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Smash or Pass on Pet Shop Boys

Posted on June 23rd, 2023

Dave!When it comes to my favorite bands of all time, Pet Shop Boys are in my top five somewhere. Nobody really does what they do, and they're such a huge force in Brit-Pop music that even their missteps are worth listening to.

Last week they released Smash: The Singles 1985–2020, which runs through (almost all) of their singles... 55 in all...

The album cover to Pet Shop Boys SMASH... which features a blur of colors rushing past... assumably from all their albums.

It's a massive collection that's a non-stop parade of great tracks.

As I was listening to it for the third or fourth time, it compelled me to go through my Pet Shop Boys playlist and sort them from my favorite tracks. It's interesting to see how so many of my favorite songs were never released as singles.

As an example, my favorite Pet Shop Boys song is The Way it Used to Be off of the album Yes. It's a gorgeous track that's meticulously crafted. For reasons that completely escape me, it was never released as a single, and therefor wasn't included on Smash (and, to my knowledge, has never been performed live on tour).

The list below is far from complete. There's a ton of demo tracks and side-projects that I'll need to work in one of these days. For now though, 253 entries is enough...

  1. The Way it Used to Be (Yes 2009).
  2. Flamboyant (PopArt: The Hits 2003).
  3. Red Letter Day (Bilingual 1996).
  4. Love Comes Quickly (Please 1986).
  5. Memory of the Future (Elysium 2012).
  6. Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money) (Please 1986).
  7. Dreaming of the Queen (Very 1993).
  8. The Survivors (Bilingual 1996).
  9. The End of the World (Behavior 1990).
  10. Up Against It (Bilingual 1996).
  11. Go West (Very 1993).
  12. Love etc. (Yes 2009).
  13. Suburbia (Please 1986).
  14. Always (Release: Further Listening 2002).
  15. What Have I Done to Deserve This? (with Dusty Springfield) (Actually 1987).
  16. West End Girls (Please 1986).
  17. Vulnerable (Yes 2009).
  18. Liberation (Very 1993).
  19. Beautiful People (Yes 2009).
  20. Leaving (Elysium 2012).
  21. All Over the World (Yes 2009).
  22. Home and Dry (Release 2002).
  23. Together (Yes: Further Listening 2009).
  24. Did You See Me Coming (Yes 2009).
  25. It Doesn't Often Snow at Christmas (Nightlife: Further Listening 1999).
  26. This Must Be the Place I Waited Years to Leave (Behavior 1990).
  27. I'm With Stupid (Fundamental 2006).
  28. A Different Point of View (Very 1993).
  29. More Than a Dream (Yes 2009).
  30. Can You Forgive Her? (Very 1993).
  31. I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind of Thing (Very 1993).
  32. I Get Along (Release 2002).
  33. Building a Wall (Yes 2009).
  34. King of Rome (Yes 2009).
  35. Rent (Actually 1987).
  36. Thursday (featuring Example) (Electric 2013).
  37. Tonight is Forever (Please 1986).
  38. Jealousy (Behavior 1990).
  39. Two Divided by Zero (Please 1986).
  40. Pandemonium (Yes 2009).
  41. Glad All Over (Yes: Further Listening 2009).
  42. Paninaro (Please: Further Listening 1986).
  43. Before (Bilingual 1996).
  44. To Face the Truth (Behavior 1990).
  45. To Speak is a Sin (Very 1993).
  46. The Sodom and Gomorrah Show (Fundamental 2006).
  47. Saturday Night Forever (Bilingual 1996).
  48. To Step Aside (Bilingual 1996).
  49. The Loving Kind (Yes: Further Listening 2009).
  50. A New Life (Actually: Further Listening 1987).
  51. Always on My Mind (Discography: The Complete Singles Collection 1991).
  52. Minimal (Fundamental 2006).
  53. In Private (featuring Elton John) (Release: Further Listening 2002).
  54. Psychological (Fundamental 2006).
  55. Jack The Lad (Please: Further Listening 1986).
  56. Alone Again, Naturally (featuring Elton John) (Release: Further Listening 2002).
  57. It's a Sin (Actually: Further Listening 1987).
  58. One and One Make Five (Very 1993).
  59. Why Don't We Live Together (Please 1986).
  60. Domino Dancing (Introspective 1988).
  61. One in a Million (Very 1993).
  62. Winner (Elysium 2012).
  63. Being Boring (Behavior 1990).
  64. Tonight is Forever (Please 1986).
  65. Give It a Go (Elysium 2012).
  66. So Hard (Behavior 1990).
  67. Young Offender (Very 1993).
  68. Bet She's Not Your Girlfriend (Behavior: Further Listening 1990).
  69. The Theater (Very 1993).
  70. Yesterday When I Was Mad (Very 1993).
