A Journey Through Stock Aitken Waterman
Chart Beats has launched its first podcast: A Journey Through Stock Aitken Waterman, which is working its way through every single produced by Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman in chronological order. Each episode, hosts Gavin Scott and Matthew Denby cover a handful of tracks, sharing memories of the songs, discussing the stories behind their release, debating whether they were as big a hit (or miss) as they deserved to be and talking to some of the artists and studio talent behind them. Listen on Apple, Spotify, all other major podcast platforms or right here!
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EPISODE 1: The Upstroke to Whatever I Do (Wherever I Go)
In the very first episode of Chart Beats: A Journey Through SAW, we look at the first four Stock Aitken Waterman productions from 1984: "The Upstroke" by Agents Aren't Aeroplanes, "Anna Mari Elena" by Andy Paul, "You Think You're A Man" by Divine and "Whatever I Do (Wherever I Go)" by Hazell Dean, who joins us to talk about the genesis of SAW's first ever UK top 5 hit.
BONUS CONTENT: We hear more from Hazell Dean about the early days of her career and being signed to Proto Records. Plus, Gavin and Matt take a closer look at those early credits on SAW's singles. Listen here.
EPISODE 2: Dark Glasses to Back In My Arms (Once Again)
We continue A Journey Through SAW with the next four singles produced by Stock Aitken Waterman: "Dark Glasses" by Edwina Lawrie, who joins us for a chat about her Nik Kershaw cover; "Can The Rhythm" by Girl Talk; "I'm So Beautiful" by Divine, about which we talk with mix engineer and producer Phil Harding; and "Back In My Arms (Once Again)" by Hazell Dean, who is back to tell us a story about that song we'd never heard before.
EPISODE 3: You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)
It was SAW's first UK number 1 single, and "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)" by Dead Or Alive is paid due respect as Gavin and Matt take an in-depth look at one of the most enduring singles produced by Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman. Mixmaster Phil Harding, who worked on the track, joins us to talk about how Dead Or Alive came to work with SAW, what singer Pete Burns wanted from the production, the tension during the mixing session, the song's slow climb to the top of the UK chart and its legacy.
BONUS CONTENT: We look at some of the remixes, re-releases, samples and covers of "You Spin Me Round", plus pick out the highlights from Dead Or Alive's non-SAW catalogue. Plus, Phil Harding goes into greater detail about the legendary Murder Mix of the song. Listen here.
EPISODE 4: No Fool (For Love) to Dance Your Love Away
We kick off our look at Stock Aitken Waterman's 1985 output with a couple of controversial projects. On the one hand, there is three-piece pop group Spelt Like This, described by Pete Waterman as "the biggest travesty I've been involved in". What did the band's singer think? We find out. And on the other hand, there's Michael Prince, whose song, "Dance Your Love Away', was transformed into Hazell Dean's "Whatever I Do (Wherever I Go)". After tracking Michael down in the US, we got to the bottom of that story. Plus, Gavin and Matt discuss Hazell's "No Fool (For Love)" (and hear from her as well) and "Lover Come Back To Me" by Dead Or Alive.
BONUS CONTENT: Listen to the full interview with Michael Prince, in which he reveals what happened after "Dance Your Love Away" and why he left the music industry. Plus, read all of former Spelt Like This singer Alin Karna's emailed Q&A. Listen here.
EPISODE 5: In Too Deep to Say It Again
As we approach a major turning point in the Stock Aitken Waterman story, Gavin and Matt take a look at three singles by bands that worked with the producers. First, there's the next Dead Or Alive single, "In Too Deep", which was a change of pace for them. Next, Spelt Like This released their second single, "Stop This Rumour", and changed lead singer! And goth rock/dark wave band The Danse Society were persuaded to work with SAW by their record company on "Say It Again". But a new direction was just around the corner, and we preview our next stand-alone episode on "Say I'm Your Number One" by Princess (out in a week's time).
BONUS CONTENT: Listen to the full interview with Paul Nash from The Danse Society to hear him talk about the band's break-up and reformation decades letter. Plus, Phil Harding tells us about SAW working with Judas Priest and the British band who refused to allow a PWL remix of their debut single to be released. Listen here.
