Thirty years ago: Dusty, Liza and it’s going to be alright!
The Pet Shop Boys are renowned for their ‘extra curricular’ collaborations alongside their usual and prolific output. 1988 had seen them produce the Eighth Wonder hit “I’m Not Scared” as well as releasing their own studio album “Introspective”. 1989 would be another busy year for them.
Chris Lowe and Neil Tennant began the year with the lady with whom they had given a welcome boost to her career in 1987 with their ‘duet’ “What Have I Done To Deserve This?”, Dusty Springfield. Now in her fiftieth year, Dusty joined forces with PSB to record a whole album of new material and that began in January with the release of “Nothing Has Been Proved”, written especially for the film ‘Scandal’, the story of Britain’s biggest political scandal, the Profumo Affair.
Lyrics such as “Mandy’s in the papers ’cause she tried to go to Spain, she’ll soon be in the dock and in the papers once again” and “Stephen’s in his dressing-gown now, breakfasting alone, too sick to eat, he’s on his feet and to the telephone”, tell the sorry tale graphically and intelligently. “It may be false, it may be true” questions a huskily voiced Dusty, “but nothing has been proved”, she concludes. The song made its way to No.16 in the UK as well as charting around Europe. A second single with Dusty came in November 1989, “In Private”, the prelude to the album “Reputation” (typical one word PSB album title!) which was released in 1990.
“In Private” continues the affair theme with lyrics like “When you run back to your wife?, I guess it’s just the story of my life, What you gonna say? So take your time. And tell me”. The song was a top ten hit across Europe but stalled at No.14 in the UK, two places higher, however, than “Proved” had reached at the beginning of the year. “Reputation” the album was preceded by the title track of the album in early 1990, with the album becoming a moderate success, gaining a Silver certification in the UK for sales of over 60,000 copies.
Chris and Neil themselves took to the charts in June releasing “It’s Alright”, the third single to be lifted from the “Introspective” album. It quickly became a standard and made the top five in the UK as well as charting high across Europe. The single was not released in America, strangely. It is now used by Neil in his ‘final address’ to the audience at their shows…how many times have you heard him say “I’m Neil Tennant, this is Chris Lowe, we are the Pet Shop Boys, and it’s going to be alright”?!
In August they were back with their second collaboration of the year, this time with legendary actress and singer Liza Minnelli and another one word album, “Results”! The project was introduced with the lead single “Losing My Mind”, a song written by Stephen Sondheim for the 1971 musical Follies, and a perfect vehicle for Minnelli to demonstrate her outlandish and over the top showmanship skills. Her sheer delight in singing lines like “The sun comes up, I think about you, the coffee cup, I think about you” and the drama of the final “You said you loooooooved me or were you just being kind? Or am I losing…losing my mind?”! The single was a massive hit, giving Liza her very first UK chart hit and proving popular across Europe and Australia.
There’s a really unbelievable performance by Liza and PSB on a UK chat show with what seems to be enough computers and machinery to fill a whole room with, just to get a three minute song out! Was this the absolute zenith of technology thirty years ago?!
The “Results” album produced further delights with Liza’s take on Yvonne Elliman’s 1978 disco classic “Love Pains” and with the singles “So Sorry I Said” and the stark “Don’t Drop Bombs”. The album was a resounding success selling over 100,000 copies in the UK and many more in the wider world. It was re-issued as an expanded edition in 2005 in a hardback book with pages format.
So 1989 was just another packed year of PSB success, and no sooner has the “Results” and “Reputation” albums been released, the boys were back in the studio writing and recording their next album “Behaviour”. Chris and Neil have since gone on to write and produce for Boy George, Kylie Minogue and even Madonna. And even today, they simply don’t stop, with a new studio album due this Autumn and the prospect of live shows next year, nothing has really change in thirty years and long may it continue!