    it.
    Chris: "Maybe it was fantasy.
    Neil: "I think maybe it was fantasy. Chris worked out the chords at the 
    end of the chorus. He said, 'Isn't it this?' and I said, 'Oh, I've been 
    trying to work that out for the last ten years'. This is such a gay song. 
    It's a bit like a show tune. We went through a phase with Harold 
    Faltemeyer trying to make it into what he calls 'an LA ballad', as 
    though Whitney Houston was going to sing it. But then we did the 
    arrangement which ended up on the album, very stripped down, which was 
    also Harold's idea. It starts off just with synthesisers, and it 
    gradually builds up and finally drums come in right at the end. The lyric 
    is about two gay boys meeting each other and being too shy to have sex. 
    I think I denied that at the time. It's sort of about sexual trepidation. 
    It's all nervous and jittery, and it's got sexy breathing in it as well. 
    And, actually, listening back to it now I think they do get together at 
    the end of the song. Because he smiles.

  [Nothing Has Been Proved]
    Neil claimed in a 1989 interview that this song was based on the
    Profumo Affair, a 1963 political scandal involving then-Prime Minister
    John Profumo.  (Hence the line "Please Please Me is number one.") The
    affair was also explored in the 1989 film Scandal, which included
    "Nothing Has Been Proved" in its soundtrack.
    Neil: "We were approached by the film producer Steve Woolley, who told us 
    he was making a film about the Profumo affair, Scandal, and asked whether 
    we'd like to write a theme song for it. Many years beforehand I had 
    written a song about the Profumo affair on the guitar having just read a 
    book by Ludovic Kennedy about the case of Stephen Ward - a very sad 
    story, because he ended up killing himself, and really he was a victim 
    of the establishment. The words simply describe the true events. So we 
    wrote new music for those words - the verse was written by Chris and the 
    'it may be false, it may be true' bit was written by me - and I made the 
    line 'nothing has been proved' into the refrain.
    Chris: "All the crashing drums were done on the Fairlight, and there's a 
    really good orchestra sample all the way through it. It's a really 
    atmospheric backing track.
    Neil: "Dusty was going to sing it so she came round to the rented flat I 
    was living in by the Royal Albert Hall. I had a piano there and I played 
    it to her, and she agreed to do it. I think she might have said, 'It's 
    got a lot of words'. When I went out, one of the porters said, 'Excuse 
    me, sir - would that have been Miss Dusty Springfield?' They were dead 
    chuffed. Her version was released in 1989 and as we were going on tour 
    then, we decided to perform it. Chris played the keyboards live. 
    Chris: "I can't believe I was able to remember the chords. 
    Neil: "This version is our demo version, which has never been released, 
    though the lyric here is my final version, the one that Dusty recorded.

  [One And One Make Five]
    Neil: "This is about the same relationship mentioned earlier. The song is 
    saying: Don't listen to gossip, but also don't behave in such a way as to 
    make people gossip. 
    Chris: "I was oblivious to all this intrigue. But musically it's a 
    masterpiece. This is so Kylie, this song.
    Neil: "Kylie had stopped making Kylie records at this point, but we hadn't. 
    When we did this track we thought this was the obvious single off the 
    album but EMI couldn't hear it at all. We wrote the music at the studio 
    in Chris's house. Chris wrote the music, I think.
    Chris: "It's uplifting house music - that's how I would describe it. Or 
    'house lite', as The Face would probably call it.
    Neil: "In the middle and end sections you can hear Dainton, our assistant, 
    going 'here we go, here we go, here we go…' He loved doing it, of course.

  [One In A Million]
    Chris: "Wasn't this once in Italian?
    Neil: "Yeah. The chords were written in about 1984, and it had a different 
    verse, and it was just when we'd first signed with Tom Watkins as our 
    manager. We did a big promotional brochure and tape, and we had 'two in a 
    million men' translated into Italian, a little logo thing on the press 
    release. Tom thought it was a ghastly idea, and it has to be said he was 
    right. 
    Chris: "We thought it was too pretentious in the end.
    Neil: "It was unbelievably pretentious. 
    Chris: "A ridiculous idea. Like the statues of us.
    Neil: "I've never quite got over that idea. Making Very, we were in the 
    studio one day, and as we were struggling over this song called 'It's up 
    to you' - this is one song we did struggle with - Chris said, 'You could 
    sing that old song we had, "One in a million men", over this', and that 
    was that. The original chorus for 'It's up to you' was really weak - 
    'whatever you do/ tonight/ it's up to you/ tonight' - but that's why 
    there's a computer voice talking at the end of the song saying 'it's...
    up...to...you'. Late in the song there's a key change. 
    Chris: "Always a sign of desperation. When we did it live on the Discovery 
    tour it went into Culturebeat's 'Mr Vain'.
    Neil: "This was the Take That single that never was. Take That wanted us to 
    work with them, and I thought we could do this song. I was worried this 
    song was too young for us. I once took a straw poll in Sarm West - 'do 
    you think we should produce a single for Take That?' - and everyone said, 
    'Yes, because if you do it'll be cool'. I said, 'See?' and Chris said, 
    'Well, we're still not doing it'.
    Chris: "They would have done it rather well. I could imagine Take That all 
    doing their little things.
    Neil: "Robbie would have done the main vocal, not Gary. It would have been 
    great. The words are about a difficult relationship. It's autobiographical. 
    It's about your lover wanting to break up, and you don't want to, and you 
    realise that it's a hugely important decision that you're going to try 
    and change their mind about. The person being sung to is so obstinate 
    that only one in a million men could change their mind. And the person 
    singing is saying it has to be them.

  [One More Chance]
    Chris: "This was originally recorded with Bobby 'O'. He had this old 
    Divine backing track and suggested we write something over it. We were 
    very excited, getting an old Divine backing track.
    Neil: "There was a vocal on the tape - it was called 'Rock Me'. I don't 
    know why it wasn't released because it sounded quite good, but I think 
    Divine hadn't thought of any other words for it apart from 'rock me'. But 
    it was a totally finished track and I just wrote a song over the top of 
    it in New York, sitting in a flat of a friend of Bobby 'O''s on Broadway, 
    with a completely different melody. Bobby 'O' absolutely loved it. It's 
    about being in New York at night. The idea of being chased by someone - 
    the mafia are after you, like you're the patsy or something - and at the 
    same time you're looking for your love. There's a desperation. It's 
    really Eighties paranoia - there was a lot of paranoia in Eighties pop 
    lyrics and this is a very good example. It's just romantic paranoia. The 
    Bobby 'O' version was our second single, in 1984, though it was only 
    released in America and Belgium. We only put in the middle section bit 
    when we re-recorded it for Actually. Chris wrote the chords. Andy 
    Richards said he thought it needed a middle bit, and it was like Chris 
    and I showing off really - we wrote it in about two minutes. I'd already 
    had the words - it was originally 'you're so extreme/ your silk-screened 
    life shot through with bullets' but then I thought that was too over the 
    top; and I like 'I want to take you home with me' which is what it became. 
    The song is sort of masochistic - you're pleading, but maybe you quite 
    like being chased because, after all, it's exciting. Chris used to have 
    these dreams of being chased and he told me he was scared but he liked 
    it - I think that may have been one of the things that inspired the song 
    originally. We did a normal seven-inch version with Julian Mendelsohn for 
    the album, and we also thought it would be a single. Then we weren't quite 
    happy with the mix so we got Julian to do a twelve-inch mix and we liked 
    that so much we put that on the album instead. The seven-inch [CD2, track 
    4] was never released.
    Chris: "We were brave, weren't we, starting the album with a twelve-inch 
    remix?
    Neil: "This was the early days of house music. We thought it had a lot of 
    attitude and sounded really housey. This is just when 'Love Can't Turn 
    Around' had been a hit. 
    Chris: "There's another one of our car crashes in it.
    Neil: "Driving through the night was still exciting.

  [One Of The Crowd]
    Chris: "It was just one of my rare vocal performances. It's one of those 
    songs without much of a chord change. I think I wrote it in Sarm West.
    Neil: "We had decided for the b-sides of 'It's Alright', as we had for the 
    b-sides of 'Suburbia', to repeat the idea of having one song each. We 
    thought: that worked before - let's do it again. The original idea for 
    this song came because Chris said in an interview on TV that he liked 
    following fashion and that he didn't like to stand out, he liked to be 
    one of the crowd. Chris: "Wanting to just fit in, rather than stand 
    outside it. This is where I invented lads' culture. Pop music has never 
    been the same since I released that. After that you had the likes of Liam 
    and Damon all dressed up in ordinary clothes, wanting to be one of the 
    crowd. 
    Neil: "Interesting thesis.
    Chris: "Because before then, everyone wanted to be different.
    Neil: "Like I still do.
    Chris: "Neil would never have sung 'One of the crowd'.
    Neil: "Although I do on the record, in fact. Chris's voice is through a 
    vocoder. I remember we were in the studio doing this - it was a Saturday 
    afternoon; we were working on a Saturday, unusually - and I went down to 
    the Portobello market with my friend Rosemary while Chris put the vocal 
    on this, because of course he didn't want anyone in the studio while he 
    did the vocal. And we came back and he played it to me - 'when I go 
    fishing with my rod/ I often get that urge…' - and we were rolling around 
    the studio with laughter at the sheer moronicness of the words.

  [Only The Wind]
    Neil: "We'd rented a studio in Notting Hill belonging to one of Ultravox, 
    and we worked on 'So hard' and 'Only the wind' there, and did a rough 
    demo of 'Maybe This Time' from Cabaret, which Liza Minnelli turned down.
    Chris: "Let's not forget we had an office in Notting Hill before the All 
    Saints had even got their name.
    Neil: "And before the film came out. Chris started playing the piano and 
    I thought, 'wow, that is a fantastic tune'.
    Chris: "I'd already written it on my piano at home in Highbury.
    Neil: "I wrote the words on the spot, and the reason it's called 'Only the 
    wind' is because in fact there was a hurricane outside, and there were 
    bins blowing down the road. You weren't supposed to go outside because 
    there were dustbins flying through the air in Notting Hill Gate, and 
    corrugated iron flying about. The wind made me think of anger. So the 
    idea of the song was someone's gone round to see some couple… you know 
    when you arrive at someone's house and there's obviously a major row 
    going on and one of them's not there. It's a couple, and he's a 
    wife-beater. Everything he says is a lie. 'No one's been lying…' - he 
    thinks she's been lying to her so he's whacked her. It's a very violent 
    song, and the wind is a metaphor for the domestic violence, and for a 
    huge row. He keeps denying you can hear anyone crying, stuff like that. 
    The whole song builds up to him saying sorry, because he knows that he 
    has done wrong. But, listening to him, we think that he is absolutely 
    pathetic and she should leave him. Angelo Badalamenti did the strings.
    Chris: "It's a very fragile vocal. 
    Neil: "Robbie Williams once sang the whole song to me in the Groucho Club 
    upstairs bar. It was in his drinking days.

  [Opportunities (Let's Make Lot's Of Money)]
    Neil: "This was another song we originally recorded with Bobby 'O', and to 
    be honest I think I might prefer the Bobby 'O' version. When we wrote 
    this track in early 1983, before we'd met Bobby 'O', it was right in the 
    thick of our Bobby 'O' obsession, and we were trying to sound like him. 
    One of the things we always liked about Bobby 'O''s music is we thought 
    it sounded like punk disco. Chris came up with the idea of the lyric for 
    'Opportunities'. He was playing the three chords - C minor, E flat, B 
    flat, which was like Bobby 'O''s 'Shoot Your Shot' for Divine - and he 
    said, 'Can't you sing "let's make lots of money"?' This was in the 
    Eighties, during Thatcherism, and suddenly there had been this huge 
    philosophical shift in the country where the idea of making money was a 
    good thing. People started talking about yuppies and buying Filofaxes 
    and all that kind of stuff, and this was meant to be a sort of satire 
    on that. It's a classic Chris idea: let's say the unsayable.
    Chris: "I was at university during the whole punk thing. Groups of our 
    era were still very punk in our attitudes, as opposed to musicians today 
    who have a completely different attitude to the industry.
    Neil: "It was what you would have called, at the time, a wind-up. You 
    wouldn't have said 'ironic' at the time, you'd have said, 'it's a 
    wind-up'. It was meant to be provocative.
    Chris: "It always used to bug me that it was always the really successful 
    wealthy people, your wealthy rock stars, who are supposed to be not doing 
    it for the money, whereas it is all the scratching disco artists with no 
    money who are criticised for being commercial.
    Neil: "Chris having said that, I wrote the words in about fifteen minutes. 
    It's meant for everyone to hate it: here's this nauseating synth duo 
    singing a song called 'let's make lots of money'. It was meant to be an 
    anti-rock-group song, singing about the things you're not supposed to 
    sing about. It's the same idea, really, as that anti-hippie album by 
    Frank Zappa and the Mothers Of Invention, We're Only In It For The Money. 
    It's like punks used to sing about unpalatable everyday things in a way 
    that supposedly glorifies them but doesn't really. The two people in the 
    song are supposed to be absolutely hopeless. I vaguely thought of the 
    film Midnight Cowboy, in which Dustin Hoffman is the guy who wants to go 
    to Florida and Jon Voight is the hustler, a brains and brawn combination. 
    People have often thought, and asked, if it was about me and Chris, and 
    actually I don't think it was. This was the first song that I played to 
    Bobby 'O' when I met him. He said, 'Oh, I could do this', and I thought, 
    'Well, of course you could, it sounds like you anyway…' But when we 
    recorded it with Bobby 'O' we actually didn't give it an octave bassline, 
    which is the classic Bobby 'O' thing, Chris wrote a hip hop bassline.
    Chris: "Electro. 
    Neil: "The Bobby 'O' version was much much more moody - it started with, 
    and made more of, the pretty melody. It's much more like New Order. It 
    sounded very very sad. We always thought the song was sad, because it 
    was about two losers. We re-recorded it first with J.J. Jeczalik from 
    The Art Of Noise for our first EMI single. We chose him because he'd 
    had a hit record with Tin Tin, 'Kiss Me', and we liked The Art Of Noise. 
    He did it on the Fairlight, which we were very excited about. Before we 
    even got to the studio he'd come up with this weird sound which sounds 
    like scaffolding falling down, which became the basis of the rhythm 
    track. We spent three weeks making a single with him, in at least three 
    locations. It cost about £40,000. And no one was ever very happy. We 
    found it an intensely frustrating experience. They brought in a real bass 
    player and it all seemed to take a lot of time. It originally had a bit 
    in the middle which we edited out weeks later, and would eventually use 
    as track six on Please, as 'Opportunities (reprise)'.
    Chris: "Best track on the album.
    Neil: "I think Stephen Hague thought it was a rather strange thing to do. 
    Chris: "It was the start of side two of the vinyl.
    Neil: "It was like: and the beat goes on. The original idea was that there 
    was a party scene in the middle of the song. It was part of our filmic 
    thing. You can hear Lesley White, who was the assistant editor of The 
    Face, saying 'where's Neil?' at 0.10. We had a party at Sarm East, to get 
    a party atmosphere. The version of the original 'Opportunities' single on 
    this album [CD2, track 2] is the unreleased full version before the party 
    scene was edited out. We also did our own twelve-inch version [CD2, track 
    4]. Around that time, we'd heard this record called 'Loveride' by Nuance 
    featuring Vikki Love so we had the idea of finding the producer of that, 
    Ron Dean Miller, and going to New York and doing the twelve-inch with 
    him. Money was still being spent. It was a major remix and he put the 
    big chorus drums all the way through. Stephen Hague wanted to re-record 
    'Opportunities' completely but there wasn't time. The version on Please 
    was based on the single version, but also used elements of Ron Dean 
    Miller's mix and then Stephen Hague did some reprogramming and I re-sung 
    the vocal as well. The vocal is much better on the album - on the first 
    version the vocal is really weak. We also faded out the album version 
    before the final section: 'all the love that we had and all the love that 
    we hide/ who will bury us when we die?' We decided it was too pretentious. 
    I remember hearing the original version played on Radio One. We were all 
    in Tom Watkins' office, listening, and the guy on the radio took the piss 
    out of it at the end and I thought, 'right, I'm not doing that again'. 
    The album version was subsequently a hit, though even then not as big a 
    hit as we'd hoped. Listening now to the way it starts, it's very 
    grandiose. We always used to like the grandiose, as well as the street. 
    Actually, it's a dialectic. We've always been trying to bring the two 
    things together.

  [Paninaro]
    Neil: "Chris wrote this piece of music by himself in the studio. Tom 
    Watkins had a group at the time called The Hudsons who'd brought out a 
    record called 'One Man's Meat (Is Another Man's Poison)' and Tom Watkins 
    had a really brilliant idea for a gay disco record, 'I'm In Love With A 
    Woman', and we said we'd write it. And so when Chris wrote this music, 
    we decided this would be it: 'I never thought I would leave you - but 
    I'm in love with a woman'. It was great, but Tom got sniffy all of a 
    sudden and didn't want us to do it. 
    Chris: "I'd already put my vocal on when I did the track. I just thought 
    I'd have a go. It's just a list of words.
    Neil: "Very Andy Warhol.
    Chris: "They were the first words that came into my head.
    Neil: "Weren't they things that really excited you, supposedly?
    Chris: "Well, they're obviously going to be the first words that come into 
    my head.
    Neil: "Then we heard about the Paninari.
    Chris: "The Italian youth cult.
    Neil: "So we decided to make a song called 'Paninaro' and made this it. I 
    liked the fact that all the trendies in Milan loathed the Paninari 
    because 'they all like Wham! and Duran Duran and Madonna'. We thought, 
    'How fabulous - so do we'. I like fashion cults, and theirs were the kind 
    of clothes we liked. 
    Chris: "The original lyric went 'Armani…Armani…Ar-Ar-Armani…Versace…cinque'. 
    Then I edited out 'Versace', but I forgot to edit it out of the 
    twelve-inch version. 
    Neil: "We didn't like Versace that much. Also Versace wasn't Paninaro. 
    Chris: "The twelve-inch was called 'The Italian mix' because originally it 
    was just released in Italy.
    Neil: "The talking in the middle is also Chris, from an American TV 
    interview, on Entertainment Tonight. We did the original version at 
    Abbey Road but then we decided it wasn't good enough, so then we went 
    in with Adrian Cook and did it all again. Adrian Cook was going to 
    programme the first tour, the one that famously went on sale in Los 
    Angeles without anyone telling us, five nights at the Pantages Theater 
    sold out, and which we didn't do. He was programming all our songs onto 
    Fairlight in Abbey Road - as usual, money was flying around - so we 
    decided to do a record that recycled sounds, so almost every sound in 
    'Paninaro' had been used before on one of our records. It's a recycled 
    record. It was a nightmare, Chris doing his vocal.
    Chris: "You know what I'm like.
    Neil: "I think he only did it twice.
    Chris: "I was only saying a list of words. 
    Neil: "It was like getting blood out of a stone.

