All-Time Albums: #85



Two Divided By Zero 3:34
West End Girls 4:45 (UK single, #1)
Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money) 3:43 (UK single, #11)
Love Comes Quickly 4:19 (UK single, #19)
Suburbia 5:30 (UK single, remixed, #8)
Tonight Is Forever 4:31
Violence 4:27
I Want A Lover 4:30
Later Tonight 2:46
Why Don’t We Live Together 4:44


Oh, Pet Shop Boys. Yeah. One of the greatest bands of the ’80s. Imperial Phases. Number 1s all through 1987 and into 1988. Ended up helping to define the decade. Never in doubt.

Or was it? Rewind to late 1985, and the good ship PSB was not sailing quite so serenely. The best thing you could say about their career back then was the written media really liked them. Smash Hits were bound to, of course (given Neil Tennant still worked for the magazine), but Record Mirror were their main champions in those slightly dodgy early days of the original Opportunities flopping badly at #116 and a remodelled West End Girls creeping into the UK Top 100 in November.

(Two years later, they’d have the Christmas chart-topper. How time would fly).

Anyway, somehow West End Girls climbed into the Top 75. Then the Top 40, at #40. Then into the Top 10. Eventually, despite the challenges from Shakin’ Stevens and Wham!, it went all the way. Follow-up Love Comes Quickly was a slight blip, but did enough to get Please an instant Top 3 placing and the rest is history.

30 years on, and my favourite, my definitive Pet Shop Boys track is the opener on Side 1 of Please. It’s the version of the band which I have always clung to, through the lacklustre ’90s and indifferent ’00s. It doesn’t matter, I tell myself, they were once capable of Two Divided By Zero. WE WILL NEVER FORGET.

It helps that the rest of Side 1 contains the magnificent singles past and future, while Side 2 has the gorgeous Violence and affecting Later Tonight. And let’s not overlook the brilliant artwork conceit, with the tiny square on the outer cover (most effective on the vinyl LP), and a full grid of them on the inside.

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