Go West

We Close Our EyesGo West
S.O.S. (The Perpendicular Mix)Go West
Goodbye GirlGo West
CrossfireDancing On The Couch
The King Is DeadDancing On The Couch
King Of Wishful ThinkingIndian Summer
FaithfulIndian Summer
Let Love Comefuturenow

Go West photo 1
Richard Drummie and Peter Cox of Go West, photographed in 1985 by Brian Griffin (and featured here by permission of Peter Cox)


Go West playlist



Contributor: Niall Brannigan

By way of an introduction to this, I have taken parts of a blog I write about recording studios in London. The episode on Rooster Studios in Shepherd’s Bush is relevant because I used the backstory of Go West, which will help to show how they weren’t quite the overnight success it may seem:

Peter Cox, the singer in a blues-rock band in Twickenham, South West London, was intrigued by an ad in the local paper. It was for a band which sounded similar to his. He asked when they had a gig coming up but, when they told him they had nothing booked, they invited him to a local rehearsal room. In fact, Peter also had half an eye on their drummer, to see if he could poach him for his band. As Peter was leaving the rehearsal, the band’s guitarist, Richard Drummie, asked him if he had a tape of his band. Of course he did. Richard took the tape home and was blown away by the voice on it.

The two local boys bonded over their obsession with music, spending all their money on albums by bands like Free, Steely Dan, Todd Rundgren and the Doobie Brothers. Hours were spent sitting listening to each other’s albums, drinking cheap wine, poring over the album sleeves and talking about the musicians on the albums, the studios, producers and places in America.

Gradually, they began to write some songs together.

Through a mutual friend, ATV Music heard their demo tape and, in 1982, signed them to a publishing deal, specifically to write for themselves. A producer, Gary Stevenson, and a keyboard player, Dave West, came in to help. They spent three years writing and recording until they had a batch of songs they thought worthy of sending out to record companies. They called themselves Go West because that was the direction their eyes tended to turn, when listening out for new music and bands – to America.

Every company turned them down, usually saying “we don’t hear a single”. When the same rejection came back from EMI the two friends decided to write the most commercial, poppy song they could. The result was Call Me. When Chrysalis Records heard it, Peter and Richard finally got a recording contract.

Alan Murphy was a guitarist from Islington, North London. After several bands, studio projects, and working with Kate Bush on her live shows, he was about to join a band called Paparazzi, having recorded their album, when the band disintegrated and split up. This meant that Alan was free to help Peter and Richard with recording their first album for Chrysalis. Alan was a unique player, with a style and technique all his own, and brought a different sound and texture to the songs Peter and Richard were working on. The three of them got on so well that Alan was put on a retainer, to concentrate on the band. Bass guitar was mostly handled by the session-player, Pino Palladino, another musician with a distinctive sound (think of the bass on Paul Young’s Wherever I Lay My Hat – that’s Pino.)

Rooster Studios is a very ordinary building, in Shepherd’s Bush, West London. The studio is in the basement of a house on a quiet street, down some stairs to the left of the front door. Peter and Richard had been using the modest, 16 track studios for three years. ATV would put them in there to demo the songs they were writing. When it came time to record their first album they felt comfortable at Rooster, so the decision was made to record the bulk of it there. However, once Peter, Richard, Alan Murphy, Gary Stevenson and Dave West and his keyboards were in there, it was pretty cosy. All of Pino’s bass parts, Alan’s original guitar parts, Peter’s guitars, Richard and Peter’s bass, plus most of the keyboard parts, were all recorded in the small studio space. Peter also recorded nearly all of his final lead vocals there. He redid the vocal for We Close Our Eyes after the Rooster sessions had finished. They had a brief break at Music Works Studio, sampling noises for the song Missing Persons and Peter also redid the vocals for S.O.S. at Sarm West, on the morning of the mixing day!


We Close Our Eyes came roaring out of the radio-speaker the first time I heard it on Kid Jensen’s Drive Time Show on Radio One. It sounded so exciting, so different and had a proper singer on it, always a positive distinction for me.