  71. I'm Not Scared (Introspective 1988).
  72. This Used to Be the Future (with Phil Oakey) (Yes: Further Listening 2009).
  73. How Can You Be Expected to Be Taken Seriously (Behavior 1990).
  74. The Only One (Nightlife 1999).
  75. The Night I Fell in Love (Release 2002).
  76. You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk (Nightlife 1999).
  77. I Cried for Us (Yes: Further Listening 2009).
  78. Left To My Own Devices (Introspective 1988).
  79. Birthday Boy (Release 2002).
  80. Shopping (Actually 1987).
  81. I Want to Wake Up (Actually 1987).
  82. Heart (Actually 1987).
  83. It Must Be Obvious (Behavior: Further Listening 1990).
  84. Miserablism (Behavior: Further Listening 1990).
  85. We're All Criminals Now (Yes: Further Listening 2009).
  86. Nightlife (Nightlife: Further Listening 1999).
  87. It Couldn't Happen Here (Actually 1987).
  88. It Always Comes As a Surprise (Bilingual 1996).
  89. E-Mail (Release 2002).
  90. London (Release 2002).
  91. Listening (Elysium: Further Listening 2012).
  92. Breathing Space (Elysium 2012).
  93. My Girl (Yes: Further Listening 2009).
  94. I Want a Lover (Please 1986).
  95. Requiem in Denim and Leopardskin (Elysium 2012).
  96. Hell (Elysium: Further Listening 2012).
  97. You Choose (Release 2002).
  98. Only the Wind (Behavior 1990).
  99. Se a Vida é (Bilingual 1996).
  100. Footsteps (Nightlife 1999).
  101. I Started a Joke (Elysium: Further Listening 2012).
  102. A Face Like That (Elysium 2012).
  103. The Dictator Decides (Super 2016).
  104. Vampires (Nightlife 1999).
  105. It's Alright (Introspective 1988).
  106. In His Imagination (Elysium: Further Listening 2012).
  107. Dreamland (featuring Years & Years) (Hotspot 2020).
  108. I Want a Dog (Introspective 1988).
  109. My October Symphony (Behavior 1990).
  110. Burning the Heather (Hotspot 2020).
  111. In Denial (Nightlife 1999).
  112. Only the Dark (Hotspot 2020).
  113. Indefinite Leave to Remain (Fundamental 2006).
  114. Up and Down (Yes: Further Listening 2009).
  115. I Don't Wanna (Hotspot 2020).
  116. Love is a Bourgeois Construct (Electric 2013).
  117. Here (Release 2002).
  118. King's Cross (Actually 1987).
  119. Give Stupidity a Chance (Agenda 2016).
  120. Invisible (Elysium 2012).
  121. Gin and Jag (Yes: Further Listening 2009).
  122. Between Two Islands (Release: Further Listening 2002).
  123. What Are We Going to Do About the Rich (Agenda 2016).
  124. Reunion (Release: Further Listening 2002).
  125. Monkey Business (Hotspot 2020).
  126. I Made My Excuses and Left (Fundamental 2006).
  127. Hold On (Elysium 2012).
  128. Hoping for a Miracle (Hotspot 2020).
  129. Decadence (Very: Further Listening 1993).
  130. Night Song (Yes: Further Listening 2009).
  131. Happiness is an Option (Nightlife 1999).
  132. Was That What it Was? (Please: Further Listening 1986).
  133. Losing My Mind (Introspective: Further Listening 1988).
  134. Where the Streets Have No Name (I Can't Take My Eyes Off of You) (Behavior: Further Listening 1990).
  135. You Are the One (Hotspot 2020).
  136. Everything Means Something (Elysium 2012).
  137. Inside a Dream (Electric 2013).
  138. The Last to Die (Electric 2013).
  139. Happy People (Hotspot 2020).
  140. On Social Media (Agenda 2016).
  141. Will-O-the-Wisp (Hotspot 2020).
  142. Groovy (Super 2016).
  143. Love Life (Release: Further Listening 2002).
  144. I Didn't Get Where I Am Today (Release: Further Listening 2002).
  145. We're the Pet Shop Boys (Release: Further Listening 2002).
  146. Believe / Song for Guy (with Elton John) (Nightlife: Further Listening 1999).
  147. The Forgotten Child (Agenda 2016).
  148. Twenty-Something (Super 2016).
  149. Casanova in Hell (Fundamental 2006).
  150. The Pop Kids (Super 2016).
  151. Searching for the Face of Jesus (Release: Further Listening 2002).
  152. Love is a Catastrophe (Release 2002).
  153. Sexy Northerner (Release: Further Listening 2002).
  154. Twentieth Century (Fundamental 2006).
  155. Inside (Elysium: Further Listening 2012).
  156. Time on My Hands (Release: Further Listening 2002).
  157. Florescent (Electric 2013).
  158. Happiness (Super 2016).
  159. Shameless (Very: Further Listening 1993).
  160. Transparent (Release: Further Listening 2002).
  161. Vocal (Electric 2013).
  162. Your Early Stuff (Elysium 2012).
  163. Radiophonic (Nightlife 1999).
  164. Boy Strange (Nightlife 1999).
  165. Closer to Heaven (Nightlife 1999).
  166. Too Many People (Very: Further Listening 1993).
