Author Topic: Pet Shop Boys - It Couldn't Happen Here  (Read 10879 times)

23 Daves

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Pet Shop Boys - It Couldn't Happen Here
« on: February 08, 2006, 09:48:40 PM »
Potentially a dead-end topic this, but nonetheless I am curious...

Has anyone seen or does anyone own a copy of this particular film?  I was flicking through a cable music channel quite recently and watched the video for "Always On My Mind" again, and was quite taken with the chaos that unfolded in front of me.  Ventriloquist's dummies with machine guns, madmen in the back of a car driven by Tennant and Lowe, and a lot of studied (and rather badly acted) indifference from the pair as well.

So... is the film itself worth picking up if ever I stumble across a copy?  Reviews at the time were mostly dismissive calling it a hotchpotch of surreal nonsense, but I'm guessing it's more like a giant music video than an actual "proper" film with a clearly defined plot.

Any thoughts?  At all?

weekender

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Pet Shop Boys - It Couldn't Happen Here
« Reply #1 on: February 08, 2006, 10:22:58 PM »
Your guess is correct.  It's been a while since I've seen it, but it's just a load of strange stuff set to music from what I remember.

I'd say it's worth picking up as a curio if you find a copy for a few quid, but not worth splashing out big money for unless you genuinely think you're some sort of avant-garde prick.

Pet Shop Boys - It Couldn't Happen Here
« Reply #2 on: February 08, 2006, 10:27:13 PM »
I rented it on video about 10 years ago. I found it really dull. And I'm quite a fan of PSB, so I wanted it to be good. On a brighter note, Johnny Marr likes it, apparently, or so Chris Lowe says. Chris Lowe wanted to subtitle the film "A Wank Of Epic Proportions". I suppose it was more Neil's "baby".

Pet Shop Boys - It Couldn't Happen Here
« Reply #3 on: February 08, 2006, 10:28:41 PM »
I HAVE SEEN IT! Only problem was I was drunk at the time. Very drunk. I was a monster PSB fan up until they went all gay and stupid. (Covering "Go West".) So it was cool to see it.

I don't remember much of the movie. I seem to recall it's a bit of a mind fuck. Not on a level with "Head" (The Monkees film), but odd visuals, very little plot etc... Plus it's got the mighty Joss Ackland (Can never remember how to spell that) in it, so it scores big points.

In short: It's a dogs breakfast. Great for PSB fans. Of little interest to anyone else.

I really don't remember that much about it. Though now you've piqued my interest and I must see if I can find it on certain file sharing networks...

Jemble Fred

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Pet Shop Boys - It Couldn't Happen Here
« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2006, 09:41:35 AM »
I've been meaning to watch it again for five years or so, but on the other two or three occasions I watched it, I recognised it for the amazingly entertaining, mind-broadening cult diamond of a movie that it is. And when it comes to PSB, I'm more of a Behaviour/Release non-electronica fan myself, so I'm no die-hard fan.

I've been waiting for a decent DVD release for yonks now.

Only a larf – no harm done!

mothman

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Pet Shop Boys - It Couldn't Happen Here
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2006, 12:47:23 PM »
I've seen it. Even got it on video, although I doubt I ever watched it more than once. Might still have it. . . No, on second thoughts I don't think I do, anymore.

Re: Pet Shop Boys - It Couldn't Happen Here
« Reply #6 on: February 09, 2006, 01:26:51 PM »
Definitely worth a look if you can find it – but yes, it's more of a film that looks good rather than a proper story. I think the story, what there is of it, is that it's a journey from childhood to adulthood, but that doesn't really cover it, because there's a lot of diversions. There's some good set pieces – Neil singing "What have I done to deserve this?" to his mum (Barbara Windsor), for instance. The "Always on my mind" single came out a long time before the film – a good six months, I think – and on the PopArt DVD commentary, Neil mentions that although it acts as the film's trailer, it didn't have any other context  when it originally came out so it was a very eye-catching video.

