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.
EPISODE 15: Showing Out (Get Fresh At The Weekend)
In an exclusive interview, Kim Appleby reveals all the details behind Mel & Kim's debut single. From the story of how she and sister Mel were discovered to the song they almost released instead of "Showing Out (Get Fresh At The Weekend)" to exactly what they thought of Stock Aitken Waterman when they met them, Kim shares her memories of and anecdotes about recording one of the most exciting singles in the SAW catalogue, including why the sisters were initially hesitant about the track. The songwriting and production team's first excursion into the burgeoning house sound, "Showing Out" was another major turning point, propelling SAW towards their domination of the UK pop scene. Kim also talks about crafting the duo's image, appearing on Top Of The Pops and how their personalities influenced the songs that SAW wrote for them.
BONUS CONTENT: Gavin and Matt discuss all the album tracks on Mel & Kim's album, F.L.M. From "Feel A Whole Lot Better" to "Who's Gonna Catch You", all six non-singles (in the UK) come under the microscope. Listen here.
EPISODE 16: Living Legend to Samba
What a mixed bag of SAW-produced singles we have in this episode, including the fifth and final PWL release by Princess, a Latin-flavoured tune by music legend Georgie Fame, the second single by pop/rock singer Jeb Million ("Speed Up My Heartbeat") and a novelty tune for TV puppet Roland Rat. Yes, really. Princess and her brother, Don Heslop, join us one last time to discuss "In The Heat Of A Passionate Moment" and the fallout from the breakdown of their working relationship with Supreme Records and PWL. You might think you know the story — prepare to hear a completely different (and at times shocking) perspective. We also hear from a reluctant Mike Stock about Roland Rat's "Living Legend" and mixmaster Pete Hammond makes his first appearance to talk about one of his earliest jobs at PWL, working on Georgie Fame's "Samba".
BONUS CONTENT: Gavin and Matt pick out the three singles covered so far that they think were undeserving flops. Plus, more from our Princess interview, in which she talks about her career after the '80s. Listen here.
EPISODE 17: Ain't Nothing But A House Party to Something In My House
As we reach the end of the Stock Aitken Waterman-produced singles from 1986, we hear for one last time from Phil Fearon, about his remake of "Ain't Nothing But A House Party", and Youth and June Montana from Brilliant about their cover version of "The End Of The World". We also learn about the record company dramas both acts encountered shortly after their time with SAW came to an end. Dee Lewis joins us again to discuss the second Mondo Kane single, "An Everlasting Love In An Ever-Changing World", ghosting vocals as a backing singer and her solo career. And then we kick off SAW's 1987 hits with "Something In My House" by Dead Or Alive, which would end up being the band's last substantial success in the UK. Naturally, there were dramas and — explicit language warning! — also an extended mix with some obsenities thrown in for good measure.
BONUS CONTENT: It was such a busy episode, we didn't have room to fit in Phil Fearon talking about SAW original B-side "Burning All My Bridges" or the role he and his wife, Dee Galdes, played in Baby D's dance classic "Let Me Be Your Fantasy"; Youth telling the story of his own club anthem, "Naked In The Rain" by Blue Pearl, and sharing some more observations about SAW; or Dee Lewis discussing her '90s solo career as Dee Fredrix. So you can listen to all those interview extras here.
EPISODE 18: Heartache
They'd become household names as part of Wham!, and in 1987, Pepsi & Shirlie kicked off their pop career as a duo with smash hit single "Heartache". In this episode, we hear from the pair, who have just released their autobiography, It's All In Black And White, about deciding to stick together post-Wham!, recording and releasing their debut single, and the follow-ups to "Heartache". We'll also hear from Phil Fearon, who co-produced "Heartache", and Pete Hammond, who gave it the PWL magic touch, to get to the bottom of whether the song is actually a Stock Aitken Waterman record. Pepsi & Shirlie also tell us about recording a version of "Who's Gonna Catch You" with SAW, taking on rock anthem "All Right Now" and working with George Michael on their second album, Change.
