Getting Away with It

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"Getting Away with It"
The British 7-inch.
Single by Electronic
from the album Electronic
B-side "Lucky Bag"
Released December 4, 1989 (1989-12-04)
Format 7-inch, 12-inch, CD, cassette
Recorded 1989
Genre Synthpop
Label Factory (UK) FAC 257
Virgin (Europe)
Warner (Australia, Canada, U.S.)
Writer(s) Bernard Sumner,
Johnny Marr,
Neil Tennant
Producer(s) Bernard Sumner,
Johnny Marr,
Neil Tennant
Electronic singles chronology
"Getting Away with It"
(1989)
"Get the Message"
(1991)
Remix 12-inch
The second British 12-inch.

"Getting Away with It" was the first single by the English band Electronic, which comprised Bernard Sumner of New Order, ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr, and guesting vocalist Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys. It was first released in 1989 (see 1989 in music).

Composition[edit]

Musically, Bernard Sumner wrote the verse and Johnny Marr wrote the chorus.[1] The lyrics, co-written by Tennant with Sumner, are a parody of Marr's Smiths partner Morrissey, and his public stereotyping as morose and masochistic (Pet Shop Boys would further satirise this trend on their 1990 song "Miserablism").[2]

The fluid, rich production incorporates a full orchestra (conducted by Art of Noise's Anne Dudley) and a rare guitar solo by Marr, while the three remixes that appeared on the two UK 12-inch releases take in disparate musical styles like disco and acid house.

Single[edit]

"Getting Away with It" was first issued by Factory Records in the United Kingdom in December 1989, and released the following year in the rest of the world. It appeared on 7-inch, 12-inch, CD and cassette. The primary B-side was an instrumental called "Lucky Bag", the only unadulterated reflection of Marr and Sumner's early, shared enthusiasm for Italo house. This song was also remixed and released on the UK maxi single.

As well as the single edit and three 12-inch remixes, "Getting Away with It" was released as an instrumental; as an unedited, longer version; and in its early form before Dudley's strings were added (this is the only version of the song which has yet to be released on Compact Disc; the 7-inch edit was included on both the US and UK CD singles despite being labelled "Full Length Version"). The Full Length Version on the 12" vinyl version is 5:14 - as used on the 1994 CD re-issue of the album. The extra length is just the strings outro from the Extended mix bolted onto the 7" mix. Or, if you prefer, the 7" mix is just the Full Length Version minus the strings outro.

Artwork[edit]

The single's cover was designed by Peter Saville, who used an elegant stock photo of a glass of whisky.[3] The title was originally written in sentence case, just as Pet Shop Boys songs are. The photograph was inverted for the second UK 12-inch, with the typeface from the Panasonic logo appropriated for the band's name.[3] This arrangement was used for the US editions of the single in 1990.

Music videos[edit]

Two music videos were made for "Getting Away with It". The first, directed by Chris Marker and produced by Michael Shamberg for European use in 1989, featured Sumner, Marr and Tennant in a studio environment miming to the single edit of the song. (Additional footage of the Marker's muse Catherine Belkhodja strolling among peacocks through Paris's zoo and also singing to the track was rejected.[4]) The second, shot in 1990, was made for the US release. Sumner and Tennant appear against a white background with artistic effects superimposed. This version is available on the 2006 Get the Message DVD.

Reception[edit]

Ben Thompson in the NME described the song thus: "The most complete pop record of the week, by an infinite margin... A lovely airy melody drifts in and out of the song; gently weighted with obtuse, lovelorn one-liners... The record somehow manages to be much more than the sum of its parts and stubbornly refuses to give up its element of mystery".[5]

In Sounds Damon Wise wrote: "It's nothing shocking, nothing that surprising, it's just that every time you think you're tired of it you can't help flipping back the stylus to catch that chorus".[6]

Today the song remains well-known due to its commercial success (it reached number 12 in the UK[7] and number 38 in the USA[8]), the calibre of its performers, and the fact that it was Electronic's debut single (and was thus anticipated by both the music press and fans of New Order, The Smiths, and the Pet Shop Boys at the time).

Along with "Get the Message" and perhaps "Disappointed", it remains their best known song, and was also their biggest selling single, shipping 350,000 copies in the US and reaching the UK Top 20.[9]

Tracklistings[edit]

Charts[edit]

Chart Peak
position
Australia (ARIA) 40
Canadian Singles Chart 33
UK Singles (Official Charts Company) 12
US Billboard Hot 100 38

In concert[edit]

"Getting Away with It" was played live in August 1990 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles — when Electronic supported Depeche Mode on their World Violation Tour for two dates at the venue[10] — at the Cities in the Park event in Manchester a year later,[11] and at Wembley Arena in December 1991. Pet Shop Boys guested on all these performances.

In July 2013 Bernard Sumner joined Johnny Marr at Jodrell Bank to perform the song. Johnny Marr was supporting for New Order.

Appearances[edit]

Although the music was written with their first album in mind — and before their involvement with Neil Tennant[12] — "Getting Away with It" was not included on Electronic's first LP in May 1991 (a reflection of their confidence in the newer material), although it was slotted in between tracks 4 and 5 on the international versions and the subsequent 1994 reissue on Parlophone, to bolster sales. In some territories "Getting Away with It" replaced the album track "Gangster".[13]

"Getting Away with It" also appeared on the Australian "Forbidden City" CD single in 1996, and in two versions on a withdrawn compilation planned for release in Japan three years later.[14] It has also featured on a variety of various artists compilations, sometimes in remixed form, and was the second track on the retrospective set Get the Message – The Best of Electronic in 2006.

Additional information[edit]

The song was recorded by British artist Skin for inclusion on the re-release of her debut album Fleshwounds. Unlike the original, the music was updated to a more rock-edged sound. It has since become a fan favourite at her gigs and is never left out of a setlist. A double A-side of the song was to be released with her single "Lost", but due to poor sales of the album and singles it was pulled by EMI at the last minute. No video was shot for the song.

The phrase 'getting away with this' was used in a Spitting Image spoof of Pet Shop Boys in 1993.[15]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Johnny Marr, The Smiths & the Art of Gun-Slinging (2006)
  2. ^ Behaviour / Further Listening 1990–1991 sleevenotes
  3. ^ a b FAC461 Factory Records: The Complete Graphic Album (2006)
  4. ^ KINOTECA
  5. ^ NME, 9 December 1989
  6. ^ Sounds, 9 December 1989
  7. ^ Chart Stats
  8. ^ billboard.com archive
  9. ^ Warner Bros. press release, June 1991
  10. ^ Manchester District Music Archive
  11. ^ Cerysmatic Factory
  12. ^ Melody Maker, 13 April 1991
  13. ^ Example here
  14. ^ worldinmotion.net
  15. ^ Pet Shop Boys Commentary

External links[edit]