Basically it depends how much of a fan you are. If you've got all the albums you'll like it.

More details here – there's also a link to bits of the script.

Jemble Fred

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Pet Shop Boys - It Couldn't Happen Here
« Reply #7 on: February 09, 2006, 01:38:59 PM »
I think they win either way – the whole thing's almost a spoof of pretentiously 'surreal' movie-making. You could read all sorts of things into every scene, but ultimately I think they're just taking the piss and having a laugh.

But then that goes for much of PSB's odder output.

Anyway, Barbara Windsor covered in fried eggs. What's not to like?

kidsick5000

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Pet Shop Boys - It Couldn't Happen Here
« Reply #8 on: February 09, 2006, 02:19:59 PM »
Quote from: "TOCMFIC"

until they went all gay and stupid

... Plus it's got the mighty Joss Ackland (Can never remember how to spell that) in it, so it scores big points.


What I was going to say.

Although I'll add that Joss Ackland has the best voice ever. Very deep, yet very comforting.

Pet Shop Boys - It Couldn't Happen Here
« Reply #9 on: February 09, 2006, 02:53:00 PM »
In the Literally book by Chris Heath, Tennant points out that in its first week of release (July 1988), It Couldn't Happen Here was the "number ten film" in Britain.  "My dad couldn't believe it," he added.

Pet Shop Boys - It Couldn't Happen Here
« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2006, 04:04:37 PM »
"The dummy's a blasted existentialist!"

VegaLA

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Pet Shop Boys - It Couldn't Happen Here
« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2006, 04:24:08 PM »
I liked it. That said it was'nt what I expected but I liked it. i may have it on VHS somewhere so if I ever get my parents to do my DV conversions for me that will be on the list.

Pet Shop Boys - It Couldn't Happen Here
« Reply #12 on: February 09, 2006, 04:24:10 PM »
Quote from: "Jemble Fred"
... when it comes to PSB, I'm more of a Behaviour/Release non-electronica fan myself, so I'm no die-hard fan.


Don't know if you've got it but you might like about half the songs on Nightlife ...

Jemble Fred

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Pet Shop Boys - It Couldn't Happen Here
« Reply #13 on: February 09, 2006, 04:58:02 PM »
Yeah, I'm not that big on Nightlife though, it felt like a throwaway red herring, all that ginger wig/domerban stuff, the album padded out by tracks from Closer To Heaven etc. I love '...Drunk', especially Neil's live acoustic version. But I thought Release was a great comeback after a so-so album, meself.

Isn't New York City Boy on Nightlife? God I hate that one.

I think it's about time that a really good celebration of Tennant/Lowe's songwriting skills was released – a massive charity album with covers in every genre by many different bands.

Pet Shop Boys - It Couldn't Happen Here
« Reply #14 on: February 09, 2006, 05:27:32 PM »
It's maybe not an album album in the way that Behaviour or Release are, if that makes sense. "... drunk" and "Boy Strange" are forerunners to Release, with a "proper" band, things like "Happiness is an option", "The only one" and "Footsteps" are vaguely Behaviourish, there's the songs for the musical ("Closer to Heaven", which I like, "Vampires" and "In denial") and then more dancey stuff. And indeed "New York City boy", which I didn't like straight off but has since grown on me – it's got some very good remixes on the single as well, although maybe not your sort of thing if you're not so into the electronica stuff.

Quote from: "Jemble Fred"
I think it's about time that a really good celebration of Tennant/Lowe's songwriting skills was released – a massive charity album with covers in every genre by many different bands.


I'd just rather more people liked them. They usually get good reviews (or grudgingly good reviews) but generally they're underrated and written off as an 80s band.

At last, a Pet Shop Boys thread.

kidsick5000

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Pet Shop Boys - It Couldn't Happen Here
« Reply #15 on: February 09, 2006, 06:18:03 PM »
Quote from: "Panbaams"
generally they're underrated and written off as an 80s band.

