Thursday, August 27, 2009

Pet Shop Boys Live at BBC, and RIP Ellie Greenwich

This one-hour special, containing near-complete clips of PSB TV performances interspersed with contemporary comments by the duo, is easily the best music-related airplane viewing I've ever seen (the second best would be ... well, no comparative examples come to mind, actually, but the PSB collection was quite good on its own and is well worth seeing even if you're not stuck on an airplane for 7.5 hours). I didn't know that their current look (knee-length black coats) was recycled from the start of their career. The interviews added some curious, minute details to the clips (what, you were expecting less arcane ruminations from Neil Tennant?) and I certainly wouldn't have noticed Tennant's trembling hands without being prompted, so cheers for his trainspotter's sense of detail. Their live gear setup for 1994's "Liberation" was nothing more than an ancient laptop. Whether Chris Lowe was doing anything "live" with that computer is irrelevant to me, but can you think of an earlier laptop "performance" than this one? Was this the first laptop gig of consequence in the history of music?

I am baffled at the relative lack of attention that has been given to the death of one of the greatest songwriters of the 1960's, Ellie Greenwich. Her Spector-resume was the most impressive of any songwriter he regularly worked with ("Be My Baby", "Da Doo Ron Ron", "River Deep Mountain High", "Then He Kissed Me", to name just four). And she co-wrote "Leader of the Pack"! And discovered Neil Diamond! What a career ... and I assume this story doesn't get much play because she was predominantly a songwriter, with far less name-recognition and visibility than that of the acts she worked with.

Here is one of my favourite Youtube clips.

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