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Autonome (London United Kingdom)

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Fundamental [Special Edition]
Fundamental [Special Edition]
Price: £25.60

3.0 out of 5 stars Fundamentalism, one more star, 15 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Those reading my reviews know the little esteem in which I hold "Fundamental". The extra CD of the special edition, "Fundamentalism", is marginally better, but does not change the overall disappointing picture.
Indeed, "Fundamentalism" is a remix CD of mostly "Fundamental" songs, and because the tracks in the original album were already produced to death, any remix would have to go the opposite way and go back to something more...ahem...minimal (no joke intended). So it means that the remixes in this edition are going to sound quite cold and industrial (like the "Sodom and Gomorrrah show" remix by Trentemoeller or the Alter Ego remix of "Psychological") or are not going to bring anything to the original track (Lobe remix of "Minimal" or Heavy Petting mix of "I'm with stupid" - the only one of all the tracks that was available before the release of "Fundamentalism").
So overall with half the tracks not really overwhelming, it seems that "Fundamentalism" is marching straight off the heels of the lamentable "Disco 3", a vain effort by the Boys to combine tired remixes and unreleased tracks. But like on "Disco 3", there are jewels in "Fundamentalism". The strongest track is a song called "Fugitive": why it was not on the album in the first place is a mystery. Actually, all the B-sides of "Fundamental" so far would have deserved at least an album credit: "The Resurrectionist", "Girls don't cry" and "Fugitive" are very successful songs that send to oblivion "Minimal" or Twentieth Century".
Bar this song, the Boys' duet with Elton John on Dusty Springfield's "In Private" is a fantastic tribute to the deceased singer - and another successful cooperation with Stuart Crichton (who had an important part in the creation of "Miracles" and "Flamboyant" back in 2003). Talking about Flamboyant, The Michael Mayer Kompact Mix is great (even if not as good as the Scissor Sisters Remix) while Gomorrah is a proper remix of the S&GS: this time the reduction in production tends to service the song quite well.
Overall, Fundamentalism is a patchwork where the utterly mediocre co-exist with pure genius ("Fugitive", duet with Elton John, new "Flamboyant" remix)...and these few tracks are enough to encourage us to add one start to the standard edition of this CD. Is it worth buying it just for that? absolutely not - but Farrow's black art design for the special edition is very glossy and almost worth buying the special edition just for the package..but it saddens me to recommend buying something by PSB just for style, and not for content.