  [Paninaro 95]
    Neil: "The original version of 'Paninaro' came out in 1986 [see Please 
    sleevenotes]; 'Paninaro '95' was released as the single from Alternative, 
    our bonus tracks and b-sides collection. It seemed a bit weird having 
    a single off a b-sides album. We thought about releasing 'Shameless', 
    but it had been on the b-side of the 'Go West' single and that had 
    done so well. And we did have a new version of 'Paninaro' Chris had 
    done, and it's always been a very popular track. 
    Chris: "This is based on the live version from the Discovery tour. 
    Whenever I have to do this song live I always get fed up with doing 
    it as it was originally, so I end up messing around with it. If we 
    had the time I'd probably redo every song every tour because I always 
    get fed up with them as they are. And then, after a while, you can go 
    back to the original. You go, 'It wasn't that bad, was it?' There's 
    a new rap in this version which took me, oooh, weeks to write. A sad 
    rap in the middle. There's also a new French horn line, which I like, 
    and a new, slightly ragga bassline, and a funny noise thing. There's 
    also new percussion from Oli and Liliana who played on the tour. The 
    only things that remain from the original are Neil's chorus vocals 
    and the squeaky synth noise at the start. On tour I did silly dancing 
    to it. It's the bits where I have to go from one side of the stage 
    to another that are embarrassing. 
    Neil: "They're great. Pure Manc. Chris, coming from the North-West, 
    actually does the Manc goldfish look. The Ian Brown look. They're 
    all just born with it. 
    Chris: "It's in our genes. A lot of shame. Or no shame.

  [Postscript]
    Chris: "It's meant to be a secret. It's a secret track. I wrote it on the 
    piano. I'd like to know who's singing on it.
    Neil: "Chris is. I play all the keyboards on it. It's a reversal of roles. 
    Chris plays the piano though. He just said, 'I've written this thing and 
    I want to do it like this'. It was in the style of REM - that's what I 
    thought. 
    Chris: "To me it sounds like The Last Of The Summer Wine. It just came out. 
    I wrote it at home. The shame of it. It's a one-off. 
    Neil: "I think it's really sweet, this song. Someone's father complained 
    that the Pet Shop Boys had put out a song at the end of their album with 
    a secret message encouraging the use of the drug ecstasy. 
    Chris: "It's not about that. It's personal.

  [Rent]
    Neil: "I've always thought of Rent as a love song, although it's had
    all sorts of interpretations given to it.  It's about love at its
    most basic.  People always thought it was about that rent boy
    arrangement but in my head I've always thought that it was about a
    politician's mistress.  It takes place in New York, and it's a
    long-standing affair and they are in love but he's made no other
    commitment to her than taking her to restaurants and buying her furs
    and paying for an apartment for her off Madison Avenue or somewhere.
    But the currency that she has spent is that she's given her whole life
    to him.  But she loves him.  So 'I love you/You pay my rent' is
    saying, I've had a life anyway.  You've paid for my basic needs.
    "A lot of love songs tend to be about compromises.  'I love you/You pay
    my rent' is about compromise.  It's really saying, it could be worse,
    this relationship isn't that bad, really.  It's not perfect but then
    nothing is."
    Neil: "We wrote 'Rent' in Ray Roberts studio in 1984. We thought of the 
    title first, and we thought it was hilarious. It took us quite a long 
    time to write it - there were three or four versions, though I 
    immediately came up with 'I love you - you pay my rent'. It was almost 
    like a puzzle, working out what the song meant from that. We were very 
    into Italian disco - there was this record I'd been sent at Smash Hits 
    called 'I Love Chopin' by Gazebo and it was meant to sound a bit like 
    that, though it never did. Bobby 'O' couldn't believe it. He thought it 
    was the most weird thing he had ever heard in his life. He thought it was 
    a very strange song. He was almost embarrassed by it. 
    Chris: "Originally it was a high energy song - with Bobby 'O' we recorded 
    it with this brilliant orchestral sample nicked from a Barry White 
    album - but Julian Mendelsohn thought we had too many high energy songs 
    on the album so Andy Richards very cleverly gave it a half-tempo feel. 
    Neil: "I didn't double-track the vocal so it sounded more real. I sing it 
    differently now, with different phrasing. I don't like 'you-ooo'. 
    Nowadays I just sing 'you'. When the album came out I wasn't sure 
    whether I thought it was that great, but I was always impressed how much 
    people liked it. For the single version, [CD2, track 10] Stephen Hague 
    re-edited it, because we thought it repeated too many times. We've done 
    the song several different ways live, and we also recorded it again with 
    Liza Minnelli for her Results album, and got Angelo Badalamenti to 
    arrange it - it makes it sound like it's from a Broadway show. The song 
    is from the point of view of a prostitute - a female prostitute. I've 
    always imagined it's about a kept woman, and I always imagined it set in 
    America. I vaguely thought of one of the Kennedys, for some reason, and 
    imagined that this politician keeps this woman in a smart flat in 
    Manhattan, and he's still got his family, and the two of them have some 
    of relationship and they do love each other but it's all kind of secret. 
    He pays the rent of the flat. But there's a tremendous loyalty at play 
    on both sides, and the money doesn't really matter. She thinks about 
    whether or not it's been a wasted life, this emotional currency spent 
    on a relationship which is not totally satisfactory. At the same time 
    maybe she's quite a lazy person - she's had quite a nice life, thanks 
    to him, and she hasn't had to go out to work. She's survived, but it's 
    not satisfactory. There's a sense of excitement, but also an enormous 
    sense of resignation, a little like 'Why don't we live together?' on 
    Please: 'Is this it, then? Is that all there is?' But, also: 'It's not 
    so bad'. At the time I was worried about having '…you, you…' together 
    in the lyric: 'I love you, you pay my rent'. I thought it was clumsy, 
    but I like it now. It's 'I love you; you pay my rent'. A semi-colon, 
    I suppose. If there was any conjunction it wouldn't be 'but' or 
    'because', it would be 'and'.

  [Saturday Night Forever]
    Neil: "In the Eighties we were always fascinated by the way Stock
    Aitken Waterman songs would go into the choruses. Sometimes they
    would just go up a half step, like we did in 'Being Boring' in
    imitation of them.  It always fascinated us how you could just go
    suddenly from one thing into another, and sometimes it just sounds
    natural. I wrote the words so quickly, I can't even remember what
    I was thinking about.  It's about 'Isn't it great going to a disco
    on Saturday night?'.  It's about picking somebody up in a club,
    the twist being that it has a cynicism about it. When we first did
    it I thought 'Oh, we'll have to write proper words for that', but.
    Neil: "I like the way that 'To step aside' is followed on the album 
    by this. It asks a very difficult question - are you going to step 
    aside? - and then you go out and carry on as normal. We wrote this 
    at Rocky Lane. I started singing 'forever forever' and it sounded 
    really disco but I couldn't think of anything else so Chris said, 
    'Why don't you just go "Saturday night, Saturday night"?' It's a real 
    disco thing to do. With the 'forever forever' bit, I thought, 'Oh, 
    I'll have to write proper words for that', but Chris said, 'No, it's 
    great - it just goes "forever forever".'
    Chris: "It's a bit cheesy-sounding. It's the brass-line that makes it 
    sound cheesy. 
    Neil: "Danny had this mad keyboard player who came over to England with 
    him to do this. We recorded this at Sarm West and then Danny took it 
    to New York and mixed it. We very nearly shoved it into our musical. 
    I like the brass line. It's very Stock Aitken Waterman. Kylie could 
    have done that. I can also imagine Robbie Williams singing it in his 
    Take That incarnation. The words are completely nothing. I wrote them 
    so quickly I can't even remember what I was thinking. It's about picking 
    someone up in a club. It's a very circular song. It just keeps going 
    round and round. It could on forever, really.

  [Se A Vida E (That's The Way Life Is)]
    Neil: "The lyric was written to cheer up a depressed friend. It
    says: stop moping around at home, and come out and rejoin the
    world. I like the phrase 'gothic gloom' in the middle of it. It
    throws the rest of it into relief a bit, because the verses and
    choruses have such incredibly simple lyrics."
    Chris said 'No, it's great. It just goes forever! forever!...'"
    Neil: "I bought an album by the group Olodum in São Paulo in December 
    1994 when we were on tour, and I was flicking through the tracks in 
    the studio, listening through to drum sounds for samples, and I liked 
    the bit of this song, 'Estrada Da Paixao' where it went 'Se a vida é', 
    so I started to do my own version of it. And I didn't really understand 
    the chorus so I changed it. I phoned up a Spanish friend and asked him, 
    'What does "Se a vida é" mean?' - of course the song was actually 
    Portuguese, because it's from Brazil - and he said, 'something like 
    "that's the way life is".' And I said, 'That's great!' and slammed the 
    phone down and starting singing 'that's the way life is'. Then he 
    phoned back half an hour later and said, 'It doesn't really mean that - 
    it means sort of "if life is"; it's not a proper sentence'.' And I said, 
    'It's too late now - I like "that's the way life is".' No one speaks 
    Portuguese anyway. Apart from in Brazil. And Portugal. But then I 
    changed it right at the end, in the second part of the chorus. 'Come 
    on, essa vida é', and that does mean 'that's the way life is' in 
    Portuguese. At the time I was never really that happy with the words, 
    because they are so simple, but I think they're sweet now. It's sort 
    of saying: get over it - come outside and see the sunshine. Everyone 
    thinks it's a gay song because it uses the word 'closet', but it wasn't 
    meant to be. Though I think people were quite surprised at the time 
    because this has such a normal, sweet, 
    could-have-been-written-by-a-pop-star lyric. Although it does spark 
    the debate: is life more simple when you're young? I think it is.
    Chris: "I disagree entirely.
    Neil: "I know you do.
    Chris: "Life's a lot simpler when you're older. It just is. As simple as 
    that. You can deal with the complications easier. What might have been 
    a complication when you were younger, when you're older no longer 
    becomes a complication. Everyone knows that adolescence is the most 
    traumatic time of your life, because it's difficult. 
    Neil: "The song is saying that you see things in very black-and-white 
    terms when you're young.
    Chris: "Well, you should have said that then.
    Neil: "I love this song, always have done. I like the way my voice 
    sounds in it. Chris Porter did a very good job on this, fiddled around 
    with it forever. Even after the album was cut, we went back into the 
    studio to add some more percussion, and re-cut the album with it on.

  [Shameless]
    Neil: "'Shameless' has always been a very Pet Shop Boys word. We've always 
    accused ourselves of being shameless at various times. 
    Chris: "We'll do absolutely anything. Anything at all.
    Neil: "At the beginning of the Nineties, pop music went really shameless.
    Chris: "And has stayed shameless ever since.
    Neil: "Yes, it's been an amazingly long phase. In fact it's got more 
    shameless. But back then, in the wake of Take That's success, there were 
    suddenly a whole raft of boy bands whose names I can't even remember now. 
    It's when this whole stage school thing started. 
    So we wrote this song. It seemed hilarious at the time, particularly 'we 
    have no integrity - we're ready to crawl'. It's sung from the point of 
    view of someone really naff in a shameless group. We'd seen it around us, 
    someone who'd think promotion was the entire point of what you do, not 
    some ghastly chore. It's someone on the cusp of showbusiness and pop music. 
    I actually quite admire the person singing the song - 'you don't know how 
    tough it is'. He knows people are laughing at him. 
    Chris: "With the music we were probably trying to do a high energy stomper - 
    we always feel obliged to do one from time to time.
    Neil: "We go into a different style and rhythm for each verse. We did tons 
    and tons of work on the production, so we must have been thinking it was 
    going on the album. The problem is, like a lot of funny songs, when you 
    work on them for a long time, the joke wears a bit thin and you suddenly 
    decide it's not going on the album. It's certainly as good as anything on 
    the album. It's now in our musical. I like all the 'do you know who I am?' 
    and 'how dare you?' kind of business. They're my voice sped up. We always 
    imagined doing a Spitting Image video for it. 
    Chris: "It'd be great. One of those great Spitting Image choruses. 
    Neil: "We live in more shameless times now. Then we thought it was the peak, 
    but it was the distant foothills compared with now. Now shamelessness is a 
    national culture which overpowers everything else.

  [Shopping]
    Neil: "Chris and I loved 'Word Up' by Cameo, so we decided to write 
    something in the style of Cameo. Being us, we then thought, 'why don't 
    we get Larry Blackmon of Cameo to produce it?' So we met him - he was on 
    tour - and played him the track, and it was sort of going to happen, but 
    it didn't. Then we wanted Keith Forsey, who had worked with Giorgio 
    Moroder and had just been producing Billy Idol, to do it, but he had no 
    interest in doing it. I was rather hurt, actually. The song started as a 
    joke, with Chris and I walking down Oxford Street singing 
    'S-H-O-P-P-I-N-G' when we were shopping. The word 'shopping' is somehow 
    a humourous word. 
    Chris: "We used to sing it everywhere. It was like 'P-A-S-S-I-O-N'; 
    'Passion' by Bobby 'O'.
    Neil: "I think we decided we were actually going to write a song called 
    'Shopping' one day in Milan, shopping. I don't think anyone had ever 
    written a song about shopping, and it's such a common human activity, 
    and in the Eighties it ceased to be presented as a necessity and instead 
    became a leisure activity. The Eighties were very concerned with buying 
    and selling. However I couldn't think of anything particularly 
    interesting to say about shopping so the words are about the government 
    selling off nationalised industries. We were obviously against it. At the 
    time it was oppressive in London - there were these flaming adverts 
    saying 'Tell Sid', the campaign for the government gas sell-off. When 
    this album came out many people, including ourselves, took the whole 
    album to be loosely about Thatcherism, because you have this song, about 
    nationalised industries, you have poverty in 'King's Cross', you have 
    Aids in 'It couldn't happen here'. 'Shopping' is also the other song, 
    along with 'Opportunities', which created the myth that the Pet Shop Boys 
    were ironic. Songs where you take the character of someone you hate. 
    'Shopping' takes the character of this hideous city type in Fulham or 
    somewhere, and the idea that, in the same way you might go shopping for 
    a Hermes scarf, they'll go shopping for essential services and 
    nationalised industries. We recorded it with Julian Mendelsohn. The 
    keyboard which sounds like a guitar is a tribute to Hooky from New Order. 
    Chris: "'Shopping' is always used on consumer programmes.
    Neil: "We still get requests.
    Chris: "At the end there's a cash till.

  [Single - Bilingual]
    Neil: "The narrator is a very glib Euro businessman, a glib
    Eurocrat who flies business class and likes all his privileges. he
    tries to pick up chicks at meet 'n 'greets.  He's pretending to be
    a sophisticated ladies man: 'single! bilingual!'. But he's not
    really communicating either and he knows it.  In actual fact he's
    a hopeless, tragic wreck. He's a bit like the person in
    'Opportunities (Let's Make Lots Of Money)' who's never going to
    make any money.  He's superficially got all the right things but
    he's just not getting there. He doesn't understand why, but he
    knows he's not."
    Chris: "He doesn't understand that business class is a rip-off on a
    short flight.  You get no more leg room."
    Neil: "Exactly. That's why it ends with a reprise of 'Discoteca'.
    He could be literally going to a club, but it's also saying that
    he's a lost and frightened person."
    Neil: "We had the idea that this would be a great opening statement for 
    the album - you get this sad song going into this very funny comic 
    satirical song, linked together by the drums. It is all, by the way, 
    recorded as one mastertape. The drums joining the two songs sound 
    fantastic.
    Chris: "To me it sounds like the theme from Thunderbirds. Or even Captain 
    Scarlet.
    Neil: "I always think it sounds like The Specials. It's a sort of satire 
    on the European community. Once we'd decided that the album was going 
    to be called Bilingual I had the idea of 'single…bilingual'. Originally 
    this song was called 'Latino' and the only lyric I had for it was 'single 
    bilingual', which I just thought was moronically funny. And then, as ever, 
    there was a lot of rubbish about the European Union in the papers, and we 
    were always travelling and I thought it would be funny just to write a 
    song about the minutiae of business travel. The guy in the song is 
    superficially confident but really is absolutely hopeless. He thinks 
    he is really on the ball and sexy - he's staying in a junior suite and 
    flies business class; he likes all his little perks and everything - 
    but really he's scared. He's pretending that he's a sophisticated ladies 
    man - he's single bilingual! - but he's not really communicating either, 
    and he knows it. In actual fact he's a hopeless, tragic wreck. He's a 
    bit like the person in 'Let's make lot's of money…' who's never going 
    to make any money. He's superficially got all the right things but he's 
    just not getting there. He doesn't understand why, but he's not.
    Chris: "He doesn't understand that business class is a rip-off on a short 
    flight. You get no more leg room.
    Neil: "Exactly. Chris wrote the music, but I wrote the middle bit. The 
    song had what we wanted in the album - it's going in and out of English 
    and Spanish. Another reason we thought of doing a Latin album was as a 
    reaction against Britpop, and that we like being in Europe - that we 
    are a very international group and like the fact. This song fitted in 
    with that. Also I've always wanted to mention my name in a song, ever 
    since Martin Fry did, in 'The Look Of Love': 'and then my friends just 
    might ask me, they say, "Martin, maybe one day you'll find true love…"' 
    In this you get 'perdoneme me llamo Neil'. It was the album's third 
    single, but when it was released as a single, Everything But the Girl 
    had just released a single called 'Single', so we changed its name to 
    'Single-Bilingual'. Noel Gallagher commented on this song to Johnny Marr 
    at the Q Awards in 1996. He said, 'That new Pet Shop Boys single is 
    really mad, isn't it?' Which I took to be the highest possible compliment. 
    Chris: "I don't know if I liked this at the time but I like it now. It's 
    ageing very well. 
    Neil: "It ends with a reprise of 'hay una discoteca por aqui? ' He could 
    literally be going to a club, but it's also saying that he's a lost and 
    frightened person. Right at the end, you get the chord of the album. We 
    come back to this chord three times. That chord is at the beginning of 
    'Discoteca', and 'It always comes as a surprise' also starts with it.

  [Some Speculation]
    Neil: "We decided to do a track like Bobby 'O' again - every so often 
    we go back. We decided to update the Bobby 'O' sound.
    Chris: "Yes. We're back where we started. Harking back to the early 
    Eighties. It sounds a bit sleazy. It and 'Euroboy' have a kind of 
    Germanic quality. 
    Neil: "These two songs are both very atmospheric and electronic. It's 
    about speculation and sexual infidelity. The words are about an 
    ex-boyfriend meeting a new boyfriend. 'There's been some speculation, 
    about a recent invitation…' It's a 'what's going on?' kind of song, 
    like 'Confidential' and 'One and one make five'. I hate gossip when I'm 
    the subject of it. When I'm not, of course, I love it. I wrote the words 
    to this very quickly one evening when I was leaving the recording studio 
    to go to the theatre. I made the taxi wait for half an hour and kept 
    popping back into the studio with new lines. Chris finished it off after 
    I left.

