Pet Shop Boys – Relentless

Pet Shop Boys
My Head Is Spinning
Forever In Love
Kdx 125
We Came From Outer Space
The Man Who Has Everything
One Thing Leads To Another
In 1993, the Pet Shop Boys released Very, an amazing album that contained some of their greatest singles, including “Go West,” “I Wouldn’t Normally Do This Kind Of Thing,” and “Can You Forgive Her?”.

Very is one of the band’s most well-known and best-selling albums, and has never gone out of print since its original release. It was put on iTunes at the same time as the rest of their catalog, and was even remastered and re-released in 2001 with an added disc of bonus cuts and B-sides.

However, when the album was first released it was made available in two different versions; the standard single disc edition that most people know, and a limited edition two-disc set that featured a bonus disc called Relentless; this version is often just called Very Relentless.

As far as I can tell, this version, the most complete and comprehensive version of the album, was only released once, right when the album first came out. In the 20 years since, none of the songs on it have ever been remastered or re-released at all. Not on a greatest hits, not on a rarities or b-sides compilation, and not as a standalone release. You cannot get the songs on iTunes, you cannot get the songs on Amazon, you simply cannot get the songs.

If there was ever an example of a record label/artist forcing you to steal their music, this would be one.

I feel like it happens a lot though, whenever an album is released in multiple versions with different tracks, the most basic, cheapest one is the one that becomes part of their official discography. The versions with more tracks, with added video content, or extra-cool packaging, they’re the ones that vanish into the bargain bins of time.

It makes no sense, like the record labels are actively telling you that they don’t want your money, but whatever, makes it easier for me to pick tracks to share here.

Relentless is a great collection of tunes that would work fine as a standalone Pet Shop Boys release. It’s just six tracks long, but with an average track length of around six minutes, the album still fills out to a hefty 37 minute running time.

Musically, the album is a bit different than Very. Both are dance albums for sure, but while Very is a pop record you can dance to, Relentless is a dance record through and through, one that I suspect was influenced heavily on the growing dance scene that was spreading across the UK at the time of its release

Like I said before, the songs on Relentless are long, and they don’t conform to the typical pop structure that Pet Shop Boys usually operate in. Don’t expect at lot of Neil Tennant’s trademark vocals here. Sure, he pops up from time to time, but this is largely an instrumental affair, focused instead on hard-driving, pulse-pounding beats made to make people get up and dance.

I don’t know how different Relentless is when compared to the entirety of the Pet Shop Boys discography (I collect their singles more than their albums) but as someone who has always liked their remixes and dance versions more than their short single edits, I love this record.

Additionally, it is the ultimate synthpop workout record.

11 Responses to “Pet Shop Boys – Relentless”

  1. regularjoe says:

    I recently read an interview with the PBS about Electric and comparisons were made with Electric and Relentless.
    Some questions were asked and one was why it was never re-released and the answer was a bit of a non-answer. The interviewer also asked if there were any “outtakes” or unfinished tracks that could be used to complement and fill out a potential re-release and the answer was an unqualified no. They didn’t seem to be ashamed of it but rather proud.

    I’ve done tweaks of the whole PSB catalog (it’s a series of personal cd’s that I call the “re-made/re-modeled” series) where I redo old albums and incorporate b-sides, tweak the tracklist order, etc. and for the re-make of Very Relentless I added a lot of the more explicitly dancey b-sides (i.e. Euroboy, Some Speculation, even the odd single Absolutely Fabulous) to the Relentless disk to flesh it out and it actually makes for a quite nice cd.

  2. Bob K says:

    Funny you mention this as a great workout soundtrack – the disc hasn’t left my gym since I bought the ($35!) import in 1993. The Very/Relentless packaging was a pliable plastic cover that had a studded pattern, kind of like a Lego base. I had to move it to a traditional case to keep it from tearing.

    I’ve seen a couple of remixes (St. Ken has a couple, I believe) over the years, but have always been surprised that they haven’t re-released the songs. Very is a perfect example of why PSB is an act worth following – they’re never afraid to experiment. “One Thing Leads to Another” is a phenomenal achievement, and wouldn’t have fit on any other album of theirs.

    Thanks for introducing people to these gems!

  3. Eric Schulz says:

    I also am astonished these never got re-released. PSB are known for trying to make EVERYTHING available (check out “Alternative” and “Format”). Having said that, I am completely baffled as to why “Behaviour”, their best CD IMHO, is unavailable as a CD/download/expanded edition any longer. Now if I could only find some of those classic Hot Tracks/Ultimix/DiscoNet/DMC mixes….

  4. Con Z says:

    A 5:44 minute version of Forever In Love was released on the Very/Further Listening 1993/1994 set, but other than the promo CD of Relentless, that is it!
    And I think it’s good that PSB should have some really collectable items, where the tracks have never been re-released.
    But then, I DO have a copy of Very Relentless!

  5. PSBmania says:

    The story is that during the Very song writing sessions Chris kept writing ‘tracks’ that Neil couldn’t think of any words to. They love the fact that Relentless is a rarity and at the time said they could have fleshed it out on second release with two further tracks (Euroboy and Some Speculation), but they preferred to leave it as it was. It’s all about the art with the Pet Shop Boys. Not always the greatest commercial decisions, but definitely the best creative ones. It’s why they are still going strong after nearly 30 years.

  6. User says:

    Relentless is what I consider a collection of “Chris” tracks. A mostly-instrumental track, or one featuring him rapping, is a “Chris” track. At six long tracks, it’s also a lot like Disco and Introspective. It is curious that it was not re-released, but it’s never bothered me much since I have the original Very Relentless package and was able to find the promo colored 3×12″ version of it.

  7. Sambam says:

    I tried to get a copy of the Very (Relentless) set when it came out, after reading about it in a music mag. I didnt get one and it then took me around 10 years to get a copy from ‘that’ auction site! I was however lucky enough at the time to get a copy of the ‘I wouldn’t normally do (this kind of thing)’ CD single set in the same ‘Bubble’ packaging as the relentless set. But i do agree, i think it’s great that some bands have kept their limited edition sets unique and not offering them up after a few years to boost sales.

  8. Astro says:

    I think perhaps you have too much of a post 2000/MP3 era.

    Thats what Limited Editions are all about. They are LIMITED. Its rare. You get to be one of the special ones if you a) pony up the money to buy it (i Was a junior in high school when it came out, and it was quite expensive) b) be one of the early ones to buy.

  9. Lost Turntable says:

    So…then fuck anyone who can’t afford it/wasn’t alive when it first came out? Such an idiotic idea. I fail to see the point in making music and then making it impossible to buy.

  10. Jason K says:

    I’m a bit late here but I love this – “Relentless is what I consider a collection of “Chris” tracks.”

    Also – Electric is fucking awesome.

  11. Rob D says:

    I had the original Very Relentless and it was stolen. I managed to get another copy through insurance, but the pressing is wrong. Very CD plays Relentless and Relentless plays Relentless. Does this make it even more rare?!!

    When the album came out I read an interview with the boys and they mentioned that it could have been maybe a film soundtrack.

    Now I urge all of you who have a copy of Relentless, to read Aidan Chambers’ novel – Dance On My Grave. To me the music fits the novel like a glove, including the motorcycle sound effects!

    Interesting to note is that this novel has apparently had 9 attempts so far to have it made into a film. I hope that one day it does happen, and that it is laced with the gorgeous Relentless tracks.

    Take care!!

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