• PSB turn down the electronics with the BBC Orchestra.
Genres: Pop, synthpop, live
Released: October 2006 (import; U.S. release appears to be coming in December)
The Boys do this lush, 17-song concert performance with the BBC Concert Orchestra no favors by calling it Concrete, but such is the sometimes-pretentious world of PSB. Despite numerous concerts in their past, it took them 20 years to go the live album route, and it's more engaging than one might expect, although most fans are going to quibble with some of the song choices. I never cared for the Angelo Badalamenti arrangement of "Rent," which brings out the worst in Neil Tennant's vocal delivery — why mess with pop perfection? I could also do without "Nothing Has Been Proved," written for Dusty Springfield back in the day, and "Friendly Fire," which is one of their best songs but thoroughly butchered here by Frances Barber. Other guest appearances, however, provide some of the liveliest moments: "Casanova in Hell," with its too-cute lyrics, seems tailor-made for the vocal flair of Rufus Wainwright, and the PSB-loving Robbie Williams turns in a fine performance of the gloomy, over-the-top ballad "Jealousy." The inclusion of the hypnotic "Dreaming of the Queen" is a pleasant surprise, while the obscure "After All" from Battleship Potemkin is unlikely to pleasantly surprise anyone. Benefiting the most from the live players are tracks like "Left to My Own Devices" (obviously) and "You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk," while "Integral" and "West End Girls" come off surprisingly well with acoustic drums. And solid as this live effort may be, I still don't want to call it Concrete.