When I first heard that the Pet Shop Boys were considering doing a remake of Always on my mind, I thought it was hilarious. I thought it was a joke, actually. After all, Willie Nelson had only recently done a remake; the idea of Willie Nelson and the Pet Shop Boys being listed side-by-side in a catalogue somewhere was, well, surreal. And yet, a few months after I had heard this rumour, I was listening to the radio (one the BBC channels, but I cannot now remember which), and I heard this electronic, sample-heavy crashing introduction (very similar in tone to songs on the Pet Shop Boys' album Actually), and a brass-heavy melody line with the unmistakable tune of Always on my mind.
Sure enough, Neil Tennant's voice began flatly churning out the lyrics:
Maybe I didn't treat you
quite as good as I should...
They had done it. This song rocketed to the top of the dance play list in clubs all over the world, and has remained a standard since 1988 when it was released.
This also started the trend of the Pet Shop Boys releasing remakes between albums, and experimenting with projects to apply new styles to old and not-so-old songs.
This CD was released separately from an album, after Actually, but then was offered as a re-packaged two-disc set with Actually. The Pet Shop Boys had discovered a marketing technique which they've continued to this day, of offering ever-so-slightly different versions of the same thing under different labels.
The other song on the CD, Do I have to?, is reminiscent of King's Cross on the album Actually -- melodious, lower-key, not so heavy in the beats or brass, and once again, Tennant's puzzling lyrics, which have had numerous interpretations applied. This song was remade (albeit fairly-commercially unsuccessfully) by a German artist a few years later.
Worth having, worth seeking out. It is a CD that, in dance terms, will remain Always on my mind.