Twenty-five years ago today: Pet Shop Boys’ “Please”

To commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of a still unheralded debut, John Freeman gives Pet Shop Boys’ Please another listen. My own take from 2005. Before the video for “Domino Dancing,” before the imperial phase commemorated by the singles from Actually, I want to know how many fans who bought Please in 1986 knew the Boys were not Boys Don’t Cry or Sly Fox, both of whom made a fabulous hit but remain one hit wonders in America; whether these record buyers knew the Boys were Something Special.

9 thoughts on “Twenty-five years ago today: Pet Shop Boys’ “Please”

  1. scott

    Well, this was shortly after the time I started writing about music (terribly, but let’s not go there), my main gig being an underground Toronto rag, and though I didn’t actually buy Please, I had heard “West End Girls,” thought nothing of it, but then noted that the LP was reviewed by another writer at the paper who I a) assumed was so much smarter than me; and b) was surprised that he was suddenly showing interest in something synth-oriented (he’d never shown any inclination otherwise). So I kind of sensed, however briefly, that Something Special was happening, but in truth, I didn’t pursue my intuition (which is weird, given how much I loved Scritti that year), and only first listened to them starting with Actually, due (not surprisingly) to a few high profile critical raves, including Greil Marcus in his Real Life column.

  2. j. sot

    hey, Scott, i remember that Marcus tidbit!

    me, even tho i loved “West End Girls” and “Opportunities” from the first hearing, i still didn’t buy one of their longforms till Xgau reviewed Actually in late-’87. yeah, i know, i am such a tool…

  3. scott

    Nothing remotely tool-ish about that! I praise Christgau, Marcus, et al. for making me hear things I might otherwise have let slip by. For several years, those guys functioned as a form of radio for me.

  4. j. sot

    yeah, agreed. what i refer to being tool-ish on my part, back when (yeah, right!), was my unwillingness to explore further an artist i obviously already liked quite a lot minus receiving go-ahead from proffered gate-keepers at large. i’m certainly not blaming that state of affairs on anyone other than myself, tho, obviously.

  5. j. sot

    probably for most, yeah (thanx largely to “Rent” and Dusty Springfield, i presume). but not Chuck “West End Girls” (first released April ’84? holy cow!) Eddy, iirc.

  6. s woods

    I was questioning somewhat the idea that they were ever “critical darlings” in America to begin with. It’s a close call, if you ask me. 12 critics voted in Pazz & Jop for Actually in 1987, 34 voted for Very in ’93… not bad, but it hardly places them at the level of a Springsteen or Madonna. And I recall SPIN running a snide feature story on them circa ’87 or ’88, so it’s not like there was a huge across-the-board consensus. On the other hand, it’s probably true that the relatively small fanbase they had among critics was fairly over-the-top about them. So maybe I’m just blathering here about nothing!

    1. humanizingthevacuum Post author

      You’re right, Scott.

      As for the album itself, I was so glad that their last tour featured a fantastic medley of “Why Don’t We Live Together” and “Two Divided By Zero.” The former is one of my favorite songs by anybody — and does as much as any of their more famous singles in establishing their personae.


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