EPISODE 6: Say I'm Your Number One
It was the single that changed everything for Stock Aitken Waterman. The debut single for Princess, "Say I'm Your Number One" was not only a shift away from hi-NRG towards soul/pop but it saw Mike Stock and Matt Aitken take a more proactive role in writing the songs they would produce. In an exclusive interview, we talk to Princess and her brother/manager, Donovan Heslop, about her move from backing vocalist to solo star, the origin of the name Princess, recording with SAW and signing to Supreme Records, the worldwide success of "Say I'm Your Number One" and why the relationship with the production trio eventually broke down. And we explore the influences and highlights of one of SAW's greatest tunes.
BONUS CONTENT: In another clip from our interview, Princess and Don talk more about how she ended up being signed to Supreme Records and not the major label that was courting them. And the ever-reliable Phil Harding gives the PWL perspective on working with Princess, both initially and as time went on. Listen here.
EPISODE 7: My Heart Goes Bang (Get Me To The Doctor) to They Say It's Gonna Rain
As 1985 continued, Stock Aitken Waterman straddled two genres — hi-NRG and pop/R&B. Two of their regular artists, Dead Or Alive and Hazell Dean, released new singles: "My Heart Goes Bang (Get Me To The Doctor)" and "They Say It's Gonna Rain" respectively. And the trio began work with R&B singer Haywoode ("Getting Closer") and A-list girl group The Three Degrees ("The Heaven I Need"). Joining us to talk about those tracks are Hazell, Haywoode and Valerie Holiday and Helen Scott from The Three Degrees. There's also a bit of a theme to this episode's tunes, with two of them being later remade by other SAW artists and a third being a remake itself.
BONUS CONTENT: We hear more from The Three Degrees' Valerie Holiday and Helen Scott, Matt tells us about the US remix of Dead Or Alive's "My Heart Goes Bang" and we look back at the Youthquake singles campaign. Listen here.
EPISODE 8: It's A Man's Man's Man's World to Whenever You Need Somebody
Brilliant and Rin Tin Tin were the two latest bands to release singles produced by Stock Aitken Waterman as 1985 came to an end — and we hear from members of both groups in this episode. Producer Youth (aka Martin Glover) and singer June Montana recall how their band was trimmed down to just them and future KLF member Jimmy Cauty, and why expectations were high for their remake of James Brown's "It's A Man's Man's Man's World". Meanwhile, three of the members of Rin Tin Tin explain how they came work with SAW on "Shake It!", their only single. At the other end of the SAW spectrum, Princess followed up her global top 10 debut with "After The Love Has Gone", and we hear from her and brother Don Heslop about that track. And O'Chi Brown released the original version of "Whenever You Need Somebody", which was a landmark single for SAW on the US charts.
BONUS CONTENT: Listen to the full 30-minute interview with Rin Tin Tin, and hear more from June Montana, who discusses appearing on Top Of The Pops with The Dream Academy, and Youth on Brilliant's early days. Listen here.
Thanks to Louis from Rin Tin Tin, you can now watch the band in action at London's Hippodrome night club in 1986 intercut with clips from the "Shake It!" music video. Check it out!
EPISODE 9: Taking Stock with Mike Stock
Before we continue our journey through Stock Aitken Waterman into 1986, we take one last look at the early years with a man who knows a thing or two about what happened during 1984 and 1985: Mike Stock. One-third of the songwriting and production team shares his thoughts on Divine, Hazell Dean, Dead Or Alive, Brilliant, Princess, The Three Degrees and more. Did a fight really almost break out over "You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)"? Did any of the singles that missed the UK top 40 deserve better in his opinion? What did he really think about working with all those bands? And what happened to producer Pete Ware, who worked with SAW on some of those early tracks? Mike shares his memories of the start of the SAW journey.
BONUS CONTENT: Ever wondered what the difference is between a producer, an engineer and a mixer? Phil Harding explains who does what in the studio. Plus, he gives his perspective on working with Brilliant and considers why not many of SAW's soul/pop singles succeeded on the UK chart. Listen here.
EPISODE 10: Love Is War to I'll Keep On Loving You
We launch into 1986 with the first five singles produced by Stock Aitken Waterman released that year — and we hear from all the artists involved. What was going on with that choreography in Brilliant's "Love Is War" music video? What happened in the aftermath of "This Is The House" by The Three Degrees? Why wasn't Haywoode completely comfortable with "You'd Better Not Fool Around"? Princess talks about "I'll Keep On Loving You" and her self-titled debut album, which featured one of Gavin and Mat's favourite SAW non-singles. Plus, a new band came to work with Mike, Matt and Pete — Italian trio Canton, and singer Marcello Semeraro tells the story of how they came to record at PWL and what went wrong just as their single came out.