  167. In The Night (Please: Further Listening 1986).
  168. I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Anymore (Nightlife 1999).
  169. Sail Away (Nightlife: Further Listening 1999).
  170. The Samurai in Autumn (Release 2002).
  171. Hit and Miss (Bilingual: Further Listening 1996).
  172. For Your Own Good (Nightlife 1999).
  173. I Get Excited (You Get Excited Too) (Introspective 1988).
  174. One More Chance (Actually 1987).
  175. Do I Have To? (Actually: Further Listening 1987).
  176. DJ Culture (Behavior: Further Listening 1990).
  177. Hey Headmaster (Very: Further Listening 1993).
  178. The View from Your Balcony (Bilingual: Further Listening 1996).
  179. If Looks Could Kill (Release: Further Listening 2002).
  180. Girls and Boys (Very: Further Listening 1993).
  181. New York City Boy (Nightlife 1999).
  182. Fugitive (Fundamental: Further Listening 2006).
  183. A Man Could Get Arrested (Please: Further Listening 1986).
  184. Hit Music (Actually 1987).
  185. Your Funny Uncle (Introspective: Further Listening 1988).
  186. Into Thin Air (Super 2016).
  187. Metamorphosis (Bilingual 1996).
  188. The Ghost of Myself (Nightlife: Further Listening 1999).
  189. The Lost Room (Lost 2023).
  190. Sad Robot World (Super 2016).
  191. Burn (Super 2016).
  192. Say It to Me (Super 2016).
  193. Integral (Fundamental 2006).
  194. Transfer (Fundamental: Further Listening 2006).
  195. Girls Don't Cry (Fundamental: Further Listening 2006).
  196. The Boy Who Couldn't Keep His Clothes On (Bilingual: Further Listening 1996).
  197. The Resurrectionist (Fundamental: Further Listening 2006).
  198. Try It (I'm In Love With a Married Man) (Release: Further Listening 2002).
  199. A Certain "Jenesais quoi" (Fundamental: Further Listening 2006).
  200. The Truck Driver and His Mate (Bilingual: Further Listening 1996).
  201. Nervously (Behavior 1990).
  202. Somebody Else's Business (Nightlife: Further Listening 1999).
  203. Undertow (Super 2016).
  204. Electricity (Bilingual 1996).
  205. Bolshy (Electric 2013).
  206. How I Learned to Hate Rock 'n' Roll (Bilingual: Further Listening 1996).
  207. Positive Role Model (Nightlife: Further Listening 1999).
  208. I Will Fail (Lost 2016).
  209. Forever in Love (Very: Further Listening 1993).
  210. Skeleton's in the Closet (Lost 2023).
  211. Delusions of Grandeur (Bilingual: Further Listening 1996).
  212. Some Speculation (Very: Further Listening 1993).
  213. After the Event (Fundamental: Further Listening 2006).
  214. For All of Us (Nightlife: Further Listening 1999).
  215. Casting a Shadow (Nightlife: Further Listening 1999).
  216. Miracles (Pop Art: The Hits 2003).
  217. Luna Park (Fundamental 2006).
  218. One Night (Fundamental: Further Listening 2006).
  219. A Powerful Friend (Release: Further Listening 2002).
  220. Living in the Past (Lost 2023).
  221. Blue on Blue (Release: Further Listening 2002).
  222. No Time for Tears (Fundamental: Further Listening 2006).
  223. Axis (Electric 2013).
  224. Kaputnik (Lost 2023).
  225. Legacy (Yes 2009).
  226. Bilingual (Bilingual 1996).
  227. Inner Sanctum (Super 2016).
  228. Betrayed (Bilingual: Further Listening 1996).
  229. Silver Age (Nightlife: Further Listening 1999).
  230. Inner Sanctum (Super 2016).
  231. Pazzo! (Super 2016).
  232. The Former Enfant Terrible (Fundamental: Further Listening 2006).
  233. Screaming (Nightlife: Further Listening 1999).
  234. Party Song (Release: Further Listening 2002).
  235. Euroboy (Very: Further Listening 1993).
  236. Disco Potential (Bilingual: Further Listening 1996).
  237. Somewhere (Bilingual: Further Listening 1996).
  238. Friendly Fire (Nightlife: Further Listening 1999).
  239. Numb (Fundamental 2006).
  240. Discoteca (Bilingual 1996).
  241. What Keeps Mankind Alive (Introspective: Further Listening 1988).
  242. If Love Were All (Very: Further Listening 1993).
  243. Later Tonight (Please 1986).
  244. Wedding in Berlin (Hotspot 2020).
  245. We All Feel Better in the Dark (Behavior: Further Listening 1990).
  246. The Calm Before the Storm (Bilingual: Further Listening 1996).
  247. Violence (Please 1986).
  248. The Way Through the Woods (Elysium: Further Listening 2012).
  249. God Willing (Fundamental 2006).
  250. Ego Music (Elysium 2012).
  251. Shouting in the Evening (Electric 2013).
  252. Lies (Nightlife: Further Listening 1999).
  253. Tall Thin Men (Nightlife: Further Listening 1999).

