June 2, 2024 1:05 PM   Subscribe

In 1994 the Pet Shop Boys were invited to perform 'Go West' at the Brit Awards. They agreed and brought with them 3 separate choirs of miners. Some of those miners had marched with the gay and lesbian members of LGSM in the 1980s. It is one of the great, near-lost music moments [Vimeo, via John Bull, via MetaFilter's own JScalzi]
posted by chavenet (42 comments total) 64 users marked this as a favorite
John Bull is also Metafilter's own.
posted by edd at 1:12 PM on June 2 [8 favorites]

Oerhört mäktigt! *just learned new words* thank you
posted by HearHere at 1:21 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

Hey hey! Happy Pride Month!
posted by hippybear at 1:23 PM on June 2 [12 favorites]

I know that I am definitely in the minority with this opinion but I've always thought "Go West" was the weak point of "Very", the 1993 Pet Shop Boys album whose title cheekily answers a question nobody had to ask.

Anyway, for those who haven't ever heard the whole album I encourage you to check it out. It is indeed very.
posted by Nerd of the North at 1:34 PM on June 2 [11 favorites]

Someone in that BlueSky thread also posted this upscaled version on YouTube.
posted by deludingmyself at 1:35 PM on June 2 [7 favorites]

Very is an entirely pleasing album by PSB. It marked a turn toward optimism after their very inward-looking and truly amazing album Behaviour and their albums prior. It's also Neil's "coming out" album. It's a turning point in their careers because Neil coming out allowed for a lot more joy and personal introspection in their songs. I can't stress how pivotal this album in to their career.
posted by hippybear at 1:43 PM on June 2 [14 favorites]

Very YT playlist from PSB official account.
posted by hippybear at 1:46 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]

Every time I hear PSB's Go West I'm disappointed that it's not the full extended 10 minute version which is just so much better than the single alone. The extended Go West is the bridge between Very and (bonus album) Relentless and without question one of the major PSB tracks.
posted by eschatfische at 1:49 PM on June 2 [7 favorites]

This is miraculous! How did I never hear this song before.
posted by Czjewel at 2:20 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

Was this before or after they did the Devo thing?
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 2:54 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

How did I not know that the Pet Shop Boys song "Go West" - probably my favorite song of theirs - is actually a cover of a Village People song?

Wasn't the Village People original version the one that got used in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:57 PM on June 2 [5 favorites]

And here I would like to plug one of my favorite movies: Pride (2014), that covers the striking miners period and the unlikely outeach from the gay communities.
posted by Rabarberofficer at 4:25 PM on June 2 [20 favorites]

Well, that was pretty darned epic!

posted by JustSayNoDawg at 4:47 PM on June 2 [3 favorites]

I am dumbfounded that this was not a hippybear post.

For whatever reason, 'Introspective' was the album that I imprinted on when I was a kid - 'left to my own devices' is like, a price of me, man.

"I was faced with a choice at a difficult age
Would I write a book? Or should I take to the stage?
But in the back of my head I heard distant feet
Che Guevara and De'bussy to a disco beat."
posted by kaibutsu at 5:21 PM on June 2 [7 favorites]

As an enormous PSB fan from back in the day, Introspective is such a fabulous album.

Also, this is probably the only good opportunity I'll have to say that they really missed a trick when naming their album of rarities etc way back when.

They called it Alternative.

It should obviously have been called Besides.
posted by Gadarene at 5:27 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]

Oh, I'm sure Neil is reading this thread and their next album of rarities will be called Besides. That's brilliant.

The longer Pet Shop Boys continue, the more I'm amazed at how amazing they are. I was watching the release cycle of Nonetheless pretty closely and was more impressed with how they are handling their media presence and managing their release cycle than ever before.

I do rather wish their bigger ideas like Battleship Potemkin and The Most Incredible Thing and other such projects were performed more widely. I love their albums and their concerts, but their other bigger idea projects strike me as a bit more deep and interesting.
posted by hippybear at 5:32 PM on June 2 [7 favorites]

I mean, I guess one thing is Closer To Heaven will be happening on the West End this year as a revival. It's quite a nice musical.
posted by hippybear at 5:36 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]

Also, I guess with these miner's community choirs... I'm reminded of one of the most amazing reality series ever, Gareth Malone's The Choir.

I guess the UK has more of a culture of community choirs than the US. But The Choir was a complete revelation to me, and it is one of the only reality shows that isn't about eliminating people week by week and is instead about growing community and creating something with a group of people week by week.

