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Autonome (London United Kingdom)

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Offered by TOMMY's STORE
Price: £16.46

5.0 out of 5 stars The best of Nightlife?, 18 April 2014
This review is from: Mini (Audio CD)
Especially released as a limited edition for the Japanese market, "Mini" is a good retrospective of this "Nightlife" period - in my view not the most creative of the Boys, but this CD brings us not far from a "best of" PSB's 7th album.
"Closer to Heaven" is an album track that would have deserved single treatment (together with "For your own good", "Vampire", or the superb "In Denial"). "Screaming" and "Sail away" bring us back to the "special projects" of 1998 (the soundtrack of "Psycho" and the NoŽl Coward album) while "Lies" is the best B-side from the singles released at the time.
On top of these "regular" tracks, "Mini" offers the three live songs from the third single CD of "...Drunk" - to which we gave an enthusiastic 5-star review. The remixes done around the "Nightlife" songs are represented by the uplifting Morales club mix of "New York City Boys" - a great way to close this CD.
To be sure, "I don't know what you want but I can't give it anymore" is the only Nightlife single not to be represented here but this is not really a problem. "Mini" is a rather flattering portrait of this frankly uneven "Nightlife" timeline. Recommended.

You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk - CD3
You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk - CD3
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5.0 out of 5 stars Pet Shop Boys, it's a kind of magic!, 13 April 2014
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Funny that...The Boys had been scarce with their live performances on CD so far (while every tour - or most had at this stage been documented on video). So except from a Blur cover, and a pathetic gig of a solo Neil Tennant with Suede, nada.
This CD with three live tracks is therefore welcome but I was very concerned initially for three reasons.
First, I am far from being a fan of "...Drunk". Second, I am far from being a fan of the "Nightlife" tour. Third, in the documents from this tour (the "Livenight" DVD and an obscure promo 2CD-set from Atlanta), I had found the three tracks performed on this CD either very flat ("Always on my mind"), pointless (the unplugged version of "...Drunk") or simply a betrayal of the original song ("Being Boring"). Add to this that for the first time since the Boys starting touring, Neil's voice was having some noticeable pitch problems.

But guess, when performed professionally - either classical, jazz, rock or pop - is the BITCHIEST of mistresses. Sometimes, even when all the ingredients are put together, the best intentions can fall flat and the concert can sound dull. But the night when this CD was taped (25/10/1999 in Houston, Texas) shows the Boys at their glorious best. Neil's voice in particular goes seamlessly through the treacherous high notes of "Drunk" and the key changes of "Being Boring". "Always on my mind" succeeds in being that mix of soul and pop thanks to the very successful addition of the voices of Sylvia Mason-James and the three male guest-singers. The new mix of "Being Boring", revolting when heard the first time, is flawlessly performed here and ends up being memorable.

Listening to the other performances of these tracks performed on the "Nightlife" tour, I stick to my guns: if you want to listen to these three tracks live during this tour you have to listen to them here and absolutely nowhere else. On the DVD and in the 2-CD set, the boys perform songs after songs. In this CD, they are making music proper.
Hear the difference!

You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk - CD2
You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk - CD2
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Price: £11.98

4.0 out of 5 stars Genuinely fun, 12 April 2014
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Well here we go: the two CDs dedicated to arguably the least successful of all "Nightlife" singles end up getting four star each.
The first one was helped by a great new Chris Lowe song ("Lies") and the reprise of the dreamlike "Sail Away", after NoŽl Coward's song.
The second CD (reviewed here) is dedicated to the remixes of "...drunk". I must say I was concerned since the original (an improbable country-western-pop mash) was, in my view, unmixable.

As often though, the remixers do a remarkable job with the original material and the three remixes offer a development on three different aspects of the song:

The T-Total mix is more focused on rhythm, percussion and the bass line. It is fun, but not very sophisticated. It is still more exciting than the original track.
The Brother Brown's newt mix, designed by a now inactive Danish house duo, builds its effort from the main guitar chords of the original single. It is the most developed of all remixes (10 minutes) and it changes genre two-thirds of the way through, maintaining a very nice surprise effect. Highly recommended.
The last one, less dance-like and more ethereal - the Attaboy "still love you when we're sober mix" gives priority to the strings and completely reinvents the track.