  [So Hard]
    Chris: "I don't like 'So hard'. It's a blot on this album.
    Neil: "I like the lyrics. The song is a true story, about two friends who 
    lived together. One of them came home and found that his boyfriend was in 
    bed alone, and there was an ashtray beside the bed, and he didn't smoke.
    Chris: "Make of that what you will.
    Neil: "And he finds out his boyfriend has loads of letters from contact 
    magazines. 
    Chris: "It's a Donna Summer Giorgio Morodor kind of thing. Actually, it's 
    got some good bits, and the David Morales Red Zone remix is one of our 
    best twelve-inches.
    Neil: "This has got very analogue-y synths. And at the beginning there's 
    a sample saying 'kiss'. It's quite a different vocal style for me - like 
    whispering in your ear again.
    Chris: "Is 'So hard' a Carry On-style double entendre?
    Neil: "As with most of my innuendo, it wasn't intended, but obviously I 
    very quickly realised it would be perceived as that. I quite like the 
    fact that it's there. The 'so hard' element is actually that it's so 
    hard for them to give up their affairs. People get caught, I think, very 
    much between their desire to have a permanent relationship and their 
    desire to play around or whatever. It was released as a single before the 
    album came out. I remember we really liked the very electronic sequencery 
    quality and we wanted to bring that out in our twelve-inch version [CD2, 
    track 2]. That old-fashioned Patrick Cowley or Bobby 'O'-ish sequencer 
    thing that we never get sick of.

  [So Sorry I Said]
    Neil: "This was a demo done very quickly at Abbey Road Studios, around 
    about the same time as 'Nothing has been proved'. Chris wasn't there when 
    I did the demo. It's basically an attempt to sound like Stephen Sondheim, 
    and was written for Liza Minnelli. Our demo was never mixed, it was just 
    put onto cassette, so this is the one song we have remixed for these 
    re-releases. I wrote the music on the piano at home. I'd had the sheet 
    music to work out 'Losing my mind' and so I started to play some other 
    very Stephen Sondheim chord changes. The song was written to be a duet. 
    That's why you get lines like 'how tough it gets' then 'don't talk to me 
    about it'; those are the two people talking to each other. We had this 
    fantastic idea that, as Liza Minnelli was touring with Frank Sinatra in 
    The Ultimate Event, and as we knew that Liza was coming to the recording 
    studio after having done the concert, that we would get her to sing it as 
    a duet with Frank Sinatra. It would just be great to be able to say to 
    people, 'Oh yeah, we had Frank Sinatra in the studio the other day'. But 
    it didn't happen. Chris: "I don't know if she's ever forgiven Frank 
    Sinatra for nicking 'New York, New York' from her. Neil: "She said she 
    thought she and I should sing it together. We did actually try it - I 
    sing it higher than she does, or it sounds like that. I couldn't sing in 
    her key and she couldn't sing in my key but it sounded quite interesting. 
    Anyway, eventually she recorded it on her own for Results, although in 
    1991 I did sing it as a duet with Pam Sheyne in the Performance shows. 
    It's about a woman in an unhappy relationship, possibly an abusive 
    relationship, who realises that she always gives in. I think I just came 
    up with the line 'so sorry, I said' and the rest followed. Chris: "I would 
    have said 'I said, so sorry'. I would never have thought of saying 'so 
    sorry, I said'. Neil: "I don't think I would have, but I did, for some 
    reason. It just came from somewhere. In the song, the woman says 'so 
    sorry' when really she shouldn't. When it coms to the crux of the matter 
    she just swallows her pride. And Liza said she really understood that.

  [Somewhere]
    Neil: "We decided we were going to do these concerts in a theatre in 
    London in June 1997, and we also decided that we should bring out a new 
    single so that we had something new to coincide with the concerts. Chris 
    suggested that we did 'Somewhere' from West Side Story.
    Chris: "I love 'Somewhere'. I've always liked it. And I thought it had 
    disco potential. I just like the line: 'A place for us…somewhere a place 
    for us…' It's all about promised lands. It's like 'Go West', really. The 
    same theme. I also like 'hold my hand and I'll take you there'.
    Neil: "At one point we were going to do an EP called Showtunes. Our EP 
    ideas are always good, but we always get talked out of them. 
    Chris: "The record company always asks the question 'why?' when we have 
    these ideas. They stop us from doing them. 'Why?' Because we want to. As 
    Billie so rightly said. 
    Neil: "Anyway, we worked on the single with Pete Gleadall and Bob 
    Krausaar. We did a basic sort of high energy version and then got Richard 
    Niles to do an arrangement with a brief that it was like a film. So the 
    orchestra shows Richard Niles at his most insane. And we used the film 
    samples because we wanted to set the song - which comes from West Side 
    Story, which is Romeo and Juliet in the ghettos of New York - in the 
    Los Angeles riots. We said to the tape op, 'Are there any gangster films 
    here?' and Menace II Society was lying around the studio. So we took the 
    dialogue at the beginning from that: 'You want to live in this lousy 
    world?' 'When the riots stop, the drugs start'. I've never even watched 
    Menace II Society.
    Chris: "I've watched it. 
    Neil: "The Leonard Bernstein estate weren't very keen on us putting that 
    dialogue on, and in fact we had to write and explain it to them. They 
    refused at first, but eventually they agreed. Doing a big record is 
    always really difficult, and we weren't happy with the rhythm track. 
    The Trouser Enthusiasts had done two remixes for us and so we got the 
    Trouser Enthusiasts in at the last moment and he did some work on the 
    seven-inch at Sarm West. The seven-inch version starts with 'One Hand, 
    One Heart' which is my favourite song in West Side Story and it ends 
    with 'I Feel Pretty', which is another West Side Story song. Then, in 
    the studio, we did a long mix - the version here - which was intended 
    specifically to be the music for us to come on stage to at the Savoy 
    Theatre. Chris did this whole long introduction, and then there is the 
    big fanfare where we walked onstage. We wouldn't actually perform the 
    full song until the end of the show. Consequently, when I listen to this 
    track, I am standing backstage at the Savoy Theatre waiting to go 
    onstage, and it makes me feel slightly sick.
    Chris: "We're at our best when we're doing a showtune. What's better 
    than a showtune combined with high energy? 
    Neil: "On the long introduction you can hear Chris saying the lyrics 
    from 'One Hand, One Heart'. That's my favourite bit of the record. He 
    sounds like Liam Gallagher. He goes Manc again, one of his range of 
    accents. It was my idea for him to say it but he did it uncomplaining 
    and unflinchingly, in one take, and he didn't even throw everyone out 
    of the studio.

  [Suburbia]
    Neil: "After we were signed to EMI, we went into Terminal Studios to do 
    some writing, with all this equipment which didn't work. Then we wrote 
    'Suburbia' and 'Tonight is forever'. Chris wrote all the music for 
    'Suburbia'. 
    Chris: "The inspiration was 'Into The Groove', the bassline. It's 
    virtually the same. The song's nothing like it, but the bassline is.
    Neil: "I wrote the words that night, and we went back the next day and 
    finished the demo. The album version is exactly like the demo. I thought 
    it was amazingly catchy.
    Chris: "I thought it was corny.
    Neil: "Same thing. 
    Chris: "What makes it acceptable is the lyrics.
    Neil: "It's a hard lyric, soft tune. That was our idea - to write disco 
    music with un-disco lyrics. The words were inspired by this film we'd 
    seen, Penelope Spheeris's Suburbia. I thought it was a great idea to 
    write a song about suburbia and how it's really violent and decaying and 
    a mess. It's quite a theme in English art, literature and music, like in 
    Graham Greene or Paul Theroux - that the suburbs are really nasty, that 
    behind lace curtains everyone is an alcoholic or a spanker or a mass 
    murderer. Also, this was the era of the riots in Toxteth and Brixton. 
    I remember some friends of mine having to drive through the riots in 
    Brixton to visit me in Chelsea, and being scared. Brixton was a 
    prosperous Victorian suburb, and eighty years later it had become this 
    decaying inner city. And there was a feeling that the riots had been 
    started by the police hassling these kids hanging around a bus stop. The 
    dogs in the song come totally from the packs of dogs in the film, though 
    I remember Chris telling me that it happened in Liverpool when he lived 
    in Toxteth - these huge packs of dogs with a big one in front and the 
    little ones at the back. I used to be a bit scared of dogs - my sister 
    once got bitten, and doing paper rounds you're always scared of dogs; you 
    hear them tear the paper when you put it through the door, and that's a 
    symbol of the threat of violence. And so the song just describes the riot 
    happening, and the middle bit sums up why we are having this riot: 'I 
    only wanted something else to do but hang around…' People are bored. 
    Then it refers to the aftermath being reported on TV, just sociological 
    nonsense and police officers blaming television for the whole thing. 
    People always say, 'You can never find a policeman when you need one' and 
    here the media is saying, 'Where's a policeman when you need one to blame 
    the colour TV?', turning it upside down. So when it says, 'This is their 
    hour of need', the hour of need isn't the people in the suburbs needing 
    jobs, it's the media needing their talking heads total a load of nonsense. 
    My mother always recognises the reference to her - 'mother's got her 
    hairdo to be done' - because she always got her hair done every Thursday 
    when I was a child, and her hairdresser Dominic would tell her the gossip. 
    Chris: "When we made the demo we had just discovered a car crash sample 
    on the Emulator. 
    Neil: "So that was all over it. We would always bicker with Stephen Hague 
    about things like that and the number of sampled orchestra hits. He would 
    say, 'Right, we will take out fifty per cent of the orchestra hits on 
    this track because there are so many orchestra hits, and you can't have 
    the car crash that loud…' We had a car crash solo on it originally. We 
    used the riot noise off a film, and the high keyboard sound is influenced 
    by 'Axel F', which was a hit at the same time. We didn't spend long 
    recording this track because we made the whole album in ten weeks, and 
    we always felt we'd rushed through this song. When Please came out, all 
    of the fans, and our families, said 'Suburbia' should be a single. We'd, 
    typically, gone off it by that point. Then we decided to re-record it as 
    a single, with Julian Mendelsohn, who Tom Watkins recommended to us. 
    Julian had remixed 'Relax', and he brought in his keyboard programmer 
    Andy Richards, who we were very impressed with because he had worked on 
    loads of Trevor Horn records and we were always incredibly impressed by 
    Trevor Horn. And we decided to make the new version more filmic. Andy 
    Richards took the synth line and made it verge on a horn section sound. 
    The new version had dogs on - we upped the dog quotient. The twelve-inch 
    version, 'Suburbia (The Full Horror)' [CD2, track 11] - which the 
    seven-inch is basically just an edit of - is more epic. It's very 
    Diamond Dogs, very Frankie Goes To Hollywood, especially the 'where the 
    suburbs meet utopia' bit. By the way, that's where the word 'suburbia' 
    comes from: 'suburb' and 'utopia'. Lots of bombs go off at the end. An 
    entire suburb is being destroyed in a riot. Twelve-inch mixes weren't 
    really made for dancing back then. We also recorded the sound of smashing 
    glass in Sarm West studio two. They couldn't find a good smashing glass 
    sample anywhere, so we got a pane of glass and the assistant smashed it, 
    with half a brick, I think.
    Chris: "There were several attempts.

  [That's My Impression]
    Neil: "Before I knew Chris I had written a song with a completely 
    different tune on the guitar - it was supposed to sound like Blondie - 
    and when we wrote this music I used those words for this. I love the 
    lines in the middle bit: 'Go to a club, you think I'll be there/ I don't 
    go 'cause I'm not a member'. They were taken from another song, the first 
    song Chris and I wrote together. It was a bit Soft Cell. Originally it 
    went on: 'Although I'm a boy/ I don't mind what's on your mind at all/ 
    and you won't find me there…' The music for 'That's my impression' was 
    written in our Italian disco phase. We were writing a song around an 
    arpeggio. We first recorded it in Ray Roberts' studio, and then with 
    Bobby 'O'. Bobby 'O' thought the words were very weird. We recorded this 
    in a different studio, producing it ourselves while Stephen Hague was 
    finishing Please. This, the 'disco mix' was originally on the 
    'Opportunities' twelve-inch; the seven-inch b-side was just an edit of 
    it. It's a very Bobby 'O' theme again. It's about jealousy, a corny pop 
    lyric about how your lover is out there somewhere, trying to pick someone 
    else up. 
    Chris: "More sex. 
    Neil: "I used to live in Knightsbridge in this little flat and I often 
    used to walk by the Serpentine, which is why that is mentioned. In the 
    last verse I'm trying to be a rock 'n' roll singer.
    Chris: "I like you singing like this. I don't like deadpan vocals. I've 
    never liked deadpan vocals.
    Neil: "Now you tell me.

  [The Boy Who Couldn't Keep His Clothes On]
    Neil: "This started off as one of Chris's demos. It's a real throwaway 
    thing. We started it when we went to New York to do 'Before' with Danny 
    Tenaglia but we didn't finish it. It wasn't meant to be on the album - 
    we always get very excited when we're working with someone and end up 
    doing a third track.
    Chris: "Danny absolutely loved this.
    Neil: "It's sort of a Miami Latino thing. When we went back to New York 
    to do promotion I went back into the studio and finished the vocals and 
    then Danny Tenaglia finished the track. 
    Neil: "What I like is that rap in the middle - 'Yo, Lewis…'
    Chris: "Danny brought someone in. It's a Banji rap: 'all your posse gonna 
    know tomorrow…'
    Neil: "This version is the unedited International Club Mix which has only 
    appeared on the Bilingual Special Edition; we edited it slightly when it 
    appeared with 'A red letter day'. It's about a friend who would always 
    take his shirt off on the dancefloor.
    Chris: "He had a problem keeping his clothes on.
    Neil: "He always wanted to sunbathe in the nude.
    Chris: "There's probably a medical dictionary definition for that. 
    Neil: "It's a sad song. In the song, the person has something sad in his 
    past. Actually it's a classic Pet Shop Boys' why-do-people-go-clubbing? 
    song. And the explanation in the song is: 'To rise above the pain/ to 
    prove them all wrong again/ to shake away at last/ the secret in his 
    past'. I'm saying that his exhibitionism is caused by a secret in his 
    past, that people who've had bad experiences in their past often feel 
    in later life that their only value to someone is sexual, so there's a 
    huge insecurity, and that makes them exhibitionist. It's actually a 
    really sad song.

  [The Calm Before The Storm]
    Neil: "This was originally called 'The news', but I thought that was a 
    crap title. One day when I was by myself in the studio and we'd just 
    finished a track and I decided to do a track with no sequencing 
    whatsoever, where everything was played live. That's why there's no 
    programming credit. 
    Chris: "I thought it sounded a bit messy.
    Neil: "I love this song. It didn't take very long to do. It's an 
    absolutely accurate description of a Sunday afternoon at Rocky Lane: 
    dragonflies over the swimming pool, Sandra the cook's dog barking, 
    aeroplanes flying overhead. Every time you drove in, rabbits ran 
    everywhere. And the news we were waiting for - rather banally, so 
    I'm reluctant to say it - is what number our album was going to go 
    into the charts at. I sing the chorus two different ways. I was 
    imagining us going totally down the dumper with this album - that's 
    what it was about, really. 
    Chris: "Back to Smash Hits. 
    Neil: "Rocky Lane symbolises a rocky future, as well as being the name 
    of the house: 'It's all over, love'.
    Chris: "'You're now fat, forty and finished.' It sounds like Andy Pandy 
    at the beginning. I'm waiting for Looby Loo to come out. 
    Neil: "I think it sounds like Enya, myself. It's meant to be very pastoral. 
    Chris: "I don't think I had anything to do with this. I wasn't even there.
    Neil: "What is puzzling, and what I genuinely can't remember, is what the 
    last line means. 'Did I ever tell you that I worked out where I went 
    wrong?' I have no idea what that means. Assuming it means anything.

  [The End Of The World]
    Neil: "You can hear the influence of Violator on the guitar on this. 
    Hello, 'Enjoy The Silence'. This song was nearly a b-side.
    Chris: "It sounds good now. I think we thought it sounded a bit weak 
    then.
    Neil: "I don't think my vocal's very good.
    Chris: "Julian Mendelsohn couldn't relate to how this sounded. He was so 
    used to the Eighties when we had clicky bass drums and thumping great big 
    snares, and then of course that all went out the window, to be replaced 
    by squishy little sounds, and Julian couldn't get his head around them - 
    he thought they were crap. This was when house music was still about 
    tunes. 
    Neil: "We originally started this song when we were recording 'I get 
    excited (You get excited too)'at the beginning of 1988. Originally it 
    was called 'If there was more', and then that idea became 'If there was 
    love' on Liza Minnelli's album. Then I had the idea of 'The end of the 
    world' as the title. In the middle bit there's my second guitar solo on 
    the album. We should have got Johnny to do that, maybe. It's just a story 
    of teenage trauma: a girl whose boyfriend hasn't phoned her up, or someone 
    whose boyfriend or girlfriend hasn't phoned them up, and they're having a 
    teenage trauma about it. She's arguing with her parents and slamming 
    doors. Also, people were starting to get apocalyptic at the beginning of 
    the Nineties, so it was also looking at the idea of the actual end of the 
    world. I think I read some book about it at the time. The girl at the end 
    of the song is hoping the world will end.

  [The Survivors]
    Neil: "I think I started writing the words on a train. It's about
    growing old.  When you've reached a certain age you realise you've
    survived this far, you're still alive, and you know alot of people
    who aren't."
    Neil: "It's a very sad song, this. 'One might be forgiven for thinking 
    it's a life on the run'. When Q reviewed this album it said that this 
    song was as nauseating as a Tom Hanks acceptance speech. I don't think 
    it is. I think that's someone finding sincerity difficult to take 
    from the Pet Shop Boys. The music for this was on one of Chris's Ian 
    Wright demos. 
    Chris: "I just did some tracks when I was working with Ian Wright and 
    then he and I chose the track which was obviously the one for him, 
    which became 'Do The Right Thing'. 
    Neil: "Chris gave me a cassette of what he thought were the best 
    things he'd done that hadn't been used. It took me ages to write the 
    words over the course of 1995. I think I started writing them on a 
    train. It's sort of a feel-bad, feel-good song. It's about growing 
    old, and that, when you've reached a certain age, you've survived this 
    far. You're still alive. A friend of mine committed suicide early that 
    year, which I was rather depressed about. She's referred to in the song, 
    where I sing 'teachers and artists and Saturday girls'. I used to work 
    with her, and The Saturday Girls were a group she was supposed to be 
    in. 'Don't drop bombs', which we recorded with Liza Minnelli on Results, 
    was originally an idea for a song for The Saturday Girls. 
    Chris: "It's quite anthemic-sounding, 'The survivors'.
    Neil: "It was the first song we recorded with Chris Porter. I think we'd 
    both thought as soon as we'd done the demo that it would be on the album.
    Chris: "Especially when we added those backing vocals. 
    Neil: "We remixed it late in 1995 and changed the drum track, but just 
    before Bilingual was released we went back to the first mix we'd done, 
    which Chris said he'd always preferred. I've never felt totally happy 
    about the sound of the rhythm track. It's a bit muddy. But I like the 
    question and answer, call and response thing. It's also great to have 
    the words 'twinsets and pearls' in a song. In the final chorus, at 
    3.37, you can hear me sing 'race' twice. It's a mistake, but we left 
    it in.