I honestly wish more reality shows were like this.
posted by hippybear at 5:41 PM on June 2 [4 favorites]

the full extended 10 minute version

This video of the Pet Shop Boys covering the Village People is Peak Gay. I'll probably play this about 100 times this month on my pride playlist.

One of the comments: yes, those Village People guys that you made so popular were as gay as a tree full of parrots, grow up.

That was me! Huge Village People fan, no idea they were gay.
posted by kirkaracha at 5:47 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

But in the back of my head I heard distant feet
Che Guevara and De'bussy to a disco beat.

Being honest, some of their lyrics (*mumbles* like these, sorry) are, well, cringe, and yet Please clicked with me; is there anything like the click of new music in a young teenager's head as they lie on their bed listening to late-night radio? Why this click in the mind of a nerdy, disaffected, straight girl from a laboriously pious family in a Rust Belt city, I'll never know. But they have a deep well of my goodwill to draw from. "Go West" is one of my longstanding "workout outro" options.
posted by praemunire at 5:54 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]

I don't understand the apostrophe in the middle of Debussy's name.
posted by hippybear at 5:58 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

Not gonna lie, something about the power of the Miners' choir singing that first "go west" left me all choked up. 20-year-old me is appalled that 56-year-old me is an enormous fan of a cover of a Village People song, but 20-year-old me can choke on a bag of mix tapes.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:10 PM on June 2 [10 favorites]

I concur with Scalzi's second observation from the link above - there's a huge streak of melancholy in the 1993 PSB cover, designed to juxtapose the cheerful optimism from the Village People's 1979 version.

They're looking at each other from opposite sides of the mirror, through Reaganism/Thatcherism and the AIDS catastrophe. The place to go... isn't really there anymore.
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:14 PM on June 2 [4 favorites]

Also, we've got PSB talking about Debussy here, which is entirely accurate because Chris is vastly educated, and we've also got Art Of Noise with their album The Seduction Of Claude Debussy [YT full album], and now I'm wanting to demand that two bands sit down together and develop a project.
posted by hippybear at 6:25 PM on June 2 [5 favorites]

This made me cry even before I read the full commentary.

Hippybear, when I saw your description of “The Choir” I immediately checked to see if I have access to it - I don’t. But it sounds wonderful. I’ll look in more places. Thank you.
posted by bunderful at 7:17 PM on June 2 [1 favorite]

The Choir according to Just Watch is not available for streaming anywhere. Maybe it's floating around in the Bay? I have no idea.

It is so so so good. Gareth goes into a community and pulls a bunch of them together into a choir where they sing together and maybe compete but the real thing is they end up singing together.

And then again the next season.

Like.. Why can't American reality shows be about coming together in a choir and singing together?

Why can't American LIFE be about coming together and harmonizing?
posted by hippybear at 7:45 PM on June 2 [7 favorites]

> And here I would like to plug one of my favorite movies: Pride (2014), that covers the striking miners period and the unlikely outeach from the gay communities.

Yes, absolutely this. It's the best.
posted by gingerbeer at 8:00 PM on June 2 [2 favorites]

really, apart from being lovely, the Pride movie contains bangers like this
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 8:16 PM on June 2 [7 favorites]

Man, being a village people cover makes so much sense, and completely changes the context of the song.

The PSB video, as well as their geography, kind of says 'hey, this is a song about how great life is in the capitalist west, away from the dreary communist bloc. And that's kinda how the song sat in my head since I first heard it when I was like 15 or something. And it was a good song that I wasn't terribly excited about, because hey, do I really need an ode to the capitalist west?

But when the Village People sing it, it's obviously about running off to the freedom of San Francisco, making it a much better song.
posted by kaibutsu at 9:11 PM on June 2 [5 favorites]

It's early in the morning and I'm completely teared up - thank you for this post.
posted by whatevernot at 1:05 AM on June 3 [2 favorites]

Imma let you finish, but this isn't even their best cover. And yes, that is Joss "Diplomatic immunity!" Ackland in the back seat.
posted by Molesome at 2:37 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]

I've been genuinely moved at how many people this has resonated with on BlueSky. It was just something I posted as a slightly throwaway late-night comment, in my eternal frustration at how few people have ever seen that Brit Awards performance - which is (to my mind) the definitive performance of that song by any artist. And that, even back then, the subtexts for both the performance and the cover itself (the callback to Miner/LGBTQ solidarity and the loss of so many in the community to AIDS) were mostly missed.

