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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.

BONUS CONTENT: Gavin and Matt rank the top 5 sister duos that SAW worked with and chat more about the music of Divine. Plus, Hazell Dean reminisces about recording Heart First. Listen here.

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!

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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 HammondKaren 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.

BONUS CONTENT: Gavin and Matt take a closer look at the highlights of Samantha Fox's non-SAW output. And we'll hear more from Pete Hammond about mixing records at PWL. Listen here.

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.

BONUS CONTENT: We blew out the episode length, but there's even more great anecdotes and music industry discussion in the full interviews with Precious Wilson and Angela Groothuizen. Listen here.

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.

BONUS CONTENT: Gavin and Matt review Rick Astley's debut album, Whenever You Need Somebody. Listen here.

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.

BONUS CONTENT: Gavin and Matt take a run through Mandy Smith's album, Mandy, giving it the track by track treatment, plus hear more of Suzanne Rhatigan's stories from PWL in an extended interview excerpt. Listen here.

EPISODE 30: Let's Get Together Tonite to I Can't Help It

Our journey reaches the end of 1987 with Stock Aitken Waterman's bid for the UK Christmas number 1 slot: a double A-side release from Rick Astley that combined his cover of "When I Fall In Love" with a brand new song, "My Arms Keep Missing You". We explain the factors that prevented the single from taking out top honours that year. Plus, it was the end of an era for Bananarama as the original line-up's final single together, "I Can't Help It", was released. Phil Harding and Karen Hewitt share their memories of Siobhan Fahey's time in the group. Sinitta released her latest pop tune, "G.T.O", but she explains why she wasn't that thrilled about the song's subject matter. Meanwhile, SAW worked with DJ Steve Walsh on "Let's Get Together Tonite" and released their own follow-up to "Roadblock" called "Packjammed (With The Party Posse)". 

BONUS CONTENT: Gavin and Matt review Bananarama's Wow album track by track, including the B-sides that have been included on deluxe editions and reissues. Listen here.

EPISODE 31: I Should Be So Lucky

She was already huge in Australia, with the biggest single of 1987 under her belt, but no one could have predicted just how massive a pop star Kylie Minogue would become in 1988, with her fame extending way beyond her home country. Certainly no one at PWL had any idea that the polite teenager sitting in reception waiting for a promised recording session with Stock Aitken Waterman would change everything for the Hit Factory. In this special episode dedicated to Kylie's UK debut single and Australian follow-up to "Locomotion", we hear from former PWL MD David Howells, Mike StockPete Hammond, Karen Hewitt and Dee Lewis about how "I Should Be So Lucky" came together. Why didn't Stock and Aitken know anything about Kylie? Was the writing and recording of the song as much of a whirlwind as legend would have it? How did Kylie react after she'd recorded it? We also connect the dots and hear from PWL's Mike Duffy about how he ended up producing "Locomotion", the song that resulted in Kylie being flown over to work with SAW themselves in the first place.

BONUS CONTENT: Mike Duffy talks further about his time at Mushroom Records and working with Kylie Minogue. Plus, Gavin and Matt unpack more of the details surrounding "Locomotion". Listen here.

EPISODE 32: That's The Way It Is to Cross My Broken Heart

Three songs, three more UK top 10 hits as Stock Aitken Waterman's chart domination ramped up. The first of those songs was a rather emotional one — the final single released by Mel & Kim, "That's The Way It Is". Kim Appleby joins us to talk about how she and Mel recorded the track during a respite in her sister's treatment for cancer and how one of their own compositions, "You Changed My Life", was included on the B-side. Kim also discusses her return to work with Stock and Aitken in 1994 during her solo career and gives her thoughts on Mel & Kim's legacy. We then take a look at Rick Astley's next hit, "Together Forever", which was blocked from the number 1 spot in the UK by another SAW record but made it all the way to the top in the US. But all that success was getting to Rick — and we explore the downside to his sudden fame. Meanwhile, Sinitta lifted another song from her debut album — one that was remixed for single release. We hear from the pop star about "Cross My Broken Heart" and the inspiration behind her image.

BONUS CONTENT: Kim Appleby's non-SAW solo singles come under the spotlight as Gavin and Matt discuss everything from "Dont Worry" to "Breakaway". Listen here.