The Godley & Creme video for the song was completed over a long day’s filming, with a budget that was more than for the entire album. But it worked. MTV loved it, Radio 1 loved the song and the album was selling fast.

The single reached No.5 in the UK and No.41 on the US Billboard chart. The album reached No.8 in the UK charts, a fantastic success for a first album.


S.O.S. [The Perpendicular Mix] will always be a favourite of mine, if only because the extended mix allows for a bit more of Alan Murphy’s extraordinary guitar. With the album finished, Chrysalis gave Go West a hefty budget to go back into the studio and remix the tracks for the 12″ single releases. They chose Trevor Horn’s Sarm West Studios on Basing Street in Notting Hill (the studio where Band Aid’s Do They Know It’s Christmas was recorded,) and spent a joyful few weeks adding sounds and instruments to the original tracks with Gary Stevenson and Dave West. At one point Peter and Richard found themselves banging the pots and pans from the upstairs canteen of chef Lucky Gordon. Chrysalis put all of the extended mixes together on a special album-release called Bangs & Crashes, adding a couple of live tracks to entice fans who had already bought the 12″ singles.


The big ballad on the first Go West album is Goodbye Girl, a brooding, moody take on the break-up of a relationship. The music is sparse, with pads of keyboard carrying the weight of the verses and just Peter’s voice holding the melody. It’s a brilliant effect immediately creating a feeling of emptiness and desolation in the listener which is only eased with the sudden lift to the chorus. It’s a really clever device of writing and arranging, where the music is doing as much work as the lyrics are to set the mood.

And then comes the bridge, or ‘middle-eight’.

In 2017, the wonderful writer and music journalist Pete Paphides curated a terrific Spotify playlist of ‘songs with the best middle-eights’ which people had suggested to him on social media following his request. Of course, it’s a list of wonderful songs but it is also a collection of great songwriters; writers like Brian Wilson, Jimmy Webb, Harry Nilsson, Bruce Springsteen, Lennon & McCartney and Elton John have songs in the list. It takes a craftsman to create a great bridge, often after the second chorus, which can transcend the rest of the song, elevating it to a different plateau altogether.

Such a bridge is contained in Goodbye Girl and, as with most of the songs in Pete’s playlist, the music and the lyrics do an equal amount of the heavy-lifting.

At the end of the second chorus of Goodbye Girl, the melody rises and Peter sings:

Tied to you, blood on the wire
Don’t you know you’ve pushed me much too far?
Just who do you think you are?
I can’t escape, must all roads lead to Rome?
Every time I say goodbye, you hypnotize

Backing vocals add to the tension at the end of the third line before he hits the crucial ‘must all roads lead to Rome?’ phrase. Whenever they play Goodbye Girl live, no matter how many or few words of the song people know, everyone sings that phrase.

Goodbye Girl was the third single from the debut album, coming eleven weeks after Call Me, and reached No.25 on the UK Singles chart. I think it’s a masterpiece but Peter and Richard disagree. They both think that it needs a recurring beat, a pulse if you like, under the verses. The producer, Gary Stevenson, suggested keeping the hi-hat going to keep the tempo moving, as opposed to appearing to be too sparse. The boys knew best and overruled him, and now wish they hadn’t. It’s a minor quibble but, like all perfectionists, when they look back at their work, all they can see is what’s wrong with it. I just hear the loneliness and desolation of a troubled relationship, something I’d gone through, articulated in a wonderful song.


When Go West play anything from Dancing On The Couch live, Peter will invariably introduce it with some self-deprecating humour, saying:

“This next one is from our difficult second album …” at which point Richard will interrupt, off-mic, and shout:

“Difficult to sell.”

They will now readily admit that they took far too long over the second album, worried that they had been pigeonholed as a pop act with the success of the first one and resistant to the entreaties of the record company that they simply needed to write another We Close Our Eyes or Call Me.