Apparently there's another album on the way, as the Boys started recording it back in March. So I guess I'll be updating this list soon enough.

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Bullet Sunday 599

Posted on February 10th, 2019

Dave!Don't go fretting that you aren't in touch with what's new in life... because a Very Special Edition of Bullet Sunday starts now...

• NEW Disco! I tell you what... Star Trek: Discovery has been knocking it out of the part again this season. Even slow, throw-away episodes (like the latest one) have surprising depth. But, then again, any time spent with my favorite Kelpien, Saru, is time well-spent...

Doug Jones as Saru Star Trek Discovery

There is a campaign to get Doug Jones an Emmy for his work as Saru, and I can't think of another actor more deserving. Jones has flawlessly constructed movement, voice inflections, and mannerisms that feel completely alien, and the skill to be doing all that while completely encased in makeup and facial appliances is remarkable. He had better at least get nominated.

If you like sci-fi and are not watching Disco, you owe it to yourself to take out a free trial for CBS All Access and see what you've been missing. I am a diehard fanatic of Star Trek: The Original Series, and feel that this is the best series to come out in the Star Trek Universe since then. I was not impressed with any of the Next Generation/DS9/Voyager/Enterprise shows, but this? This is great stuff (despite the bitching and moaning from "Star Trek fans" that hate it... which, if that's you, don't worry... you'll be getting your Next Generation pablum when Captain Picard comes back with his new show).

• NEW! Netflix has just unleashed the third season of the One Day at a Time reboot, and it did not disappoint...

If there's a flaw, it's that the show feels the need to continue addressing absolutely every social issue in existence. It's handled really well, but it can still be exhausting. Yes, it's great to see the show address current events, but it's at its best is when it focuses on the people behind the issues. Fortunately there's plenty of that as well, and I'm hoping we get a fourth season.

• NEW Boys! Pet Shop Boys have a new EP that just dropped called Agenda. And it's as relevant and interesting as you would expect...

And then there's thinly-veiled political message, perhaps?

Yeah. Just when we needed it most.

• NEW Ellen! What would it take to coax Ellen DeGeneres to do her first standup special in 15 years? Apparently it's the $20 million that Netflix ponied up for Relatable, which was released back in December...

I just watched it again last night and I gotta say... it's worth the money. Ridiculously funny. Probably my favorite of all her specials so far. Until Netflix lures her back with $50 million maybe?

• NEW Boarding! CGP Grey released a new video this past week on how to best board an airplane. It's an interesting discussion, to be sure...

• NEW Country! With rare exceptions, I am decidedly not a country music fan. Though recently Casey Musgraves has me re-thinking this stance with her amazing Country-Pop fusion, which is some of the best music I've heard in a while. Because of that, I found this analysis on the current state of Country to be a fascinating watch...

The fact that the finger-snapping madness is becoming such a predominant force in music today is pretty disheartening. Time will tell if it's eventually replaced by something even worse.

No more new for you. See you next Sunday.


Bullet Sunday 591

Posted on December 9th, 2018

Dave!I may have been to Maine and back this week, but that just means I'm locked and loaded... because an all new Bullet Sunday starts now...

• Endings! Obviously the news of the week is that the Avengers 4 trailer finally dropped. It's everything it needed to be, with plenty to unpack. If you don't want to hear about it, best skip to the next bullet...

Okay, first of all, the name... Endgame is lame as shit. For months we've been told that the name was being kept secret because it revealed the plot and gave too much away. But does it really? No. Not even a little bit. LAME!

It's not much of a leap to figure that Ant-Man is going to be the key here. The Quantum Realm and its time-bending properties is an obvious way to undo what was done and bring back all those dusted characters so they can continue to print money for Marvel Studios (and Disney). I also wouldn't be surprised to find that Hawkeye (who looks like he's in his Ronin persona in the trailer) will have a major arc. Odds are his entire family was dusted and that's going to be the push to answer the question: "Why in the hell is he an Avenger?" No sign of Captain Marvel, but we know she's going to be kicking around...

Avengers 4 Sneak Peek

April seems a long, long ways away...

• Pet Shop Christmas! This week I received an email from The Pet Shop Boys wishing a Merry Christmas to their fans. Which is nice, I guess, but it's the way they did it that was so cool...

Pet Shop Boys Merry Christmas

Now, if you're a fan, you'll immediately "get it." But if you're not... does this help?


Seriously, how cool is that?

• MIB4! This week we finally learned the title of the fourth Men in Black movie... Men in Black International. It stars Chris Hemsworth as Agent H and Tessa Thompson as Agent M...

Men in Black 4

The spinoff film will not have Tommy Lee Jones (Agent K) or Will Smith (Agent J) in it, but it will have Emma Thompson reprising her role as Agent O.

• Outlook! As I prepare my home for winter, I ran across something interesting...


Apparently my region of the country will be "much above average" when it comes to temperature this winter. I'm not quite sure what to think about that, because the nighttime temperatures seem as though they're the same as they've been for years now (which is not as cold as it was a decade ago, I can tell you that). I took a look at weather averages for the past couple years and it reads similar to what's been recorded lately. And while we haven't had any snow yet, I'm guessing it will be on its way any day now? While I'm happy at the idea of saving on heating costs, we really need good snow pack in the mountains or else we'll end up in drought conditions in the Summer. That's something we absolutely do not want.

• NHL! Good news, everybody! Something I've been waiting for... for a very long time, actually... is Major League Hockey coming to Seattle! I became a hockey fan when I got into The Milwaukee Admirals while working in the Mid-West. From there it was a short hop to the Chicago Blackhawks, which has been my team ever since...

Spy Movie Poster

I've been to a couple local games here at home, but love the idea of escaping to an NHL game from time to time. Earlier this week they finally gave Seattle an expansion team, which will debut in 2021. But what will they be called? It's a big mystery. I was greatly amused to find that Bovada is running Vegas odds on it...

