Monday, December 21, 2015

Songoftheday 12/21/15 - Tell me that your sweet love hasn't died. Give me one more chance to keep you satisfied...


"Always On My Mind" - Pet Shop Boys
from the album Actually (Special Edition) (1987) and Introspective (1988)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #4 (one week)
Weeks in the Top-40: 10

Today's song of the day is by the British electro-pop duo Pet Shop Boys, whose sophomore effort Actually had already replicated their debut by sending two singles into the American pop top ten with "It's A Sin" and "What Have I Done To Deserve This?". While in the UK and Europe the pair released the wry boy-toy missive "Rent", in America when I bought my copy of Actually (complete in that long cardboard box meant to thwart thieves, quaint, no?) that box included something new, a CD "single" of a song they recorded for a tribute to Elvis on the ITV television station in Britain. "Always On My Mind", written by the team of Wayne Carson ("The Letter"), Mark James ("Suspicious Minds"), and Johnny Christopher, was originally released in 1972 by both soul singer Gwen McCrae, who didn't go anywhere with it...


...and firecracker Brenda Lee, who took the song to Billboard for the first time, reaching #45 on the country singles chart...


After getting the song to Elvis Presley through one of his bodyguards, the "King" released the single in November of that year, as his marriage to Priscilla was falling apart. His version, released as the flip-side of the single for "Separate Ways", tagged along to reach #20 on the Hot 100 pop chart, while "Always..." got more attention on country radio, making it to #16 on that genre list...


In 1982, Willie Nelson had fans rediscovering the song, with a delicate reading that went to #5 on the pop chart in American and #1 country, and ended up being the top country song of that year...(It was my song of the day on April 25, 2012...)


So here we are in 1988...and while Willie took the song to a quieter, more reflective space, the Pet Shop Boys had the same amount of reverence to the original while bringing the song on to the dance floor. While the bells, bongos, and synth flares were new, lead singer Neil Tennant's voice still had the longing ache that makes the song so special. A video from the song included a scene from their musical film It Couldn't Happen Here...


The Pet Shop Boys' version of "Always On My Mind" became the highest-charting version of the song, reaching #4 in May of 1988. The extended mix of the song (with one version mashed up with a house version called "In My House") peaked at #8 on Billboard's Dance Club Play chart as well. Internationally, when the song was finally released, it became their third #1 hit in their native Britain (where it stayed for a month), along with going to the top of the charts in Canada, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and Finland.

(Click below to see the rest of the post)


Another country singer, John Wesley Ryles, also had a hit with the song, going to #20 on the country chart in 1979 with a more cosmopolitan take...


The song reached the R&B charts twice; first in 1983 by Sonny Charles as the follow-up to his top-40 pop hit "Put It In A Magazine", and again in 1992 by classic vocal group the Stylistics, who took it to #89...


...and back to the Boys, first performing the song live in concert in 1988...


The 12" extended version, which starts out freestyle-like and ends in a bass-bumpin' section subtitled "In My House", reached #8 on the dance chart in America...


Neil donned hit cowboy hat for their 1991 Performance tour...


Then traded them for wigs for their Discovery concerts in 1994...


Ironically, the ambiguously gay duo took part in the worldwide charity concerts Live 8 in Russia in 2005...


Fast forward to 2009, on their Pandemonium tour...


...and finally, from their most recent Electric tour in 2013 in the Czech Republic...


Up tomorrow: A binational band just won't exist...the same after this hit.


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