Pet Shop Boys: A Life in Pop escaped my netflix queue to arrive at my home this week. The documentary aims to be the definitive biography of the duo taking us from an overview of the band's early history and philosophy to an exploration of each of their albums. The focus is sharpest on the band's early and Imperial periods but the DVD has a broad enough range to give consideration to a number of the band's b-sides which helps bring out the depth of the Boys songwriting abilities. The pool of commentators runs the gamut from long time collaborators like the third Pet Shop Boy Pete Gleadall (credited with programming 95% of PSB releases since 1991) to celebrity fans like Brandon Flowers and internet deconstructionists like Geo Wayne so there is a good balance of distanced observations and personal insights with the band. It says quite a bit that my biggest complaints about the doc is that it shortchanges Bilingual and that the amount of time spent on their Dusty Springfield collaborations exaggerates their importance.
The segment on the Boys fall from US chart success features former kroq DJ Richard Blade relating a time in the early 90s when the station's program director played "Blue Monday" in a meeting as an example of a record the station would never play again. This brought back in a very real way my frustration at the time with "alternative" radio, which despite the alternative tag find most stations copying kroq's playlist, that dropped anything with a synthesizer as grunge brought in new listeners to the format forcing a displacement of artists that I love. It's things like that helped me learn to hate rock and roll.