Overall this CD is a very powerful reinvention of a song that wouldn't have stayed in my memory - but it is transfigured by very talented remixers.

You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk - CD1
You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk - CD1
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Price: £8.46

4.0 out of 5 stars Another PSB paradox, 9 April 2014
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As I made clear in my review of "Nightlife"*, I am not a great fan of "...Drunk".
The only "country" song of the Pet Shop Boys is a damp squib: cute, but uninvolving - and since this was to be the last single from "Nightlife", one is puzzled by some of the choices made: why "...Drunk" but not "For your own good"? or "Closer to Heaven"? or even "Vampire" - great ballad in its own way?

This is a mystery but, as so often with PSBs, the quality of the single lies in the B-side, and not the title song. With "Lies" (strikingly a Lowe/Tennant composition SUNG BY CHRIS LOWE!!!) the Boys produce their best B-side since "Shameless" and offer a complex, well-structured dance track which will enter your soul never to leave again. The tune is brilliant, the vocal accompaniment great, and the changes of tack in the course of the song properly fantastic: this should definitely have been the A-side.

On top of these two tracks, the return of "Sail Away", the only Pet Shop Boys's contribution to the NoŽl Coward album released in 1998 and produced by Neil Tennant: a masterful effort, very loyal to the spirit of its author while being innovative and modern.

The overall 4-star rating is an average between the A-side (2 stars), Lies and Sail Away (5 stars each).
Overall, a very good single indeed.

Pet Shop Boys: Montage - The Nightlife Tour [DVD] [2001]
Pet Shop Boys: Montage - The Nightlife Tour [DVD] [2001]
Dvd ~ L. Steve Abram
Price: £16.77

3.0 out of 5 stars Pet Shop Boys, Bloated, 29 Mar 2014
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Following the more intimate "Discovery" and "Somewhere" tours, the Boys decided in 1999 to do their first world tour since "Performance" in 1991. The result is the "Nightlife" tour, called that way to support the eponymous album.

To be very clear, the "3-star" review has nothing to do with the visuals. On the contrary, the layering of concert shots and projections is quite interesting and it helps immerse oneself in the experience. If anything, this is a plus on this DVD, IMHO.

The problem is more the quality of the show itself. The set is busy with a massive L-shaped structure designed by architect Zaha Hadid. The structure is practical since one can project the films (on the vertical bit), walk and dance on a slightly upper ground than the stage itself (the horizontal bit of the "L") and this bit is deep enough to be opened and closed (to its best effect in "Vampire"). However, the size of this structure tends to overtake everything else and as a result there is an impression of gigantism which is not exactly what I think the Pet Shop Boys are about.

After that, there is the show itself. At its core, the set list of this tour is a combination of Nightlife songs (7 tracks, the only listenable songs of the album) and greatest hits (16 remaining tracks, including one or two curios). The problem is that at close to two hours, the Boys don't really go the distance - and this is the first time I have to say that of one or their shows (except, maybe, the MCMLXXXIX tour, which was also the debut of PSB on stage).

The main reason in my view is that there are some tunnels of boredom in that show. After the great "For your own good" - bizarrely offered as an Easter Egg here) and a fun rendition of "West End Girls", the Boys give a rather desolate version of "Discoteca" without percussion and an unforgivable travesty of "Being Boring". The first half hour closes with the soporific "Only the wind", mistakenly resurrected from "Behaviour.", and at this point I look at my watch (unheard of in a PSB concert). There will be another moment like that in the show when Neil Tennant will go unplugged with minimalist renditions of "you only tell me you love me when you're drunk" and "was it worth it?", the latter one utterly betrayed by this effort - considering how lush the musical production of this track usually is. As for the third part of the concert, it does not seem to be willing to end at all, starting with a flat "Always on my mind" and nondescript renditions of "it's a sin" and "Go west". The worst taste is reached with the audience's lighters all fire blazing in "Footsteps" - unthinkable considering how opposed to this practice the Boys have always been.