By the time that Dancing On The Couch hit the shops it was two years and a month since the first album and the World of Pop had moved on. The singles chart contained new acts like the Smiths, Living In A Box and Terence Trent D’Arby.

The first single, True Colours, reached No.48 in the UK with the next two singles, I Want To Hear It From You and The King Is Dead, reaching Nos.43 and 67 respectively. The Dancing On The Couch album stalled at No.67. However, for this 31-year-old musical nut, the album was full of new treasures with the shining jewel being Crossfire. Written at the height of the Cold War the song is an extraordinary departure for any 80s band, let alone one which had seen so much success in the pop charts. Yet that is not why I love it. I love it for Alan Murphy’s guitar which threads its way through the song, never intrusive but somehow pulling the whole thing together. I would sit for hours, playing the track over and over listening for the point when feedback became a plucked note, when the start of a note was even audible or when he switched between pick-ups. Nowadays I have to remind myself that many of the effects and pedals that guitarists use today were not around in the mid-80s, which makes what Murphy was doing all the more extraordinary.

If you ever want to hear a genius at work, put on your favourite headphones and listen to Alan Murphy on Crossfire. Thirty-seven years later it still sounds like alchemy.


The other song on Dancing On The Couch which made me stop and listen was The King Is Dead; I mean, it’s jazz for God’s sake! In fact, it’s a showcase for Peter’s brilliant vocals and the gorgeous piano-playing of Peter-John Vettese. It was written partly as a way of showing just how different Go West could be from the songs on the first album, and it worked.

Someone thought it would be a good idea if they got Kate Bush to sing some backing vocals on the song. Alan Murphy had been part of Kate’s circle of trusted musicians for several years and he became the intermediary between Go West in a studio in Denmark and Kate at her home in England. The tapes were duly flown to London and, some weeks later, arrived back in Denmark with Kate’s vocals added to the song. Everyone was delighted at how the track had been elevated. The song is still a feature of their live shows, some thirty-eight years after it first came out and Peter still sings it brilliantly.


If the two-year gap between the first and second album was a problem then the five years from second to third might have been a disaster. Peter and Richard had moved to America (it’s a long story but comes down to the fact that a guy called Ron Fair at their American record company was far more interested in them than anyone in London. Ron recognised two strong writers, a singularly superb voice and an American bias to their songs) and had demoed a song called King Of Wishful Thinking, written with Englishman Martin Page. Page had moved out to Los Angeles in the early 80s and had written for Kim Carnes, Earth Wind & Fire and Barbra Streisand before teaming up with Bernie Taupin. The pair wrote for Starship and Heart (their glorious single These Dreams is a Taupin/Page composition and Starship’s mega-hit We Built This City is a Taupin/Page co-write with Dennis Lambert and Peter Wolf.)

Martin Page told the Songfacts website: “I wanted to make Go West have a little bit of an edge for America. America, I thought, would accept a little bit of funky soul from them. And with Pete Cox’ vocals, you can’t go wrong. He’s an extraordinary vocalist, and when you’ve got a singer like that getting on the mic and playing with your melodies, you’re pretty fortunate.”

King Of Wishful Thinking was on a tape of songs submitted by Go West’s publishers to the producers of a film called Pretty Woman and it made the shortlist of songs which might be on the soundtrack of the finished film. In the end it appeared in a crucial scene and became the song that everyone remembered as they came out of the cinema. A video was filmed for the single-release; a simple idea of absurd items interacting with Peter and Richard while they performed on a white stage. MTV loved it and the song climbed the U.K chart, peaking at No.18 on 25th August 1990. In the US, the single entered the Billboard Hot 100 at No.96 on 19th May, climbing to No.78 the following week. The steady progress up the chart was helped by the success of the film which kept the song on radio-playlists which in turn, kept it selling. It occupied Nos.62, 53, 44, 38, 31, 24, 19, 16, 12, 12 and 8, before beginning its slow tumble back down the ladder (that week at No.44 was the week that another song from the Pretty Woman soundtrack, Roxette’s It Must Have Been Love, spent a week at No.1). The song’s final week on the chart was 27th October and it finally dropped out of the Hot 100, after 24 weeks, at the beginning of November 1990.