At last, a Pet Shop Boys thread.


 Are you sure? Underrated? Never.
Possibly more of a "where did it go wrong" band (answer=Go West and being funny)

Immediately after the Funny hats album, there was a shutoff of PSB.
Nothing they did seemed right. I would have liked to have seen their plan to make Ant and Dec the New PSB, in a franchise like operation. Its true. Only A n' Ds cold feet stopped it.

Wasnt Gareth Hunt in It Couldnt Happen Here?

Pet Shop Boys - It Couldn't Happen Here
« Reply #16 on: February 09, 2006, 06:46:22 PM »
Quote from: "kidsick5000"
Quote from: "TOCMFIC"

until they went all gay and stupid

... Plus it's got the mighty Joss Ackland (Can never remember how to spell that) in it, so it scores big points.


What I was going to say.

Although I'll add that Joss Ackland has the best voice ever. Very deep, yet very comforting.


A magnificent voice. Hell, he was even awesome doing a dodgy South African accent in Lethal Weapon 2!

First album I picked up by them was Disco. Then I picked up Actually, Introspective etc... When they came out. Behaviour was their peak I think. Such a melancholy album. Wonderful. "Being Boring" still gives me chills. Listen to the album version late at night with the lights low... Fantastic.

Then they bought out "Very". I got the limited version with "Relentless" bundled with it. Not a bad album, but I only liked about a third of the tracks. That was where I tuned out. Sitting here in MP3 form I do have 3-4  CD's full of rare MP3's.

The thing I liked with PSB was their 12"s and b-sides. "The Sound of the Atom Splitting" was just mad. And the 12" version of "Left To My Own Devices" (probably my favourite PSB track), not the Introspective mix but the other one... I mean it had a fucking plane propeller on it?! WTF!

Say what you will about them, but back in the day, they were unique.

Pet Shop Boys - It Couldn't Happen Here
« Reply #17 on: February 09, 2006, 06:54:53 PM »
Just checked Emule. The movie is on there, in two parts. Not many sources, but still, it's there, and complete.

Pet Shop Boys - It Couldn't Happen Here
« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2006, 06:57:34 PM »
The new LP (out 17 April) sees them back with Trevor Horn for the first time since the It's Alright single in 1989.  I'm excited - meant to be their best album for years and years*.  They've even got a drummer, reports Mojo, which is a first, although - fortunately - it's "Air's drummer".  So that's ok.

*Bilingual has grown and grown on me in recent years - probably their most underrated LP of all, I reckon.  Not thrilled with Release, although the two singles introduced on PopArt (Flamboyant and Miracles) both pleased me immensely.  Fingers crossed - it deserves to be their year again.

23 Daves

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Pet Shop Boys - It Couldn't Happen Here
« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2006, 06:58:30 PM »
Well... when I first went to university in 1993 as a naive fresher, I put the Pet Shop Boys on the student bar's jukebox.  I heard cries of "who fucking put this on?" from the assembled throng of Nirvana and Pearl Jam fans, to which I had to admit "me".  I swear that certain people stopped taking me seriously from that precise point on - freshers love to judge their new comrades by the most trivial of pointers, and that was a killer blow for me.  Then again, it would have happened sooner or later anyway, and I didn't want a bunch of Kurt Cobain obsessives hanging round me as "mates".

People forget that whilst they were generally liked in the eighties by everyone apart from Metallers, the Pet Shop Boys became seriously uncool by the early nineties, and if you enjoyed their material it was considered a somewhat questionable act, rather as being a Robbie Williams fan would be now.  This was especially true at the height of grunge, when "pop" was a dirty word, and (as others have pointed out) they probably did themselves no favours at all during their "pointy hats and gay disco" phase.

