on 9 February 2011
The extended plays on this album transform a clutch of excellent songs into something far richer. The patient instrumental craftwork builds so much more emotional power into "I'm not scared" and "Domino Dancing" in particular. I am listening to it as I write this and....well there is no point in trying to put into words the feeling it fills you with, over and over again. If you have found this, you have found an album which will inject you with calm energy and suffuse you with the rich contentment that results from a heart beating slightly faster than normal.
on 7 June 2009
Introspective hit my ears in November 1988 as I drove alone all the way from Frankfurt to Berkshire in my boss's very fast car. Belgium flew past at about 120mph. Yes, that was the 80's. He had left "Introspective" in the CD player and instantly I fell in love with the whole theatricality of it.
Driving in the bleak of Stonehenge a few months later "Left to my own Devices" threw a surprise. Skies were grey and brooding, all was quiet around and then.... the heavens launched a massive thunderclap synchronised with the music, at exactly 54.5 seconds into the track. I thought the Hand of God was going to descend and pluck me from the road. Eerie to say the least ...Imagine the desolateness and a khaki coloured light in the air and listen from the start.
The fugual "It's Alright " ranks in my personal top 10 tracks of all time. Addictive to this day. perhaps best enjoyed on your own driving or with some Sennheiser wireless headphones, volume no limit.
21 years later I still foist it on others when they come around...no Norah Jones sweet easy listening. Maybe I am still an 80s girl at heart...
on 29 October 2014
Great sound on VINYL, from the PSB and what a great surprise, this is not an LP but each track is on it's own 12 in and 45rpms. Great and very fast delivery...CHEERS Pete!.
Forget Compressed Disc, as for that MP3 rubbish don't even go there. To thumb through an LP and listen to how the PSB recorded this great music,that's what music is all about..Long Live Vinyl!!!.
The Pet Shop Boys have a habit of releasing 'minor' albums between their major releases. Between their first and second albums, Please and Actually, they released Disco, a six-track piece which featured no real new material, but rather remixes of previously released tracks (some primary, some B-side works).
Between Actually and Behaviour, the Pet Shop Boys released this album, Introspective, another minor album, with six tracks. However, this time there was new material--remixes of two previously released pieces, and four new works. This was done in an interesting format--each of the tracks on the album were in the form of 'extended dance versions', usually the kind of thing one gets when purchasing the single apart from the album. However, to get the tradition 'album' version of songs such as Domino dancing, Left to my own devices, or It's alright, one had to purchase the singles. This was an interesting marketing ploy, and extended the sales and life of this small album far beyond what it otherwise would have had.
Domino dancing was released first, and a classic Pet Shop Boys sound took over dance floors worldwide, combined with a Latin rhythm which was also in vogue during the fall of 1988. This had also perhaps the last MTV-hit video for the Pet Shop Boys; after this time, the videos released by the Pet Shop Boys no longer fit the game-show-and-rap-video dominated MTV schedule, although their videos continued to be played extensively on Euro-MTV.
Left to my own devices features more of the signature obscure-intellectual lyrics that Neil Tennant has been noted for:
I was faced by a choice at a difficult age,
would I write a book, or should I take to the stage,
but in the back of my head, I heard distant feet
Che Guevara and Debussy to a disco beat.
Simple music tracks backing introspective lyrics (perhaps this is how the album came by its title--Introspective).
I'm not scared was actually written for Patsy Kensit and Eighth Wonder (not so much of a wonder, in fact!), and was produced as a single for them by the Pet Shop Boys, before Eighth Wonder decided they did not care for the collaboration. (Take note--where are they today?) The Pet Shop Boys did their own version on this album which, while it was not released as a single, fared rather better than the Eighth Wonder version critically and in radio playtime.
It's alright was released immediately prior to their tour in the summer of 1989, actually long past the 'hot' time of the album, but served to show the enduring value of the Pet Shop Boys--that their albums can sit on the shelves for some time and lose none of their luster. Originally written by Chicago-House artist Sterling Void, this song was revitalised, had some new lyrics inserted, and became a hit for the Pet Shop Boys, their last for over a year, until Behaviour and its attendant singles began to be released late in 1990.
