March 1986: Pet Shop Boys Release "Please"

PSB Please cover
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The story of the Pet Shop Boys reads like a the beginning of a blockbuster '80s musical: Neil Tennant was a music journalist. Chris Lowe was an architectural school dropout. They'd meet up in a London hi-fi store and bond over a shared love of dance music. Tennant would fly to New York City to interview Sting for Smash Hits magazine. During his time in NYC, he would link up with legendary dance producer Bobby O, who would go on to help the Pet Shop Boys record the group's early demos. The duo would cut ties with Bobby O, connect with producer Stephen Hague, and make one of the great debut albums of all time: Please.

"I started writing about London, the people we knew, the places we went,” Tennant told Magnet in 2016, often assuming a character in the songs: “That’s the remove, you see; I wasn’t just being me anymore. I also began writing satirical songs—which I would say, ‘Opportunities’ was—you know without being outrageously humorous. I also thought of things that Chris would want to do or hear. It worked. Even now, I don’t think I write as me much.”

Case in point: legendary first Please single, "West End Girls": “(The song) started off as a rap I’d written which was completely inspired by 'The Message' by Grandmaster Flash, which was released in 1982," he revealed in the liner notes of the Please reissue. "I loved the whole idea of the pressure of living in a modern city…A lot of people assumed the song was about prostitutes and of course, typically, it didn’t even enter my head. It was meant to be about class, about rough boys getting a bit of posh. It’s opposites — west/east, lower class/upper class, rich/poor, work/play.”

Released in October 1985, "West End Girls" would climb to the #1 spot on the Hot 100 for the week of May 10, 1986. It would be replaced the following week by Whitney Houston's "Greatest Love of All."

The second Please single, "Love Comes Quickly," would struggle on the US charts, only reaching #62 on the Hot 100. It would do considerably better on the dance charts, peaking at #10.

"Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)" would be a return to chart form for the Pet Shop Boys, hitting #10 on the Hot 100 in August 1986.

The fourth and final US single from Please would be the menacing "Suburbia," which would confound both the pop charts (#70) and the dance charts (#46).

Released on March 24, 1986, Please would prove to be a monumental breakthrough for the group. The album crashed the US top 10 to reach the #7 spot for the week of June 21, 1986. The #1 album in America that week: Whitney Houston's self-titled debut.


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(Fryderyk Gabowicz/picture alliance via Getty Images)
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A film directed by the late Michael Apted.

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