This was the breakout hit for Pet Shop Boys, a global smash that went to #1 in both America and their native UK. The hit version, thought, wasn't released until a year after the original.
The group wrote the song in 1983 before they had a record deal. Neil Tennant was a writer for the UK music magazine Smash Hits
, and used his position to get an audience with the American producer Bobby O (Bobby Orlando), who was on the cutting edge of synthesizer-based dance music - the kind Tennant wanted to make. Bobby O agreed to produce the group; they recorded "West End Girls" and got a deal with Epic Records to release it as a single. Issued in 1984, it did well in France and Belgium, but had little impact elsewhere. They parted ways with Bobby O on acrimonious terms and had to honor their contract by sitting out a year. In 1985, they signed with EMI and released "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots Of Money)
" as their first single on the label. It stiffed, but they still had hopes for "West End Girls" and re-recorded the song with producer Stephen Hague, who made it less clubby and gave it a slow build that added some depth and made the song more foreboding. This version was a huge hit, topping the UK chart in January 1986, and reaching #1 in America in May. The group went on to become one of the most successful and enduring British pop groups of their time.