Review: Pet Shop Boys – Ultimate

ANOTHER UPDATE:  My review/rant has now appeared on UK iTunes.  Go see.

UPDATE:  There’s a nasty problem with the videos when you get the iTunes download.  You don’t get ‘You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk’ at all.  You get ‘Can You Forgive Her?’  Again.  I tried to complain on iTunes but it won’t let me.  It seems the comment and rating system has been down for a few days.

I poured scorn on this album when it was announced.  “ANOTHER greatest hits album?” I moaned.  True, this is their third.  And true, it does include the bottom-clenchingly bad ‘New York City Boy’ while leaving out the thumbs-aloft-pop-stormer “I Don’t Know What You Want But I Can’t Give It Any More.”  I hated Neil Tennant for that blindingly stupid omission.  I think I hated him even more when I heard “Together” for the first time.  I was quite hopeful of a decent ballad, but oh no.  It was another ludicrous Xenomania effort, and it had some rather sinister, foreboding lyrics to boot.  They’ve left off ‘Liberation’ too, plus a few other singles (particularly ‘Rent’).

The LP is, let’s face it, your typical pre-Christmas marketing effort.  The chaps are probably getting a little short, and want to make a quick few quid to jet off on another lavish holiday, and post nasty pictures of it all over Twitter for the next month or so.

They have had the decency to remaster the ‘Heart’ single for this release and not just bung the album version on.  ‘Suburbia’ has been remastered this year too, apparently, and I did notice it has a faded run-in, which is quite nice – a bit like that ‘Brit Medley’ thing.  ‘New York City Boy’ is a remaster of the US Radio edit.

My issue is a digital purchase from iTunes.  It came bundled with a load of Top of the Pops videos too, plus a Whistle Test version of ‘Opportunities’, and TV recordings from Wogan, The Brit Awards and Top of the Pops 2 for some of the later stuff.  It doesn’t say whether ‘Go West’ or ‘Miracles’ are remastered at all.  The quality of the audio is very good.  The quality of the early videos, however, isn’t so brilliant.  They’ve not bothered cleaning them up.  You can just make out that Chris is bashing away on the keyboard of a PPG.  ‘I Get Along’ is a semi-acoustic offering, which they just managed to clip the beginning off of.  To be honest, the audio quality on the rest of the videos is poor.  Whether this is just because it’s a digital release, I don’t know.  When I find the expanded version of the CD/DVD in the bargain basement of Sainsbury’s in a couple of weeks, I’ll let you know whether the quality’s any better on that.

Here’s what you get for your eleven quid at iTunes UK:

Singles

  1. West End Girls (2001 Remaster)
  2. Suburbia (2010 Remaster)
  3. It’s a Sin (2001 Remaster)
  4. What Have I Done to Deserve This?(2001 Remaster)
  5. Always on my Mind (2003 Remaster)
  6. Heart (2010 Remaster)
  7. Domino Dancing (2003 Remaster)
  8. Left To My Own Devices (2001 Remaster)
  9. Being Boring (2001 Remaster)
  10. Where The Streets Have No Name (I Can’t Take My Eyes Off You) (2003 Remaster)
  11. Go West (Radio Edit)
  12. Before (2001 Remaster)
  13. Se a Vida É (That’s the Way Life Is) (2001 Remaster)
  14. New York City Boy (US Radio Edit) (2003 Remaster)
  15. Home and Dry (2003 Remaster)
  16. Miracles (Radio Edit)
  17. I’m With Stupid
  18. Love etc.
  19. Together (Ultimate Mix)

Videos

  1. West End Girls (BBC Top of the Pops)
  2. Love Comes Quickly (BBC Top of the Pops)
  3. Opportunities (BBC Old Grey Whistle Test)
  4. Suburbia (BBC Top of the Pops)
  5. It’s a Sin (BBC Top of the Pops)
  6. Rent (BBC Top of the Pops)
  7. Always on my Mind (BBC Top of the Pops)
  8. What Have I Done to Deserve This? (Brit Awards)
  9. Heart (BBC Wogan)
  10. Domino Dancing (BBC Top of the Pops)
  11. Left To My Own Devices (BBC Top of the Pops)
  12. So Hard (BBC Wogan)
  13. Being Boring (BBC Top of the Pops)
  14. Can You Forgive Her? (BBC Top of the Pops)
  15. Liberation (BBC Top of the Pops)
  16. Paninaro ’95 (BBC Top of the Pops)
  17. Se a Vida É (BBC Top of the Pops 2)
  18. A Red Letter Day (BBC Top of the Pops)
  19. Somewhere (BBC Top of the Pops)
  20. I Don’t Know What You Want But I Can’t Give It Any More (BBC Top of the Pops)
  21. New York City Boy (BBC Top of the Pops)
  22. You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You’re Drunk (BBC Top of the Pops)
  23. Home and Dry (BBC Top of the Pops)
  24. I Get Along (BBC Top of the Pops 2)
  25. Miracles (BBC Top of the Pops)
  26. Flamboyant (BBC Top of the Pops)
  27. I’m With Stupid (BBC Top of the Pops)

One supposes they’ve left a few of the singles out of the audio because they’re presented as ToTP videos?

If you missed ‘Discography’ and ‘Pop Art’, then get this.  Otherwise, because of the not-quite-up-to-the-mark quality and disappointing omission of some singles, leave well alone.

*UPDATE*

Looks like iTunes has repaired the duplicate video, but do we get it for free?  Do we ****!

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