Bovada Book on Seattle NHL

Oh dear Lord. The odds favorite is the Totems?!? Now, I get it... that's the historic name for the team. It's a name which has emotional appeal to those who have been fighting to get a team here for a very long time. BUT COME ON! Are we really going to go down the cultural appropriation route again? My team, the Blackhawks, was named in honor of Black Hawk, a real-life Illinois historical figure. The team has kinda gotten a pass on this because it's not an offensive stereotype (like "Redskins") but it is still mired in controversy...

In 2010, for instance, Joe Podlasek stated that, "The stance is very clear. We want the Chicago Blackhawks logo to change. For us, that's one of our grandfathers. Would you do that with your grandfather's picture? Take it and throw it on a rug? Walk on it and dance on it?" John Blackhawk, Chairman of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, has suggested that the change in position for the American Indian Center may be connected to contributions the Blackhawks organization has recently begun making to the center: "We all do contributions, but we don't do it for the sake of wanting to be forgiven for something we've done that's offensive."

So can we please just not this time? Personally I'm really liking the Sockeyes. There's a lot of logo potential there, and it's a fish that has cultural significance to Seattle both past and presence. The Emeralds isn't bad, but what do you do with it for a logo? And tying the name to The Wizard of Oz is kinda silly. Rainiers is already tied to a crappy beer. Kraken might be fine, but it's too abstract since it's mythological and all. Renegades, Cougars, and Eagles are boring and done to death. Sea Lions, Seals, and Whales just sound silly. Evergreens would give us a frickin' TREE as a logo? I dunno. Might work in the right hands? Firebirds isn't bad, but it's within spitting distance of Totems for me.

So... can we just be the Sockeyes and be done with it? Please?

• So Long, Fuckers! I finally managed to transfer everything away from my previous web hosting company, Media Temple. After being a loyal customer for over a decade and putting up with their broken promises and bullshit, the last straw was the horrific way I was treated when I tried to get an issue resolved. No help, shitty service, and a bill for $38 that they wouldn't reverse. Seriously, what a bunch of assholes. If you're looking for a place to host your stuff, keep looking.

And that's the end of that. See you next week.


Bullet Sunday 565

Posted on June 10th, 2018

Dave!It's been yet another week full of hypocrisy and evil, but it's all good, because an all-new Bullet Sunday starts now...

• Two! I loved everything about the first LEGO Movie... except the ending. When they dropped into "The Real World," everything fell apart for me. With this in mind, I have mixed feelings about the sequel...

Yes, I'm excited to see it. But can we please just stick in the world of LEGO and let Chris Pratt be hilarious? That would be great, thanks.

• No Reservations. There wasn't much I didn't like about Anthony Bourdain. He was responsible for some highly entertaining television. He was a world traveler and advocate for better understanding and acceptance between cultures. He used his celebrity to advocate for worthwhile causes and draw attention to injustices. He was an incredible guest on any talk show he dropped by. He was somebody I liked and admired, which is why his death has hit me so hard. You will be missed, sir.

• Darkness and Light! I was never a fan of the Cloak & Dagger comic books. They all had the same story. Cloak & Dagger hunt down drug dealers. Cloak goes a little crazy because he's hungry. Dagger feeds him a light sandwich. Lather, rinse, repeat. On occasion they team up with other heroes, but their baggage is always the same. And now Freeform TV has created a Cloak & Dagger television show...

Marvel's Cloak and Dagger on Freeform

Now, I'm not saying that every super-hero show has to be packed with super-power fights... but there has to be something to make it interesting... otherwise it's just another boring TV drama I don't care about. And if the first two episodes of Cloak & Dagger are any indication, here's yet another boring TV drama I don't care about. Which is a shame, because the actors are very good.

• You! Other than an occasional song here and there, I haven't given much thought to Maroon 5 in years. But now they've dropped a new video for their song Girls Like You that's packed with more guest-stars than you can shake a stick at.

Not a bad song at all. And if you're having trouble putting a name to all the faces, here's a link for you. And, as much as I like it, this is not going to displace my favorite Maroon 5 video...

And if that's not enough Maroon 5 for you... here they are covering Bob Marley's Three Little Birds...

'Cause every little thing gonna be alright.

• NEWS: With deal to close this week, Bayer to retire Monsanto name
Well of course they are retiring the Monsanto name! Monsanto is fucking evil incarnate, and people were finally waking up to it. But now? Bayer is just the aspirin people! Evil + Evil = Bigger Evil.

• A Red Letter Day! As my final bullet of the day, I leave you with one of my favorite Pet Shop Boys songs that's woefully under-appreciated... and highly relevant to my life as of late...

Doesn't get much more Pet Shop Boys than that.

So long until next Bullet Sunday!


Further Listening

Posted on January 29th, 2018

Dave!My favorite musician/band changes regularly depending on what mood I'm in. Sometimes I'm in the mood for classic rock and it's The Beatles, sometimes I need rap and it's Run The Jewels, sometimes I just want metal and it's Slayer, sometimes I want a catchy beat and it's Matt & Kim. The list goes on and on.

But most of the time it's 80's synth-pop bands and I make no apologies for it.

