So successful was Pet Shop Boys’ 1993 cover of Go West that Village People’s original version is largely considered a footnote. Originally released in 1979, after the disco troupe’s mega-hit YMCA and its almost-as-successful follow-up, In The Navy, Go West signalled a sudden cooling in the five-piece’s chart fortunes when it failed to break the US Top 40 and stalled at No.15 in the UK. As the title track of their fourth studio album, Go West’s relative commercial misfire wasn’t quite enough to stall the momentum building around their first feature film, 1980’s Can’t Stop The Music, but the writing was already on the wall. “Disco Sucks” became the mantra of a wider backlash, and Village People would soon be ostracised as the US turned to AOR and the UK got swept up in new wave and the emerging synth-pop revolution.
“You’ve got these inspiring lyrics, but it sounds like it’s never going to be achieved”
Go West might have remained an occasional surprise on one of those Forgotten 45s TV or radio segments were it not for a call asking Pet Shop Boys to appear at an HIV-crisis fundraiser to be held at Manchester’s Haçienda and organised by their occasional collaborator Derek Jarman, then in the final stages of his own battle with virus-related illness. Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe had planned to perform a cover of The Beatles’ The Fool On The Hill until Chris had a hunch about this marginalised track by a band he had always loved.