Couple of people have told me I should try and dig out the article I wrote on it back in the day, but I'm kinda glad it's most likely lost to the memory hole, tbh. It was part of a batch of 'serious pieces' I put together for a UK publisher that did a lot of promo publishing - e.g. airline inflight magazines - and they didn't really care what they were about. They just wanted stuff they could drop in around the ads to make it feel like a proper magazine.

I was not the writer (or person) I am now, then. I'm sure 23 year old me would have tried his best to get across the subject, and the interviews I did, in a considered and well-written way. But I probably didn't pull it off. Especially as beyond a brief copy-edit they didn't get any more experienced eyes on them.

I do regret not still having the interview tapes and interview notes though. I never throw anything away now. I'm much more conscious of the absolute wrecking-ball time inflicts on oral history. To have those interviews, and be able to write something now, would have been nice. But young me was still learning how precious being in the right place at the right time to actually speak to someone can be.

I only ended up in that position at all because one of the marketing team at the publisher told us, in the pub, that this performance was how he finally felt able to come out to his grandad, who'd been one of the choristers that day. That led to a bunch of phone calls and chats with others. I'll never forget the guy who discovered his best friend of 40 years was gay as a result of this performance. The dude came out to him once he got back. He was in tears when he talked about it. One line from that convo has been burned into my brain ever since:

"He told me he thought I might hate him. I said Tom if the world says I'm meant to hate you now, then I would rather hate the world."
posted by garius at 3:35 AM on June 3 [45 favorites]

"He told me he thought I might hate him. I said Tom if the world says I'm meant to hate you now, then I would rather hate the world."

i cry. i cry so much! is beautiful!
posted by bombastic lowercase pronouncements at 3:52 AM on June 3 [6 favorites]

I'm delighted that my off-the-cuff observation helped to begin a sincere multisite appreciation of the song and everything around it.

I mention this briefly on Bluesky but will hit upon it again here, which is that what makes the Pet Shop Boys version of the song so affecting for me is the melancholy that runs through it. Without discounting the Village People version (they, after all, wrote it), their version is on one side of the AIDS era and the PSB version is on the other. The latter version knows how many friends and lovers didn't make it through (and even I, who was a straight teen during the 80s, knew people who died from AIDS, including a beloved teacher). The song makes me both happy and reflective every time I listen to it, and there aren't very many songs, by anyone anywhere, that make me feel that.

The live version with the miners' choruses just about made me cry at my computer.
posted by jscalzi at 5:00 AM on June 3 [23 favorites]

(This comment a remnant of a comment meant for another thread; kids, don't keep multiple Metafilter tabs open at the same time)
posted by jscalzi at 5:16 AM on June 3 [3 favorites]

Obligatory comment pointing out that Go West is basically Pachelbel's Canon.

Also, in the UK a terrible cover version was used to sell rice pudding, making it basically unlistenable to me.
posted by Acey at 9:32 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]

I nearly forgot - just this year I saw a brilliant stage adaptation of My Beautiful Laundrette, with original PSB music. Really exceptional, if you get the chance to see it.
posted by Acey at 9:38 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]

Imma let you finish, but this isn't even their best cover . And yes, that is Joss "Diplomatic immunity!" Ackland in the back seat.

That is a whole different side of him I wasn't expecting.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:39 AM on June 3 [1 favorite]

Mod note: [Thanks for the post, chavenet (and garius!); it's been added to the sidebar and Best Of blog!]
posted by taz (staff) at 3:11 AM on June 4 [4 favorites]

Wow - I missed this thread when it was posted but found it again via the Popular/Favorites page, and I'm so glad I did.

That video captures an amazing and wonderful moment.

I had certainly never heard about this. ... I loved the movie "Pride", and was so moved to learn about the connections forged between the gay communities and the miners, but somehow finding out about this moment in time just adds a whole new level.

Thank you so much for posting this, chavenet! And thanks to John Scalzi and John Bull and everyone who favorited this thread so I could find it.

Sometimes people give me hope.
posted by kristi at 6:46 PM on June 8 [2 favorites]

I am not very old but currently in shock that a) people exist who didn't realize the Village People were very, very gay b) people exist who didn't realize that Go West (and In The Navy, and YMCA) are originally 'by' the Village People and are very, very gay c) people exist who don't hate Pride (2014) and d) apparently the Pet Shop Boys are considered queer too
I learned a lot today! Thanks everyone!
posted by ngaiotonga at 3:01 PM on June 11

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