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Released at the height of their popularity and during the Thatcher / Lawson economic boom year of 1987, Actually
is as much a pop commentary on the state of late-1980s Britain as a showcase of the Pet Shop Boys
' unique ability to mix miserabalism with disco. Tracks such as "Shopping", "Rent" and "King's Cross" paint a picture of an urban way of life, which is increasingly becoming market-orientated. Their collaboration with composer Ennio Morricone
, and the title track to their surreal, self-indulgent film "It Couldn't Happen Here" incorporates understated lyrics with soaring orchestration. The overall style of Actually
is best summed up by the chart-topping track "It's a Sin", which merges Tennant's angry autobiographical lyrics / vocals--focused on his own schoolboy anxieties around sexuality--with an up-tempo, Euro-disco beat. In true post-modern style (which was the "in" thing with the chattering classes of 1987), Actually
gracefully mixes old with new. The Further Listening Disc (1987-1988)
includes three previously unreleased tracks, the most notable being a re-mixed version of "Heart" by ace 80s mix supremo Shep Pettibone (the other unreleased tracks are "I Want To Wake Up" (Breakdown Mix) and the 7" mix of "One More Chance"). Also included are the excellent B-sides "I Want a Dog2" (from the single "Rent") and "A New Life" (from "What Have I Done to Deserve This?"). --John Galilee