Offered by Giant Entertainment
Price: £6.20

2.0 out of 5 stars Pet Shop Boys, Pompous, 14 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Fundamental (Audio CD)
And yet...they had made a promise.
Since "West End Girls", since the beginnings in the 80s and all the way through the nineties and the naughties, the Boys had promised they would never sing about "issues". Hand on heart, this Live 8 show in Moscow was just a means to play a great gig on Red Square, no politics involved...
And yet...despite the promise, and in light of the way the world was going, the Boys decided to write a mildly political album... and for the first time in years, they took this (and themselves) awfully seriously. Back was Trevor Horn, producer of two of the best PSB tracks ever ("Left to my own devices" and "it's allright") to produce a big sound and a big album.
Instead of big, we got bombastic and after the triumphs of "Release" (2002) and "Battleship Potemkin" (2004), "Fundamental" is a misjudged anticlimax that is seriously disappointing in the course of PSB's 25th anniversary. It shows that history does not repeat itself and that using an old Trevor Horn as producer does not guarantee a strong album. Most of the songs on "Fundamental" are overproduced, some of them are pretentious and the conductor/arranger Nick Ingvam pales terribly in comparison to the magical Anne Dudley: two orchestral arrangements only for her, but two jewels (more on this later).
Like "Nightlife" (one of the very few PSB turkeys - released in 1999), the album starts superbly. "Psychological" is an unsettling electro-masterpiece, a bit like the bastard son of "yesterday when I was mad" - a fantastic way to launch the album. Following this, "The Sodom and Gomorrah show" is a very successful epic, enhanced by Anne Dudley's beautiful orchestration. Then there is the beautiful ballad "I made my excuses and left", featuring a strange but compelling intro by Chris Lowe...
...and then that's pretty much it for the rest of the album. "Minimal" is a poor remake of "Shopping", while the combination of "Numb" and "Luna Park" almost following up on each other is guaranteed to leave you in depression or in oblivion, between the anecdotal personal problems of Diane Warren and the political issues of "Luna Park", both way too sugary and with an OTT orchestration. In the middle of these two overweight songs, the interlude "God willing" acts as a welcome interlude but unfortunately it is just that: an interlude. After that we have to cope with Tony Blair and George Bush (the very misjudged single "I'm with stupid"), Casanova's erectile problems ("Casanova in hell", much worse when sung by Neil Tennant while Rufus Wainwright was unforgettable singing it in "Concrete"), and "Twentieth Century" (the solution is worse than the problem, uh?).
The album finishes with a bang though, with the sublime "Indefinite leave to remain", superb love song arranged again by the miraculous Anne Dudley (she should have done all the orchestrations and not just two) and one of the late Pet Shop Boys's masterpieces, "Integral", exhilarating, thankless, terribly exciting. The best of the Pet Shop Boys really - what "Being boring" was to "Behaviour.", but a very late consolation for what is arguably the Boys's worst album IMHO, worst than "Behaviour." (1990) and "Nightlife" (1999). Better keep the morale up by playing "Release" (2002) and "Battleship Potemkin" (2004) over and over again. A very disappointing jubilee album.

I'm With Stupid
I'm With Stupid
Offered by thebookcommunity
Price: £19.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Best release of "I'm with stupid", 7 Nov. 2015
This review is from: I'm With Stupid (Audio CD)
All things considered, if you had to choose between the two-track CD of "I'm with stupid", the DVD or this release (an import for European markets), it is the latter (so the one I am reviewing now) that I would choose. In it you get the album version of "I'm with stupid", with all its qualities and flows (good song, more solid than inspired, slightly overproduced), but also the very successful extended mix of "The Resurrectionist" (in my view the real triumph of this single - the mix not materially different from the song itself, just longer and with an extremely successful intro), and another beautiful B-side of the Boys, "Girls don't cry", a very short but also very lyrical piece, which will remind PSB fans of "your funny uncle" and "later tonight".
All this is presented in a MUCH BETTER and much natural sound than on the DVD - thence the supplementary star.

I'm With Stupid [DVD AUDIO]
I'm With Stupid [DVD AUDIO]
Offered by Giant Entertainment
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Very good and very annoying, 1 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Let's start with the very good bit: The video of "I'm with stupid" is the most nonsensically funny since "yesterday, when I was mad". Featuring David Walliams and Matt Lucas of Little Britain fame, the short film is a tribute to the "Very" period the Pet Shop Boys, parodied to death by Walliams and Lucas under the watchful and incomprehending eyes of Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe: a classic video.
I also really enjoyed the extended mix of "The Resurrectionist" by Goetz Botzenhardt - who had engineered the boys' mix of Madonna's "Sorry". This mix is ample, lyrical, and beautiful and can only contribute to underline the relative weakness of the title song. Great surprise also with "Girls don't cry" a really short (and very sad) ballad about a girl who has been abused. Very simple, very moving...

Now what is not to like? technical issues really. First the fact that the mixes of "I'm with stupid" were only available as downloads or on very expensive demos, which is really frustrating. Second, the fact that the DVD audio format does not really work here. The bass is way too prominent and is wasting pretty much all the audio tracks - all way too loud for comfort. Third, the fact that at the moment of the release of the single, both the extended mix of "The Resurrectionist" and "Girls don't cry" were only available in the UK in this very unsatisfactory format.

Overall a 5-star product on content, let down by a genuinely stupid format...