  [The Sound Of The Atom Splitting]
    Chris: "It was a jam in the studio.
    Neil: "The reason we did it was because, when we were doing 'Left to my 
    own devices' and it says 'Che Guevara and Debussy to a disco beat', we 
    had the idea that we would actually try to do Debussy to a disco beat. 
    Trevor Horn had always been fascinated by the idea of putting Debussy to 
    a disco beat, hence the last Art Of Noise album. So we jammed for as long 
    as the song lasts, and I played Debussy-esque chords with lots of fifths 
    in them - Richard Niles had shown me the kind of chords. Trevor played 
    the acieed-house keyboard, the Roland bassline. Steve Lipson thought it 
    was pathetic that we liked acid house music and he had been showing us 
    how easy it was. 
    Chris: "I'm playing that irritating high line.
    Neil: "It was a voice sample of an opera singer.
    Chris: "Steve Lipson played the desk.
    Neil: "It was fun doing it. We were whooping with glee. It only took about 
    forty minutes. The vocals were just spoken on afterwards. The phrase 'the 
    sound of the atom splitting' came from Derek Jarman's film The Last Of 
    England which is all shot in Super 8 and has a commentary, and a man 
    says, 'What's that sound? It's the sound of the atom splitting'. I 
    thought, 'That's a good line'. I thought the sound of the atom splitting 
    was the sound of a nuclear explosion; the sound of the end of the world. 
    I started making up the words to the song while I was still watching the 
    film. I also put a quote of Bobby 'O''s in it. Bobby 'O' walked Chris and 
    I through Times Square once and said, 'Look at these guys - they're 
    pinheads', these guys who wore stockings over their heads.
    Chris: "Of course New York's a lot safer these days. 
    Neil: "The lyric is a dialogue between a fascist and a wet liberal. The 
    right wing person is rather amused by the liberal because he's obviously 
    so feeble he's never going to do anything. The wet liberal says 'whose 
    side are you on anyway?', trying to be sneaky, and the right wing person 
    says 'well, is that some kind of threat? Well, I suppose it'll have to 
    do, as long as you don't make too much mess'. He's patronising him, like, 
    'you can have a party as long as you don't make too much mess'. There's a 
    mistake in the vocals which I never corrected and which has always 
    irritated me, where I trip up. I go 'whenever I…see' I start to say 
    something else beginning with 'f' then change it to 'see'. 
    Chris: "We played it in the interval of the 1989 tour with a light show.

  [The Theatre]
    Chris: "I like this track. It's quite theatrical. I think it should have 
    been a single. I can picture the video…Oliver Twist…boys in boxes outside 
    the theatre…Neil coming out of the theatre ignoring them, me giving them 
    money.
    Neil: "It was inspired by a remark from a Tory MP which Chris read out 
    from the paper: 'Oh, the homeless, they're those people who you step over 
    when you leave the theatre'. Quite often I'd walk up The Strand to a 
    restaurant, Orso, and I'd walk past these Scottish kids sleeping outside 
    one of the Australian government houses and I was always struck by how 
    cheerful they were. They always used to ask for my autograph and I'd 
    wonder why on earth, if you were homeless, you'd want one of the Pet Shop 
    Boys' autographs. The song is a rather romantic idea. When I was a kid I 
    always had a fantastic romantic idea of coming to London, and I still 
    think of London as a romantic place…the streets being paved with gold, 
    Dick Whittington, and all the rest of it. And then there's the reality, 
    when you're homeless and people are ignoring you and pretending they 
    haven't seen you. But the song presents a kind of romantic view of 
    homelessness. It's a defiant song: 'we're the bums you step over…' I 
    originally had a different word instead of 'bums' - it took me a lot of 
    time to come up with 'bums'. 
    Chris: "It just keeps getting bigger and bigger, this song, doesn't it?
    Neil: "That was another production idea for this album. There was a bit of 
    a wall of sound thing going on. When I sing '…and The Phantom of the 
    Opera', Anne Dudley has put in a glockenspiel or something which sounds 
    like The Phantom of the Opera. We've also got a choir of actors from a 
    drama school singing on it.

  [The Truck Driver and his Mate]
    Neil: "Its title was inspired by the old Yorkie adverts, which used to 
    say something like 'big enough for the truck driver and his mate'. 
    They had this built-in homoerotic innuendo which I always thought was 
    an incredible way to market a chocolate bar.  It also sounds like a 
    gay porno movie." (The Face, April 1996)
    Neil: "This title was in my notebook for years. I think it came from 
    the Yorkie chocolate bar advert which said something like 'big enough 
    for the truck-driver and his mate'. It was Chris's idea to do a rock 
    track.
    Chris: "The music was a complete rip-off of Oasis. 'Some Might Say', 
    possibly. That's where it started, anyway.
    Neil: "It's an incredibly standard rock chord change.
    Chris: "We were excited by Oasis, by the return of rock. It doesn't 
    really sound like a rock record, though. I don't know what we were 
    thinking. It was always a b-side.
    Neil: "It was done at Rocky Lane. It was just a fun thing to do. We used 
    a sample of a rock guitar chord. Then the 'ow-wow-wow' bit is very T Rex. 
    I'm playing acoustic guitar. It's glam rock really. It's like a David 
    Bowie kind of lyric. 'Solemn as an act of fate'. Is that an original 
    phrase? Who knows? It's a song about male-bonding. There's something 
    homo-erotic a bout the phrase 'the truck-driver and his mate'. I just 
    imagine the two of them dancing together in the moonlight; there was 
    something slightly romantic about it.
    Chris: "In the serious moonlight?
    Neil: "Yeah. The serious moonlight. There were promo twelve-inch copies 
    of this which now sell for a lot of money. When it was released as the 
    b-side of 'Before', it started getting played in indie clubs like 
    Popstars in London, so EMI decided to do some promos of just this track. 
    For the 'Before' promos, we'd had a limp penis with the word 'Before' 
    under it. It was just a joke. Before arousal. In America the record 
    company liked it so much they wanted to release it with that sleeve, 
    which we were horrified at the thought of, because we're secretly 
    very prudish. Anyway, for 'The truck-driver and his mate' promo, we 
    just repeated the penis twice, one next to the other.

  [The View From Your Balcony]
    Neil: "It's about a friend of mine who lived in a council flat in 
    Bermondsey, South London, on the twentieth floor with a fabulous view 
    over the Thames. The music was written on the piano at home, very 
    quickly. It's not really a very good melody. It's all playing around 
    variations of the same chord. I think I secretly want to be the Mamas 
    and the Papas, or a Californian group, because I like these things with 
    jangly guitars and harmonies in the background. I think it's got a 
    good lyric, contrasting my friend loving his flat on the twentieth 
    floor of the council block with how, in the punk era, you'd have thought 
    of living in a hi-rise as a really shit thing that you were protesting 
    about. In the song, I'm up there, looking at London, the sun setting 
    over east London, and it's all very romantic. There was meant to be a 
    third verse but I couldn't think of any more words. It's funny - 
    sometimes you write a song and you've made your statement and that's it. 
    I was going to have more words about London, and lots of place names, 
    but I couldn't think of anything else. Instead there's a solo played on 
    a trumpet sample.

  [This Must Be The Place I Waited Years To Leave]
    Chris: "There's a vocoder line - that thing that Herbie Hancock used to
    use, like in 'One Of The Crowd' - with me saying 'everybody', then 
    'everybody jump to attention'.  That's me." (Literally #4, September 1990)
    Neil: "It was originally written in the studio in Wandsworth in 1986. At 
    the time it had been intimated to us that we might be asked to write the 
    theme song for the James Bond film, The Living Daylights, so as a musical 
    exercise we decided to write something that sounded, in our opinion, like 
    a James Bond theme. That's why you have the guitar at the start, which 
    is a Stratocaster sample I'm playing. It has my trademark pitch-bend at 
    the end. I love twang. I've always liked twang. Since I was a child and 
    we used to go to the Royalty cinema in Gosforth for children's matinees 
    and they used to play 'Wonderful Land' by the The Shadows, a track that 
    can still bring tears to my eyes, I've always loved twang guitar. We 
    never heard anything from the James Bond people - A-ha did the theme 
    in the end. 
    Chris: "But that's why 'This must be the place…' sounds so filmic.
    Neil: "The words are about a dream I used to have that I was back in 
    school doing exams in the sixth form, and thinking 'how can I possibly 
    be back at school?'. And then I get told to get on with what I'm doing. 
    After I wrote the words I never had the dream again. The title is a play 
    on time - the first part present tense, the second past tense. It's a bit 
    like a verbal version of one of those Escher drawings that goes round and 
    you can't work out how you got there. You wonder where you are and you 
    realise you're in the place you couldn't wait to get out of. But I did 
    wait years to leave school. I absolutely bloody hated it. It refers to 
    how we used to have Benediction on Wednesday afternoons, which is a 
    Catholic service. The litany of names of saints is part of the mass. 
    And to how I used to hate playing football and I didn't want to be part 
    of the whole thing. And I'm just saying I hated school, and I'm also 
    getting revenge on my school, St Cuthbert's, for slagging me off in the 
    Newcastle Evening Chronicle when 'It's a sin' came out. There was a front 
    page story about how I'd defamed the school and they were quite hurtful 
    about me, and had anonymous quotes from teachers at the school. Johnny 
    Marr came in to Sarm West and played guitar on this - he does this 
    fantastic controlled backwards feedback, and he does a great thing at 
    the end, right on the fade, playing this great ascending tune. I wish 
    there was more of that. There's Chris's voice going 'everybody 
    e-e-everybody'.
    Chris: "The rhythm was from 'Jack Your Body'. I also say 'everybody jump 
    to attention'.
    Neil: "At the end there's a sample from the Moscow trials of 1936 where 
    the prosecutor Vyshinsky is saying 'they must be shot like dogs'. When 
    we were in the studio there was a television documentary about Russia 
    on and we took it from that. Because the song is meant to be about the 
    end of communism as well. Schools are kind of authoritarian places with 
    strange rituals and I just imagined that dreaming you were back in a 
    communist state would be as bizarre as being back in your school days. 
    The album was made just after the Berlin Wall came down, someone looking 
    back on communism, having a dream about it after it finished. At the end 
    of the middle bit, after the guitar solo, you can hear a choir chant 
    'Lenin', at 3.24, which is from Shostakovitch's Second Symphony.

  [Tonight Is Forever]
    Neil: "That day we both came into the studio with an idea for a song and 
    Chris wrote the music for 'Suburbia', I wrote most of the music for this. 
    I had the PPG synthesiser at home, and you could play chords on it. I'm 
    sure I nicked the chord change from some old song. It's about kids going 
    to Heaven, the nightclub. The title occurred to me in a nightclub once. 
    The idea that you can make a brief transitory excitement - fancying 
    someone in a nightclub - into your whole life. It was written in 1985 
    when the club scene was changing; gay and straight clubs were being 
    mixed. I like the contrast between 'tonight is forever', which sounds 
    like something you'd see Nelson Eddy and Jeanette Macdonald singing in 
    some old film, and my favourite lines: 'I haven't got a job to pay/ but 
    I could stay in bed all day'. The idea that you can just stay in bed and 
    have sex all day. It's, 'Don't think, do'. I mean, I'm not like that 
    myself. It was one of the things I admired about Chris when I first met 
    him was that he was a much more hedonistic person than I was. I would 
    like to like that sort of thing. Like, I like dance records but I can't 
    really dance. In the song, by the end, it's not '…if we fall in love' 
    but '…when we fall in love', and it's really corny because they do fall 
    in love. It's a total fantasy. We were always fascinated by kids going 
    out clubbing. 
    Chris: "In the early Eighties everyone I knew sort of didn't work. Just 
    got dressed up, lived on the dole, and got into clubs cheap - a life of 
    living at night. 
    Neil: "We have always had a slightly romantic idea of the street. The song 
    is meant to be very filmic. The top French horn line, which is played on 
    the Emulator, is very John Barry. There's orchestral percussion - tubular 
    bells. Real ones. On day we came in and there was a tubular bell player. 
    Chris and I were very very against having real instruments brought in the 
    studio. We weren't happy about it at all. We said, 'Can't you just get a 
    tubular bells sample?' That's probably why they're turned down in the mix. 
    This was so nearly the follow-up to 'West End girls'. 
    Chris: "We did it on The Tube and it didn't work.
    Neil: "That's why it wasn't a single. We got a real downer. It was the 
    worst television appearance we ever did in our entire life. It was The 
    Euro Tube. We opened the whole show with 'West End girls' and I had to 
    sing live, and it was fine. We then had to wait two hours, during which 
    time I drank four pints of beer, then I had to sing 'Tonight is forever'. 
    You have never heard anything worse in your entire life. You know when 
    someone sings on the television and you say, 'Wow, she really can't sing'. 
    This was my, 'Wow, he really really can't sing'. And during the drum break 
    in the middle I couldn't think of anything to do, so I just turned my back 
    on the camera. I thought they could film Chris.

  [Too Many People]
    Neil: "I had the lyric idea in my notebook for ages. It just details all 
    the roles one plays in one's life. I have a very bad habit which is to 
    keep different parts of my life separate, and when they mix I get what 
    they call 'role strain'. I worry about whom I'm going to offend most. 
    Chris: "So you compartmentalise your life?
    Neil: "Chris doesn't really do that. 
    Chris: "It's a list song, isn't it?
    Neil: "It is. 'The tactless twit putting his foot in…the sensitive soul 
    who's a role model…' and so on. I like 'the wicked uncle who doesn't 
    give a damn'. 
    Chris: "'Showbiz creeps…' - we just won't let go.
    Neil: "It's another Spitting Image video. I think it's a really catchy 
    song. We didn't finish this until ages after the album. Bob Krausaar 
    really liked it - he said it was irresistible. Bruce Woolley sings 
    backing vocals on it. He can sound like me. Chris put in a whole bit 
    that sounds like New Order. I'm not even sure Bernard didn't comment 
    on it.
    Chris: "Did he? What an honour.

  [To Face The Truth]
    Neil: "This song started off as a track written one Sunday morning on the 
    guitar in the early Eighties. I was lying in bed. I thought it sounded a 
    bit like Everything But The Girl, and I took this half-written song into 
    the studio at Camden Town and Chris changed the timing of it, playing on 
    Ray Roberts' Rhodes piano, and it immediately sounded soulful rather than 
    acoustic folky. The high vocals and the piano were all on the original 
    demo. 
    Chris: "The middle bit was added later. It used to sound like 'Juicy 
    Fruit' by Mtume.
    Neil: "On the album it has a backwards start - we were experimenting with 
    these things. Also, in this song, for the first time ever - something I'd 
    learned from Dusty - I don't sing the third verse in exactly the same 
    melody. I started to think about singing with this album. It's the normal 
    love-gone-wrong song. The middle bit - 'you are the only one' - comes 
    from the first X-rated film I ever saw, just before I was 16, which was 
    Midnight Cowboy. And they keep on having flashbacks of the Texan boy 
    back in Texas with his girlfriend and she's going, 'You're the only one, 
    Joe. You're the only one.' And for some reason that made a huge impact on 
    me, so much so that twenty years later I put it in this song.
    Chris: "So what is the truth? 
    Neil: "It's a heterosexual story. Some guy's girlfriend is going out, 
    screwing around, and he suspects she's having it off with someone. It's 
    about lying in bed and your lover's somewhere else. The truth to be faced 
    is that the person you're in love with is not in love with you. But you 
    can't face up to it. It's just a story. Or at least it was at that time.

  [To Speak Is A Sin]
    Neil: "'To speak is a sin' is an ancient song; one of the first songs we 
    ever wrote. It predates 'It's a sin', though it's from around the same 
    time. It was written on the same day in 1983 as we wrote the unreleased 
    'In the club or in the queue'. It's a real early Eighties sleaze tune. We 
    first recorded it with Bobby 'O' but we always had a problem with it 
    because it's a very slight song: there's really only twelve bars of 
    things happening here. 
    Chris: "I always thought it was about sad old lonely homosexuals not daring 
    to talk to anyone attractive in a bar.
    Neil: "Yes, that's pretty much it. And also, when you go into a gay bar, 
    everyone turning around. Not saying anything. It's all done by looks and 
    gestures. It's about people going out, no matter how ghastly the weather 
    is, on the off chance they're going to pick someone up, and about the 
    desperation, and the hopeful optimism, of that. It's not really like that 
    anymore, now that everyone's out. 
    Chris: "Everyone's too flaming happy now. Obviously it's great that people 
    are happy, but a whole culture has kind of dissapeared.
    Neil: "We always used to like tragic gay bars. They're hard to find now. 
    When you go in there, it's pretty much empty and it's all a bit surly. 
    Anyway, we'd been thinking about recording 'To speak is a sin' for ages. 
    Once we'd got 'Jealousy' out of the way, which took long enough, we could 
    move on to it. The music uses the Doppler effect, like when a police car 
    approaches and appears to change tone, on my voice, when I go 'aaaahhhh….' 
    Bob Krausaar did that. We should never have used a saxophone on this. It's 
    sampled, and when we did this on the Discovery tour, we used a guitar 
    sample, and Chris had a new, really good line he played, and it just 
    sounded much better.