BONUS CONTENT: Take a deep dive into the careers of Haywoode and Canton with our full interviews with both artists, in which they talk about their time before, during and after working with Stock Aitken Waterman. Listen here.
EPISODE 11: Venus
Another major turning point in the Stock Aitken Waterman story came when they began working with girl group Bananarama. SAW hadn't had a major hit since "Say I'm Your Number One" and Bananarama's last couple of singles had been commercial disappointments, but when they teamed up for a remake of "Venus", everyone was a winner. The trio's remake of the Shocking Blue hit returned them to the UK top 10 and took them to number 1 in Australia and the US. In this special episode dedicated to "Venus", we hear from Mike Stock and Phil Harding about the making of the record, while hosts Gavin and Matt talk about the song's iconic music video and look back at the impact working with SAW had on Bananarama's career.
BONUS CONTENT: Bananarama had several singles — and quite a few hits — under their belts before working with SAW, and Gavin and Matt evaluate all of them. The songs we liked, the songs we didn't and "Aie A Mwana" — they're all up for discussion. Listen here.
EPISODE 12: Tell Me Tomorrow to New York Afternoon
In our biggest episode yet, we look at the next four SAW-produced singles to be released in 1986, including "Tell Me Tomorrow", which was featured in the film Knights & Emeralds — and we hear from Princess about what it was like to be included on a soundtrack. There's also the third single by Brilliant, "Somebody", with Youth explaining how the SAW version of the track differed from the original version. Plus, in an exclusive interview, O'chi Brown tells us all about "100% Pure Pain" and we backtrack to hear the story of "Whenever You Need Somebody". And finally, Mike Stock and Dee Lewis explain the genesis of Mondo Kane's "New York Afternoon". Dee also discusses what it was like to be one of SAW's most in-demand backing vocalists.
BONUS CONTENT: Hear O'chi Brown discuss the early years of her career, working with the PWL B-team and her album O'chi. Meanwhile, Dee Lewis shares her memories of starting out as a singer and some more behind-the-scenes info about working with SAW. Listen here.
EPISODE 13: I Can Prove It to More Than Physical
We discuss a trio of new artists working with Stock Aitken Waterman for the first time, as well as a trio who were coming off the back of a massive SAW-produced hit. First up, it's Galaxy frontman Phil Fearon, who reveals that he almost didn't record his UK top 10 remake of "I Can Prove It" and tells us exactly what SAW brought to the track. Then, we hear from Tight Fit singer Steve Grant about his short-lived boy band, Splash, whose single "Qu'Est-Ce Que C'est" was released by Elton John's label, Rocket The late Jeb Million worked with SAW on two singles — we look at the first of those, "Second Time Around" and chat to Mike Stock about the Canadian singer. And the trio following up a big hit? Bananarama, of course. But despite a major makeover from the album version. "More Than Physical" didn't hit the same highs as "Venus". As well as dissecting that follow-up, we talk to Mike about what it was like working on original material with Bananarama. Spoiler alert: he says it didn't go very smoothly.
BONUS CONTENT: Listen to our full interview with Steve Grant in which he shares more memories from his time in Splash and Tight Fit, as well as talks about the upcoming new album by the latter. Plus, more from our chat with Phil Fearon about his rise to fame. Listen here.
EPISODE 14: I'm The One Who Really Loves You to Brand New Lover
It was meant to be the song that launched his solo career, but things didn't go to plan for Austin Howard, who recorded "I'm The One Who Really Loves You" with Stock Aitken Waterman for the soundtrack to ill-fated film Knights And Emeralds. We hear from Austin about his experience at PWL and the outrageous question he asked Pete Waterman. Plus, after releasing a non-SAW single, Hazell Dean returned to work with the trio on "Stand Up" and tells us about the problem she had with the song. Also back were Dead Or Alive, who kicked off the Mad, Bad And Dangerous To Know album with "Brand New Lover" — and what a lot of drama there was around that single! Phil Harding and Karen Hewitt, who worked with the band, share their memories of those troubled sessions, while Karen also shares her perspective on the working relationship between Bananarama and SAW.
BONUS CONTENT: In our full interview with Austin Howard, he fills us in on his career before and after working with SAW, and hears for the first time about the 1987 re-release of "I'm The One Who Really Loves You". Plus, in a sneak peek of our interview with Kim Appleby, she talks about Mel & Kim's version of Austin's song. Listen here.