Baker's Dozen

Artists discuss the 13 records that shaped their lives

7. Pet Shop BoysDisco

I suppose Disco is synonymous for me with Paninaro culture, which I was thinking about quite recently again, not directly connected to the book but it does tie to the Italian setting. I love that juxtaposition of hard young kids running around on scooters in their Stone Island casualwear while listening to Eighth Wonder and Princess Stephanie of Monaco on their Walkmans. It’s all quite mad, which appeals to me. I went down that Paninaro k-hole where I was playing Disco, the extended mix of Sabrina’s ‘Sex’, Mandy Smith’s ‘Positive Reaction’. Disco just encapsulates the whole thing. It’s the clubbiest of their golden period and probably their most musically subversive. In lots of ways Disco is quite unknowable. If you really loved Pet Shop Boys because of Please they took you somewhere completely different with this. I like that. It’s so deliberate. The excitement of that record coming out was amazing, all built up on the pages of Smash Hits on this premise that Chris Lowe finally speaks. On a record. So, ‘Paninaro’ the song is just phenomenal. It canonises Chris as this mythical, romantic, diffident creature. They do it again later with his role in the ‘Rent’ video. Every time you hear it, you do have that moment of “oh my god, Chris speaks?” His mystique was built on silence. You always feel with Neil that however sincere the singing is, there’s always a barrier there. With Chris, there is something more visceral. The sleeve, all that Mark Farrow artwork, every detail of what they did back then, the videos, the ads in the music press, it was all so consistently brilliant.

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