Monday, 16 March 2015

Pet Shop Boys 'West End Girls'

Chart Peak: 1 [2 weeks]

Well, as there's a bit of March left I thought I might as well wrap up the four songs that appear only on Now '86 (or Now Apostrophe86 as I've taken to calling it) and aren't drawn from Now 7 or Now 8. Three of them are from the first half of the year, so were perhaps considered too old to include on Now 8 - presumably both albums were being planned around the same time though Now '86 hit the shops a couple of weeks earlier - and the follow-up to the fourth is also on the vinyl and cassette Now 8. 'West End Girls' is the oldest of the quartet and was in fact released in October 1985 but topped the chart in January 1986; it later repeated that feat on the Billboard chart, making them one British act who had a US Number One that year and had topped their (or rather our) own chart too.

This version of 'West End Girls' is of course a re-recording of the original version that was produced by Bobby Orlando after Neil Tennant passed him a demo tape while in New York on assignment for Smash Hits. As well as dropping the clumsy lyric about "Joe Stalin", Stephen Hague's new production adds a smoothness that's rather effective in this case, setting a luxuriant backdrop for Tennant's deadpan vocal and complex lyrical ideas. Some elements, particularly the trumpet, are a little reminiscent of 'This Is Not America' by David Bowie and the Pat Metheny Group from earlier in 1985, though this may be coincidental. Even claims that this was the first rap Number One are a little stretched, it's a stylish launch to one of the most successful singles careers in British pop.

Also appearing on: Now 7, 8, 10, 11, 15, 18, 20, 26, 28 [as Absolutely Fabulous], 35, 72
Available on: Please

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