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What links ground-breaking UK synthpop duo the Pet Shop Boys with futuristic American industrial/thrash-metal outfit Fear Factory? Concrete, of course!
Both groups have released albums named Concrete. For Fear Factory it was their first recording. It was produced by Ross Robinson, a then unknown figure, who went on to become one of America’s biggest record producers.
Fear Factory’s Concrete was recorded in 1991 as a demo album, and wasn’t commercially released for 11 years, finally coming out in 2002. In a fine example of recycling, 8 of the tracks on Concrete were later re-recorded for the band’s “official” debut, Soul of a New Machine.
The Pet Shop Boy’s Concrete is very, very different from Fear Factory’s record. Firstly, it’s a live album, recorded at a special concert for BBC Radio2. Secondly, the Pet Shop Boy’s album was released at a very different point in their career; Concrete came out 20 years after the release of their debut, Please.
The recorded concert featured a number of guest stars, including Rufus Wainwright and Robbie Williams, and backing from the BBC Concert Orchestra. Trevor Horn of Buggles (“…video killed the Radio Star…”) fame was the musical director, producer, and played bass and provided backing vocals.
So. Why did both Fear Factory and the Pet Shop Boys choose to name their albums Concrete? Well, for Fear Factory their choice was informed by their industrial music influence. Industrial artists – who obviously aren’t aware of our attractive pattern imprinted concrete drives – tend to use modern industrial terminology as a short-hand for the ugly bleakness of the modern age. All very moody and interesting.
The Pet Shop Boys’ reasons for choosing Concrete seem slightly vaguer, though the similarities between the word “concert” and “concrete” seem to have played a part in their decision.
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16th April 2010