I'm With Stupid
I'm With Stupid
Offered by Mattpuss
Price: £5.81

4.0 out of 5 stars Typical..., 1 Nov. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: I'm With Stupid (Audio CD)
Typical indeed: Pet Shop Boys release the first single from their new album produced by legend Trevor Horn, and the only thing one can remember is the phenomenal catchy tune from the B-side, "The Resurrectionist" - another legendary track by the Boys that not only did not make it as an A-side, but also did not make it on the album.
This simple, engaging song about louche medical dealings in Victorian East London is a cracking track and would have deserved better than be relegated on the B-side of "I'm with stupid".
The title song is not bad per se, it is a perfectly good song, but it lacks the "oomph" that propels "The Resurrectionist" in another dimension.
The production on "I'm with stupid" is quite big, borderline bloated with lots of brass and guitar...but not as inspirational as recent PSB singles such as "Miracles", Flamboyant", "Home and Dry" or "I get along". It is as if Trevor Horn had privileged style over depth in the way the track sounds...
..Impossible to comment further until the new album is out though...

Sorry [CD 2] [CD 2]
Sorry [CD 2] [CD 2]
Offered by susan50664
Price: £6.75

5.0 out of 5 stars Pet Shop Boys meet Stuart Price (and Madonna...), 31 Oct. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Sorry [CD 2] [CD 2] (Audio CD)
The four remixes (plus the single radio edit) of "Sorry" appearing in this CD are all extremely strong. As one reviewer said, it is pretty rare to have this level of consistency in a remix CD, and this single really delivers the goods: well done.

This CD is also very important for the Pet Shop Boys, believe it or not. 2006 would be a Jubilee year for Neil and Chris: the year celebrated that fateful day of 1981 where both men met in a music shop of the Kings Road, changing the face of pop music for ever!
To celebrate this event, the Boys would release a new album produced with Trevor Horn, they would go on a world-wide tour for the first time since 1999-2000, they would have a career retrospective DVD filmed, a coffee table book on their design work published, a concert with a symphony orchestra recorded live and and and...they would work with two other unquestionable pop icons of the XXth and XXIst centuries: Madonna and Robbie Williams.

On "Sorry", the Boys offered to remix the song after hearing that producer Stuart Price had stated that PSBs had been an influence on Madonna's new album - therefore this remix is also the first (indirect) cooperation between the Pet Shop Boys and Stuart Price, who would become their producer some years later...

The PSB "maxi mix" holds its rank extremely well in a bunch of remixes that are, as mentioned, extremely strong. Neil and Chris's efforts reside in an amazing, very original 3-minutes introduction starting with a beat and a repetitive vocal and growing line which is reminiscent of Lange's remix of Pet Shop Boys' own "New York City Boy". After the pace has been determined, a very effective synth beat leads to the "I heard it all before chorus" before Neil's own added vocals take over and mingle with Madonna's "perdona me". This is a magnificent introduction leading to the song being performed "as normal" with PSBs' arrangement, as heard since the beginning of the song - with a reprise of Neil's vocals by minute 5'' until the returning chorus: I am positively purring.... This remix is a summary of what makes Pet Shop Boys so special: a real epic sense of the music combined with a restless dancing feel.

...and God knows it was difficult to exist in this panel of very good remixes! Stuart Price himself (under the alias "Man With Guitar") remixes the song and delivers the most melodic of all remixes here. He slightly alters the melodic line at the beginning of the song and he pursues with a beautiful, ethereal synth backing line.
At the opposite of this effort, DJ Curtis Jones (aka Green Velvet) offers a totally beat-oriented version of "Sorry", removing everything that would distract from the rhythm of the song. This can be indeed tiring after a while, but it brings another interesting vision to the track.
Paul Oakenfold's remix is probably the less personal of the three remixes, but it remains a good version of the song.

So for all sorts of version, a pretty important release, this!