It was a fantastic success for two London lads who had grown up looking to the West for their inspiration.


After the success of The King Of Wishful Thinking, EMI America were keen to get a new Go West album out. Peter and Richard had been in California for two years so they must have a bunch of songs banked, surely? Well, no.

The promotion work for KOWT lasted most of the second half of 1990 so it was early 1991 before Peter and Richard began writing for a third album. They wrote with Martin Page (Faithful), Jay Graydon and Jeff Pescetto (Tell Me) and Colin Campsie from The Quick (A Taste Of Things To Come). Peter and Martin came up with That’s What Love Can Do and Richard wrote Crystal Ball. Peter and Richard wrote six songs together, including the beautiful The Sun And The Moon, and someone suggested doing a cover of the 1978 Bobby Caldwell song, What You Won’t Do For Love. Obviously, The King Of Wishful Thinking was also included. The musicians used were some of the cream of the LA session scene and Peter has memories of sitting in a studio and having to tell some of his heroes that their playing wasn’t quite right for what they wanted. However, people like drummer Jeff Porcaro, bassists Freddie Washington and Abe Laboriel and guitarist David Williams all made it onto the album, along with a host of other great players and singers.

Faithful was to be the next single but it was October of 1992 before it was released, a full two years after King Of Wishful Thinking had been in the charts. In the UK, Faithful spent 6 weeks on the chart, peaking at No.13. In the US, it spent 20 weeks on the chart, peaking at No.14 in its 13th week. In fact when its successor, What You Won’t Do For Love, entered the Billboard Hot 100 on 13th March 1993, Faithful was still at No.53.

Faithful is another staple of the band’s live set to this day and their long-time fans have christened themselves The Faithful.


After Faithful, What You Won’t Do For Love reached No.15 in the UK and No.55 in the US. Still In Love was the final single from Indian Summer, in March ˈ93, grazing the UK chart at No.43 but failing to make the US chart.

And that was about it. Peter and Richard came to a fork in the road; the turning to the left, marked ‘West’ led to a life in California and a solo career. The fork to the right, marked ‘East’ led back home to England and a life of uncertainty, maybe songwriting, maybe performing, but maybe not.

Peter turned left and Richard turned right.

Eventually, Peter came back home and took several singing jobs, not just to pay the rent but also to sing, something he loves to do.

Peter and Richard got back together and began to assemble a live band to go back out on the road. Ten years on there was a growing army of fans who wanted to see their 80s heroes and some package tours of multiple acts were filling arenas. Acts like, ABC, Paul Young, T’Pau, Soft Cell and Kim Wilde were all doing good business touring together and, although none of them were getting rich on it, through the second half of the 90s it was possible to play a good few gigs per year. Whilst Peter & Richard didn’t want to be seen as ‘just a nostalgia act’ they did want to perform and so Go West appeared on several of these package tours. They also began to write again and, as the 20th anniversary of that first album came around, they embarked on a UK tour to celebrate, playing several of the new songs (songs which were more guitar-based than before) to ‘test the water’.

One such song was Let Love Come.


If I had to play one song to someone to prove that Go West did not die in California in the early 90s, it would be Let Love Come. My wife and I went to three consecutive nights of that 20th anniversary tour, travelling from High Wycombe to Birmingham and then to Milton Keynes. As Let Love Come ended in High Wycombe I turned to Janet and said:

“I bloody love that one.”

By the time it began in Birmingham, we were singing the backing vocals and by Milton Keynes it was one of our favourite songs in the set; it still is.
It’s catchy as heck, has a great chorus and a terrific guitar solo. It’s one of those songs which gets an audience up on their feet, a real crowd-pleaser, and one the boys obviously love playing. If you want to call it part of ‘new Go West’ or ‘Go West: The Sequel’ go ahead. I like to think they’d have written it eventually, whatever had happened in ˈ93/ˈ94. It’s just a belter of a song.