  [To Step Aside]
    Neil: "The verse was inspired by my holiday in Santiago de
    Compostela, Spain.  All these pilgrims walk 120 miles and them
    come into the square in Santiago, because it's the end of their
    journey and it means they've attained eternal salvation.  And I'm
    looking out the window thinking how good it must be to have that
    kind of certainty. [...]  Verse two was inspired by a visit to
    Budapest visiting a friend. Verse two is about a bus queue: Those
    lines, 'for market forces to provide/what history's so far
    denied', I was thinking that everyone really only wants the same
    things. They just want comfort, security, education. It doesn't
    seem that much to ask, but it seems impossible to get it.  I was
    also trying to draw a parallel between my life and the lives of
    poor working people in Europe, in peasant societies or proletarian
    societies. It's really about faith, this song. When I say 'if I
    decide to step aside', I mean from the relationship I'm in, and
    also from the Pet Shop Boys themselves. The reason I'd step aside
    is because I don't want to be changed anymore by the experiences
    I've been going through.  I sometimes think I'd rather give up on
    the competition of the whole thing and live quietly somewhere.
    Not try to be clever. i think about it all the time, but I don't
    want to do it either.  I like the way it's followed on the album
    by 'Saturday Night Forever'...it asks a very difficult
    question...are you going to step aside? and then you go out and
    carry on as normal."
    Neil: "Chris wrote the music a while before. His demo was called 'Shame'. 
    Chris: "This song sounds like the music for a holiday programme.
    Neil: "That's what George Michael said. 
    Chris: "Some of it also sounds like New Order to me. The bassline is 
    from a keyboard that you only buy for that bass sound. 
    Neil: "We struggled a bit with this, and then we applied the Spanish 
    idea to it and found the sample of Spanish gypsies. I wanted it to 
    sound like pilgrims singing. In the first verse you have me comparing 
    my life with the pilgrims in Santiago de Compostela. These pilgrims 
    have walked 120 miles and it means they've achieved eternal salvation, 
    and then there's pathetic Neil looking out of the hotel window thinking 
    about how good it must be to have that kind of faith. The second verse 
    is set in Budapest - these were both real trips I'd just taken. It was 
    1996 and in post-communist Hungary there were still people who looked 
    like they had really shit lives, and it was five years since communism 
    had ended. They're still waiting 'for market forces to provide/ what 
    history's so far denied'. Everyone really only wants the same things - 
    comfort, security, education. It doesn't seem that much to ask. But it 
    seems impossible to get it. And I'm sitting in a big international hotel 
    drinking a glass of white wine and looking at them. There's a certain 
    amount of guilt, I suppose, about that. And then, in the song, I'm 
    comparing these things with what I'll decide to do, whether I should 
    step aside because I don't want to be changed anymore by the experiences 
    I've been going through. It's partly about me and the relationship I 
    was in. The end bit is the important bit: 'Will I always need you?/ 
    Would you want me to?' In other words, it's all very nice now, but it's 
    not going to last. Or will it? There was also some sort of notion in the 
    song about stepping aside from the Pet Shop Boys, or from pop music. 
    Just thinking about what it does to you, being famous and being in a 
    pop group. Do you grow away from your roots completely? I'm not 
    convinced that you do, but it's thinking about that, saying: maybe 
    wouldn't it be a good thing to step aside? I sometimes think I'd rather 
    give up the competition of the whole thing and live quietly somewhere. 
    Live a simple life. Not try to be clever. I think about it all the 
    time. But I don't want to do it, either.

  [Two Divided By Zero]
    Neil: "In 1983, when I was working in New York at the American version of 
    Smash Hits, I bought my father a talking calculator which spoke the 
    numbers out loud for his Christmas present. Chris and I loved the 
    calculator's voice - it had a very very sad quality. When we played it 
    to Bobby 'O' he loved it too - he said 'this is a whole album!'. 
    Bobby 'O' had given us a backing track he'd done which he couldn't think 
    of anything to do with, so we had the idea - because you could make the 
    calculator say mathematical sentences - of making it say 'two divided by 
    zero', and building a song around that. I think it was Chris who thought 
    of it - it's not the kind of thing I'd have ever thought of.
    Chris: "Two divided by zero is infinity, isn't it?
    Neil: "I think at the time we had this discussion about whether or not it 
    was infinity. Anyway, it was rather a romantic idea.
    Chris: "Two divided by nothing. It's like 'when two become one'.
    Neil: "Precisely. It was just the idea that two people couldn't be split 
    up by anything; could be split up by nothing. And that suggested this 
    idea of two people running away. It reminded me of when I was a teenager. 
    This girl Maureen and I often had this romantic notion of running away to 
    London, and we sometimes used to go to Newcastle Central Station at night 
    to see the trains going to London. And, in the song, maybe there's 
    trouble at home, so the two people are going to run away. In this 
    instance, to New York. The 'when the postman calls…' part of the song 
    comes from the way, when I was a teenager, people were always having 
    pregnancy scares, most of them totally manufactured, I think, for the 
    sheer value of the drama. The suggestion is that one of them is pregnant. 
    We originally recorded the song with Bobby 'O', and then again for the 
    album with Stephen Hague. I'd given the calculator to my dad after we 
    made the first version, then I got it back off him for the album, and he 
    never got it back again after that. I don't know what happened to it. 
    Bobby 'O''s version was all programmed on a Linn drum and had loads of 
    samples on an Emulator, and Bobby 'O' also sampled himself and me, each 
    saying 'two divided by zero', and there was a lot more of the 'divided 
    by…divided by…'. For Please, Stephen Hague spent ages working on it, and 
    I think it's the best-sounding track on the album. The arrangement is 
    very similar to Bobby 'O''s, but it sounds bigger. We were always very 
    concerned that it should still sound hip hop and not get too smooth - 
    that's what we were concerned about for the whole album - and I think the 
    whole track has got that sort of rush of excitement, of running away. At 
    the same time, you know that there's no way the people in the song are 
    really going to end up in New York. Absolutely no way. Just like Maureen 
    and I.

  [Up Against It]
    Neil: "It was originally called 'I Will Love You' - that was
    Chris's title.  I wanted something else, and I knew I needed four
    syllables, and I was looking at my bookcase in my sitting room and
    thre it was: 'Up Against It' by Joe Orton.  It was the screenplay
    he wrote for the Beatles which was never used.  The song is
    nothing to do with that though.  It's about post-war Britain;
    about how people, at the end of the Second World War, thought they
    were going to build a new Jerusalem, and about how, in every era
    that you can remember, everyone's being told to tighten their
    belts for some future reward.  They were doing it in the 40's, in
    the 60's, in the 70's, in the 80's and they're obviously still
    doing it now.  You're always marching, but you're never actually
    getting anywhere.  The song is saying 'what a swizz'.  Everything
    in the song is quite logical. The first verse refers to the
    legendary cold winter of 1947/48.  The 'so deep in quicklime' part
    was written because, as I was writing the song, they dug up the
    bones of the Tsar in the woods in Russia.  In a way the song is
    just saying politics is shit.  Johnny Marr played guitar on it,
    and he had the idea for the backing vocals at the end.  He said
    'if you were being really Quincy Jones you'd do something like
    this', I said 'let's do that then'.
    Neil: "Chris wrote the music for this. He called his demo 'Indie'.
    Chris: "The title doesn't necessarily relate to the song.
    Neil: "Well, that was why we asked Johnny Marr to play on it. We 
    thought it should have guitars because Chris pictured it to be a 
    jangly kind of guitar thing. On the demo he played the melody on a 
    guitar sample. There's still a guitar solo played by Chris on the 
    keyboard. This was always a very easy track. I'd written the words 
    when it was demoed. The title comes from the title of the screenplay 
    Joe Orton wrote for The Beatles which was never used. I needed a 
    four-syllable phrase to fit the melody, and I looked at the bookcase 
    in my sitting room and there was Up Against It. Having decided upon 
    that title, I'd also been reading a book about London after the Second 
    World War, and the lyrics are sort of about post-war Britain. It's 
    about how people thought that they were going to build a new Jerusalem, 
    and how in every era everyone's being told to tighten their belts. 
    They were doing that in the Forties, in the Sixties, in the Seventies, 
    in the Eighties, and they were still doing it when I wrote this. You're 
    always marching but you're never actually getting anywhere. It always 
    seems like there's an economic crisis on, and that optimism disappears, 
    and the song is saying: what a swizz. The first verse - 'such a cold 
    winter' - refers to the legendarily cold winter of 1947/48. Rhyming 
    'Pinter' and 'winter' is very Sting, isn't it? The 'so deep in quicklime' 
    part was triggered by the fact that, as I was writing the song, they 
    dug up the bones of the Tsar and his family in Russia. It's just saying 
    that communism was rubbish. The whole song is just saying that politics 
    is rubbish.
    Chris: "The bassline's doing a Latin rhythm bit. 
    Neil: "Johnny Marr came up with the idea for the backing vocals at 
    the end: 'coming up against it now, really coming up against it oooh 
    whooo whooo'. He said, 'If you were being Quincy Jones you'd do 
    something like this'. I said, 'Let's do that, then,' and we sang 
    them together. 
    Chris: "We were still doing Sharon Redd breakdowns. No handclaps though.
    Neil: "It's got a very good end.
    Chris: "Well done, Chris Porter. That's the sort of thing only a proper 
    producer would do.

  [Violence]
    Neil: "Violence was the last track to be written for Please.
    Chris: "It was inspired by a sound on the PPG. It's the bass sound on the 
    record. Actually, the same sound is also used for the organ. It sounds 
    quite soulful. 
    Neil: "My vocal is really thin-sounding on this. Helena Springs sings on 
    it as well. In the instrumental middle bit we are still in 'Axel F' 
    territory. It's about Northern Ireland. At this time there were bombs 
    in London. It was also partly inspired by another Penelope Spheeris film, 
    The Boys Next Door, which is about two teenagers who go up to lots of 
    people in Los Angeles shopping malls. Chris said I should put in 
    'violence breeds violence'.
    Chris: "'Violence breeds violence'. It's a bit like 'War is stupid', isn't 
    it?
    Neil: "I always thought it was a bit of a corny line but I couldn't 
    think of anything else. I like the last verse best. The song is really 
    about how violence is male. It's a male concept. A friend of ours who 
    was in jail when this album came out said that everyone in his prison 
    loved this - they thought it was the best track on the album. I don't 
    think they thought it was glorifying violence. I think they liked the 
    fact that it was hard.

  [Violence (Hacienda Version)]
    Neil: "The original version of 'Violence' was on Please [see Please 
    sleevenotes], and when we played at the Haçienda in 1992 we decided to 
    do an old song, and we chose 'Violence' because there was so much gang 
    warfare in clubs in Manchester. And we'd always liked it. So we did it 
    in a kind of Manc drum-loopy kind of way. It was fundamentally done by 
    Chris. We liked the new version enough that we recorded it, and put it 
    on one of the 'I wouldn't normally do this kind of thing' CDs.

  [Was It Worth It?]
    Neil: "This started off as a song I wrote on the piano, before we made 
    Behaviour. For ages there wasn't a chorus, and then Chris wrote the 
    chords to the chorus. Steve Anderson of Brothers Of Rhythm put down the 
    piano part, which is pretty much like 'Ride On Time', on it. I said, 
    'Isn't that a bit too much like "Ride On Time"?' but then I realised 
    that's what DJ culture is all about. It's just a rhythm part, anyway. 
    I love the call-and-response in this song. It's real disco. It's a very 
    gay song. Very gay positive. It's basically saying: if I had to do it 
    all again, I wouldn't change a single thing. It's about me starting a 
    relationship. I couldn't think of the chorus words for ages and then I 
    wrote them one night driving home in a taxi down North End Road in Fulham. 
    I thought it would be a top five hit, but it was our first - and so far 
    only - single not to reach the top twenty. I think we didn't spend enough 
    time on the production. The seven-inch mix, which is on Discography, 
    sounds a little bit cheesy now. This twelve-inch mix is great, though 
    you can hear a very bad edit in it. In those days we still used to mix on 
    half-inch tape and you can hear at 0.43 where the string run goes into 
    the full mix. 
    Chris: "It sounds alright. You could even argue it was deliberate. 'How 
    did we get that effect?' is what you could be saying. I didn't like this 
    song for years, until I heard the demo of it that a fan sent in.
    Neil: "When we were onstage in Spain in 2000 this Spanish boy gave us a 
    version with a friend of his playing electric guitar and he sung it with 
    a Spanish accent and it's so moving.
    Chris: "He sung it so well - much better than Neil's ever sung it.
    Neil: "So I started to do his version in concert. Actually, our new live 
    version of it is a mixture of the original and his. 
    Chris: "We've now realised it works much better as guitar and vocals. We 
    might redo all of our fast songs as ballads.

  [Was That What It Was?]
    Neil: "We wrote and recorded this in Advision studios, trying to see if 
    we could completely do a song from scratch for a b-side. We didn't 
    really like our version, so when we went to America and Shep Pettibone 
    was remixing 'Opportunities', we also asked him to remix this. Instead, 
    his manager Jane Brinton did it. It's got all weird echoes in. It's one 
    of my least favourite Pet Shop Boys songs, though I like the middle bit - 
    'I don't need any more in my life' - which I think sounds a bit like 
    David Bowie. Although it also sounds like the middle section of 'Tonight 
    is forever', which I didn't notice until a fan wrote to me and pointed it 
    out. It's one of my soppy love lyrics. There's a stream of soppy b-sides. 
    Chris: "Was that what it was? Was that what it was?
    Neil: "It's a 'why has everything gone wrong?' record, looking back, 
    trying to pinpoint why the whole thing was screwed up. To be honest, 
    it's a very minor work.

  [We All Feel Better In The Dark]
    Chris: "More tragic vocals from me. I must remember not to do this again 
    in the future. 
    Neil: "It was the b-side of 'Being boring'. Chris wrote all the music for 
    it. I just sang 'we all feel better in the dark'. Originally it was going 
    to be 'we all look better in the dark', which was my title - that was one 
    of the ideas I considered for what became Electronic's 'Getting away with 
    it'.
    Chris: "I thought that was too down. Too negative. I didn't think that was 
    sexy enough. 
    Neil: "Chris went to a studio because he had the idea for a track, like he 
    did when he did 'Paninaro'. By the time I heard it he already had the 
    words. 
    Chris: "The idea came from a tape I bought from a health food shop round 
    the corner from the studio: The Secrets Of Sexual Attraction. The words 
    are terrible. Awful. Embarrassing. 
    Neil: "I think it's true to say they're about going to a rave. It's the 
    most lustful song the Pet Shop Boys have ever recorded.
    Chris: "I performed it in my underwear on the Performance tour. I don't 
    know who persuaded me to do that.
    Neil: "Chris, it was your idea. We realised in 1991 that the Nineties were 
    going to be all about underwear. You had another pair on underneath, 
    didn't you?
    Chris: "Yeah. I wouldn't have risked just the one.

  [West End Girls]
    Neil: "'West End girls' started off as a rap I'd written which was 
    completely inspired by 'The Message' by Grandmaster Flash, which was 
    released in 1982. I loved the whole idea of the pressure of living in 
    a modern city, and I decided to write a rap which could be done in an 
    English accent over this piece of music Chris and I had written in Ray 
    Roberts' Camden studio where we used to work. The original music wasn't 
    great, though there was a fantastic bit at the end where Chris went into 
    a Rhodes piano solo, which we really liked at the time. I started writing 
    the rap when I was staying at my cousin Richard's house outside 
    Nottingham. He and I had stayed up watching some kind of James Cagney 
    gangster film on the television, and I went to bed at about one o'clock. 
    I was sleeping in one of his kid's bedrooms in this tiny single bed and 
    for some reason the line 'sometimes you're better off dead/ there's a gun 
    in your hand and it's pointing at your head' came into my head, so I got 
    out of bed and wrote it down on a bit of paper with the next two lines. 
    Then when I got back to my flat in the King's Road, I lay on my floor one 
    night and wrote the whole thing, apart from the last verse. The following 
    day we were in Ray Roberts' studio and I said, 'I think we should do this 
    rap record - I've got an idea' and I spoke the whole thing to Chris and 
    Ray Roberts, banging my knee. Then, literally two or three days before 
    we went to New York to record with Bobby 'O' for the first time, we wrote 
    an instrumental with me playing the piano and Chris playing keyboards. It 
    started off with this chord change that I'd written years ago, and Chris 
    came up with the bassline - our first bouncy bassline. I took the tape 
    home and I realised that you could say the rap I'd written over it, and 
    that you could sing a tune over the chorus and then have 
    'west…end...girls…' following the bassline. And I wrote the last verse, 
    sitting on the floor again, and made a little tape of it. When we went 
    into the studio with Bobby 'O' he just stood us behind two keyboards and 
    I said to Chris, 'you know that rap…' and I did it then - that was the 
    first time I'd ever sung it, apart from muttering it to myself. 
    Chris: "The engineer had made 'Popcorn'…
    Neil: "…the first ever synthesiser hit, before Giorgio Moroder or 
    Kraftwerk. Steve Jerome, he was called. The following day Bobby 'O' did 
    these overdubs where he got the drum sounds from David Bowie's 'Let's 
    Dance' and played them live on the Emulator, and he played the choir 
    thing on the Emulator. When we first heard an Emulator at Bobby 'O''s we 
    loved the sound of this male Gregorian choir.
    Chris: "New Order had already used it on 'Blue Monday'. Very annoying.
    Neil: "I remember the engineer saying, 'oh, wow, your voice is so easy to 
    listen to…'.
    Chris: "When we wanted to release 'West End girls' again after we signed 
    to Parlophone, we had to re-record it, because we didn't own the original 
    recording. Stephen Hague decided we should slow it down - he wanted to 
    make it more moody. It's very similar to the original, but slower.
    Neil: "We added a lot more incidental noises - we had a general theory at 
    this point that we wanted to make music that sounded filmic. We wanted to 
    bring real sounds into the music, so our suggestion was to record people 
    walking down the street at the start. We recorded traffic as well. At the 
    start you can hear what Stephen Hague recorded walking down the street 
    outside Advision studios with a DAT.
    Chris: "Luckily a girl was walking down the street in stilettos. 
    Neil: "If you listen very carefully you can hear a girl saying, at 0.05, 
    something like 'it's Sting'. 
    Chris: "Because Stephen Hague looks a bit like Sting. 
    Neil: "The original version had four verses, but we decided to reduce it 
    to three: I joined the beginning of the fourth verse to the rest of the 
    third verse, skipping 'I've said it all before and I'll say it again/ 
    we're all modern men' from the third verse and 'All your stopping, 
    stalling and starting/ who do you think you are - Joe Stalin?' from the 
    fourth verse. And the way it worked in this version, it left a gap at the 
    end of the verses, apart from the first verse, so either we or Stephen 
    Hague suggested having someone sing there, and Stephen Hague suggested 
    Helena Springs. 
    Chris: "Helena Springs has got one of my favourite female backing voices 
    of all time.
    Neil: "I told her what words to sing and suggested the tune to her. She's 
    got a fantastic, magisterial voice. Then we added the trumpet solo, which 
    is played by Stephen Hague on an Emulator trumpet sample.
    Chris: "He spent ages doing it. It's a really good solo. A lot better than 
    most trumpet players.
    Neil: "All the Emulator choirs come from Bobby 'O''s original version - 
    Bobby 'O' played them originally. Chris and I foolishly didn't want to 
    keep them because we wanted it to not sound like Bobby 'O' but Stephen 
    Hague quite rightly said, 'No, that's so good it has to stay in'. The new 
    version also has a different beginning and end to the original. The whole 
    record took exactly one week, five days from Monday to Friday, on Friday 
    evening it was finished and we thought that it was absolutely completely 
    brilliant. And famously we took it to EMI and they were all a bit worried 
    about it, and we really had to say, 'No, it's great'. And it went to 
    number one in Britain and then, in 1986, to number one in America. 
    Arguably, 'West End girls' was the first rap number one in America. Chris 
    and I did our twelve-inch mix [CD2, track 6] with Frank Rozak, an 
    engineer from New York - we went in at night because the studio time was 
    cheaper. We weren't that happy with it at the time, but that mix became 
    the number one dance record in America. A lot of people assumed the song 
    was about prostitutes and of course, typically, it didn't even enter my 
    head. It was meant to be about class, about rough boys getting a bit of 
    posh. It's opposites - west/east, lower class/upper class, rich/poor, 
    work/play. And it's about the idea of escape. There is a huge thing about 
    escaping in our songs. I put in the bit about Russia because I've always 
    been interested in Russian history, and the idea was that the song went 
    from west to east - 'from Lake Geneva to The Finland Station', which is 
    the historic journey Lenin made in a sealed train. Chris and I used to 
    love the West End of London near Leicester Square because you'd get a lot 
    of skinheads, and you'd get posh girls. We used to go out nightclubbing 
    a lot, and we'd go to The Dive Bar in Gerrard Street, which is mentioned 
    in the song. It was in a basement, and it was damp down there, and there 
    was no one in it apart from a couple of queeny guys talking to the barman 
    - but it used to fascinate us. The barman used to play Shirley Bassey 
    or Barbra Streisand or Barry Manilow. We used to really like going there.
 