For all that, though, even I stopped buying their CDs after "Very", which was in places an extremely ill-thought out album.  It's high on pop hooks, but it totally lacks the subtleties that were present on their other albums, and I think I just gave up after that.  I put that album on again quite recently, and I still didn't really get as much out of it as I would have done from their other earlier work.  There's some nice singles on there, but as a whole it just doesn't stand up.

I was incredibly irritated by their reworking of David Bowie's "Hallo Spaceboy" as well, which as it already stood (on "Outside") I reckoned was one of the best things Bowie had recorded in years.  They reduced it to a damp squib, then celebrated the fact.

On the whole, though, the first "Disco" album pleases me even more than "Please" from whence the original versions came, and "Actually" is probably one of the best albums of the eighties.  "King's Cross" is also one of my favourite Shoppies tracks, it's got this gloomy air about it that almost pulls it into Depeche Mode territory, though not quite.  

They're due a reassessment, aren't they?  You hardly ever hear anyone talking about them now, it's hard to imagine that at the peak of their careers they chalked up four number ones.

Pet Shop Boys - It Couldn't Happen Here
« Reply #20 on: February 09, 2006, 07:29:28 PM »
I love love love love love "Very" - it's one of my very favourite albums (ho ho). It's the best sythpop album there is - well, up there with "Dare", "Behaviour" and "Violator" anyhow. And I'm a big fan of "Bilingual" too. When that came out I had just started to study Spanish so it chimed nicely with my life at the time. And it's a proper grower. I was a bit disappointed at first but now I really like it a lot.

I have never grown to love "Nightlife" and I'm not sure I ever will now.  

I'm going to have to give dreary one line reviews to all of their albums now, sorry.

"Please" - a mixed bag. The singles are just blindingly brill - "West End Girls" is, in fact, possibly the greatest single of the 1980s. I can live without "Tonight Is Forever" and "Why Don't We Live Together" and "2 Divided By 0" though.

"Actually" - superb, but I do tend to skip over "It Couldn't Happen Here", and I have to be in the mood for "One More Chance" and "Hit Music", good though they are. "I Want To Wake Up" should have been a single. And I'm a bit fed up with "It's A Sin" at this stage.

"Introspective" - I've been listening to that constantly just recently. I'm in love with it. "I Want a Dog" especially. Whaddabassline!

Er, I'll have to come back - I know you're all gagging for the rest of my aherm, reviews...

Pet Shop Boys - It Couldn't Happen Here
« Reply #21 on: February 09, 2006, 07:34:08 PM »
I had a theory once that, for about nine months (say, summer 1987 to early 1988), they were Britain's top teenybop band.  Bridging the gap between A-ha and Bros.  

Disco was my first PSB LP.  Followed three days later by Please.  I still buy almost anything they put out.  And I had all the abuse too, Daves.  I've told this story on here before, but when I started university in 1989, Introspective was my "save from a burning building" album.  The New Order albums I brought were accepted, 'cos they were indie and hip and all that.  Pet Shop Boys though?  I've long thought a lot of the derision they attract as a kind of unspoken homophobia - although I love the fact they're vocally anti-rock.   If they were a rock band, they'd be revered by everyone.  But because they're pop and dancey-pop at that, they're not taken seriously by a lot of people (although journalists have always liked them).

Pet Shop Boys - It Couldn't Happen Here
« Reply #22 on: February 09, 2006, 08:49:35 PM »
I like them.
I think New York City Boy is great as is You Only Tell ME You Love Me When You're Drunk and I Don't Know What You Want But I Can't Give It Any More.

But they're also incredibly easy to parody, just talk in a monotone voice interspersed by whiny vocals over loads and loads of synth effects.

Which is what I do musically too.