EPISODE 33: Who's Leaving Who to Let's All Chant

There was no stopping SAW at this point in 1988 with another three massive hits on the UK chart, including Hazell Dean's long-awaited return to the top 10 with a cover of Anne Murray's "Who's Leaving Who". We hear from Hazell about the track and why it connected with the public when her previous few singles hadn't. Meanwhile, a change in line-up did not slow Bananarama down with a fourth hit being lifted from the Wow! album. The first single released by the girl group with Jacquie O'Sullivan in the line-up, "I Want You Back" was freshened up from the album and came with a music video that would never be made in 2022. We discuss that and how Jacquie ended up joining the group. This episode's third single was the debut collaboration between SAW and London DJs Pat Sharp and Mick Brown. Their charity cover of "Let's All Chant" was part of a long-running association betwee the pair and PWL — and Mick explains how it all came together.

BONUS CONTENT: Hear more of the Pat & Mick story from Mick Brown, and Gavin and Matt take a closer look at Hazell Dean's Always album. Listen here.

EPISODE 34: Mind Over Matter to Maybe (We Should Call It A Day)

It was good news and bad news for Stock Aitken Waterman in mid-1988. On the upside, their run of hits continued with the next single for Kylie Minogue. After the runway success of "I Should Be So Lucky", Mike Stock and engineer Karen Hewitt were dispatched to Australia to record a follow-up — and we hear all about the meeting to convince Kylie to continue working with SAW after her shabby treatment in London, as well as the ups and downs of the recording sessions that ensued. Pete Hammond tells us about the earlier version of "Got To Be Certain" recorded by Mandy Smith, while David Howells explains how he commissioned music videos filmed in Australia — like the one for Kylie's single — from PWL in London. Another song SAW recorded with more than one vocalist is "Mind Over Matter", which was unfortunately not a success on the UK chart. That song's writer, Michael Jay, reveals why it went from a Debbie Harry track to being recorded and released by E.G. Daily — and he also talks about another PWL tune he wrote: "Cross My Heart" by Eighth Wonder. In more good news, Hazell Dean scored her next hit with "Maybe (We Should Call It A Day)", even if, as she explains, she wasn't that keen on the tune. And in bad news for music lovers: SAW worked with the England Football Team on a song that went all the way down the dumper. 

BONUS CONTENT: Songwriter/producer Michael Jay talks about other career highlights, including Martika, Miami Sound Machine, Five Star and Adam Rickitt. Plus, Gavin and Matt take a deep dive into the various promos for Kylie Minogue's "Got To Be Certain' in a special video commentary. Listen (and watch!) here.

EPISODE 35: The Harder I Try

It takes a certain confidence to auction off your songwriting and production services secure in the knowledge that you'll deliver the highest bidder a hit single. But that's exactly what Stock Aitken Waterman did in 1988. EMI Records bid the most and the artist that received the Hit Factory Midas touch was Parlophone's struggling pop band Brother Beyond. Lead singer Nathan Moore joins us to talk about the group's initial efforts to land a hit themselves. After three singles failed to reach the UK top 40, not even a trip to PWL to work with Harding & Curnow on the original version of "Can You Keep A Secret?" could turn their fortunes around. But everything changed — and we mean everything — for Brother Beyond when a SAW tune was bestowed upon them. Nathan reveals how Motown-influenced track "The Harder I Try" was recorded (and who was involved in the studio session), what the band's reaction was to external writers providing them with a song, why one member quit and what it was like doing all that running he did in the song's flashy music video.

BONUS CONTENT: It's chart flashback time as Gavin and Matt work their way through the top 10 when "The Harder I Try" spent its first week at number 2 in the UK. Listen here.

