PSB exist in a strange place now with regards to "greatest hits". Any one disc album reduces them to their biggest hits - which is perfectly logical - but simultaneously eliminates the vast bulk of their career from consideration. In that sense, it doesn't really serve as an aperitif for further exploration of their catalogue. It condemns them to the past and a specific time and place when they've always been about being new and of the present. Conversely, shoehorning in some of their fantastic later records means leaving out some of their greatest hits. Rent, So Hard, Drunk, and Can You Forgive Her? were among the casualties that failed to make the waste of space that was Ultimate. In that sense, only a double album could ever suffice. Any decent PSB "best of" would need to include many of their greatest hits as, in my view, their singles were very often hugely representative of their greatest works.
I created a thread on what I considered my ideal "best of" a few years ago - and that was a double album of over 30 tracks. However, in the spirit of this thread, I could see a double album of 24 tracks working well right now. The main album would be called Imperiously - and would do exactly as its title suggests, collecting the hits of their imperial era from West End Girls to It's Alright. A bonus album would be added to the special edition, and would be called Downthedumper. Actually, I'd probably call it Inclined, as it describes the gentle slope of their commercial fortunes. On further reflection, I'd make every version of the release a special edition to continue the tradition of fleecing the fans.
Pet Shop Boys, Imperiously
1. West End girls
2. Love comes quickly
3. Opportunities (Let's make lots of money)
5. It's a sin
6. What have I done to deserve this?
8. Always on my mind
10. Domino dancing
11. Left to my own devices
12. It's alright
Bonus album on special edition: Pet Shop Boys, Inclined
1. So hard
2. Being boring
3. Where the streets have no name (Can't take my eyes off you)
4. Can you forgive her?
5. Go West
6. A red letter day
7. You only tell me you love me when you're drunk
8. I'm with Stupid
9. Love etc.
12. The pop kids
The beauty of such an approach would be that you get a much better spread of songs from across their entire career, and the Dumper phase tracklisting still contains a lot of top 20 hits - only the last three, in fact, could be described as commercial flops (and even that would be harsh given that nobody expects a band or act of their generation to trouble the charts any more). Of course, it also breaks the rules of this thread, so that works for me as well. In terms of quality, the second disc more than holds its own against the first as it contains some absolute classics and the fabulous late period singles that only us fans really know. All in all, I'd be happy to see this tracklisting on such a release, but as "best ofs" are now effectively redundant because of iTunes cherry picking, I suspect these rambling ruminations are utterly pointless.
The pale kid that hides in the attic behind his PC...