Smash – Pet Shop Boys, the Singles – Rhino Records

by | Jul 19, 2023 | Pop/Rock/World CD Reviews, SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

Smash – Pet Shop Boys The Singles 1985-2020 Parlaphone/Rhino Records – special 6-LP vinyl Boxed Set with *****-page booklet, ****1/2:

(Neil Tennant – vocals; Chris Lowe – keyboards)

Pop-synth duo Pet Shop Boys (Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe) have been recording for four decades. Their contribution to the British cultural landscape over this time has been significant. Their sustained popularity can be attributed to their commitment to the “singles” format. While many artists acquiesce reluctantly in acknowledging their greatest hits, Pet Shop Boys embraced this unequivocally. Rhino Records has released a 55-song 6-LP vinyl compilation (Smash), featuring both “A” and “B” sides in chronological order.

The first disc kicks off with the song that started it all in 1985, “West End Girls”. The synth/drum electronics establish a dance tempo to a rap-like vocal performance. The arrangement is layered and bristles with atmospherics. The rhythmic vibe continues on cuts like “Love Comes Quickly”, and the comically observational “Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money)”.  One of the certain highlights is “What Have I Done To Deserve This”. British pop icon Dusty Springfield duets with Tennant, taking the lead on the second verse. She fits seamlessly with the glossy textured vibe. A surprise is a dance version of Willie Nelson’s “Always On My Mind”. The party continues on Record 2. Whether it’s a more deliberate translation (“Domino Dancing”) or groove infusion (It’s Alright”), the delivery is emphatic. Another interesting cover is the medley, “Where The Streets Have No Name/I Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You”. Again, they distill the essence of songs that are very recognizable and reinvent them as Pet Shop Boys numbers. Tennant’s vocals are fluid and Lowe’s synth runs are quasi-orchestral. The connection works.

Each disc consists of listenable, wry pop configurations. With relentless tempo, tunes (from Record 3) like “I Wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind Of Thing”, “Liberation” (a slower groove), “Yesterday When I Was Mad” (another hybrid of vocals and spoken word) and “Single-Bilingual” (with a march beat) capture the trademark style. There is also social commentary like “A Red Letter Day” and covers like “Somewhere” from West Side Story. There is a shout out to life in the Big Apple (“New York City Boy”), a melancholic reflection (“You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk”) with a spacey guitar and even a less dance/more pop statement on “I Get Along”. (Note: Pet Shop Boys have some compelling videos of these singles). Orchestral flourishes open the change-of-pace “Numb”. Years later, the core aesthetics of their sound remaIns intact when the listener hears numbers like “Did You See Me Coming?”. Some more recent material (“Memory Of The Future”) offers expanded synthesizers and interesting chord changes. But there is always up tempo, jaunty songs like “Love Is A Bourgeois Construct” with cinematic accents. Collaborations with Example (“Thursday”) and Years & Years (“Dreamland”/ includes a great rap sequence) are nothing short of magnetic.

Smash is a uniquely refreshing collection. The sound mix bristles with energy and centers around Tenant’s sinewy voice. There is a 16-page full-sized booklet with Tennant and Lowe providing insight into each song. 

—Robbie Gerson

Smash – Pet Shop Boys, the Singles 

Record 1
Side A: West End Girls; Love Comes Quickly; Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money); Suburbia
Side B: It’s A Sin; What Have I Done To Deserve This (With Dusty Springfield); Rent; Always On My Mind; Heart

Record 2
Side A: Domino Dancing; Left To My Own Devices; It’s Alright; So Hard
Side B: Being Boring; Where The Streets Have No Name/I Can’t Take my Eyes Off Of You; Jealousy; DJ Culture; Was It Worth It

Record 3
Side A: Can You Forgive Her?; Go West; I Wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind Of Thing; Liberation
Side B: Yesterday When I Was Mad; Paninaro 95; Before; Se A Vida E (That’s The Way Life Is); Single-Bilingual

Record 4
Side A: A Red Letter Day; Somewhere; I Don’t Know What You Want But I Can’t Give It Any More; New York City Boy (single edit)
Side B: You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk; Home And Dry; I Get Along; Miracles; Flamboyant

Record 5:
Side A: I’m With Stupid; Minimal; Numb; Love Etc: Did You See Me Coming?
Side B: It Doesn’t Often Snow At Christmas; Together; Winner; Leaving; Memory Of The Future

Record 6
Side A: Vocal; Love Is A Bourgeois Construct; Thursday (feat, Example); The Pop Kids
Side B: Twenty-Something; Say It To Me; Dreamland (feat. Years & Years); Monkey Business; I Don’t Wanna.   

More information through Rhino Records

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  Album Cover for Pet Shop Boys - Smash


Pet Shop Boys - Smash, Vinyl Albums


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