EPISODE 36: The Loco-Motion to Turn It Into Love

"Locomotion" by Kylie Minogue had been the highest-selling single of 1987 in Australia, so it was inevitable the remake would be released in the UK. But when the song appeared on Kylie's debut album and came out as her third PWL single, it was completely different. Out was the Australian production and in its place was a new version produced by SAW. The original Little Eva title, "The Loco-Motion", was reinstated and Kylie enjoyed another huge hit in Britain. We hear from "Locomotion" producer Mike Duffy about the circumstances surrounding the revamp and why he was hurt by the way it went down. We also speak to video choreographer Tania Lacy and hair stylist Lino Carbosiero about their work with Kylie. Meanwhile, Kylie's Neighbours co-star and real-life boyfriend, Jason Donovan, released his debut single, "Nothing Can Divide Us". Former PWL MD David Howells tells us about the decision for Jason to work with SAW and how he ended up with a song Rick Astley rejected. Then there was Hazell Dean's latest hit, "Turn It Into Love", which was already known to SAW fans because a version of the tune had appeared on Kylie's debut album a couple of months earlier. Hazell discusses the situation and how she felt about being given a song that was also recorded by another SAW artist around the same time.

BONUS CONTENT: Gavin and Matt count down listeners' favourite tracks on Kylie from least to most favourite. And hear more from Tania Lacy about working with Kylie MinogueListen here.

EPISODE 37: Love, Truth And Honesty to All Of Me

It's the chart stat that's still talked about among Stock Aitken Waterman fans — three firm fan favourites all peaked in the 20s on the UK chart in the same week. Was the SAW sound reaching saturation point or were there other reasons why all three artists, who'd reached the top 10 with their previous singles, faltered? And with songs that are widely regarded as some of SAW's best. In the case of Bananarama, "Love, Truth And Honesty" was a brand new track from their first best of, the mega-selling and widely promoted The Greatest Hits Collection, and their first completely new song recorded with Jacquie O'Sullivan. But was its more sophisticated sound too big a move away from the cheery pop of the Wow! singles? For Sinitta, "I Don't Believe In Miracles" was also a shift in direction. Gone was the playfulness of "Toy Boy" or "G.T.O." and in its place was a mature, tears on the dance floor concept. We hear from Sinitta about the track and why she didn't want to record it, and discuss the fact that it was her final SAW single. Meanwhile, Italian bombshell Sabrina came to work with SAW on "All Of Me", which was a natural successor to international breakthrough smash "Boys (Summertime Love)". But not even targetting the single especially for the UK market with a different video from the European release helped turn it into another top 10 smash. 

BONUS CONTENT: There's more to Sabrina than "Boys (Summertime Love)" and "All Of Me". Gavin and Matt look at some of the less appreciated highlights of her non-SAW catalogue. Listen here.

EPISODE 38: Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi to Nathan Jones

After a string of fan favourite singles that underperformed on the UK chart, Stock Aitken Waterman were back in the upper echelons with their next trio of releases. Kylie Minogue took them back to number 2 (for a third consecutive time) with the latest track lifted from Kylie. With its French title, "Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi" was a more mature offering compared to Kylie's earlier singles. Teamed with a cosmopolitan video and a kick-arse B-side in "Made In Heaven", it was another sure-fire hit. Backing vocalist Suzanne Rhatigan joins us again to tell us about her involvement in the song. We also hear from Nathan Moore about Brother Beyond's second SAW-produced single, "He Ain't No Competition". He also tells us about the band's second album and experience in the US, as well as his decision to join Worlds Apart after Brother Beyond disbanded — and the song that the boy band recorded with Mike Stock and Matt Aitken at the end of the '90s. Then, we chart the journey of Bananarama's remake of "Nathan Jones" from Wow! album track to top 20 hit single.

BONUS CONTENT: Hear more from Nathan Moore about his time in Worlds Apart and his experience working as a music manager in the 200os with artists like Phixx, Natasha Bedingfield and Lisa Scott-LeeListen here.

EPISODE 39: Success to S.S. Paparazzi

Violence! Legal disputes! Assassination plots! Before Sigue Sigue Sputnik came to work with Stock Aitken Waterman, they’d already created a storm of controversy and a tabloid frenzy. Bassist Tony James tells us about the initial headline-grabbing antics of the synthrock band — from falling foul of Stanley Kubrick due to uncleared samples on “Love Missile F1-11” to their reported multimillion signing by EMI. We also hear about Sigue Sigue Sputnik’s chaotic months-long sessions with SAW for the single “Success”. If that wasn’t enough drama for one episode, we also look at Rick Astley’s final record with the production trio, “Take Me To You Heart”, and hear about the fire that destroyed initial recordings for the Hold Me In Your Arms album (from Karen Hewitt and Mike Duffy) and the singer’s decision to part ways with PWL (from David Howells). For the first time so far in the podcast, Matt Aitken joins us to talk about working with Rick in 1988 and this episode’s third single, “S.S. Paparazzi” — Stock Aitken Waterman’s excursion into acid house.

