Wednesday, 11 July 2012

The Best Of Stock Aitken Waterman: part 2

Since I posted Part 1 of my Stock Aitken Waterman chart, the Hit Factory Live concert has been cancelled, which is a real shame - I'd been expecting to watch clips of the show on YouTube this evening, but instead I'll have to make do with counting down the rest of my SAW top 100...

Like Boy Krazy, Delage were an all-girl vocal group that SAW worked with in the early '90s. This single followed a cover of "Rock The Boat", but neither track sparked much interest. Guess the world just wasn't ready for girl power...

Surprisingly, the debut album by Rolling Stone BIll Wyman's teen girlfriend (and later wife) was actually pretty good. With production shared between SAW and the other PWL knob-twiddlers, it features a batch of songs that could have been worldwide smashes, but the weak vocals and Mandy's infamy put paid to that.

By the time this third single from the Appleby sisters was released, Mel was already ill with the cancer which would go on to claim her life. A fun video featuring puppets (I'm sure the pun was intended) and live footage was released, while the tragedy was kept under wraps for the time being.

She'd sung about macho men and toy boys already, so the next obvious topic was big shiny red cars, right? Simon Cowell can be blamed for many things, but the success of Sinitta is one thing I'll always thank him for!

SAW produced a number of charity singles, but their update of the 1984 Band Aid song, which itself had launched the modern era of charity records, is often forgotten. The all-star line-up wasn't quite as impressive as the original's, with no sign of stars of the day like Erasure, Pet Shop Boys, Soul II Soul or Neneh Cherry - but it did feature Big Fun! The best bit in the video is when the Bananarama girls are clearly taking the piss out of Bros' Matt Goss.

Only two singles by the former "glamour model" were produced by SAW - this and the one at number 89 - but other tracks like "Touch Me (I Want Your Body)", "I Surrender (To The Spirit Of The Night)" and "Naughty Girls (Need Love Too)" demonstrated not only Sam's love for brackets, but also a knack for finding awesome pop songs to sing.

Another example of SAW working with a talented singer to produce great results, this overlooked 1987 release is as good as any of Gloria's big hits like "Gloria", "Self Control" or "Solitaire".

Here's another of those random one-offs that SAW produced over the years. This 1988 song was by a freestyle duo from Miami. For those unfamiliar with the term, the girls weren't swimmers - freestyle's a genre of Latin-influenced music big in the US in the late '80s and early '90s (see also: Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam, Sweet Sensation and Exposé). There's a link to the 7" version above and an extended version below.

By 1989, even Sir Cliff wanted some of SAW's Midas touch, and worked with the production team on this, his 101st single. My strongest memory of this song is MTV Australia host Richard Wilkins yanking it off air halfway through playing the clip, so offended was he by it. Douche.

Anything Vanessa Williams can do... Back in 1984, runner-up Suzette had taken over Vanessa's title as Miss America when a nude photo scandal cost Vanessa the crown. Fast forward a decade, and Suzette tried to take on her former beauty queen rival in the charts - but while Vanessa was already a bona fide star, Suzette never really got out of the gate, with this song flopping on the British charts. Unfortunately, the rest of Suzette's Stock and Waterman-produced tracks have never been given an official release.

Like the song by Fresh back at number 33, this track was also unsuccessful in 1992. Beyond that, I know little about Nancy, other than the fact that she was discovered by Stock and Waterman when she won a British karaoke competition they judged and also released a cover of "(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher" with them. 

The track that started it all! "You Think You're A Man" was SAW's first top 20 hit in the UK, and also here in Australia, where the drag queen gave a memorable performance on Countdown. Don't you miss the days when the charts were full of gender benders and drag queens, and no one gave it too much of a second thought?

These days, she's known as the voice of Tommy Pickles on Rugrats, but back in the '80s, she was just another dance/pop singer trying to make an honest living.

Before there was The Timelords or The KLF, there was Brilliant, a band which featured furture KLF member Jimmy Cauty. The other member of KLF, Bill Drummond, was Brilliant's A&R manager - and the other member of Brilliant was producer Youth. Confused? Just listen to the song, then. It's from their 1986 album, Kiss The Lips Of Life.

It's quite amazing to recall some of the acts who ended up working with SAW - those Judas Priest tracks are still in the vaults! - and this band, semi-famous for "Love Missile F1-11", was an unexpected collaboration for the production team. Despite the song's optimistic title, it wasn't a hit.

Whereas Samantha Fox sounded like she had a decent singing voice, the talents of Italy's Sabrina lay firmly in other areas - mostly the inability to keep a swimming costume on. Nevertheless she released a handful of cheesy Europop songs in 1988, including this one produced by SAW. Boy, oh boy indeed.

Another flop release by artists who'd go on to bigger - but not necessarily better - things. The Morgan was Jamie J Morgan (who had a minor hit in Australia with a cover of "Walk On The Wild Side"). The McVey was Cameron McVey who'd go on to produce for Massive Attack, Sugababes and Neneh Cherry. Neneh, actually appears on the B-side of this song, rapping an early version of "Buffalo Stance".

I can't say I know anything about this artist, but the SAW-produced track turned up on the soundtrack to the Madonna film, Who's That Girl, and, like anything that bore the magic words: "A Stock Aitken Waterman Production", was soon on high rotation for me.

SAW may have their critics, but there wouldn't be many production teams who have 100 great songs - and then some, with the likes of "Whenever You Need Somebody", "Beyond Your Wildest Dreams" and "I Just Can't Wait" not making the cut.

Naturally, not all 100 can be found on Spotify, but here's a playlist of those that are available:


  1. I just had to check out the Band Aid II music video for the Bananarama antics. Gotta love those girls. Always so fun and bitchy. I love it! By the way, Kylie's "The Loco-Motion" and Big Fun's "Blame it on the Boogie" didn't make the cut either! lol.

    I gotta say though, that I'm giggling to myself about that cancelled concert, but only because it's gonna break a bunch of Pommie hearts. I'm a bit bitter about the English for two main reasons, the cricket (naturally) and the fact that they get Darren Hayes all to themselves these days (with tours and shit). I'm so jealous!

    1. Oh, I really don't like the SAW version of Locomotion. And Blame It On The Boogie is not a patch on the original, but even I would have been interested to see Big Fun 20+ years on...

  2. Chris Theodoridis7 March 2013 at 11:47

    How is Divines "I'm so beautiful" not on the list!?!? Shocking!

    1. About as shocking as "Hey There Lonely Girl" not being on here.

  3. I can remember one part of the SAW team going on the Steve Vizard show one night, where a audience member was picked to sing on a song that they whipped up that night. They had to use words thrown at them from the audience. They did the film clip and everything within the 60 minutes. Yeah, it was pretty bad, but good for a laugh. Finn

    1. That does sound familiar - but not sure if I saw it or just heard about it. Poor SAW - always underestimated and treated as a joke.