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Format Double CD

4.6 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio CD (14 May 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Double CD
  • Label: EMI Catalogue
  • ASIN: B007NWCZR4
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 10,292 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The Pet Shop Boys are nothing if not consistent. As most fans will already know (and previous reviewers have already remarked) their B-sides are as good as their A-sides - a lot of them are discarded album tracks which see the band only marginally, if at all, more camp/experimental/humorous than we might ordinarily expect to find them.

Whilst I must admit I am more of a fan of the Pet Shop Boys' earlier work, I might be so bold as to venture that "Format" is an even stronger collection than their previous B-sides compilation Alternative. "Sexy Northerner" and "In Private" are worth the price of admission alone.

As ever, the collection is immaculately presented: 2CDs in cardboard slipcases with a booklet packaged in a thick card box (although, note to anyone reading this in future - PSB releases do tend to revert to jewel cases after a while). The booklet usefully contains the boys' (as interviewed by Jon Savage) comments on each and every track.

My only complaint would be that their awesome cover of Coldplay's Viva La Vida (from 2009's Christmas - now out of print) is not included - I suspect that may be a format limitation issue as both CD's are a 78 minute run-time). Nevertheless "Format" is a comprehensive and entertaining package.
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Format: Audio CD
Although I've always loved the Pet Shop Boys and have all their albums, I've never been enough of a fan to buy all the singles so I appreciate these B-sides compilations.

Seventeen years on, 'Format' is the follow-up to the brilliant Alternative and although of comparable quality is a very different collection. What I enjoyed most about 'Alternative' was seeing how Neil and Chris progressed musically. It was almost like hearing them become the Pet Shop Boys, so by the time of the last track on the second CD they have arrived at their unique sound.

There's less development in 'Format' because that sound has been established. To that extent this new collection is less of a journey than a series of forays from an established point, so there are some real oddities, tracks that sound more experimental than anything you'd get on an album, for example 'Disco Potential' or 'The Former Enfant Terrible' (great title even if the song doesn't quite work). There are also some ridiculously camp songs too, 'Between Two Islands' and some unexpected instrumentals.

This means the album is a bit patchy and I can see certain songs being permanently skipped over. What remains (and it is the majority) is just wonderful and cover the complete soundscape of the PSB. There are the thumping dance numbers, 'Resurrectionist' or 'Blue on Blue' as well the quieter, more thoughtful and intimate tracks (the closest PSB come to ballads) such as 'The Calm before the Storm' a short, elegiac gem. There are also some unexpectedly rocky numbers, 'I didn't get where I am today', for example, and I was glad to see 7" versions of 'Discoteca' and 'No Time for Tears'.
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Format: Audio CD
From 1996's "Bilingual" to 2009's "Yes", the PSBs have continued to release a plethora of bonus and non-album tracks with every release and FORMAT does an excellent job of chronologically documenting these. Here, you will find the PSBs at their experimental best, ranging from jungle, latino and electronica to rabid pop and all-out rock. There are too many to review individually, but highlights on the album for me include the guitar-driven "I didn't get where I am today" which could easily have been a successful single and is remininiscent of Beautiful People from "Yes". Johnny Marr's trademark plucking of a Beatles-esque riff under an uplifting melody make it a crime that this song was consigned to B-side status. The Nirvana-inspired "Party Song" is another that would make many of today's young upstarts green with envy that 2 men in their 50s can produce such relevant, vibrant, colourful yet challenging pop after approaching 30 years in the business. Tennant sings with a sneer only Shaun Ryder could rival over an electronic riff which owes more than a nod to "Smells Like Teen Spirit". Sheer brilliance. One other than merits a mention is the strangely disturbing "Gin and Jag" which explores the dark side of the internet. The threatening lyrics match perfectly with the danger-tinged harmonies employed by Tennant.
Overall, a wonderous piece of work, which flows, on the whole, with a surprising underlying consistency, despite the changing styles throughout the 38 songs and 13 years spanned. Ideal for a long car journey, at least until the promised 2012 album of brand new material is released.
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Format: Audio CD
If we're being totally honest about the music business there are few bands who could ever truly release an "essential" greatest hits package. There's even less who could rattle up a two cd set of b-sides. Rarer still is the band who could rattle up a two-disc greatest hits packed with 35 UK top 20 hits and TWO great compilations of completely different b-sides/extra tracks.

The times have changed since Alternative, Pet Shop Boys' first collection of b-sides. B-Sides were in their latter years back in 1995 when we got Alternative and yet the onslaught of "digital" singles means that "extra" tracks are now more in vogue than they've ever been. Such is the work ethic and quality of Messrs Tennant & Lowe it never seems to be a chore for them to come up with quality "extra" tracks that have always seemed to be a cut above the "throwaway" ditties that can make up a lot of band's extra efforts (even if the days of PSB tailoring b-sides to particular singles are also long gone).

If there's less "experimentation" on Format than there was on Alternative it's perhaps understandable yet the chronological nature of the release means you can trace a number of "pop phases" through these tracks (as the Boys themselves have acknowledged) as they've never been shy to express their influences nor have a crack at what the sound of the times is.

When Format is good, it's so good you wonder why certain songs didn't at least make it onto albums. Indeed there are some, such as the Johnny Marr featuring I Didn't Get Where I Am Today, that simply scream out "hit-single". There are also a number of what I would term "essential" PSB tracks that might not have had the "hit potential" but remain up there with their best works.
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