For the longest time, my favorite band was Thompson Twins, and this was well before their breakout success with Into The Gap. Once the band broke up, I gravitated to another long-time favorite, Depeche Mode. I obsessed over the band for decades. Then they changed their sound a bit when Alan Wilder left and my enthusiasm dwindled through the next four albums, then left altogether for their two latest. During that time, my longtime appreciation for The Pet Shop Boys took hold, and they're probably the band I listen to more than any other... and are my favorite band most days now...

The Pet Shop Boys

Given the massive catalog of music produced by the band, ranking favorite songs is almost impossible. And believe me, I've tried. I've made spreadsheets, listened through every song, shifted them back-and-forth... but then I'll look at it a couple days later and need to start over because I've changed my mind. If forced to choose a favorite, I'd have to pick The way it used to be off of the album Yes. It's everything you want in a PSB song... great beats, clever synths, and amazing lyrics. One of the most beautiful songs I've heard. Sadly, they never released it as a single or made a video for it, so all I can offer is this...

Of course, if you ask me another day, it could be Memory of the Future or even West End Girls that's my favorite, so who knows?

For Pet Shop Boys fans, there's a lot more to love about the band than their fantastic songs. They are highly creative in so many places, as the amazing retrospective book which encompasses the art, print, and media built around their music...

The Pet Shop Boys Catalogue

And, of course, there's the videos. Neil and Chris only work with the best, more imaginative artists, and their videos are a mixed bag because of it. But when they hit, they really hit. Once of my favorites being the video for yet another favorite track of mine, Flamboyant...

Needless to say, their live shows are amazing (I've been lucky enough to see them twice, and meet-and-greet them as well). When they were awarded at The Brits, they pulled out all the stops and were very Pet Shop about it...

No. Your eyes are not deceiving you. That's Lady Gaga filling in for Dusty Springfield. Watching this awards show would be the first time I had even heard of her.

As if all that wasn't enough, the band are forever collaborating with other artists. They've made albums and songs with everybody from David Bowie, Tina Turner, and Liza Minelli to Robbie Williams, Blur, and Madonna. Their music has been cited as inspiration from bands including U2, Coldplay, The Killers, Keane, Guns n' Roses, and many others. A true testament to just how good the Pet Shop Boys are and how well they're regarded.

When it comes to their own works, Pet Shop Boys never seem to be content. There are countless demos along with hundreds of remixes... both by them and others. Collecting them all is a bit of a nightmare for true fans because the sheer volume is overwhelming. For the past several years, the band has been making it a bit easier with their "Further Listening" CD sets, which have remasters of the original album along with discs filled with the various demos, remixes, B-sides, and other releases of the time period the album was created...

Please (Further Listening 1984-1986) — June 2001 / March 2018 Remaster
Actually (Further Listening 1987-1988) — June 2001 / March 2018 Remaster
Introspective (Further Listening 1988-1989) — June 2001 / March 2018 Remaster
Behavior (Further Listening 1990-1991) — June 2001 / ??? 2018 Remaster
Very (Further Listening 1992-1994) — June 2001 / ??? 2018 Remaster
Bilingual (Further Listening 1995-1997) — June 2001 / ??? 2018 Remaster
Nightlife (Further Listening 1996-2000) — July 2017
Release (Further Listening 2001-2004) — July 2017
Fundamental (Further Listening 2005-2007) — July 2017
Yes (Further Listening 2008-2010) — October 2017
Elysium (Further Listening 2011-2012) — October 2017

I never bought any of the original 2001 sets (I didn't have the money back then and they are insanely expensive now), but I've been buying all the 2017/2018 remasters and will pick up the March releases and the remainder when they are released later this year (even though I still don't have the money!).

As with so many remasters, I'm of a mixed opinion when it comes to artists messing with their older albums. When remastering is done badly, it's just increasing the volume so you can compete with modern albums that are mastered so loud that any subtlety is lost (casualties of the aptly named "Loudness War"). When it's done well, it can improve on the original tracks by bringing out details that were lost (especially when we made the transition to digital music). The "Mastered for iTunes" program, for example, attempts to compensate for sound compression and unwanted distortion that can leave iTunes purchases sounding much worse than their CD counterparts. For the most part, I've been pleased with the results. Very pleased. It's a fascinating process which makes for equally fascinating reading thanks to this article over at Ars Technica. The results can be pretty staggering, depending on the song (though I'm sure there are those who disagree, as this is highly subjective). I liked Bon Jovi's Slippery When Wet better when it was Mastered for iTunes. Metallica's Master of Puppets I did not. Will an iTunes file replace an uncompressed FLAC file ripped directly from a CD? No. But, in so many cases, it's closer to the Real Thing than you'd get out of an MP3 file.

Back to the Pet Shop Boys...

The albums for sale by Apple were not "Mastered for iTunes" when remastered, and I dearly wish they had been. Since they were not, I ended up buying the CD releases and ripping them into iTunes for iTunes Match. The benefit in doing this is that you get the little booklets that come with each set which discusses the music (they are not included with the iTunes as booklets, for some strange reason). The bad news is that you end up having to deal with Apple's shitty, shitty iTunes app to try and get the music sorted. I had to rip Release THREE TIMES before I could get it to show up right, under one cover folio, in order, all while being labeled correctly. After ripping, CDs within the set would be inconsistently labeled, which is not Apple's fault since they are using a third-party service, but the music would then disappear when I merged the CDs into a single folio and labeled it correctly. What an infuriating waste of time. Eventually I figured out that you had to shut down iTunes then restart iTunes after every import/re-label in order for it to "stick" and be added to your catalog. Even then, I could never get some songs on the third disc of Release to be matched in iTunes Match, which means I can't access them on all my devices unless I download it*. How the fuck Apple can't get simple shit like this figured out is just beyond me. They have literally billions of dollars in the bank. They can't spend a minuscule portion of that to fix a bug-ridden pile of shit that their users are having to suffer with every damn day?

