Pet Shop Boys

Biography: Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe met in an electronics shop in London in 1981. Neil [from Newcastle] was a journalist for the music magazine Smash Hits and Chris [from Blackpool] a trainee architect. Within a week of meeting they were writing songs together, one of the first song they wrote was 'Jealousy'. This song would appear nine years later on their third (proper) album, 'Behaviour'. Originally they called themselves 'West End'. They got the name Pet Shop Boys from some friends who worked in a pet shop in London. "We thought is sounded like an English rap group" according to Neil.

In 1982, Neil joined the staff of Smash Hits, which at the time was the pop music magazine in Britain. In 1983, Neil was sent to New York to The Police, he wasn't a fan, but decided that if he had to listen to The Police and interview them, he was going to do something for himself; have lunch with New York record producer, Bobby Orlando. Bobby O made hi energy dance records and both Neil and Chris
were huge fans of his work. Coincidentally, this meeting took place on the 19th August 1993, two years to the day that Neil and Chris had met. A portent perhaps? Flattered by the compliments paid to him, Bobby O decided that he was going to make a record with the Pet Shop Boys. Eight months later in April 1984, the first version of 'West End Girls' is released; it's a hit in the clubs of San Francisco and Los Angeles - it's even a "small" hit in the French and Belgian charts. Their first appearance on stage was at the Fridge Nightclub in Brixton, London in October 1984. They sang and played over tapes.

They signed to Parlophone Records in March 1985, this after protracted legal proceedings with Bobby O. In return for releasing them from the contract they had with him, he would receive royalties from future earnings. This was in the region of $1 million.

July, later that year, they release the original version of 'Opportunities'. Very few people noticed and it peaked at number 116 in the U.K. charts. They re-record 'West End Girls' and release it in October - the 28th to be precise. In January 1986 'West End Girls' goes to No. 1 in the U.K. charts. It also reaches no. 1 in, the U.S., Canada, Israel, Finland, Hong Kong, Norway, Ireland and New Zealand. Not that having a number one single was about to change their lives, Neil described having a number one single as "like having a cup of tea". On 24th March 1985 they released their first album, 'Please' . 'Love Comes Quickly' and re-recorded versions of 'Opportunities' and 'Suburbia' all chart in the U.K. On the 17th November the same year they release 'Disco', a 6-track remix album which would become a firm favourite with fans. In 1987 they win the Best Single Award at the BPI Awards [later renamed The Brits] for 'West End Girls'. Chris was distinctly under whelmed by the award. Rather than attend the ceremony, he stayed at home and watched it on television, leaving Neil to receive the award from Boy George. The same song received the Best International Hit Award at the Ivor Novello Awards later the same year. On the 7th September 1987, they release 'Actually', this is their second 'proper' album. They named the album 'Actually' because it was a word they used a lot, one working title for 'Actually' was 'Jollysight', the name of a hotel in Italy. The in-joke being that when people asked them why it was called 'Jollysight' they could say; "because it's a jolly sight better than the last one". Comedy's loss was music's gain.

On 'Actually', they collaborated with Neil's favourite female singer, Dusty Springfield on the song, 'What Have I Done To Deserve This?' They would work together in later years producing and writing for Dusty. The following year they release of all things, a film. 'It Couldn't Happen Here' - the name taken from a song on 'Actually' was originally meant to be an hour-long video based around the songs on 'Actually'. The film featured Neil, Chris, Joss Ackland, Gareth Hunt and Barbara Windsor. The film received mixed reviews which is of course a polite way of saying 'that wasn't very good was it'? It did however win an award at the Houston Film Festival. 'Introspective' is released on the 10th October 1988, it's another remix album. Rejected titles were: 'Dogmatic', 'Hello' and my favourite, 'Bounce'.

1989 is the year they tour for the first time, they played just 14 dates in, Hong Kong, Japan and Britain. It's the theatrical production they wanted; directed by Derek Jarman there are extravagant costumes, specially-shot films to be back-projected and dancers. Music journalist Chris Heath records the events of the tour in his book, 'Literally' written with the consent and co-operation of Pet Shop Boys. They collaborate with Liza Minnelli in 1989, the result of this collaboration is, 'Results', an album they write and produce for her. It yields two U.K. hits, 'Losing My Mind' [a Stephen Sondheim composition] and 'Don't Drop Bombs'.

Pet Shop Boys' Scores

Average career score: 72
Highest Metascore: 84 Electric
Lowest Metascore: 64 Format
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 7 out of 7
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 7
  3. Negative: 0 out of 7
7 music reviews
Title: Year: Credit: User score:
84 Electric Jul 16, 2013 Primary Artist 8.3
67 Elysium Sep 11, 2012 Primary Artist / Producer 7.0
64 Format Feb 6, 2012 Primary Artist 7.0
66 The Most Incredible Thing Mar 14, 2011 Primary Artist / Producer 7.0
71 Yes Apr 21, 2009 Primary Artist 8.1
75 Fundamental Jun 27, 2006 Primary Artist 8.4
77 Release Apr 23, 2002 Primary Artist 7.8