The Pet Shop Boys and Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine don’t immediately seem like the most obvious bedfellows. And yet… this works perfectly.
It works right down to the small lyric change in which Neil’s “restaurant on Broadway” crosses the Atlantic and becomes an eaterie on London’s Fulham Broadway instead.
It also brings to exactly two (after Sheriff Fatman) the number of songs I know by Carter USM, aka Jim Bob and Fruitbat. I’ve just read a marvellous description of them from someone seeing them for the first time:
“There were only two of them on the tiny stage and they were weird looking – one of them was tall and bony with a ponytail at the front of his head; the other wore a cap and shorts, like a Day-Glo Angus Young.”
The duo always cited PSB as an influence, alongside more obvious ones like The Clash, and even used to sell their own T-shirts with the faces of Neil and Chris accompanied by the slogan “But Harder.”
Which describes their version rather well.
I now learn that this cover – released as the B-side of their 1990 single Rubbish – is just one of many they released on their 12-inch singles.
Others include their takes on The Jam (Down In The Tube Station At Midnight), Buzzcocks (Everybody’s Happy Nowadays), Soft Cell (Bedsitter), Inspiral Carpets (This Is How It Feels) and The Monkees (Alternate Title).
But this is surely the best.
It’s got to be in any self-respecting top ten of cover versions alongside Patti Smith (Gloria), Hendrix (All Along The Watchtower), Sid Vicious (My Way), Soft Cell (Tainted Love), Siouxsie & The Banshees (Helter Skelter) and Johnny Cash (Hurt)… and the very same Pet Shop Boys (Always On My Mind).