BONUS CONTENT: Hear more from Pepsi & Shirlie as they discuss putting their book together and share their favourite Wham! memories. Plus, Phil Fearon explains why he doesn't know whether SAW worked on "Heartache" or not. Listen here.
EPISODE 19: Looking Good Diving to I Just Can't Wait
Duo Morgan McVey might not have had a hit, but not only did Jamie Morgan and Cameron McVey go on to incredibly successful careers individually, but their Stock Aitken Waterman-produced single, "Looking Good Diving", had a future smash hidden away on its B-side. Jamie tells us about his SAW experience, the song's "so bad it's good" music video and the hilarious story of how that flip side became Neneh Cherry's "Buffalo Stance". We also take a look at Bananarama's next collaboration with SAW on a reworked version of "A Trick Of The Night" and discuss Mandy Smith's debut single, "I Just Can't Wait". Joining us to talk about the then-teenager's pop career and how Pete Waterman created PWL Records to put her single out are Mike Stock, Pete Hammond, Karen Hewitt, Phil Harding and podcast newcomer Mike Duffy. Strap yourself in for a massive episode!
BONUS CONTENT: In our full 45-minute interview with Jamie Morgan, he goes into more detail on Morgan McVey and talks about his solo career, including his remake of "Walk On The Wild Side", the Shotgun album and why his follow-up album never saw the light of day. Plus, hear about Mike Duffy's start at PWL and his working relationship with SAW. Listen here.
EPISODE 20: A Detour With Harding & Curnow Part 1
In the first of two special episodes, we take a look at some of the other music coming out of PWL from 1987 onwards. With Stock Aitken Waterman's workload increasing, long-time mixmaster Phil Harding and new recruit Ian Curnow (who just happened to be old friends) became the PWL B-team, responsible for an enormous amount of remixes and productions in their own right. In this episode, we hear from Harding & Curnow about how they distinguished their sound from SAW's with pop duo Blue Mercedes, what it was like collaborating with American star Jermaine Stewart, why the same distinctive bassline appeared on tracks by Climie Fisher and Lou, and producing the same song for Brother Beyond twice. Plus, the songwriting and production duo talk about working with Australian stars Kate Ceberano and Peter Andre.
BONUS CONTENT: Gavin and Matt discuss some of Harding & Curnow's many remix projects, including updating Motown classics by The Jackson 5, The Four Tops and Diana Ross, and the juggernaut that was "The Grease Megamix". Plus, tracks by Jesus Jones, Brass Construction, Debbie Gibson and Tommy Page. Listen here.
EPISODE 21: A Detour With Harding & Curnow Part 2
In the second episode dedicated to Phil Harding and Ian Curnow's PWL years, we discuss more of the projects the songwriting and production team worked on at the Hit Factory, including the first single released by Rick Astley — the duet "When You Gonna" with Lisa Fabien. We also hear about Harding & Curnow's experience with SAW singers Hazell Dean, Sinitta, Sonia and Lonnie Gordon. Plus, there were high hopes for PWL acts Shooting Party and Johnnie O, so why weren't their singles more successful? And what happened when pop duo Dollar came to PWL for the Harding & Curnow treatment? Ian also reveals what prompted the decision he and Phil made to end their time at PWL.
BONUS CONTENT: Continuing on from the main episode's discussion about Sinitta, Sonia and Lonnie Gordon, Gavin and Matt take a closer look at the Harding & Curnow tracks on the Wicked!, Everybody Knows and If I Have To Stand Alone albums. Which should have been singles? Listen here.
EPISODE 22: Respectable
The journey through SAW gets back underway with another game-changing hit produced by Stock Aitken Waterman. Breaking the team's follow-up curse, Mel & Kim's second single, "Respectable" bucked the usual trend by becoming an even bigger hit than their debut. A worldwide number 1, the duo's second single turned the sisters into a phenomenon, and we hear from Kim Appleby about the fame she and Mel experienced as a result of the song's success, Kim also talks about how the song dealt with Mel's modelling past head-on and discusses the F.L.M. album. Former Supreme Records MD Nick East also joins us from noisy Guatemala to explain why he originally wanted the famous "tay-tay-tay" vocal effect taken off the record and share his experience working with Mel & Kim.