Pet Shop Boys - It Couldn't Happen Here
« Reply #23 on: February 09, 2006, 09:29:25 PM »
I also think they're genuinely political.   It Couldn't Happen Here and Domino Dancing are tremendous critiques of the media hysteria over AIDS, for instance, or The Theatre (fury at the right-wing view of homelessness).   They do elegaic better than just about anyone - Your Funny Uncle, Being Boring - and funny/sad love songs - You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk, Love Comes Quickly, I Wouldn't Normally Do This Kind Of Thing.  They also even write brilliant pop songs *about* pop songs - Hit Music, How Can You Expect To Be Taken Seriously?, Can You Forgive Her?.   And their choice of covers is almost always exemplary (Somewhere is, for me, their only poor single; their treatments of Always On My Mind, Where The Streets Have No Name and It's Alright are works of genius).

Pet Shop Boys - It Couldn't Happen Here
« Reply #24 on: February 10, 2006, 12:29:07 AM »
Quote from: "23 Daves"
Well... when I first went to university in 1993 as a naive fresher, I put the Pet Shop Boys on the student bar's jukebox.  I heard cries of "who fucking put this on?" from the assembled throng of Nirvana and Pearl Jam fans, to which I had to admit "me".  I swear that certain people stopped taking me seriously from that precise point on - freshers love to judge their new comrades by the most trivial of pointers, and that was a killer blow for me.  Then again, it would have happened sooner or later anyway, and I didn't want a bunch of Kurt Cobain obsessives hanging round me as "mates".

People forget that whilst they were generally liked in the eighties by everyone apart from Metallers, the Pet Shop Boys became seriously uncool by the early nineties, and if you enjoyed their material it was considered a somewhat questionable act, rather as being a Robbie Williams fan would be now.  This was especially true at the height of grunge, when "pop" was a dirty word, and (as others have pointed out) they probably did themselves no favours at all during their "pointy hats and gay disco" phase.

For all that, though, even I stopped buying their CDs after "Very", which was in places an extremely ill-thought out album.  It's high on pop hooks, but it totally lacks the subtleties that were present on their other albums, and I think I just gave up after that.  I put that album on again quite recently, and I still didn't really get as much out of it as I would have done from their other earlier work.  There's some nice singles on there, but as a whole it just doesn't stand up.

I was incredibly irritated by their reworking of David Bowie's "Hallo Spaceboy" as well, which as it already stood (on "Outside") I reckoned was one of the best things Bowie had recorded in years.  They reduced it to a damp squib, then celebrated the fact.

On the whole, though, the first "Disco" album pleases me even more than "Please" from whence the original versions came, and "Actually" is probably one of the best albums of the eighties.  "King's Cross" is also one of my favourite Shoppies tracks, it's got this gloomy air about it that almost pulls it into Depeche Mode territory, though not quite.  

They're due a reassessment, aren't they?  You hardly ever hear anyone talking about them now, it's hard to imagine that at the peak of their careers they chalked up four number ones.


You're saying what I'm thinking. I think they've made a fantastic impact in British music and people forget how fucking massive they were, and not in a 'fly by night teeny bopper here today gone tomorrow' kind of way. They wrote songs which really reflected the this country, it's society and the alienated individual, and set it to a contemporay flavour.

I think that lack of  major critical acclaim has come from couple of areas which the mainstream media treat as cardinal sins: They are still seen as an 80s band, they're over 40 and pushing pop music, and they came out with Go West and New York City boys, which to some people, confirmed a stereotype of gay bands-so they were lumped in with Sommerville and Erasure(who again, having made some questionable decisions were once viewed as one of the intitial popular indie crossover acts)

After 'Very', or Behaviour as most people might say, they did make some dodgy decisions. I don't think they should have lost that air of mystery. I always thought they shouldn't ever give interviews and just tell everyone to fuck off. But instead Tennant went to all the 'Cool Britannia' parties, with your Elton Jonhs and your Sam Taylor-Woods. Although I liked aspects of their later work, I'm hoping Fudamental will redress the balance. They were pretty anti-establishment in their day but like Ben Elton, became rich, met the people they used to slag off, found that they weren't all that bad, and didn't have much to slagg off. It's Pip's second fucking stage of Great Expectations all over again.

