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History

March 1991

The plan is to release ‘How can you expect to be taken seriously?’, a sharp dig at “the aspirations and pomposities of pop stars” as the first Pet Shop Boys single of 1991. They drastically remix it in conjunction with British dance duo Brothers In Rhythm and film a video in which they parody a number of stars. Meanwhile they have recorded another track, initially to release much later in the year: a hi-energy version of U2’s ‘Where The Streets Have No Name’ segued with the Frankie Valli standard ‘Can’t Take My Eyes Off You’. Eventually they resolve to release both songs as a double A‑side on March 11th, and make a complementary video for ‘Where the streets have no name (I can’t take my eyes off you)’. “It worked as a concept: one song is about rock stars so to have a U2 song with it serves as a further comment”. (Pressed for comment on this new cover version, U2 issued the wry statement “What have we done to deserve this?”). The Pet Shop Boys second tour, ‘Performance’, also begins on March 11th in Tokyo. After Japan it visits the USA, Canada, France, Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Holland and the United Kingdom and Eire. It is put together in conjunction with director David Alden and designer David Fielding, best known for their avant garde opera productions. “It’s going to be more theatrical than the last tour”, Neil announces. “We felt that with the last tour there were still elements of a rock concert that we’d like to get rid of”. There are no musicians on stage, (though two, guitarists J.J. Belle and keyboard player Scott Davidson, do skulk in the wings), just three singers (Pamela Sheyne, Derek Green and Sylvia Mason-James) and ten dancers (Petee Aloysius, Trevor Henry, Craig Maguire, Catherine Malone, Mark Martin, Leon Maurice Jones, Suki Miles, Katie Puckrick, Sarah Toner and Noel Wallace) choreographed by Jacob Marley.

May 1991

The first album by Electronic, ‘Electronic’ including the collaboration with Neil and Chris, ‘Patience of a saint’, is finally released on May 27th.

1991 May

‘Jealousy’, remodelled to include a real orchestra, is released on May 28th. It is a song that they had actually written nine years ago, in the spring of 1982, and is, quite simply about jealousy. “There’s some good lines in there”, observes Chris, “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 all night and you go absolutely bonkers?” The twelve inch version contains a quote from Shakespeare’s tragic study of jealousy, Othello. In the video, shot in a west London car showroom, the Pet Shop Boys stand by as a roomful of dining villains move from jealousy to violence.

1991 May

June 1991

The third collection of Pet Shop Boys promotional videos, aptly titled ‘Promotion’, is released on June 3rd and includes videos for all their singles from ‘Left to my own devices’ to ‘Jealousy’.

1991 June

In Dublin on June 17th the Pet Shop Boys play the final date of their tour.

August 1991

Neil and Chris are invited to take over Simon Bates’ mid-morning show on Radio One, Britain’s national pop radio station, for a week. They choose all the records, principally dance music. Chris only swears on air once, and they are invited back to fill the same role in July 1992.

September 1991

The Pet Shop Boys launch their own record label Spaghetti with a single ‘Heaven Must Have Sent You Back To Me’, by a 21 year old Scottish singer, synthesizer player and songwriter called Cicero. They had first met him when he came backstage at the Pet Shop Boys’ Glasgow concert in 1989.

October 1991

A single, ‘DJ Culture’, co-produced by British dance music duo Brothers In Rhythm, is released on October 14th. “It is about how facile and pretentious modern life is”, Neil explains, “just as in DJ records everything is sampled to sound authentic, so in a lot of aspects of modern life — for instance in politics — it is almost as though attitudes are sampled. People pretend to sound concerned; everyone pretends that the Gulf War was a real war, and that President Bush or John Major are successful war leaders. In fact they sample the past — the Second World War, or a war movie — and the public also samples their response from wars in the past. The whole thing is sort of fake”. In the video Neil and Chris appear in appropriate costumes: as soldiers and doctors; as a referee and a soccer player; as Oscar Wilde and his trial Judge.

The Pet Shop Boys play a one off concert at the London Nightclub, Heaven, at a party after the premiere of Derek Jarman’s latest film, ‘Edward II’ on October 15th. It is a deliberately untheatrical, straight-forward concert, for which they are backed by the three singers from this year’s tour, J.J. Belle on guitar and Lawrence Cedar on keyboards. They are introduced by Derek Jarman, and supported by Cicero.

November 1991

‘Discography’, a collection of the Pet Shop Boys’ hit singles from ‘West End girls’ to the forthcoming ‘Was it worth it?’, is released on November 4th. Only six of the eighteen songs have previously appeared on an album in their single versions. At the same time a video compilation, ‘Videography’, is also released.

1991 November

On this day

2000

An article in Billboard reports that the Pet Shop Boys are working on several new tracks for a ‘best of’ collection, scheduled for release in the fall. They will later postpone plans for this album, putting it off until 2003.

2007

Back in the U.K. following a couple of shows on the continent, the Boys perform at the Eden Project in Cornwall.

2011

PSB and Take That perform this evening in Hamburg, Germany.

2013

Neil is one of more than a hundred internationally known musicians who have signed an open letter posted today by Amnesty International calling for the release from prison of the members of the band Pussy Riot, who had been found guilty and jailed a year earlier for an act of protest in a Russian cathedral.

2016

This evening: the third ‘Inner Sanctum’ show at the Royal Opera House.

2017

The Pet Shop Boys perform at the Tall Ships Races Music Festival in Turku, Finland.

2019

The first rehearsal for Musik.