BONUS CONTENT: Hear more from Nick East, who recalls his time working with other Supreme Records artists Princess and The Three Degrees, and tells the story of signing Mel & Kim. Also, Phil Harding talks about how the "tay-tay-tay" effect was made. Plus, Gavin and Matt look at what else was in the Australian and UK top 5s in the week that "Respectable" was number 1 in each country. Listen here.
EPISODE 23: Hooked On Love to Get Ready
Stock Aitken Waterman had their hands full with music legends in early 1987. First, they put together charity ensemble record "Let It Be" by Ferry Aid. Former PWL Records MD David Howells joins us to describe the process of assembling a who's who of the British music industry to sing on that track, while Pepsi & Shirlie and Kim Appleby also share their memories of Ferry Aid. Then, tracks by music icons Gloria Gaynor ("Be Soft With Me Tonight") and Debbie Harry ("In Love With Love") received the PWL magic touch, and Mike Stock shares an embarrassing story about working with the Blondie singer. The tension between Dead Or Alive and their record company came to breaking point over their next single, "Hooked On Love". Find out why and what happened as a result. And we hear about enigmatic, bald-headed Australian singer Carol Hitchcock, whose cover of The Temptations' "Get Ready" remains a fan favourite.
BONUS CONTENT: David Howells recounts how he and Pete Waterman started working together, and his crucial role in keeping PWL Records afloat. He also explains the differences in their roles and what his own working relationship with SAW was. Plus, Mike Duffy and Karen Hewitt provide a few more details on mystery woman Carol Hitchcock. Listen here.
EPISODE 24: Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now to F.L.M.
The Hit Factory era was in full swing by mid-1987, with three of the singles in this episode being major international hits. Samantha Fox came to work with Stock Aitken Waterman — and their collaboration, "Nothing's Gonna Stop Me Now", took her back into the UK top 10 and was huge across Europe. Bananarama stepped up their musical relationship with SAW on Wow!, an album fully produced by Mike, Matt and Pete, and lead single "I Heard A Rumour" saw them back in the US top 5. We delve into the similarities between "I Heard A Rumour" and its plot track, "Give Me Up" by Michael Fortunati, with Mike Stock and Pete Hammond sharing their insights on how the Bananarama song came together. And Mel & Kim's third single, "F.L.M.", became the duo's third consecutive UK top 10 hit, but behind the success, a tragedy was unfolding. Kim Appleby and former Supreme Records MD Nick East weigh in on the unusual music video made for the song. Although not a big hit, Hazell Dean's version of "Always Doesn't Mean Forever" was her latest SAW single — and a reworking of a track that had originally been recorded (but not released) by former The Three Degrees member Sheila Ferguson.
EPISODE 25: Toy Boy
It was a match made in pop music heaven: Sinitta and Stock Aitken Waterman. But although the idea of the "So Macho" star recording at the Hit Factory seems like a no-brainer now, it didn't happen overnight. And as Sinitta reveals in our exclusive interview, SAW were unsure about working with her — and not just because her record label boss Simon Cowell had made a habit of hanging around at PWL uninvited. In the end, "Toy Boy" was created, and Sinitta talks about how SAW used her life as inspiration for the lyrics and what prompted her to come up with the rap that kicks off the single. As well as talking about "Toy Boy", Sinitta discusses her early music releases, including "Cruising" and "Feels Like The First Time"; the epic road to the top 5 for her breakthrough smash, "So Macho"; shooting her first music video; and the infamous fight between Simon and producer Ian Levine. So get down, get down, get down-loading...
BONUS CONTENT: 1987 was a great year for SAW, but there was a lot of fantastic music released that year. Gavin and Matt play a game of Hate Or Rate with some key releases from 1987. What else were they fans of? Listen here.