And Popart is one fuckoff shithot album.

I can quite happily, and unashamedly place Pet Shop Boys along my diverse collection and if those kind of wannbe musical snobs (who only EVER LISTEN TO ONE TYPE OF MUSIC) turn their noses up, fuck em, I'm still having a good time. As I've said I listen to all kinds of stuff, from Boards Of Canada, to Brian Wilson, from Mozart to Steve Wonder, Guns n Roses to Goldfrapp.

Pet Shop Boys - It Couldn't Happen Here
« Reply #25 on: February 10, 2006, 09:03:33 AM »
The b-side to "Flamboyant", "I didn't get where I am today", is brilliant – a Great Lost Single. I always thought "One thing leads to another" (from Relentless) should have been a single too.

Jemble Fred

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Pet Shop Boys - It Couldn't Happen Here
« Reply #26 on: February 10, 2006, 09:44:57 AM »
Quote from: "fudgemonkey"
But they're also incredibly easy to parody, just talk in a monotone voice interspersed by whiny vocals over loads and loads of synth effects.


That's what Chris Morris thought, and his attempt is the single most woeful thing I've ever heard from the man. It made me angry it was so amateurish.

But then all this fucking bollocks about PSB losing it in the nineties is making me ridiculously angry too, probably because it's too early. They were only just getting into their stride by the early nineties, IMO. Se A Vida E, for all that it's basically a cover, cannot be bettered. And Release was a high almost up there with Behaviour. For all Lowe's silliness about "I DON'T LIKE ROCK', Pet Shop Boys, ironically, are at their best when they do rock. They should just make Johnny Marr the third Pet Shop Boy and be done with it.

Pet Shop Boys - It Couldn't Happen Here
« Reply #27 on: February 10, 2006, 11:02:59 AM »
I think the problem with PSB happened when Neil came out in the press - that finally gave the general public the chance to give them a "gay band" tag that they never had before.

To these ears "Very" is the peak - you can't hope to top that, a near perfect pop album up there with "Dare", with spot on presentation (packaging & the Howard Greenhaugh videos for the singles). Of course when you're at the peak, the only way is down...  

There was certainly some quality control issues from "Disco 2" onwards, not helped by some dodgy single choices - "Before"? Blimey, not when "Up Against It" is stuck as an album track - "Single"? oh dear - and even the extra tracks on the singles were not as essential as they once were.  There would always be the odd gem tucked away though.

"Nightlife" was good but a bit all over the place, and "New York City Boy" is simply terrible - again better tracks languishing on the album. The remastering of the first  5 albums brought into sharp focus how untouchable those first 8 years were, and made "Release" sound disappointing in (unfair) comparison.  "Sexy Northerner" was great though! And the following "Disco 3" was a great return to form despite it being remixes & B-sides.

And the new album is a triumph by all accounts - so it remains to be seen if they can enter a second "imperial" phase...

Jemble Fred

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Pet Shop Boys - It Couldn't Happen Here
« Reply #28 on: February 10, 2006, 11:07:16 AM »
I think the difference is that I personally have no great love for 'Pop' as a supposed genre, and I can't hear any electronic music without thinking 'There's a good song there, if only they'd use instruments instead'.

It's just that I am a huge fan of the songwriting talents of Tennant and Lowe. Their work, both lyrically and melodically, transcends any genre.

Pet Shop Boys - It Couldn't Happen Here
« Reply #29 on: February 10, 2006, 11:51:37 AM »
Quote from: "Jemble Fred"
Quote from: "fudgemonkey"
But they're also incredibly easy to parody, just talk in a monotone voice interspersed by whiny vocals over loads and loads of synth effects.


That's what Chris Morris thought, and his attempt is the single most woeful thing I've ever heard from the man. It made me angry it was so amateurish.


Interestingly, Neil and Chris really liked the Spitting Image song parody, though (the one with the "How the Hell...?" chorus).