Wednesday, April 20, 2011

I Consider Myself an East End Boy: Pet Shop Boys' "Videography: The Singles Collection"

This collection of eighteen music videos is wonderful for any fan of either the Pet Shop Boys or British pop music in general. In an age of Fred Durst and Pearl Jam slaughtering older songs ("Faith" and "Last Kiss", respectively), Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe actually improve on the songs they remake with a clean sound and great lyrics. This features the videos until 1991, and does not include any from the albums "Very," "Alternatives," "Bilingual," "Nightlife," and "Release."

1. West End Girls (Directed by Eric Watson and Andy Morahan)
The Boys' biggest hit and a good video. They shot in London, which makes me homesick for England. I spent three months there in the early nineties, and always want to get back.

2. Love Comes Quickly (Directed by Eric Watson and Andy Morahan)
Great, shadowy visuals highlight an underrated dark ballad; this could still pass as a video just shot last week.

3. Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money) (Directed by Eric Watson and Andy Morahan)
A whimsical song given a bizarre video treatment as Tennant, looking Amish in glasses and hat, is sunk into the floor of a parking garage, and sings while decomposing in some shots. Weird.

4. Suburbia (Directed by Eric Watson)
Suburbs, dogs, and an abandoned city bus. Nice video, watch for the TV screen that is playing the alternate version video to "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money).

5. It's a Sin (Directed by Derek Jarman)
It is a sin to have to watch the Boys uncomfortably go through the paces of hoods, trials, and goofy makeup. One of the weakest videos on the compilation.

6. What Have I Done to Deserve This? (Directed by Eric Watson)
Mix Dusty Springfield and some backstage Vegas-like chorus girls, and this video will have you interested. Tennant and Lowe look like they are having fun performing with the sorely missed Springfield, who is fantastic.

7. Rent (Directed by Derek Jarman)
Another failure from Jarman has a dark song given a bunch of video cliches (slow motion, silly resolution, etc.). Liza Minnelli remade this song as a ballad much better on her "Results" album, produced by Tennant and Lowe.

8. Always on My Mind (Directed by Jack Bond)
Surreal video from the Boys' surreal motion picture debut. Better song than Willie Nelson made, but Joss Ackland crooning along kind of brings everything down.

9. Heart (Directed by Jack Bond)
The worst video here has a Nosferatu story as Tennant and newlywed are haunted by a lovestruck vampire. Weak bat effect spoils already average effort.

10. Domino Dancing (Directed by Eric Watson)
Two Latino men fight over one gorgeous girl while a tanned Tennant croons. Sunny locations, and when our little female side of our love triangle appears in a vinyl dress, I was ready to break out the Armor-All and a chamois. Wow!

11. Left to My Own Devices (Directed by Eric Watson)
Good song is shot looking above through a glass ceiling at performers. Weird angle loses interest after awhile, but Lowe and Tennant move more here than in almost any other video.

12. It's Alright (Directed by Eric Watson)
This is the song you sometimes hear on car ads. It is really about how the world might end at any time, but Tennant and Lowe sing to a collection of some cute babies, all shot in crisp black and white. A fun video.

13. So Hard (Directed by Eric Watson)
Another mild hit has more black and white in a depressing little video about infidelity. Nothing really stands out.

14. Being Boring (Directed by Bruce Weber)
The Pet Shop Boys' best song and best video, as done by a leading photographer. Black and white, as assorted teens get ready for a party. This will make you nostalgic for youth, when the most important thing you had were your friends. Some nudity, but it only serves to heighten your emotions. Excellent.

15. How Can You Expect To Be Taken Seriously? (Directed by Liam Kan)
The version of this song on their album was a little peppier, but the video is funny. The song concerns all those megalomaniacal performers with their pet causes and yes men.

16. Where the Streets Have No Name (I Can't Take My Eyes Off You) (Directed by Liam Kan)
Who else would have thought to mix the two title songs into a giant, coloring book-bright remake? Strong video, with cheering crowds over Tennant's vocals.

17. Jealousy (Directed by Eric Watson)
Lush video also deals with infidelity, leading to violence in a restaurant as Tennant croons away. Gorgeous to look at.

18. DJ Culture (Directed by Eric Watson)
Really weird video as Tennant dresses like Oscar Wilde, and cross dressing Queen Victorias mix with a soccer match. Wild to watch.

I have been a long time fan of the Pet Shop Boys, and I have always enjoyed their videos, even though MTV does not play them anymore. Come to think of it, MTV hardly plays ANY videos anymore. I highly recommend this collection. (* * * *) out of five stars. Get this collection now!: Pet Shop Boys Videography: The Singles Collection on Video [VHS]