Pet Shop Boys

Format: B-Sides and Bonus Tracks 1996-2009

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The fan-geared Format follows in the footsteps of 1995's Alternative which collected the synth pop group's B-sides from the years 1985-1994. Here, it's 1996-2009, which means from Bilingual to Yes with a couple of musicals, ballets, and silent film soundtracks in between. Remixes are, for the most part, left for another set and while many fans keep up with PSB singles for the B-sides, this set, like Alternative, is appreciated by the faithful for its ease of use alone. Highlights include grand moments like "The Truck Driver and His Mate" and "How I Learned to Hate Rock 'N' Roll," along with some more whim-like numbers like "We're the Pet Shop Boys." If B-side collections spawned singles, the redo of "In Private" with Elton John as guest would be huge, and it's interesting how the demo of "Confidential" for Tina Turner recasts the song as one wistfully pining for a closeted lover. If you're not a PSB B-side regular, then Format will be a roller coaster ride of styles while jumping, without warning, from the sublime to the ridiculous, but the physical version and some downloadable versions come with helpful liner notes featuring an interview with Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe conducted by pop music writer Jon Savage.

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