So think about it, this could have easily been two stars. The show is salvaged overall with 3 stars due to the beautiful "virtual" duet with recently-deceased Dusty Springfield in "What have I done to deserve this?" featuring beautiful projections of the eternally young Dusty, as well as the very efficient resurrection of "Shameless", one of the best B-sides of the band, and a GREAT remix of "Young Offender".

The costumes are quite ugly with poor Sylvia Mason-James particularly badly dressed by the rather uninspiring outfits of Ian McNeil. Neil Tennant looks like he has a hedgehog on his hair while Chris Lowe appears as if he had purportedly knocked over a pasta bowl on his head.

Overall this is a rather boring experience, made worse by Neil's stage routine, now looking definitely passé...

PSB fans will try and find "Discovery" and "Somewhere", in my view the best concerts of the Pet Shop Boys, together with "Performance", very efficient at showing how good the Boys can be putting a theatrical show together. Fans can safely pass on "Nightlife".

New York City Boy
New York City Boy
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Price: £10.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Enchanting, 8 Mar 2014
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This review is from: New York City Boy (Audio CD)
With their new album "Nightlife", Pet Shop Boys would (again) change their record company in the US. After a disastrous experience with Atlantic for "Bilingual", the Boys switched to Sire Records for "Nightlife" (and didn't come back to the EMI-Parlophone UK mothership).
To be fair, the Boys started with a bang. The album debuted in the US in a special two-CD edition on November 9, 1999. The same day, a special EP dedicated to "New York City Boy" with the radio edit and eight (8!) remixes was also released. This is what we are reviewing here.
Let's be honest. If, like me, you're a fan of this song, you will be delighted to hear what some of the best remixers in the world have done with this tribute to the Big Apple.
On top of the radio edit, this EP (quite long for an EP - 71 minutes of music!) includes:

New York City Boy (Superchumbo's uptown mix)
New York City Boy (Superchumbo's downtown dub)
New York City Boys (The Almighty definitive mix)
New York City Boys (The Almighty man on a mission mix)
New York City Boys (The Thunderpuss 2000 club mix)
New York City Boys (The Thunderdub)
New York City Boys (The Morales Club Mix)
New York City Boys (The Lange Mix)

It would be too long to go into detail here but these remixes go from the competent (Superchumbo's uptown and downtown mixes - the former already reviewed with the individual UK CDs of New York City Boy) to pure genius (Almighty definitive and man on a mission mixes - the former also reviewed by us with the individual UK CDs) to the very strong primal/tribal effort by Thunderpuss (2000 club mix and Thunderdub) to the extremely relaxed and melodic version offered by the Morales club mix, without forgetting the "grand finale" of this EP, the almost mystical version of the track by Lange (The Lange mix).

Overall, none of these remixes are weak, some of them are downright superb as re-inventing the song or strengthening its dance qualities (Almighty, Thunderpuss, Morales, Superchumbo) while the final effort by Lange is like a religious celebration of New York City. The song would have deserved stratospheric success in the US. It was, as often with the Boys, #1 on the US dance chart, but performed disappointingly on the radios...A shame really.

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Price: £6.53

3.0 out of 5 stars Pet Shop Boys, Protracted, 8 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Nightlife (Audio CD)
The Boys closed the nineties the same way they opened them: with a problematic album.