This is an album really for fans, but it is, like most of their albums, remarkably consistent in the look-and-feel of all songs, high quality and interesting to the ear.
on 23 February 2013
This is basically where I start wondering whether PSBs are from another planet or not. To quote Neil Tennant it seems that, with "Introspective" (released in October 1988), the Boys did find "the essence of pop". Where to start? instead of ten songs of 5 minutes each, "Introspective" is made of 6 extended mixes of songs/singles that had never been on an LP before. "I am not scared" was written for Patsy Kensit and Eigth Wonder in 1987. It was a very good song but here Neil's voice and the PSB's production of the song give it a real sense of danger. "Always on my mind", one of the best covers EVER, with its very sophisticated orchestration and production values, finds in "Introspective" its "ultimate" incarnation and mix: I was gobsmacked. "Left to my own devices" is a luscious Trevor Horn-produced affair, but also a marvelous melody, and the combination of both is a riot.
"It's alright" is a great cover of a Sterling Void song but the version here is not ideal and the Boys would perfect it for the single release in June 1989.
"I want a dog" is an extremely funny track (you always want one in every PSB album). Lastly, "Domino Dancing" is a beautiful dance track with a formidable "latino twist" thanks to producer Lewis Martineé. Overall, an essential LP, a place in time where all the stars are aligned...and the best was yet to come (the next PSB review by this author appears for Liza Minnelli's "Results" album).
on 30 April 2003
It sounded great then, it sounds great now. An album containing only 6 tracks lasting about 45 minutes is definitely their best album of the 80's. The PSBs managed to squeeze Latin (Domino dancing), House (Always on my mind) and orchestral pop (Left to my own devices) into Introspective and it sounds particularly good remastered. The only slightly weak track is It's alright. As with the other enhanced versions of old PSB albums, the second CD contains a good selection of B-sides, most of which are available on 1995's Alternative if you already have the original albums.
I'm not going to write a detailed review for every PSB album, so here's my top five: Behaviour (most accomplished but least upbeat album. Beautiful songs but quite melancholy), Introspective, Very (Perfect pop. Most of the tracks could have been singles), Actually (PSBs at their peak commercially, a couple of weak tracks but two no.1s) and Release (mostly soft rock. Excellent songs throughout).
on 28 January 2016
President Ronald Reagan had managed to survive the Iran-Contra affair, and was enjoying his penultimate Festive celebrations in the White House;
Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was still basking in the glow of her recent landslide victory in the General Election;
and the Pet Shop Boys had seen off the challenge of The Pogues and Kirsty MacColl to claim the Christmas Number One with their version of Always on My Mind.
To the 8 year old me, the last of these 3 facts was the only one of any significance (though I must admit that even as a child I cared little for politicians of Reagan and Thatcher's ideology), for on Christmas Day 1987 I received a small, white transistor radio with single earpiece (looking back now, that was kind of odd, wasn't it? Why one earpiece, when we have two ears? Bizarre).
Late at night I'd listen to Radio 1, and hear all the top pop hits of the day, from Bananarama to Rick Astley to... somebody else who was big in 1987. I don't know- T'Pau.
I didn't know how radio worked, so when a DJ introduced a track I imagined that he and the bands he was playing were all live in the Top of the Pops studio, their legs obscured by waves of dry ice rolling across the stage.
It was quite a let down when I discovered that the neon light festooned soundstage of my imagination was in fact just a mulleted man working a turntable in a tiny cupboard.
But before my illusions were shattered, the act that dominated the airwaves was the one enjoying its 'imperial phase:' Pet Shop Boys.
This album, Introspective, features many of their most famous songs of that era, including Always on My Mind, (in a thoroughly satisfying remixed medley version with In My House), It's Alright, Domino Dancing, and the Trevor Horn produced genius of Left to My Own Devices. Leaving aside their efforts to launch Patsy Kensit's musical career (their version of I'm Not Scared features here), this opus showcases a band at the height of its powers and popularity.
on 3 January 2013
Introspective was just so Pet Shop Boys. The mixes of Left to my own devices, Domino dancing and Always on my mind/In my house are still my favourate, while It's alright is a cover of a song i hadn't heared before but is great for the pet shop boys style. I want a dog and I'm not scared are great songs and sit well on the album. Only six track on this album, but it works.