BONUS CONTENT: In the full interview with Tony James, he talks Billy Idol, Malcolm McLaren, Annie Lennox, Kylie Minogue, Michael Hutchence and much more Sigue Sigue Sputnik mayhem. Listen here.

EPISODE 40: Especially For You

It was the single no one wanted to record. Not Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan, who thought the idea of doing a duet would confirm the off-screen relationship they had been denying for months. And not Stock Aitken Waterman, who feared releasing a track by two of their biggest stars would seem cheesy and like a crass cash-in. But public demand in the form of 250,000 advance orders for a song that didn't even exist forced SAW's hands and they set to work on putting together "Especially For You". In this episode, Matt Aitken, former PWL MD David Howells, mixmaster Pete Hammond and engineer Karen Hewitt tell us about how the million-selling ballad and its B-side, "All I Wanna Do Is Make You Mine" came about. David and hair stylist Lino Carbosiero also discuss the important image makeover Jason underwent for the release, with his trademark mullet being trimmed into a look more befitting a PWL pop star.

BONUS CONTENT: With our journey having reached the end of 1988, Gavin and Matthew pick their top 3 SAW singles from that year. Plus, they do a video commentary on the clip for "Especially For You". Listen and watch here.

EPISODE 41: Looking Back with Matt Aitken

Before we continue our journey into the singles released in 1989, Matt Aitken joins us for a special episode recapping the era from 1984-88. We go way back to SAW's first single, "The Upstroke", and talk about the record that brought Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman together, as well as some of the hi-NRG tracks that followed (including previously un-discussed songs by Rik LeVay and The Lewis's). Matt also gives his perspective on working with Divine, Dead Or Alive, Bananarama, Debbie Harry, Laura BraniganSabrina, La Toya Jackson and more. He also talks about the never-released tracks completed with Judas Priest and why some songs ended up being recorded by more than one artist. Did SAW make demo recordings? Who was "Turn It Into Love" written for? How did the Hit Factory ensure quality control? Which artist would he have liked to have done more work with? All these questions and more are answered by the A in SAW.

BONUS CONTENT: You asked, we answered. Gavin and Matt respond to readers' questions about the podcast, the interviews, SAW favourites and more behind-the-scenes info. Listen here.

EPISODE 42: Samantha Fox on I Only Wanna Be With You and beyond

Samantha Fox joins us to kick off our look at the singles produced by Stock Aitken Waterman released in 1989, with her remake of "I Only Wanna Be With You" the first track to hit the chart that year. We go right back to the start of Samantha's career and hear from her about becoming famous as a glamour model, being approached by Jive Records to audition to sing "Touch Me (I Want Your Body)" and turning that into a worldwide chart-topper. Samantha discusses how on her self-titled second album, her work with two very different sets of producers — SAW and Full Force — resulted in her having completely separate top 10 hits on either side of the Atlantic. Then, we hear about the songs Sam recorded with SAW along with "I Only Wanna Be With You" for third album I Wanna Have Some Fun — one of which made the album and one which another Hit Factory artist released instead. Samantha also fills us in on the record company wrangling behind fourth album Just One Night that resulted in the SAW tracks recorded being left off and reveals what she has planned in 2023 for her 40th year in showbiz.

BONUS CONTENT: Hear the full interview with Samantha Fox, in which she talks about the early days of her music career, "Love House", hanging out with Rick Astley in the US and more. Listen here.