  [What Have I Done To Deserve This?]
    Neil: "We wrote this in the beginning of 1985. Tom Watkins was managing a 
    songwriter and artist called Allee Willis - I think he might have just 
    been managing her art career. 
    Chris: "She had an asymmetric haircut. Because it was the Eighties. 
    Neil: "She was quite a distinguished songwriter, in that she'd co-written 
    'Boogie Wonderland' for Earth Wind & Fire, and at the time she had a big 
    hit with The Pointer Sisters' 'Neutron Dance'.
    Chris: "Since then she's co-written the theme from Friends.
    Neil: "Anyway, Tom Watkins said, 'why don't you write a song with Allee?' 
    We'd never written a song with someone else in the same room. EMI used to 
    have a studio in their basement and we went in there. In fact we started 
    off in a rehearsal studio, where Chris threw a strop. He walked out of 
    the studio and I had to persuade him back in. I think he felt under 
    pressure.
    Chris: "Yeah. I was having to fight to get to a keyboard.
    Neil: "Then, after the strop, it got quite good. So there's three bits of 
    the song, one by Chris, one by me and one by Allee Willis. Chris wrote 
    the riff which starts the song and the music which is underneath 'I 
    bought you drinks I bought you flowers', I wrote the verse, and Allee 
    wrote, in my opinion the best bit of the song, the 'since you went away…' 
    bit. She was a very good musician and she'd brought an effects unit with 
    her which she programmed to make the drums sound like Prince. 
    Chris: "I remember there was lots of discussion about what the song meant. 
    I thought, 'does it really matter?'
    Neil: "She was right, though. I wrote most of the words. The story of the 
    song is that two people have broken up, and they're both in different 
    places regretting that they've split up, and at the end of the song they 
    get back together again. The man is a pathetic feeble wreck and the woman 
    is meant to be this major capitalist. I suppose I disguise the plots of 
    the songs because I sometimes think they're a bit corny and they're not 
    the most interesting part of the song - it's how it's manifested, how 
    it's discussed, the words that are used to express it. All these things 
    have been said three million times before, so it's how you say them. The 
    details. I wrote the words on the top of a number 22 bus going home from 
    Smash Hits one night. I was going down Piccadilly when I thought of 'what 
    have I done to deserve this?', and then I remember driving past The Ritz 
    and thinking 'I bought you drinks/ I brought you flowers…' and I even got 
    my pen out of my briefcase and wrote it down. And then Allee went through 
    the lyrics and simplified some of them and said 'what's happening?' I 
    would never have written things like 'hanging around' - I had something 
    slightly more English than that. And we were very very excited about it 
    and we played the demo to Tom Watkins who was really iffy about it. It 
    was going to be on our first album, and we couldn't think of who could 
    sing the female part, and Nikke Slight, who worked in Tom Watkins' 
    office, said, 'well, you like Dusty Springfield so much - why don't you 
    ask her?' And from that point we knew we just had to have Dusty, so Dusty 
    was approached but it never happened. Everyone said she couldn't sing 
    anymore. She had a very bad reputation. Then later, after Please came 
    out, we heard that Dusty wanted to do it. Chris and I met her and talked 
    through the song.
    Chris: "I think she was wearing a shell suit.
    Neil: "No. She was wearing black leather.
    Chris: "I always picture her wearing a shell suit - pink shell suit and 
    Reeboks.
    Neil: "She did later on, when we recorded the solo album. 
    Chris: "That's the classic Dusty, with straggly bleached hair.
    Neil: "She came in. Chris and I were sitting in the office in Advision. 
    Frankly, I was terrified. 'What do you want me to sound like?' she asked, 
    and she seemed surprised by the answer: 'you'. And then Chris and I had 
    to go to Newcastle to do 'Paninaro' on The Tube, so we missed her 
    recording the vocal. When we came back, it sounded fantastic. After we 
    had recorded it, Chris and I went off the track, in our classic way. We 
    decided we didn't want it to be a single. It had such an unusual 
    structure and we worried it didn't hang together. But we changed our mind 
    again. Originally the record started with an aeroplane noise, because he 
    comes back to her, but we thought it complicated the issue so we took it 
    off. We remixed our own twelve-inch version [CD2, track 6] with Julian 
    Mendelsohn. It's very Eighties. I like the fact that the bass is louder 
    than the seven-inch mix.
    Chris: "It's got a real build.

  [What Keeps Mankind Alive?]
    Neil: "We didn't release 'What Keeps Mankind Alive?' until it was a b-side 
    for 'Can you forgive her?' in 1993, but we recorded it back in 1988. 
    Radio One were doing a documentary about the fiftieth anniversary of Kurt 
    Weill's The Threepenny Opera's first performance. Quite why Radio One 
    were doing that I don't know, but they wanted a contemporary band to do 
    a song from The Threepenny Opera and they asked us to do 'What Keeps 
    Mankind Alive?', which neither of us knew. 
    Chris: "We wanted to make it sound really jolly, so that the lyrics 
    sounded really sick.
    Neil: "There is that quality in The Threepenny Opera anyway. You've got 
    this heroic music and these words about cannibalism and torture. We did 
    a demo of it, and then we had to go to BBC studios in Maida Vale to 
    record it. It's a very complicated piece of music and we were struggling 
    a bit.
    Chris: "The BBC producer was breathing down our necks the whole time being 
    a real irritant.
    Neil: "Luckily Simon Bates was there to smooth things over. And who should 
    be in the studio next door but Richard Coles of The Communards, doing a 
    session with Sandie Shaw. I said, 'Oh, Richard, you can do all this, 
    you're classically trained, just come and play these chords…' Even he 
    found them quite hard, but he very kindly played them into the computer. 
    Anyway, we finished it within the four hour session.
    Chris: "Then it turned out that it wasn't fifty years, after all.
    Neil: "When we were recording I said to the BBC producer, 'Wasn't that in 
    1928?' He said, 'Yeah'. I said, 'Doesn't that make i t sixty years…?' And 
    they'd made this documentary and got David Bowie and Sting and everyone. 
    It was really funny. So they celebrated the sixtieth anniversary instead.

  [Where The Streets Have No Name (I Can't Take My Eyes Off You)]
    Neil: "In our live concert, 'Streets' was meant to be totally the
    opposite of anything U2 would ever be--all these dancers and me in a
    pink satin suit.  Now it could fit into Zooropa quite easily.  We did
    with them what they've done with them before they did it, if you know
    what I mean."
    Neil: "We were releasing 'How can you expect to be taken seriously?' as 
    the third single off Behaviour. However, we decided that wouldn't be a 
    big hit, and we needed a hit, so we released a ragga-style remix of that 
    with this as a double a-side. 'Being boring' hadn't been a big hit and we 
    needed a big hit. It was absolutely shameless. Ages ago we'd had the idea 
    of doing U2's 'Where The Streets Have No Name' as a medley with 'Can't 
    Take My Eyes Off You', which we knew best as a high energy record by The 
    Boystown Gang, because one day, when we were recording 'I'm not scared' 
    with Patsy Kensit, Chris came in and said you could sing the one going 
    into the other. And we also thought the guitar on U2's record sounded 
    like a sequencer. Our original idea was to do this with Patsy Kensit - 
    it was going to be the follow-up to 'I'm not scared'.
    Chris: "Then we had the idea of doing a whole EP ourselves of rock classics 
    to a high energy disco beat. 'Stairway To Heaven'… 'She's climbing! She's 
    climbing!…'
    Neil: "'…a stairway! To heaven!' And we were going to do 'Like A Rolling 
    Stone'. Then we just decided to do 'Where The Streets…' The extended mix 
    [CD2 track 7] really sounds like ZZ Top, I think. When I went to America 
    to work for the American version of Smash Hits I heard ZZ Top for the 
    first time, and there were two of their songs I particularly liked, 
    'Sharp Dressed Man' and 'Legs'. I loved the combination of electric 
    guitars and drum machines. Billy Idol had it as well. And I think this 
    sounds a little bit like that. We had J.J. Belle playing rock guitar. 
    When the single version came out, Bono said 'what have we done to deserve 
    this?' And who can blame him?

  [Why Don't We Live Together?]
    Neil: "It was written in some rented studio about the same time as 
    'Suburbia', and when we went to New York to remix 'Opportunities' with 
    Ron Dean Miller in Unique studios we were having such a good time that 
    we announced we were going to stay longer and do another track with him. 
    EMI generously agreed to carry on funding us. They were now well up to 
    £100,000 of costs and we hadn't released a record yet. Ron Dean Miller 
    played the guitar. We were being a bit like 'Into The Groove' again.
    Chris: "Not specifically. We were being New York.
    Neil: "Ron Dean Miller suggested I change the phrasing of how I sang it. 
    Chris: "It used to be 'why don't we live together now?' but he said, 
    'Leave off the "now".' And it was Ron Dean Miller's bassline. And the 
    drums at the beginning are fantastic.
    Neil: "It sounded much more American. But that version [CD2, track 5] is 
    not the version we released. For the album, we worked on it some more 
    with Stephen Hague. He spent ages reprogramming all the drums for it.
    Chris: "It's ace. I don't know why it wasn't a single. 
    Neil: "Ron Dean Miller could not understand the line 'the woman in me 
    shouts out, the man in me just smiles'. I always like presenting things 
    upside down, so in this song men are indecisive and women are decisive, 
    whereas the stereotype used to be the other way round. It's probably 
    about someone I fancied, but I can't remember. I'm saying that the woman 
    in me responds to emotion and the man in me doesn't - it's that my soft 
    feminine side wants to settle down. That's what the song is really about: 
    settling down, compromise. If you will never find someone who you are 
    totally in love with, who you are intellectually compatible with, 
    physically compatible with, never going to get bored with sexually, is 
    incredibly good-looking - if you're not going to find that person, you're 
    probably going to settle for the person whom you're used to. It's the 
    compromise of reaching middle age. A very old-fashioned idea. People say, 
    'You've got to work at a marriage', and I think that's true. The people 
    in the song are being wise. You both know you're kind of in love but 
    you're messing around and eventually one person is saying to the other, 
    'Why don't we just face the fact that we're going to live together for 
    the rest of our lives and get on with it, and we will be happy?' It has 
    some of the same words as the end of 'Opportunities': '…all the love we 
    had and all the love we hide'.

  [Yesterday, When I Was Mad]
    Neil: "'Yesterday, When I was Mad' is about the reaction we got on
    tour, about being damned with faint praise.  Someone coming backstage
    and saying, 'It's quite good; you've made a little go a long way.'
    People said all these things to us.  We attract, of course, a lot of
    superciliousness.  Which is a pity, because we've never admired
    cleverness for its own sake..."
    Neil: "Chris and I were talking about how, in progressive rock, they used 
    to change time all the time, and how no one did it anymore, so this starts 
    in 6/8 time and then goes into techno. We were quite into techno at this 
    time.
    Chris: "Who wasn't? Techno techno techno...
    Neil: "The music was written first. We wrote it at the studio in 
    Hertfordshire and I put the chorus on straightaway.
    Chris: "It's all about being on tour, isn't it?
    Neil: "When we'd been on tour in America in 1991 I'd written down the 
    phrase 'yesterday, when I was mad'. It's meant to be more funny than 
    angry but there is a little bit of anger because the conversations 
    happened. Someone did say, 'You've both made such a little go a very long 
    way', and also, 'They couldn't understand your sense of humour like I do'. 
    It's people's reactions to the Performance show. People would come 
    backstage and say these things, particularly in America. Someone told me, 
    'I got it - none of them out there got it'. I always used to say: What is 
    there to get? It's a show. There's nothing fantastically clever about it - 
    it's just a load of costumes and dancing and stuff. It's not the story of 
    King Lear. It's not La Boheme told in pop songs. When everyone says that 
    stuff, you feel like giving up.
    Chris: "Touring generally can make you feel like giving up. 
    Neil: "On tour it's very difficult to believe in people's sincerity because 
    you're the king of the castle and everybody does what you say, so you 
    don't know what they think. And then you think, when you're in the hotel 
    by yourself, 'oh well', and you begin to think that you do believe in 
    people's sincerity. As for the competition winners, hotel rooms and 
    arguing about dinner, see Pet Shop Boys Versus America.
    Chris: "It's quite an unusual sounding record. It's from our punk disco 
    range that we do every now and then. It's for the mosh pit, if that's 
    what you call it. No one else would write a song like this. 
    Neil: "When we were going to release it as a single, Jam & Spoon did a 
    remix and they had changed the introduction, and we used that in our 
    single version [CD2, track 15]. It made it much more spooky and techno-y. 
    It was mixed by Julian Mendelsohn. 
    Chris: "The video was surprisingly good. I loved being a lampshade.

  [You Know Where You Went Wrong]
    Neil: "Like so many producers we've worked with, Shep Pettibone always 
    wanted to do another 'West End girls'. He'd say, 'why don't you do 
    another record where you talk, because everyone loves that in 
    America?' It started off as a story Chris told me - that he'd been 
    walking through Covent Garden and there were two tramps in this doorway 
    and one of them turned round to the other one and said, 'well, you know 
    where you went wrong'. He told me this and we thought it was really funny. 
    It was like a New Yorker cartoon. 
    Chris: "I thought it was rather more Glen Baxter myself. 
    Neil: "That was about a year before we wrote the song; I'd always 
    remembered it. Then the 'y'know' came from our friend Pete.
    Chris: "You'd say something and he'd go 'y'know'. 
    Neil: "It's to agree with what someone is saying but to emphasise it in 
    a slightly sarcastic way. Chris had written all the music. Shep Pettibone 
    arranged the introduction and then later went and used more or less the 
    same kind of arrangement for the introduction to 'Vogue' by Madonna. It 
    was originally a rap song but Chris didn't like the rap and so I think 
    he suggested this tune I should do. The words are just examples of people 
    saying 'you know where you went wrong'. For the verse about 'the girl 
    says, "admit admit"', I was reminded about when my sister, as a girl, 
    used to get magazines like June and Schoolfriend, and in them the girls 
    would say things at the back of biology classes like 'admit admit'. The 
    second verse is about someone disgraced by a way, an old statesman totally 
    out of favour who can't understand why people are upset. Helena Springs, 
    who had sung on 'West End girls', sings on it.
    Chris: "She gets the best bit of the song. 
    Neil: "We spent ages working on it. I think we thought it might be a 
    single, but it became the b-side of 'It's a sin'.
    Chris: "That happens so often with us, and then the song barely makes 
    it onto a b-side.

  [Young Offender]
    Neil: "We had [the remixes] done a year ago and I can't remember why
    now.  The first mix is my personal favourite mix we've ever had done."
    Chris: "Oooh, what a sexy title. One of the best tracks on the album.
    Neil: "The title idea came from Chris. He'd written this piece of music 
    and already titled it 'Young offender' on the computer. It's about someone 
    old and someone young. The young person is playing on a computer. 
    Chris: "I thought it was someone in an arcade. I wish I didn't know that.
    Neil: "It could be an arcade - we've given it that context in the song. 
    It's also about how, when computer games came in, a certain generation 
    just didn't know what they were all about. It is about a generation gap. 
    The whole song is a defence of the writer against the young person: 'I've 
    been a teenager since before you were born…' The young person isn't 
    supposed to be a criminal - he's an offender because he's annoyed me. 
    There's the double entendre no one ever notices: 'will I get in your way 
    or open your eyes/ who will give whom the bigger surprise?' I like the 
    'whom'.

  [Your Funny Uncle]
    Chris: "This always makes me think of being on tour in 1991 - it was the 
    last song, when we ended up going to bed. Great way of ending a show. I 
    used to love going to bed thinking, 'I've got nothing more to do and Neil 
    still has to sing a song'.
    Neil: "It was during this song in San Francisco that one night a man 
    jumped onstage and kissed me, and the next night another jumped on 
    Chris's bed. The music for this I played all on samples. I first played 
    it on the piano at Sarm West with a metronome click in my ears very 
    loudly - you get a gap between verse two and verse three because I 
    couldn't think of what to do between them. Then I took each of the 
    instruments of a string quartet on the keyboard and separately played 
    a line: a cello line, two violin lines, a viola line, and then a clarinet 
    sample near the end. It didn't take very long. It was done at about 
    midnight one night. Danton Supple, the assistant, mixed it. Chris was 
    asleep on the sofa. 
    Chris: "I wonder if I was dreaming of the Queen.
    Neil: "The words are about one of my best friends who died of Aids. The 
    same person who had the party in 'Being Boring'. He died in 1989, and 
    this is a description of his funeral. All the details are true: the cars 
    in slow formation, and so on. He did have an uncle, who had been in the 
    army all of his life and suddenly found himself at the funeral of his 
    evidently gay nephew who'd died of Aids. I think it must have been quite 
    a difficult situation for him, but he was really nice and dignified and 
    spoke to all of his nephew's friends. I had to give a reading, and the 
    bit I read was from the book of Revelations, which started 'I, John, saw 
    a new Jerusalem', and at the end it says there's somewhere where there's 
    no pain or fear, and I found it a really moving piece of prose, and 
    attached it to the end of the song. 