Sorry [2 Track CD] [CD 1]
Sorry [2 Track CD] [CD 1]
Offered by Direct Entertainment UK
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, 30 Oct. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Despite being very short (less than 10 minutes!), this is a very satisfactory single.
The title song ("Sorry") is a very strong, catchy dance romp which is very well-produced and with an addictive beat. The signature of Stuart Price (credited as co-writer) is for all to hear, and the B-side of the single is the extremely good "Let it Will Be". Again, the power of the beat is very addictive and the underlying synth line is also very efficient.
Overall, an EXCELLENT single.

Battleship Potemkin
Battleship Potemkin

5.0 out of 5 stars Pet Shop Boys, foreground music, 27 Oct. 2015
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This review is from: Battleship Potemkin (Audio CD)
Composing a new soundtrack for "Battleship Potemkin" appears prima facie like a daunting task.

The 1925 film is an overpowering movie classic, a masterpiece, and on top of it, composing a soundtrack for this film means exactly that: a soundtrack as the movie is silent, therefore the music will be the only sound permeating the 75-odd minutes of footage.
In front of that challenge, Pet Shop Boys' soundtrack is gobsmacking. Neil and Chris took up the gauntlet with taste, enthousiam, and an amazing craftmanship. Pet Shop Boys' "Battleship Potemkin" is a very successful suite for symphony orchestra, electronic instruments and vocals.
It succeeds in presenting a unified composition that is more than an hour long. To give the soundtrack a bit of density, the Boys hired the Dresdner Sinfoniker (a German-based string orchestra specialised in contemporary music) and Torsten Rasch to take care of the orchestrations.

The introduction ("Comrades!" - with orchestra) is a very classical theme showing that British composers are always very good at evoking the sea and its environment: I thought about Britten's Four Sea Interludes while listening to this melancholic, "open space" music. After this, "Men and maggots" is one of the few tracks performed only by the Pet Shop Boys - with traditional accompaniment, keyboards but also amazing percussion line (not that frequent in PSB music, congas in particular) while "our daily bread" is a beautiful (even if short) musical comment on an inscription on a plate (to be subsequently broken),
After this terrific intro, the music will follow the narrative of the film - another sign that the Boys were not here to substitute themselves for the movie, but really to accompany it. The different mood swings ("Drama in the harbour", a genuine musical twilight by its end), and "Nyet" (a high-octane electro piece) keep the attention high and the musicality at a high level.

"Odessa" is another variation on the opening theme of "Comrades!" with piano and keyboards, and it comes before the first peak of the piece, the heart-wrenching "No time for tears", enhanced by Neil Tennant's beautiful vocals and lyrics. The song expands on the thematic promises of "Comrades!" and turns into a magnificent orchestral-electronic anthem by a genius chord change at about 3'17-3'18. The song, which was mournful and lyrical, becomes anthemic, supported by the silky strings of the Dresdner Sinfoniker..Big wow moment and goosebump all over.
The Boys manage to reiterate this moment of grace in "To the battleship" at about 3'30: another sublime chord change where the strings take over a reprise of the main theme.
Following this lyricsm, the troops' attack celebrated in the famous "Odessa staircase" is the opportunity for another beautiful melody by Neil Tennant, "After All" - a politically-charged song against the war in Iraq in which the incommensurable sadness of the lyrics is contradicted by the march-like instrumentation of the track - which at this points portrays the massacre of the population of Odessa.
Following this peak, the music is back into narration mode before decision time on the Potemkin. The last three tracks are a beautiful ode to freedom and to machinery (the speed acceleration musically portrayed in "The squadron" is VERY exciting, and reminded me of some of the most dynamic pieces by Bartok or Shostakovich). "For Freedom" is the third "song" of the soundtrack and is a beautiful, peaceful (and logical) conclusion to the musical adventure that preceded. The sudden entrance of the transformed theme of "no time for fear" is another beautiful peak of this fantastic score, which survives very well without the movie that it comments on, but which takes all its meaning when played with it.
An unforgettable musical experience - that I took some time to comment - but I really think it was worth it...The piece deserves it.

