Tuesday, January 10, 2006

 

Have you got it? Do you get it? If so, how often?

Want to feel old? It was exactly 20 years ago today that the British electronic duo the Pet Shop Boys reached No.1 in the UK charts with "West End Girls". On being asked what it was like to be at No.1, singer Neil Tennant said "...what it feels like is vaguely nothing. It feels like having a cup of tea".

It still remains the song they are best known for, which is a shame since there have been many, many more songs by them since then that are equally good, if not better. That's not to say I don't love the song. When I first heard it, it struck a nerve with me, conjuring up images of a wet, drizzly night in London, cruising around the dirtiest, seediest, most taboo places one could find, yet also breathing fresh air through that image, making it all somehow seem alright, legitimate and acceptable to be there. I think it also went against the grain by being more sombre and dare I say it, depressing, which was unlike other bands at the time who tended toward more upbeat songs in a sort of post New Romantic way.

My love for the band definitely started here, although for many months afterwards I ignored them, not even buying their first album "Please" until a friend graciously sent me a tape of their own copy and I had listened to it so much I doubtless wore out the heads on my cassette player!

After that my fascination for all things Pet Shop Boys took off in earnest, and before long I realised that the version of "West End Girls" that most people know wasn't the first. It had been a minor underground hit two years previously in a much more raw and unpolished form, with some extra lyrics, which some might say were mercifully cut from the version that eventually became a mainstream hit.

I made it my mission to find a copy of this which in the days before the internet was no mean task. Also, because I was still in school, it wasn't like I could just nip out at lunchtimes to a big city, find a rare record store and search for it. However, search I did, and I did frequent many rare record shops when I got the opportunity. Strangely though when I found the elusive record it was right under my nose in the small record department of an electrical HiFi store in the small town of Warwick where I went to school. I remember I couldn't believe my luck when I found it and although it was pricey (they obviously knew its worth to the right person) I knew it had to be mine, so I quickly withdrew the money from the nearest cash machine in town and handed it over in exchange for this gorgeous piece of vinyl!

I realise this sounds like the rants and raves of a man obsessed, and if thats what you think then that's totally fine. I hope you all have something in your lives that you can get just as excited about because the feeling I had was fantastic.

"West End Girls" still sends shivers down my spine when I hear it, but perhaps like many other songs had a backlash against it by becoming overplayed. However, if you're not a fan and haven't heard it for many years, but still remember the song fondly you should give it a listen today. It doesn't sound as dated as you might expect, and for me remains one of THE songs of the 80's.

Comments:
20 years, and it still sounds good! Cheers, Gabby!
 
oh boy - yeah - I remember this song - maybe I will give it a listen....and yes, you are a man obsessed! :)
 
20 years?!?!?!?

GAH!

Ok, now I'm feeling old. That is one of my favourite songs from that era.

20 years...

::mumbles::

Deb
 
Lady Amethyst - Yes it does...

SS - I don't care that I'm a man obsessed - its good to have some obsessions I think.

Deb - I know, its a bit frightening. I do think its a classic though.
 
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