The best way for me to describe the feeling produced by this album is the fact that it seems uneven and all over the place musically. The beauty of both "Very" and "Bilingual" lied in the fact that both albums were tight, consistent, and thematically related (despite different co-producers in the case of "Bilingual").
Here, the only common thread to these twelve songs is the concept of "Nightlife" going through every lyric and the fact that these songs all tell the same story, from two different viewpoints: The lover wants to have fun ("New York City Boy", "Vampires", "Happiness is an option", "Radiophonic", "Boy Strange") while on the other hand his/her partner is worried senseless (all the remaining tracks except maybe "The Only One", ambivalent). The problem is that by systematically focusing his writing on the same theme, Neil Tennant's lyrics become repetitive and, after a while, boring. This is quite unfortunate as in some cases the lyrics are beautiful (on "I don't know what you want..." for example) but after a couple of songs, the element of surprise is definitely gone. In a way this statement is a tribute to Neil and to the Pet Shop Boys: a lot of the group's success depends on its lyrics - and not exclusively on the music and the tunes.

What about the music then? When listening to the album, it is clear at times that the Boys do not quite manage to go the distance the same way that they could with pretty much all their prior albums (with the exception of "Behaviour." - the other problematic album in the 1990s IMHO). Part of the issue (like for "Behaviour.") will in my view be a producers' problem. "Nightlife" has four producers: the Boys of course, Rollo, David Morales and Craig Armstrong. Armstrong ends up co-producing half of the album. One can understand why: he is a great orchestrator and he was very successful in the prior NoŽl Coward album produced by Neil Tennant (the song Armstrong performed with Shola Ama is one of the best there). But here his universe seems to be somewhat at odds with the Boys' and the orchestra all too often seems added to the songs rather than be an organic part of them, the way that Anne Dudley and Richard Niles (two much more "natural" classical collaborator for the Boys) could do it. Songs like "The only one", "Footsteps" or the much overrated "You only tell me you love me when you're drunk" are simply not very inspired. Rollo, the second co-producer of the album, manages a bit better although the overall outcome of "Boy Strange" is not totally convincing. The Boys themselves are not devoid of criticism. Their only stand-alone effort, "Happiness is an option" is extremely lame.

But the biggest frustration lies in the fact that, as in "Behaviour.", "Nightlife" offers us some of the best Pet Shop Boys tracks ever. "New York City Boys" and "I don't know what you want..." (reviewed before) show that David Morales is a "natural" Pet Shop Boys producer and that the combination of both universes tends to create magical music. The two opening tracks, "For your own good" (why wasn't this a single?) and "Closer to Heaven" are superb songs, beautifully produced and extremely musical). But the real PSB masterpiece in "Nightlife" is clearly the fantastic duet of the Boys with Kylie Minogue, "In Denial". Right here, the orchestration of Craig Armstrong blends naturally, the vocal chemistry between Neil and Kylie (what a voice!) is superb, the lyrics are very moving and overall the Boys composed a 3-minute opera with two characters and a feeling of time suspended: wow.

Too bad the rest of "Nightlife" is not always up to this beautiful moment of magic.

Please note that the US edition of "Nightlife" included one bonus disc including all the B-sides of the singles released so far ("Screaming", "Silver Age", "Je t'aime moi...non plus", "The ghost of myself", "casting a shadow") as well as a selection of some of remixes (the Morales remix from "what you want" - dull, THe Madkatt courtship 80 witness mix from the same song - better, then four remixes of New York City Boy: The Superchumbo uptown mix - acceptable, The Almighty Definitive mix - definitive indeed, the Thunderpuss 200 club mix - fun, and the Lange mix - seminal. The quality of all these goodies (B-sides plus remixes) could justify one more star to the above review.

New York City Boy [CD 2]
New York City Boy [CD 2]
Offered by thebookcommunity
Price: £12.93

4.0 out of 5 stars A change of perspective, 2 Mar 2014
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Until then, the 2CD-set of any Pet Shop Boys single would follow the routine of the single version of the main track with one or two B-sides on the first CD, and a batch of more or less good remixes on the second CD.
Not so here. The first CD indeed followed that pattern with the radio edit of New York City Boy (NYCB), a good B-side, and a toweringly spectacular remix of the title track ("The Almighty Definitive").
But the second CD (reviewed her) offers the album version of NYCB. This version is about a minute longer than the radio edit, featuring a beautiful middle section and, more generally, emphasising the feeling that this track is a voyage. It is a very successful version of the song and it offers a completely different perspective from the tighter radio edit.