Articles to each major album release

  [Actually]
    Actually, the second Pet Shop Boys studio album, was released in September 
    1987. 'We hadn't toured, which we were supposed to do at the end of
    1986, and I think it was a strength, because we spent quite a while 
    writing songs,' says Neil. 'The idea was to make it more musically 
    ambitious. Bigger-sounding. The arrangements slightly more adventurous. 
    My criticism of this album is that I don't think it hangs together as 
    well as some of our other albums. But it definitely marked a high point 
    of our success.' 'Very exciting times,' echoes Chris, then adds, wryly, 
    'I knew it was never going to last.' The first song recorded for 
    Actually was their collaboration with Dusty Springfield, 'What have I 
    done to deserve this?'. Though it was produced by Stephen Hague, who had 
    produced Please, the Pet Shop Boys had already decided that this time 
    they wanted to work with a variety of producers. Over the next few 
    months they recorded with Hague, but approached a number of other people 
    and worked with Julian Mendelsohn (whom they'd first worked with on the 
    single version of 'Suburbia'), Andy Richards (whom they'd met as Julian 
    Mendelsohn's programmer) and Shep Pettibone (the New York dance producer 
    who had remixed 'West End girls', 'Love comes quickly' and 
    'Opportunities').The album was preceded by two singles, 'It's a sin' in 
    June and 'What have I done to deserve this?' in August. Subsequently 
    they released a remix of 'Rent' in October and then, after the non-album 
    single 'Always On My Mind' in November, a different version of 'Heart' 
    from the Actually version came out in March 1988. In Britain, 'It's a 
    sin', 'Always On My Mind' and 'Heart' all reached number one; 'What have 
    I done to deserve this?' was only blocked by Rick Astley's immovable 
    'Never Gonna Give You Up'. 'As soon as Actually came out we planned 
    another tour and promptly cancelled it,' Neil remembers. 'We did lots of 
    promotion instead. We were still having hits in America, and I felt at 
    this time that we had the secret of contemporary pop music, that we knew 
    what was required. We entered our imperial phase. We did our thing with 
    Dusty, we made a film, It couldn't happen here. It was exciting.' 'It 
    was a very busy time,' says Chris. 'I can't really remember much about 
    it. Just hectic. What was good was, a lot of British people were 
    successful in Europe so we were always at airports with the rock and pop 
    fraternity. It was really great - you'd arrive at Heathrow and everyone 
    would be there: Depeche Mode, The Smiths, Nick Kamen, Paul Weller, 
    Eighth Wonder. And you'd be, "Oh God, look who's over there".' '…The 
    Spands…The Human League,' continues Neil. 'Every time we had a number 
    one Susanne would phone me up. She'd say, 'Well, you're number one - 
    Philip's dead jealous'.' They had thought of the title, Actually, early 
    on, and then, typically, went off it, and decided not to use it. 
    Eventually they came round. 'It was so English and kind of arch and it 
    was kind of a joke and it was something we said a lot,' says Neil. 'And 
    also it could be a sentence - "Pet Shop Boys, actually" - which echoed 
    Please.' For the sleeve, they had first commissioned a painting of the 
    two of them by a Scottish artist, Alison Watt, who had just won the 
    National Portrait Gallery competition. She wanted them to sit for three 
    weeks; they persuaded her to paint from photos taken of them in her 
    Glasgow flat. But Chris hated himself in the finished portrait, and Neil 
    didn't think it was the right album cover anyway, so they began searching 
    through recent photos of themselves. At the last moment, they realised 
    that the best photo was one which had been taken by Cindy Palmano on the 
    set of the 'What have I done to deserve this?' video. They had initially 
    dismissed it as a sleeve image because they were wearing dinner jackets 
    and bow ties. 'Me yawning next to Chris,' says Neil. 'She'd done a session 
    backstage, with a metallic background. For the very first photograph we'd 
    just sat down and I'd yawned because I was tired.' Unfortunately, the 
    photograph had already been sent to Smash Hits magazine for their next 
    cover, which went to press the following day. Desperate phone calls were 
    made, and the Pet Shop Boys agreed to do a new photo session that evening 
    for Smash Hits, and in return got back the yawning image. 'Then,' Neil 
    recalls, 'Mark had the idea of making it white and cutting out the 
    background.' They knew it was good - 'it was very un-whatever everyone 
    else was doing,' says Neil - though that still didn't mean Chris liked 
    it. 'I hate the photo,' he says. 'I can't stand the way I look in it. 
    I hate wearing a bloody dickie-bow, I hate wearing a white shirt and I 
    hate the way my hair is. Straight after that video I had my hair cropped.' 
    'It's very much the defining image of the Pet Shop Boys,' Neil reflects. 
    'Ennui,' says Chris. 'It was a good and a bad image,' Neil considers. 
    'It was one of those things that maybe people wonder whether we were 
    serious or not. In fact that album itself is pretty serious. Even the 
    jokes are serious jokes.' 
	 
  [Behaviour]
    Behaviour, the fourth Pet Shop Boys studio album, was released in 
    October 1990. 'This was five years from 'West End girls',' notes Neil. 
    'Five years in pop music is a long time.' Since their previous album, 
    Introspective, the Pet Shop Boys had produced the album Results for Liza 
    Minnelli, also writing most of its songs, had collaborated with Bernard 
    Sumner and Johnny Marr on the first Electronic album, and had appeared 
    onstage for the first time in America when Electronic supported Depeche 
    Mode at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles. They had also left Tom Watkins' 
    management operation and set up their own office, run by Jill 
    Carrington. They began work on Behaviour, which would turn out to be 
    their most moody and contemplative album yet, with a fairly 
    straightforward sense of purpose. 'At the time,' Neil remembers, 'I 
    believe we were thinking of bringing out an album of fab pop songs, like 
    ten Kylie Minogue singles.' They decided that they wanted, for the first 
    time since Please, to make an album with one producer. They also had a 
    couple of specific musical guidelines they wanted to follow: 'We had the 
    idea before we started that we were going to use analogue synthesisers, 
    and we weren't going to use samples, because even by the beginning of 
    1990 everything was mega-samples, and we wanted to make something much 
    cleaner. We thought it would sound fuller and more original if all the 
    sounds were programmed for it.' When they considered who might be able to 
    create such analogue sounds, they thought of the German disco records of 
    the seventies made by Giorgio Moroder, a train of thought which led them 
    to Harold Faltermeyer, who had been Moroder's programmer and had since 
    achieved success on his own, most famously with the instrumental 'Axel 
    F'. 'At the end of 1989 Chris and I flew to Munich to meet him,' recalls 
    Neil. 'He has a positive museum of ancient synthesisers. And he had an 
    engineer from America, Brian Reeves, who worked on a lot of Donna Summer 
    records.' They agreed to make the album in Faltermeyer's Munich studio 
    over ten weeks the following spring, in two blocks with a month's break 
    in the middle. Neil enjoyed being in Germany rather more than Chris did. 
    'We stayed in this little apartment hotel in the centre of Munich,' says 
    Neil. 'They were very ordinary rooms.' 'Very depressing,' says Chris. 'I 
    kept wanting to hire a suite in the best hotel in Munich,' Neil recalls, 
    'but Chris wanted to save the money.' Chris hated that he was away from 
    the rave culture explosion he'd been enjoying back home. 'The Germans 
    then hadn't heard of house music,' he says. 'There was nowhere to go. 
    Miserable times. I felt like I was missing out on so much that was 
    happening in England - it was possibly the most exciting time in English 
    culture ever including the Sixties, and we were in Munich. But Neil 
    liked it.' 'I used to like walking in the English garden,' Neil says. 'I 
    occasionally went to the opera. I like the beer; I liked the buildings. 
    Every morning we had a hired BMW and we would drive to Munich airport 
    and pick up the English papers - Chris would park the car and I would 
    rush in - and one morning I got back in and there was a strange man 
    sitting there. I'd got in the wrong car.' 'Because everyone has a grey 
    BMW,' says Chris. 'We were listening to Violator by Depeche Mode,' Neil 
    remembers, 'which was a very good album and we were deeply jealous of 
    it.' 'They had raised the stakes,' Chris agrees. Harold Faltermeyer 
    lived on a kind of private estate just outside Munich. The Pet Shop Boys 
    would arrive a little before midday, have a cup of coffee and begin 
    work. They would usually order in pizza for lunch. Around four o'clock 
    they would adjourn to his beer hut in the garden for some of 
    Faltermeyer's German draught beer. 'And,' says Chris, 'he'd tell us 
    anecdotes about Giorgio Moroder.' On the property Faltermeyer had his 
    own abattoir. (He is a keen hunter. 'He makes his own sausages,' Chris 
    observes.) At one point during the recording process they tried feeding 
    the vocals through the abattoir, re-miking a speaker in there for a 
    reverb effect. 'It didn't really work out,' Neil says. In Germany, they 
    kept to the concept of using analogue synthesisers and no samples, but 
    when they returned to London to mix the album at Sarm West, they 
    somewhat relaxed these rules. However, they were still resolved to 
    release an album which sounded consistent, and made the final song 
    selection with that in mind, at the last minute removing 'Miserablism' 
    and replacing it with 'The end of the world'. 'When this album came out 
    people said they were amazed that the whole rave thing seemed to have 
    passed us by,' says Neil. 'We, of course, thought we had shamelessly 
    jumped on the rave bandwagon.' 'The thing is, we were ahead of it, 
    because some of Behaviour is like deep house,' reasons Chris, 'and the 
    naff old reviewers were still trapped in acid house. Whereas we had 
    moved on.' The sombre images of the Pet Shop Boys, some red roses and an 
    abandoned chair which appeared on the album sleeve were taken by Eric 
    Watson. 'We had this idea for the photographs with the roses because 
    we'd been to Liza Minnelli's apartment in New York and she had this 
    fantastic photograph, I think by Richard Avedon, of Judy Garland as a 
    tramp holding a huge bunch of red roses,' says Neil. 'So we just nicked 
    the idea of the huge bunch of red roses and suggested it to Eric. We got 
    all the roses from about three florists in Fulham because we wanted 
    trillions of them.' 'They didn't have the thorns removed either,' says 
    Chris. 'It was very painful.' 'But there was something luscious about 
    it - the beautiful red roses,' says Neil. 'At the end of the session Eric 
    had the idea of photographing just the chair and the roses. Then we did 
    the solo portraits, and Eric thought they were too brutal, but we really 
    liked them.' 'I like that picture of me,' Chris reflects. 'I think I 
    should always be photographed from behind.' 'Mark Farrow had the idea 
    of using the four photographs like that,' remembers Neil. He says that 
    one detail has always annoyed him: 'I've always thought the full stop 
    after the word Behaviour is over-designed. It looks a bit naff. I probably 
    thought it looked cool at the time but now I think it's irritating, 
    because it's not a sentence.' For the American version of the album, in 
    deference to local spelling custom, it was released as Behavior. Neil 
    remembers the title Behaviour as being Chris's idea. (Chris says he can't 
    remember. 'Was it? I've got no idea. I don't see why I should take the 
    blame for it.') 'It seemed to sum up the album,' says Neil. 'I think we 
    felt this was a much more personal-sounding album. I think we were fed up 
    at this point with the whole notion of irony that we particularly got 
    landed with, because of records like 'Opportunities'. Behaviour seemed 
    completely un-ironic and slightly serious. This is basically a sad album, 
    from 'Being boring' through to 'Jealousy', with the exception of 'How 
    can you expect to be taken seriously?' which is a satire. I suppose 'So 
    hard' which is about the end of a relationship, is funny as well. But 
    otherwise they're all rather sad songs.'

  [Bilingual]
    Bilingual, the sixth Pet Shop Boys studio album, was released in 
    September 1996. The Pet Shop Boys had started working on it more than 
    two years earlier, in August 1994, when they went to New York and worked 
    on some songs at Unique studios where they had recorded the original 
    version of 'West End girls' in 1983. The Latin influence that would 
    infuse much, but not all, of Bilingual, was already apparent in the 
    first song they recorded, 'Discoteca'. Chris had just been on holiday in 
    Brazil, and Neil had been listening to a lot of Spanish music. 'I was in 
    a relationship with a Spaniard,' says Neil, 'and he used to come round 
    to my house or I used to go to his house and listen to his Spanish CDs.' 
    While in New York Neil and Chris went to the Sound Factory bar. 'They 
    had go-go boys dancing almost naked on the podiums with flags wrapped 
    around them, and there was live Latin percussion,' Chris recalls. These 
    visits to the Sound Factory bar inspired, and set the tone, for their 
    Discovery tour at the end of that year, which ended with concerts in 
    Mexico, Columbia, Chile, Argentina and Brazil where they were further 
    exposed to Latin dance music (Discovery - the tour and subsequent video 
    - took its name from a combination of the words 'very' and 'disco', six 
    years before Daft Punk did likewise.) They had decided that, instead of 
    making an album in one stretch, they would make this record in bits and 
    pieces, as it suited them. They didn't begin working again until April 
    1995 when they started recording on and off at Sarm West and at a tiny 
    demo studio they had hired in the Strongroom studio complex.In the 
    Strongroom they demoed a large number of new songs. Aside from ones 
    which would end up on Bilingual this was the period in which they first 
    recorded 'Hit and miss' (the b-side of 'Before'), 'You only tell me you 
    love me when you're drunk' (which would be on their 1999 album 
    Nightlife), 'For all of us' (which would end up in their 2001 musical 
    Closer To Heaven) and 'Love your enemy' (still unfinished). In June they 
    went back to New York to record with Danny Tenaglia and then in August 
    they rented a large house called Rocky Lane in the English countryside 
    near Henley and moved their studio into its garage, so that they could 
    work at their own pace and in a more relaxing environment. Early on, 
    they also started recording with producer Chris Porter, who was best 
    known for his work with George Michael but whom they were keen to work 
    with because he had produced Take That's 'Back For Good'. 'I was getting 
    into harmonies,' says Neil. '"Se a vida é" has got a lot of tracked 
    harmonies. Bob Krausaar likes doing them and kind of encourages you, 
    because I get bored doing them very quickly. On our first two albums 
    there are almost no harmonies at all. It just didn't occur to me in 
    those days.' They had decided to call the album Bilingual from the very 
    beginning, partly because of the Latin flourishes, and partly because 
    they thought it was funny. 'It was sort of a joke on "bisexual",' says 
    Neil. By the summer of 1996, just as the album was nearing release, they 
    typically went off the title, and early reference CDs bore the 
    alternative title Pet Shop Boys: That's the way life is. Then they 
    thought again and changed their minds. The original Bilingual sleeve - 
    'a frosted concept,' says Chris - was inspired by a piece of frosted PVC 
    in designer Mark Farrow's office. 'After Very we couldn't really have a 
    normal CD sleeve,' says Neil, 'and also we didn't want to.' They wanted 
    the whole CD case to be sandblasted and opaque, but it wasn't possible, 
    and even with the compromise version there were manufacturing problems 
    and difficulties getting the frosted square centred on the CD case. 
    'There was a feeling in EMI,' Neil remembers, 'that it was too cool, too 
    upmarket.' 'I particularly like the yellow of the sleeve,' notes Chris. 
    'It pre-dates the St Martin's Lane hotel.' They decided that, after 
    Very's elaborate fantasy images, they shouldn't even pose for photos 
    this time, and all the photographs in the original Bilingual booklet are 
    snaps. Neil's are from holidays in Jamaica and Gran Canaria; Chris's are 
    from the Discovery tour. (The photograph of him with soldiers behind him 
    was taken in the stadium in Bogota, Columbia, where the Pet Shop Boys 
    were to play later that day. The photograph of him, arms outstretched 
    and mouth open, was taken as he danced on a raised platform in a 
    nightclub outside Buenos Aires in Argentina.) By the Pet Shop Boys' 
    previous standards, Bilingual was only a modest commercial success on 
    its release. 'I think sometimes a vague cloud hangs over this album,' 
    says Neil. 'If you listen to it, without prejudice, I think it's a really 
    really strong album. I think overall it contains some of our best-ever 
    songs and productions. Everyone forgets that when this album was released 
    it received unanimously rave reviews right across the board and was 
    released after two top ten singles. Though I remember saying to Jill 
    Carrington, our manager then, that it was the first time we had released 
    an album without a top five single in Britain.' In retrospect, they do 
    have some reservations. 'I think we probably chose the wrong singles, as 
    usual,' says Chris. They both agree that the album is too long; at one 
    point Neil suggested re-editing it, removing 'Metamorphosis' and 
    'Electricity', and re-sequencing it for these reissues. 'I think the 
    running order is wrong,' he says. 'You don't really get strong melody 
    until track five: "Discoteca" has a very interesting melody but it's not 
    a catchy pop melody, "Single" is a chant, "Metamorphosis" is a rap, 
    though it has a catchy chorus, and "Electricity" is sort of a rap. It's a 
    positively experimental start.' He says that they originally considered a 
    more commercial running order, before its release, beginning with 'Se a 
    vida é' and 'Before'. 'I have a further criticism of it,' says Neil. 'I 
    think the concept isn't clear. We didn't stick with the Latin concept. 
    Also, the fact that it was called Bilingual, I wonder if people thought 
    it was a bilingual album like Gloria Estefan doing her Spanish album.' 
    The Pet Shop Boys were also puzzled by another aspect of Bilingual's 
    reception: the notion, perhaps suggested by the Latin rhythms and phrases, 
    that this was an uplifting and happy record. By and large it is not. Even 
    'Se a vida é', the sunniest song, is about someone who is depressed. 
    'They all got it wrong,' Chris says. 'If this album has a theme, right 
    the way through,' says Neil, 'it is: you have to struggle to survive.'
	
  [Disco 2]
    Literally #12: "Originally the Pet Shop Boys had simply planned to
    release Relentless on its own this summer, but they weren't entirely
    happy with the idea.  They considered adding some extra songs, or
    adding some of the remixes of songs off Very. Eventually they decided
    on an album which would combine, mixed together, some recent remixes
    and Relentless, and they asked London DJ Danny Rampling (Chris's
    choice) to mix everything together. They quite liked the result, which
    they were going to release under the title Absolutely Relentless, but
    then they asked him to put together a second mix excluding songs from
    Relentless, which they preferred."
    Neil: "It works really well.  It's really good for driving to, and 
    getting ready to go out to."