Go West released their fourth album, futurenow (on Borough Records), in 2008, sixteen years after their third. It is packed full of great songs, led by Let Love Come, and several tracks still make up a chunk of the band’s live set. Let Love Come was put out as a single and I remember hearing Peter and Richard on Radio 2’s Ken Bruce show being interviewed about it. Ken was hugely enthusiastic about the song which sounded fantastic on the radio but, whether it was being on a small label with no budget or whether it was ‘right song, wrong time’, the song did not cut through to the general public and disappeared without trace. When Richard introduces it live he invariably says:

“We thought this should have been a big hit but what do we know?”


The other track from futurenow which worked live, right off the bat, was Faded. It’s a mid-tempo song which, in the verses, showcases Peter’s breathy voice perfectly. The lift up to the chorus is wonderful and their live guitarist at the time, Deeral, plays a beautiful short solo. The song is still featured in their live set and, for me, is another great example of what strong songwriters Peter and Richard are.


The live gigs continued as did the songwriting. By 2012, they had enough ‘nearly-finished’ material to release an album on Blueprint Records but someone thought it would be a good idea to put out three CD EPs which then would form a full album. It only worked for the Faithful because you had to be in the Facebook group to be aware of when the next part would appear.

The songs were a mix of new originals, some covers and some re-recordings of their bigger songs. One of the covers was of a song by Citizen Cope called Sideways.

Clarence Greenwood (Citizen Cope is his stage-name) submitted the song to Santana’s management in 2001, for consideration on Carlos Santana’s album, Shaman. Like its predecessor, Supernatural, this was Santana with a stream of guest singers, playing either their songs or songs which had been written for the project. Supernatural had been a huge hit, selling 30 million copies so, as is usual in the music business, they repeated the winning formula.

I expect that, when Clarence was told his song had made the final album, he thought all his Christmases had come at once.

In the end, Shaman ‘only’ sold 5 million.

Citizen Cope put his own version on his 2004 album, The Clarence Greenwood Recordings, but I suspect that Go West heard the Santana version first.

The Go West version is easily the best of the three.

Sideways features one of Peter’s best vocals. The bluesy tone of the Santana version is stripped away in the music of the Go West version (for me, Carlos Santana overplays on the song, as he does on most things in his later career) but Peter compensates by bringing the blues in his phrasing. He bends the notes, putting the listener in a smoky club in Chicago or New Orleans and making the song the one thing the Santana version isn’t: sexy.

The arrangement is wonderful, especially towards the end where Richard adds his voice, repeating what Peter has sung until the whole thing resolves. If ever a cover version beats the original, it’s Sideways by Go West.


Go West were ‘my band’ in 1985. When I first heard We Close Our Eyes on the radio it just leapt out of the tiny speaker; it sounded huge and I wanted more. Today, Go West are easily my ‘most-seen’ live band and their Christmas gig at The Stables in Milton Keynes is our favourite gig of the year.

Go West are also one of the bands which cemented the relationship between Janet and I. Music is such a huge part of my life so to find that Janet was a big Go West fan pretty much sealed the deal. We’ve been together nearly thirty years and Go West’s songs still make us smile, still make us dance and sing.

If Peter and Richard want a legacy, I think that one will do.


My thanks to Peter Cox for his help with this.


Go West photo 2
Peter Cox and The Author



The Official Website of Go West

The Official Facebook page for Go West

Peter Cox solo discography

Go West biography (Wikipedia)

Niall Brannigan is writing a history of the Recording Studios of London and those who made music in them at his website Will You Meet Me On Clare Island?.

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1 Comment

  1. Nic
    May 2, 2024

    Exceptional band, exceptional vocalist, exceptional writing.
    Thanks Niall 😊

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