The B-side is a great instrumental, "casting a shadow", composed to celebrate the solar eclipse of August 11, 1999. There are some "Relentless" vibes to this track, which is a great success.

The CD loses a star because of the sweaty efforts of Tom Stephan (aka Superchumbo) to deliver another remix of NYCB but frankly the three versions heard previously (radio edit, album version and Almighty definitive) are so perfect that there is really nothing to add. Not that Stephan's mix is bad per se (it tries to maintain a resolutely disco tone) but the effort is competent rather than inspired.

A very good companion CD to CD1 nonetheless. In addition, a film on the above-mentioned eclipse, much less interesting than its soundtrack.

New York City Boy [CD 1]
New York City Boy [CD 1]
Offered by simak
Price: £2.70

5.0 out of 5 stars Go East!, 1 Mar 2014
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Every few years the Pet Shop Boys write a tune that defines its time and comes as a perfect reflection of their art, at one particular point in time. In my view Always on my mind (1987), Being Boring (1990), Go West (1993) and now New York City Boy (1999) fit that definition perfectly.
New York City Boy (NYCB) was initially the child of Chris Lowe and legendary DJ and producer David Morales, who very successfully remixed legendary PSB singles in the early nineties before producing "I don't know what you want but I can't give it anymore" as well as producing and co-writing NYCB. Neil Tennant added some great lyrics to this track, which is an unashamed tribute to The Village People. The brass, the strings, the opinionated male chorus, the anthemic melody: every aspect of this song is a reminiscence of the Village People but this is as successful as tributes go. Indeed, the Boys take this music (this sub-genre even) very seriously and even if a lot of stylish notes are taken from the Village People the song remains without a doubt a Pet Shop Boys track.

In a way, NYCB is a sequel to "Go West", a return from California to the East Coast, the willingness to succeed and to blend as opposed to the willingness to escape that was at the core of "Go West". The song is very energetic, primal, even carnal at times and goes under your skin quite quickly.

The other tracks are just a joy: "the ghost of myself", like "Silver Age", is a good solid B-side, even if not absolutely great as "Shameless" or "Delusions of grandeur" could be.

The peak of that great CD though is the remix of the title song by The Almighty (Almighty definitive mix"). This is a remarkable variation on the song which is given a more ample, expanded treatment but with utmost respect for the structure and the "soul" of the song. It will get your feet off the ground in no time.

Like the CD itself, this remix is indeed almighty and definitive.
Needless to say, a must-buy CD.
As a bonus, the promo video of NYCB: magic!

I Don't Know What You Want  [CD 2]
I Don't Know What You Want [CD 2]
Offered by rockstrapuk
Price: £4.49

3.0 out of 5 stars A mixed bag, decidedly, 26 Feb 2014
This review refers to the second CD of "I don't know what you want but I can't give it anymore", the first single from Pet Shop Boys's album "Nightlife".

CD 2 covers the remixes of the song, and the least I can say is that it is pretty disappointing.
While David Morales did a really good job with the production of the original track (that we already reviewed here: I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Anymore [CD 1]), his work on the remixes is absolutely appalling. The Morales Dub Mix is just plain noise - and seven whole minutes of it, with no music per se, while the Morales Remix is trying to "recreate" the song but without any of the lush and production values that made the original track so special. I was very disappointed by the man who had given us memorable remixes of "So Hard", "How can you expect to be taken seriously?" or "Where the streets have no name".

The rest of the CD is slightly better. Felix Da housecat manages a listenable remix of the title song, quite beautiful at times but again turning into an unstoppable beat from minute 6 onwards.

The cover of Serge Gainsbourg's "je t'aime moi non plus" is extremely well-done, and at times hilarious - as a Frenchman I couldn't stop laughing at the memorable "I go and I come between your thighs". Sam Taylor-Wood lends her (modest) vocal talents to this cover. Her (fake?) orgasm at the end of the track seems too controlled for comfort.
A mixed bag, je vous dis!

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