  [Introspective]
    Introspective, the third Pet Shop Boys studio album, was released in 
    October 1988. The Pet Shop Boys had a particular concept in mind from the 
    start. At the time, it was usual to record songs which were the length 
    of a pop single, three or four minutes, and then to expand them 
    subsequently, either by yourself or by commissioning someone else, into 
    longer, more elaborate and complex dance versions. (This was in the days 
    when dance remixes typically expanded on the original song, instead of 
    merely using it as the reference point and source material for rhythmic 
    reinterpretations far removed from the original.) The Pet Shop Boys 
    decided to turn this process back to front. They would map out these new 
    songs as seven or eight minutes long, and then later edit them down to 
    singles. 'It was quite exciting to plan the songs as long,' says Neil, 
    'because we had been so disciplined at making four-minute pop singles, 
    with the exception of 'It's a sin', which is five minutes. The idea also 
    was to have an album where every track was a single. And in fact five out 
    of the six of them were, because 'I'm not scared' was a single for Patsy 
    Kensit, or rather for her group Eighth Wonder. 'I want a dog' is the 
    exception to the rule because it was someone else's remix of a shorter 
    song we had already recorded; we put it on because Frankie Knuckles had 
    done such a fantastic remix. 'Always on my mind' was also an exception to 
    the strict rule, but it hadn't been on an album.' 
    The Pet Shop Boys had begun making the album in their heads at the
    beginning of 1988, and notionally the first song they thought of for it,
    and the first they recorded, was a new version of a song they had recorded 
    with Bobby 'O' years earlier, 'I get excited (You get excited too)', but 
    then they needed a b-side for the 'Heart' single in March 1988 and used 
    'I get excited…' for that. Over the next few months they recorded the 
    songs which would appear on Introspective. Two were produced by Trevor 
    Horn, one with producer Lewis Martinée in Miami, and one by themselves 
    and David Jacob. 'I think this is our imperial album,' Neil reflects. 
    'The one where we felt, making it, that we understood the essence of 
    pop music and so we felt we could do what we liked. And this was what we 
    wanted to do. It's our best-selling album overall.' The title came quite 
    late in the day. 'Originally the album was going to be called Bounce,' 
    says Neil, 'which was some reference to people saying we had bouncy 
    basslines. We'd also written a song called "Bounce" that we've never 
    recorded properly. Finally we decided to call it Introspective because 
    we felt all the songs were quite introspective, and also the word 
    "introspective" sounded a bit ravey.' The sleeve was designer Mark 
    Farrow's idea. 'He had some book explaining how colours go together,' 
    says Neil. 'There were pages and pages of stripes. That was probably 
    the first sleeve we designed thinking of it as a CD rather than as a 
    record sleeve.' 'Didn't Tom Watkins think that whenever people saw the 
    testcard they'd think, "Oh, I must go out and buy that Introspective 
    album?"' remembers Chris. 'Our biggest-selling album has not got a 
    picture of us on the cover. That's interesting, don't you think? I 
    think we actually put people off our records.' They were pictured on 
    the inner sleeve and in the CD booklet, photographed in yellow t-shirts 
    dyed to match a yellow background ('no expense spared,' Chris notes) 
    and they were shot with Booblies, a friend's Yorkshire terrier. Around 
    this time, Booblies also appeared with them on Going Live, the Saturday 
    morning children's TV show, where he attacked the puppet character, 
    Gordon the Gopher. This new version of Introspective does correct one 
    error. 
    The original sleeve states that the total length of the album's songs is 
    50.03; in fact it is 48.03. 'I added the times up wrongly,' Neil 
    confesses. 'Neil didn't realise there were sixty seconds in a minute,' 
    Chris notes. Neil nods. 'I forgot that,' he agrees.

  [Please]
    Please, the first Pet Shop Boys album, was released in March 1986. Neil 
    Tennant and Chris Lowe had met in London during August 1981 and began 
    writing songs together soon afterwards, eventually settling into a routine 
    of regularly demoing new songs in a Camden recording studio owned by Ray 
    Roberts. In August 1983 - when Neil was working at the pop magazine Smash 
    Hits and Chris was studying architecture - Neil was sent to New York by 
    Smash Hits to interview The Police and took the opportunity to play some 
    songs to the cult disco producer, Bobby Orlando, whose records Chris and 
    Neil admired. Bobby 'O', as he was known, announced that they would make 
    a record together. The first Pet Shop Boys single, the Bobby 'O'-produced 
    version of 'West End girls', was released in April 1984 and was a modest 
    underground dance hit, at the time satisfying their one stated ambition: 
    to have a twelve-inch single available on import in the trendiest London 
    record shops. A second, 'One more chance', followed. By March 1985 the 
    Pet Shop Boys were extricated from their Bobby 'O' contract and signed 
    to EMI Records' subsidiary, Parlophone. A single, 'Opportunities (Let's 
    make lots of money)', was released that August but, to their 
    disappointment, only reached number 116 in the British charts. 
    When they began to plan their first album, the Pet Shop Boys decided they 
    wanted to work with the producer Stephen Hague, because of his recent work 
    with The World's Famous Supreme Team ('Hey DJ') and Malcolm McLaren 
    ('Madame Butterfly'). Their manager, Tom Watkins, suggested, amongst 
    others, The System and a newly-successful British production team, Stock 
    Aitken and Waterman, who were working with another of his acts, Spelt 
    Like This. EMI also had doubts about Hague and made other suggestions, 
    but it was agreed they could record a new version of 'West End girls' as 
    a trial track with Stephen Hague, after which they were given the 
    go-ahead for the album. 
    Please was recorded with Stephen Hague at Advision studios in London 
    between November 1985 and January 1986, working from midday until 
    midnight, breaking mid-evening to visit Efe's Turkish kebab house down 
    the road. 'We would drink a bottle of retsina, if not two bottles, and 
    come back half-drunk,' says Neil. Occasionally they would take time off 
    to perform 'West End girls' on Top Of The Pops and Wogan, as it slowly 
    rose to number one in the British chart. At one point during the recording, 
    the studio manager said, 'So you're the singer, Neil? I thought you were 
    the manager'. 
    They decided the album would include ten songs, already written, and set 
    aside a number of other contenders, including 'It's a sin' (which Hague 
    said they should leave to their next album), 'Rent' (which programmer 
    Blue Weaver thought had too similar a chord change to 'I want a lover'), 
    'What have I done to deserve this?' (they had yet to persuade their chosen 
    collaborator Dusty Springfield), 'Jealousy', 'One more chance' and 'In the 
    club or in the queue' (which the Pet Shop Boys would revisit in 1999 but 
    which remains unreleased). Please was recorded on a tight deadline. 'West 
    End girls' had already been finished, and they already had recordings of 
    'I want a lover', 'Opportunities…' and 'Why don't we live together?' 
    which Stephen Hague would do further work on, but they were still under 
    time pressure. The last song they finished, 'Suburbia', was a 
    straightforward remake of their demo version partly because there was no 
    time to do anything else. 
    Though it was hardly a concept album, as the Pet Shop Boys recorded 
    Please, they realised that the songs they had chosen could be sequenced 
    to form a loose storyline. 'We had the idea for the album that it was 
    sort of linked together,' says Neil. 'They run away in the first song, 
    they arrive in the city ('West End girls'), they want to make money 
    ('Opportunities'), they fall in love ('Love comes quickly'), move to 
    suburbia ('Suburbia), go out clubbing ('Tonight is forever'), there's 
    violence in the city ('Violence') and casual sex ('I want a lover'), 
    someone tries to pick up a boy ('Later tonight')…it does sort of work.
    During the recording, there was much talk of how the first Pet Shop Boys 
    album sleeve should look. 'One of the great strengths of our relationship 
    with Tom Watkins is that there was a lot of negative energy in it, and 
    Chris and I would react against Tom,' says Neil. 'It really worked in a 
    quite a positive way, creatively. Tom spent the whole time we were in 
    Advision saying he was coming up with this amazing packaging idea: paper 
    engineering. Finally one day he comes in and says, "Right, I've got it, 
    the mock-up of the album cover, it's unbelievable".'
    'He'd been describing this in words for ages and you just couldn't 
    imagine what it was,' remembers Chris. 'Every copy of the album, would be 
    unique. It was these folds of paper that came together. It was basically 
    a lattice work.' 'We looked at it and thought it was ridiculously 
    complicated,' says Neil. 'As a result we and Mark Farrow promptly came up 
    with the idea of having a white sleeve with a tiny picture of us. As ever, 
    we didn't have a photo.' (Mark Farrow, a designer who at that time worked 
    in Tom Watkins' office, has worked on every Pet Shop Boys sleeve since.) 
    Most of the existing Pet Shop Boys photos had been taken by Eric Watson, 
    a photographer friend Neil had known since his youth. They chose one, 
    which had already been printed in Smash Hits news section, Bitz, in which 
    they were draped with white towels. 'Eric's never been very happy with it 
    because if you look at it it's not completely in focus,' says Neil. 'We 
    whacked it on the front cover simply because the towels were white.' 'At 
    the time,' says Chris, 'it looked completely different from everything 
    else.' Still, in an era where most record sleeves were fussy, garish and 
    cluttered, not everyone appreciated its minimalism: their American record 
    company insisted that the title and their name be printed at the top of 
    the sleeve so that it could be easily identified in the racks, and the 
    French record company, to the Pet Shop Boys' fury, simply redesigned the 
    sleeve using a much larger photo. Later, when it was released on CD, the 
    Pet Shop Boys didn't scale down the photo in the same ratio as on the 
    album sleeve, and they have always felt the CD sleeve doesn't work so 
    well. 
    On the album's inner sleeve, they used 98 more photos, mostly from the 
    many sessions they had done with Eric Watson, though one - Chris's 
    self-portrait in a mirror - was taken in Neil's New York apartment in 
    1984 when Neil was launching Smash Hits' American version, Star Hits, 
    and Chris had been flown over by Bobby 'O' so that the Pet Shop Boys 
    could do more recording. After 'West End girls', three more singles were 
    released from Please. 'Love comes quickly' came out in February, before 
    the album, the updated version of 'Opportunities' was released in May, 
    and an EP centred around a re-recorded version of 'Suburbia' came out in 
    September. (They also released an album of six dance mixes, Disco, in 
    November.) The Pet Shop Boys had come up with the album's title fairly 
    early on. Though Neil thinks Chris probably suggested it, it derives from 
    the habit at Smash Hits magazine of saying 'pur-leaze!' at the end of 
    sentences. 'I think if you look at my obituary when I left Smash Hits it 
    quotes me as saying 'such and such, pur-leaze',' says Neil. 'Meaning, 
    'for goodness sake'. It seemed to be associated with me. It was just a 
    weak joke, that you could go into a record shop and say, 'have you got 
    the Pet Shop Boys, Please?' Not even a joke, really.'

  [Very]
    Very, the fifth Pet Shop Boys studio album, was released in September 
    1993. 'Going into this record we were slightly disappointed by the 
    performance of Behaviour,' Neil remembers. 'Behaviour was slagged off at 
    the time for not being a dance album. We were feeling a little insecure, 
    maybe. Anyway, we decided to do a mega dance-pop album.' 'I think you 
    always react against the one you've done previously,' says Chris. 'We 
    wanted it to be a bit more up.' '"Up" was definitely the big thing,' says 
    Neil. 'We thought we were going to do that for Behaviour, but we didn't 
    do it. This time we did. We hadn't done anything pop for ages, because we 
    did Introspective, which is all pretty moody, and then we did Liza's 
    album and stuff with Dusty, a lot of which is very moody, and then 
    Behaviour…We wanted to do something very pop, to the extent that there is 
    a song on this album, 'One in a million', that we were going to offer to 
    Take That. It was not trying to be trendy. We were trying to do 'fantastic 
    songs - every one could be a single'. And it kind of worked.' In those 
    days Chris had a studio in an outhouse at his home in Hertfordshire. The 
    Pet Shop Boys recorded the basic tracks for Very there, working with the 
    programmer Pete Gleadall who had previously programmed their tours, then 
    they moved to Sarm West to complete recording, before handing the tracks 
    over to Stephen Hague for additional production and mixing at RAK studios. 
    'It's great at a certain point to give it someone else,' says Neil. 
    However, this was the first Pet Shop Boys album they would primarily 
    produce themselves. 'We didn't feel experienced enough before,' Neil 
    explains. 'Although we had produced other people,' Chris says, 'it's 
    easier producing someone other than yourself.' They resolved that the 
    album should sound very 'computery' - 'loads of the songs have got all 
    busy little computer game noises,' notes Neil - and decided to work on 
    the arrangements in a way they hadn't before; experimenting, for instance, 
    with changing the arrangements for each verse of a song. 'It wasn't ever 
    a struggle,' Neil recalls. 'We were always laughing in the studio.' They 
    would often drive back into town, playing whatever they had just recorded, 
    thoroughly excited by the day's work. For this phase of their career, the 
    Pet Shop Boys decided that they would almost entirely change the way they 
    presented themselves. They were tired of being naturalistic. Arma Andon, 
    their American manager at the time, had asked them why they staged these 
    elaborate, costumed, theatrical fantasies in concert, but rarely explored 
    the same kind of presentation in videos or for records, and they begun to 
    wonder the same thing themselves. 'Also,' says Neil, 'I think we thought 
    we'd done to death the classic Pet Shop Boys thing, and it was finally 
    completely summed up on the cover of Discography, Chris stony-faced and 
    me with an ironically-arched eyebrow. We kind of thought: right, we've 
    just completely done that now, let's do something not real.' Another 
    influence was the rise of increasingly realistic computer games. 'They 
    were a big issue then,' says Chris. 'The big game was Sonic The Hedgehog 
    and I liked this game where the audience, when a goal was scored, all 
    started dancing. I was playing computer games a lot, thinking, "This is 
    what the kids are into", and thinking, "Wouldn't it be great if we became 
    this thing removed from reality and existing in a non-real world?"' They 
    were also reacting against the other dominant musical current of the era. 
    'Everyone was being grungy,' Chris remembers. 'Everyone was just dressing 
    in baggy jeans and t-shirt and sweatshirt, that Nirvana thing, looking 
    ordinary.' They didn't want to look ordinary. 'We didn't want to be 
    fashion either,' Chris points out. 'We wanted to be unique, outside of 
    it.' They asked David Fielding, who had designed their 1991 tour, to 
    come up with some concepts. The first set of costumes were orange 
    jumpsuits, with large angular white glasses with thin horizontal slits in 
    them, and orange-and-white striped dunce caps. (The dunce caps were 
    suggested by the school imagery in Very's first single, 'Can you forgive 
    her?'.) 'That took a lot of nerve,' Neil recalls. 'I remember when we got 
    the model in for "Can you forgive her?" Jill, our manager then, didn't 
    like it at all. There was always a worry about looking ludicrous. If you 
    look at the Top Of the Pops performance we did for "Can you forgive her?" 
    it's just incredible. The sheer nerve. I'm sitting on a pair of step 
    ladders wearing an orange jumpsuit with a stripy pointy hat. Chris 
    meanwhile is behind a giant blue egg with a telescope wearing the same 
    outfit.' 'And I do a bit of ballroom dancing in the middle of it,' Chris 
    points out. 'It's absolutely incredible, the whole thing,' says Neil. 
    'And then we had EMI make a load of pointy hats and at the end when the 
    presenter is saying what's on the next week's Top Of The Pops all of the 
    crowd and him are wearing pointy hats. We really saw it through.' They 
    adopted a new surreal image for each single. For 'Go West' they wore 
    primarily blue (Neil) or yellow (Chris) jumpsuits with 
    complementary-coloured trimmings, and semi-spherical hats. For 'I 
    wouldn't normally do this kind of thing' they wore pink vests over 
    white (Chris) or black (Neil) outfits with floppy blond (Chris) or dark 
    (Neil) Sixties wigs. 'We kept changing it,' says Neil. 'Our idea was 
    always to get to the point where we didn't have to be in the video, which 
    we did for "Liberation" - which was entirely computer-generated - and 
    for "Yesterday, when I was mad" Chris was computer-generated.' The 
    packaging was also innovative. The Pet Shop Boys had worked with the 
    design group Pentagram on the releases of their Spaghetti record label, 
    and were invited to lunch to meet Pentagram's new partner, Daniel Weil. 
    On the way to lunch, Neil and Chris realised they didn't know what they 
    were going to talk about, so they decided to discuss a bugbear of theirs 
    - the unoriginality and inflexibility of CD packaging. 'We'd got fed up 
    with the fact that CD packaging all boiled down to the booklet,' says 
    Chris, 'so the obvious way around it was to make the actual box the 
    cover.' At lunch it was agreed that a new kind of CD packaging should be 
    tactile. The orange box with raised dots in which initial copies of Very 
    were released was the first idea Pentagram proposed, though originally 
    the dots were larger, and the box was pink. The Pet Shop Boys also 
    adopted Pentagram's other idea, a softer bubble-plastic sleeve, for the 
    limited edition double CD package Very Relentless, which included the 
    bonus dance CD Relentless. 'While writing Very we'd written lots of 
    four-minute pop songs but we also had done several instrumental tracks 
    which for the most part I couldn't think of any words for, and couldn't 
    see the point of writing words for, because they sounded great,' says 
    Neil. 'So then we thought we would put them on a separate album.' Neil 
    and Chris had thought of the album title, Very, early on. Neither can 
    recall who said it first. 'It was another funny sentence - people were 
    supposed to think that the album would be "very Pet Shop Boys", but a 
    different Pet Shop Boys,' says Neil. 'What's quite different about this 
    album,' Neil adds, 'is that a lot of it is stories. It's not just love 
    songs or anything like that. It's stories. It makes it completely 
    different from any other album we've made, I think. We didn't do it 
    consciously, but you get "Can you forgive her?", "Dreaming of the Queen", 
    "Yesterday, when I was mad", "The theatre", "One and one make five", and 
    they're all stories.' It was also the first Pet Shop Boys album to reach 
    number one in Britain. 'It's a good album,' says Neil. 'It's better than 
    you think.'

  [Very vs. Behaviour]
    Neil: "Chris was concerned that we wanted Very to be more up than 
    Behaviour - not that we'd decided to make that a down record, because we 
    didn't - but because we felt like making up music.  We did Behaviour 
    right after Liza Minelli's album, which was a major stomp experience, 
    and it was a reaction to that. It was meant to be a dance album when we
    started it - it wasn't meant to be Their Mature Statement, even though 
    I'm quite happy for people to take it like that."

Neil On The "Gay Thing"

Neil Tennant: snappy comebacks for people who refuse to acknowledge that Pet Shop Boys do "gay" songs: "I do think that we have contributed, through our music and also through our videos and the general way we've presented things, rather a lot to what you might call 'gay culture'. I could spend several pages discussing the notion of 'gay culture', but for the sake of argument, I would just say that we have contributed a lot. And the simple reason for this is that I have written songs from my own point of view..." He pauses again. "What I'm actually saying is, I am gay, and I have written songs from that point of view. So, I mean, I'm being surprisingly honest with you here, but those are the facts of the matter." (Attitude Magazine, 1994) "The gay label doesn't really bother me, as long as it's just not something that is restrictive. I just don't think one should live one's life as a gay man. I don't think that sexuality necessarily implies a life style package that comes with it. As I write the words in the Pet Shop Boys songs, I deal with [being gay] in them. I always have done that. I probably deal with them slightly more openly now, which I quite enjoy doing. Although 'Metamorphosis' -- a rap [on our new album] about growing up gay and realizing what you are and how you are going to deal with it and all that stuff -- I suppose I wouldn't have done that a few years ago." (Washington Blade, 23 August 1996) "In fact, all of our albums have quite a lot of gay content in them." (Atlantic Records "Stereo Type" newsletter, Fall 1996) "What I am worried about in America is that we get pigeon-holed as a gay group only. So they put you in a little box, "Oh yeah--PSB: gay. Send it out to all the gay clubs. Give out free records at Gay Pride." All of which is fine. But I don't want to be sidelined into being part of a minority. I'm not afraid of minorities--I think we all belong to a majority. We should have one community. Otherwise we all get sidelined. In politics there's "Divide and rule." And when you get everyone divided into little interest groups and supposed communities, I think it politically weakens people." (The City Pages, October 16, 1996)
 
© ® 1997-2018 by Ernie Longmire, Andrea Mastellaro and Steffen Gärtner. See the credits for main contributors and copyright information.