Back to the Pet Shop Boys again...

I've enjoyed the "Further Listening" albums I've bought so far (Nightlife through Elysium) quite a lot. Some of the material I already had, but a good chunk of it I did not. I was never as obsessive about collecting all the various parts and pieces for Pet Shop Boys as I was the Thompson Twins and Depeche Mode for some reason. In any event, there's certainly enough here to justify repurchasing the albums again (especially from the Yes era, which is responsible for some of my most favorite tracks.

Of everything I've heard on the "Further Listening" albums that completely escaped my notice, the song Always (a B-side for Home and Dry off of Release) is my favorite. A total treasure...

Beautiful. And I never even knew it existed.

As for the remastering? Overall I'd have to give them two thumbs up. Yes, they are louder than the originals, but not so much that subtle details are getting lost. Some albums benefit from the remastering more than others. You can tell with Fundamental that they made a real effort to pull out Johnny Marr's guitar work, which was appreciated. Most fans absolutely hate the original 2001 remastering of Behavior (featuring two tracks with Johnny Marr!) which I don't have, so hopefully the 2018 remastering will do a better job of it.

So... for the hard-core fan, the "Further Listening" sets are essential album collections to own. For the casual fan, probably not so much.

Though how anybody could be merely a casual fan of the Pet Shop Boys is a mystery to me.

*UPDATE: Eventually I was able to get the third album of Release into iTunes Match, but don't ask me how. I did delete the songs and re-rip them for a fourth time... though that didn't seem to be what did it, as I got a shitload of "duplicates" and "unmatched" icons, at which point I gave up. The next day the icons were still there, but when I restarted iTunes, everything was fine again(?). Well, whatever.

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Posted on January 22nd, 2016


New Pet Shop Boys in April!

Pet Shop Boys SUPER

It's pretty amazing how quick the albumas have been coming...

  • Yes - 2009
  • Elysium - 2012
  • Electric - 2013
  • Super - 2016

That's four albums in eight years. Super!

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Posted on September 22nd, 2013

Dave!When I found out that one of my all-time favorite bands, The Pet Shop Boys, would once again be swinging through Seattle on their Electric tour, I was ecstatic. This would be three-for-three in seeing all their Seattle performances. Except... the date was one day before I leave for vacation. And there was no way I could make that work.

But there was also no way I was going to miss the show, so I found they were playing Philadelphia on a weekend, and my solution was clear.... I would be cashing in a pile of airline miles and hotel points and heading back to the East Coast (after Depeche Mode in Tampa last weekend).

It was totally worth the effort.

Mostly because the concert was mind-bogglingly excellent, as usual. But also because my ticket came in a "meet and greet" package where I actually got to shake hands and chat with the band! And get my lanyard and program signed...

Pet Shop Boys Program Signed!

Not really knowing what to say, I thanked them profusely for coming to Seattle at long last and then returning again with their previous Pandemonium tour. It was then that Neil said "Wait... we're going to be in Seattle again this tour... what are you doing here in Philadelphia?" At which time I explained my situation, and Chris was kind enough to say that they really enjoy playing Seattle and that it's part of their schedule now (replacing Texas, apparently). Both "Boys" were incredibly warm and friendly, and seemed genuinely appreciative of their fans. It was a complete thrill to have met them, and I'm still a bit starstruck from the experience.

As I had said, the show was beyond amazing. Very imaginative and technically impressive. Beautifully staged. Incredibly entertaining. And then there was the music... which is one of my favorite things on earth. They played a brilliant assortment of songs new and old, and the crowd was on their feet the whole time.


When I bought my ticket, I had thought that I was in the 28th, because my row was "BB." In an Excel spreadsheet, columns go from A to Z, then go AA, BB, CC, etc. But it turns out that the "Mann Center for the Performing Arts" has BB as the second row of the orchestra pit. I was so close to the stage that it was almost like getting to meet them all over again!

Dave at the Stage!

Scary Pokey Suits!
Their first costumes were scary spikey shirts. They did not look at all comfortable.

Bull Heads!
Then it was time for... BULL HEADS!!!

Pet Lasers!
The sheer volume of lasers present would have vaporized lesser men!

Chris Disco Ball Head!
Chris is wearing a disco ball on his head. And why wouldn't he?

Pet Bed Projections!
The Pet Shop Boys were strapped to beds, then had other bodies projected on to them!

Chris Keyboard Station!
Chris's keyboard station was beautiful and... ELECTRIC!

Chris and Cone Heads!
And... it was time for a final couple of songs and the end to a great show!

Incredible. Just incredible.

No joke... if you are even a tiny bit of a fan of The Pet Shop Boys, GO SEE THIS SHOW! Tour dates are here.

And then...