EPISODE 26: Roadblock to Shattered Glass
By now, Stock Aitken Waterman had made a name for themselves as hitmakers — and that was begining to rub some people the wrong way. In response to the haters and the perception that they could only do disposable pop, the trio concoted a plan to prove they could make any kind of music they put their minds to. And so "Roadblock" was created, a rare groove track that was originally released without any clue SAW were behind it. Hear the full story behind what would eventually become Stock Aitken Waterman's first single under their own names. Meanwhile, the Hit Factory encountered a bit of a dry spell, with singles by Precious Wilson ("Only The Strong Survive"), Dolly Dots ("What A Night") and Laura Branigan ("Shattered Glass") all flopping. We talk to Precious and Angela Groothuizen from the Dutch girl group about the paths that brought each act to SAW. Plus, Mike Stock and, in archival audio, Laura herself talk about the two tracks they worked on together. It's a super-sized episode with some great pop music stories.
EPISODE 27: Never Gonna Give You Up
It's hard to imagine that a song as phenomonally successful as "Never Gonna Give You Up" sat on the shelf at PWL for months before finally being released in mid-1987, but that's exactly what happened as Rick Astley's debut solo single took longer than any other Stock Aitken Waterman production to be completed. In this special episode dedicated to SAW's biggest worldwide hit, we recap Rick's story, from being approached by Pete Waterman and employed at PWL as a tape op to his early recordings with both SAW and Phil Harding & Ian Curnow. We hear from Karen Hewitt and Rick's best mate, Mike Duffy, about the singer's introduction to the music industry. Then, the lengthy development of "Never Gonna Give You Up" is explained with help from Phil, Ian, Mike Stock and Pete Hammond. The track was a jigsaw puzzle, but once all the pieces were in place, it took off, topping charts right around the world at the time and continuing to resonate to this day, with its video having joined the billion views club on YouTube.
EPISODE 28: A Walk In The Park to Whatever Makes Our Love Grow
It was the end of an era as the final Dead Or Alive single produced by Stock Aitken Waterman was released. And although "I'll Save You All My Kisses" wasn't the biggest of hits, that song and the story of what came next for SAW's first number one act is given the in-depth treatment in this episode. In an archival interview with DJ Sveta, the late Pete Burns talks about the conclusion of his time at PWL — and his return there in 1993. Producer Barry Stone (of Jewels & Stone and The Alias) shares his memories of working with Dead Or Alive on their remake of "Rebel Rebel" and the Nukleopatra album. Also this episode, Bananarama's next big hit came in the form of the Europop-influenced "Love In The First Degree", while there are a couple of lesser known tracks to cover: the 1987 PWL remix of "A Walk In The Park" by Nick Straker, which Pete Hammond tells us about, and Edwin Starr's "Whatever Makes Our Love Grow".
BONUS CONTENT: Hear more from our interview with Barry Stone, in which the producer talks about how Pete Burns helped him and production partner Julian Gingell kickstart their career away from PWL. Barry also talks about some of the names he and Julian have worked with over the past couple of decades, including Steps, Sophie Ellis Bextor, Adam Rickitt, Rachel Stevens and more. Listen here.
EPISODE 29: Learning To Live (Without Your Love) to Turn It Up
With Rick Astley and "Never Gonna Give You Up" riding high around the world, two singles were released in an attempt to capitalise on that success. The first was a duet between O'chi Brown and Rick that was plucked from her previous album. "Learning To Live (Without You Love)" was issued by Magnet Records in a clear attempt to cash in on Rick's popularity. We hear from O'chi about the duet and her move out of the record industry in the late '80s. The second was Rick's own follow-up: "Whenever You Need Somebody", which happened to be a remake of a song originally recorded by... O'chi Brown. Mike Stock and Pete Hammond discuss working on that track, which became another global hit for Rick. On the topic of follow-ups, Mandy Smith's second single, "Positive Reaction", was a change in direction for her. Session singer Suzanne Rhatigan joins us to talk about how her vocals were used to bolster's Mandy's performance, with the two voices blended in the mix. And we look at soundtrack single "Turn It Up" by Michael Davidson, who had an interesting path to being signed by Madonna's record label.