Wowie Zowie
Wowie Zowie
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £13.80

2.0 out of 5 stars Thump, thump, thump..., 26 Oct. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Wowie Zowie (Audio CD)
Decidedly, each time the Pet Shop Boys have been linked (directly and indirectly) with the CD of a famous DJ, I have been short of words to express my discontent (see my reviews of Headliners: 03 or Cafe Mambo). Put it that way, dance music only limited to loud and repetitive beat is really not my style, so in order to be fair to this effort by Tom Stephan (aka Superchumbo) I will use quotes from other critics.
As mentioned by the very knowledgeable website, "the Superchumbo sound is distinctive, immediately recognisable. Thumping, concrete four to the floor beats at a solid tempo, enormous bass sounds, vocal hooks and stabbed keyboards riffs over the top".
Until then, I totally agree. Where I start to differ is the next comment: "thankfully that doesn't mean every track sounds the same".
Alas, as far as my poor classical music background is concerned, these 67 minutes of noise are indeed excruciating. The thumping is PERMANENT and there is not enough melodic differentiation to make this worth listening - or even dancing - to.
The track written by Stephan with Neil Tennant ("tranquillizer") bears an appropriate name as to what I felt like after listening to the CD as a whole, but the composition really goes nowhere and Neil's very audible swearing is simply completely against type and does not work.
More specifically, I am still at odds to understand why Pet Shop Boys gave so much work to Superchumbo considering that his remix work of PSB's songs has always been far from convincing, IMHO...

Showgirl - The Greatest Hits Tour [DVD] [2005]
Showgirl - The Greatest Hits Tour [DVD] [2005]
Dvd ~ Kylie Minogue
Offered by Bee-Entertained
Price: £7.12

5.0 out of 5 stars The consummate showgirl, 23 Oct. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I came to Kylie completely by chance. Being a Pet Shop Boy fan, I watched their really fun pop song "Falling" (its demo is widely available, sung by Neil Tennant) turned into some inaudible mash for Kylie's eponymous fifth album. Fortunately, the Boys did not give up that easily and invited Kylie to sing "In Denial" with Neil on their Nightlife album.
Now "In Denial" was one of Nightlife's very few highlights, and in many ways the song saves the album from the oblivion it would have otherwise been precipitated in.
The song, a duet between a daughter and her gay father, is at the same time poignant and phenomenally lyrical. Despite not being a single, Kylie considered it to be "high up there" to join the singles making the bulk of "Showgirl", Kylie Minogue's greatest hits tour from 2005. Neil Tennant's recorded voice acts as the other voice from the duet and the song fits the show very well.

For the rest, I was impressed with Kylie. The professionalism of the show, the wardrobes, the dancers, the singers, the staging: this is a remarkable "career tour", and I have been impressed by the songs, and the sheer artistry of the singer, who can seamlessly sing, dance and act with consummate professionalism. Contrary to what I read here and there, the voice is absolutely beautiful, particularly in the high notes, and she impresses in "Over the rainbow", "Slow", "On a night like this" among many others.
Her repertoire is really entertaining - I had not realised she had sung so many hits "better the devil the know", "giving you up", "on a night like this", the LEGENDARY "can't get you out of my head" etc etc.....So this is a really entertaining DVD. If I have to neat-pick, I will mention two things: first, the show is very long (close to two hours) and as is often the case for long live shows (Pet Shop Boys' "Nightlife" tour comes to mind), there are moments when the tension lapses a bit (between "Come into my world" and "Dreams" for this show). The other slight problem is that the musicians are good but not great. Every effort should have been made to work the arrangements of the songs a little bit more. In this instance, they can sometimes sound quite similar - which is a shame.
Oh well, it doesn't matter.....

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