Cover songs I’d like to hear: Pet Shop Boys doing “Year of the Cat”

Pet Shop Boys lead singer Neil Tennant always rolled his eyes when he did his first round of interviews after the success of “West End Girls,” and people would compare his voice to that of ’70s soft rock god Al Stewart, but the comparison was not unfounded. Indeed, I would argue that the two have far more in common than they realize. Witness Stewart’s “Running Man,” which sports a Latin beat that PSB would later incorporate into their music on 1996’s Bilingual (which, for the record, was way ahead of the whole Ricky Martin thing, for those of you who remember Ricky Martin).

But that’s beside the point. Both Stewart and Tennant write extremely literate pop songs, and the Pet Shop Boys, if they put their minds to it, could come up with a showstopping arrangement of this song, I have no doubt. Check out this performance by Stewart on “The Old Grey Whistle Test,” and tell me that they couldn’t coax Johnny Marr to pop in for a day and lay down both the Spanish guitar and the killer-but-quick lead guitar solos. Lord knows it would be a hell of a lot more enjoyable than them covering, shudder, Diane Warren, like they did on their last album, the lackluster Fundamental.


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