This is one incredibly small world. I went from having no idea how I was getting home from the concert to getting a ride from the guy sitting next to me from Philadelphia who is a colleague of a friend I know who lives in London when I am from Seattle. I noticed it completely by accident when he put on a sweatshirt with a company logo I recognized. And this follows my running into my friend from London when I was in Boston back in June.

Everything's connected... you just have to stop and look for it!

And speaking of connections... seeing The Pet Shop Boys was not the only great thing to happen today... I got to go to lunch with blogging buddies BubbleWench, LibraGirl, and ChrissyRub! They were incredibly kind enough to take time out of their busy Sundays to come hang out with me and I couldn't have been happier. Having met such amazing people over the years from this blog continues to be a payoff that never ends.

After a fun couple hours, the ladies were nice enough to kill time with me before the concert by offering to take me to see Ft. Mifflin. Once they told me it was haunted, I was totally onboard! It's actually quite a pretty area...

Ft. Mifflin, PA

Though the insides are kinda dead. I totally understand why ghosts would want to hang around here...

Ft. Mifflin Dance Hall?

The most interesting thing about Ft. Mifflin today, however, is its proximity to the airport. Every 5 minutes, a plane screams overhead. And the planes get really close...

Ft. Mifflin Plane

No, seriously, the planes get really, really close...

I swear at some point I could see people inside...

Planes from Ft. Mifflin

Pretty cool! Thanks again ladies!

And... then it was off to the concert, which LibraGirl was kind enough to drive me to.

And... it was incredible. Just incredible.

But I think I mentioned that already.

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Bullet Sunday 149

Posted on September 20th, 2009

Dave!Last week I skipped Bullet Sunday because I was traveling but, lucky for me, Hilly-Sue was kind enough to pick up my slack! This week the bullets are back in Seattle, and so am I...

• Finale! Now that it's all over, I have to say that the cruise to Alaska was pretty darn special. Despite some dreary weather in spots, things couldn't have gone better, and the shore excursions were all beyond amazing experiences. If you're looking for a little adventure in your life, you could do a lot worse than exploring the Inside Passage. I booked through Jester's new company, Cruise Avenue, and am grateful for all his advice in getting me the perfect vacation. Might want to see those glaciers now while you still can...


• Pandemonium! Just got back from the Pet Shop Boys' "Pandemonium" tour stop in Seattle. It seems like it was just yesterday I went to their first-ever concert here in the city, and now they're back for round two! As expected, the show was amazing. I really like their new album, Yes, and they did a good job of mixing the new material with their classic hits...

Pet Shop Boys Pandemonium Tour Poster

For my fellow Pet Shop fans, the set-list went something like this... Heart, Did You See Me Coming?, Pandemonium/Can You Forgive Her?, Love Etc., Integral/Building a Wall, Go West, Two Divided By Zero/Why Don't We Live Together?, Always On My Mind, New York City Boy, Closer to heaven/Left to my Own Devices, Do I Have To?, King's Cross, The Way It Used To Be, Jealousy, Suburbia, All Over The World, Se A Vida É (That's The Way Life Is), Discoteca/Domino Dancing/Viva La Vida (COLDPLAY?!?), It's A Sin, Being Boring (encore), West End Girls (encore). A pretty sweet set... despite the sound at The Moore Theater being really uneven, and the sound-mix for the show being pretty bad in parts (Neil's vocals during King's Cross were obliterated). Still... well worth attending!


• Pet Shop Pics! I was too busy enjoying the show to be much of a photographer, but still managed to grab a few shots when I thought of it. From the looks of things, Neil and Chris have taken the "Cubism" theme of their previous tour and amped it up to the n-th degree, appearing as cube-heads with cube-head dancers and backup singers. As always, it was a pretty impressive production... even when restrained to the small stage of The Moore...

Pet Shop Boys with Cube-Heads!

Dancing Buildings on Stage!

Silver Confetti Finale!


• Dee-Jay? I have been to clubs where very talented individuals have crafted amazing mixes of a wide variety of music in clever and interesting ways. These DJ's deserve their title, and work hard to craft an exciting experience for their audience. On the OTHER end of the spectrum, you have people who just take a string of dance remixes with the EXACT SAME throbbing disco beat... smash them together one after another... and call themselves a DJ. Now, it's probably me... I'm just somebody who doesn't "get" it... but who the fuck cares? Apparently, the Pet Shop Boys do, because THAT'S who they had as their opening act... a disco DJ with one throbbing beat after another. I honestly couldn't tell where one song starts and the other begins. It's just a blur of bass and synthesizers (but mostly bass). Yeah, I'm sure this "music" is just awesome to somebody who can appreciate it (or is high on crystal meth)... but I thought it sucked copious amounts of ass. After 45 minutes of this redundant shit, I was ready to jump off the balcony. The only thing I can think of to explain it is that the Pet Shop Boys wanted to bore the shit out of people before they take the stage so they appear that much better. Which is crazy. They don't need it. Things don't get much better than the Pet Shop Boys live.


• Progress? They keep plugging away at Seattle's Hard Rock Cafe. Now they've got actual signs up to let people know what's coming (but who knows when?)...

Hard Rock Cafe Seattle


• Blue! Man, what a beautiful day in Seattle I came back to from rainy Alaska!

City Fish Market Sign in a Blue, Blue Sky!


And thus ends my week of vacation big happy fun time. Back to the daily grind...



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