EPISODE 43: Help! (and Pop Life)

Thanks to a little help from comedy trio Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders and Kathy Burke (aka Lananeeneenoonoo), Bananarama's hit streak continued as their remake of The Beatles' "Help!" took them back to the UK top 3 in early 1989. Released in support of Comic Relief, the cover version was true to the song's pop roots musically, but came with added input from the satirical girl group sprinkled throughout. Like the French & Saunders sketch from Christmas 1988 that had inspired the collaboration, the jokes were incredibly pointed, with Jacquie O'Sullivan's role in the group turned into a punchline (with her blessing, it would seem). But following the success of "Help!", Bananarama hit a difficult patch, with their ongoing work with Stock Aitken Waterman unable to deliver anything they were happy with and the trio turning to producer Youth for the bulk of their 1991 album, Pop Life. We look at the troubled SAW sessions from 1988 to 1990 and discuss why fan favourite "Ain't No Cure" was a wasted opportunity, with input from Matt Aitken on the matter. Plus. we hear from Youth about Pop Life, which gave Bananarama their last UK top 30 hits as a trio.

BONUS CONTENT: Gavin and Matt dissect more of the tracks from Bananarama's SAW sessions during 1988-90, including unreleased demos and alternate versions, and take a closer look at the Pop Life album. Listen here.

EPISODE 44: I'd Rather Jack

A protest song. A novelty record. A camp classic. The beginning of the end. "I'd Rather Jack" by The Reynolds Girls has been called a lot of things over the years and it remains one of the Stock Aitken Waterman singles that is most fiercely debated by fans. A swing at restrictive radio playlists, the record was fronted by teenage sisters Linda and Aisling Reynolds, who got their deal with PWL Records by hassling Pete Waterman repeatedly after his weekly radio show in their home city of Liverpool. The duo was seen as the perfect act to perform the track, which was the natural successor to SAW's previous swipe at the industry, "Roadblock". Matt Aitken reveals the unexpected inspiration for the song, while David Howells and Lino Carbosiero talk about their memories of turning the sisters into pop stars. As well as reflecting on the importance of "I'd Rather Jack" as a sign of how SAW were laser focussed in their targeting of the teen and pre-teen market in 1989, we also dive deep into the archives to detail the feud that erupted between The Reynolds Girls and Pete Waterman after the song had been a top 10 hit in the UK, and discuss Linda and Aisling's hasty exit from the music industry and our own efforts to track down the elusive sisters.

BONUS CONTENT: Regular PWL session singer Suzanne Rhatigan talks about singing backing vocals on "I'd Rather Jack" and her own experience with "demographic stereo" as a solo artist. Listen here.

EPISODE 45: This Time I Know It's For Real

She was the queen of disco; they were an unstoppable pop music force. Together, Donna Summer and Stock Aitken Waterman made some of their best music together. In this look at the first single from the Another Place And Time album, we chart Donna's landmark run of hits in the 1970s and difficult transition into the 1980s thanks to a deal with Geffen Records that saw her taken away from the songwriting and production team of Giorgio Moroder and Pete Bellotte, with whom she'd collaborated on classics like "Love To Love You Baby", "I Feel Love" and "Hot Stuff". Following a commercially underappreciated couple of albums, Donna's union with SAW resulted in her greatest success in years and another trans-Atlantic smash for the Hit Factory with the joyous lead single "This Time I Know It's For Real". We hear from Matt Aitken, Dee Lewis and Pete Hammond about working with Donna on the album, which is regarded by fans as a high point in SAW's career, and David Howells talks about the distinctive front cover image that caused waves in the US. 

BONUS CONTENT: Gavin and Matt count down the tracks from Donna Summer's Another Place And Time as voted by listeners. Which songs were ranked the highest? Listen here.

EPISODE 46: Too Many Broken Hearts to I Haven't Stopped Dancing Yet

By early 1989, Jason Donovan had a couple of hits under his belt, but his music career went into overdrive with the release of "Too Many Broken Hearts" and the mass hysteria that followed his every move in the UK. Jason has been the first to acknowledge it took him a while to warm up as a singer and we hear from engineer Karen Hewitt and long-term PWL session singers Mae McKenna and Miriam Stockley about the crucial role backing vocals played in rounding out the Stock Aitken Waterman sound. A major part of Jason's teen appeal was his image, which was showcased in the music video for "Too Many Broken Hearts". Director Chris Langman and David Howells answer a few questions about the clip. Who was that girl on the tractor and where did the guitar come from? The second song in this episode is the second charity single by Pat & Mick. Another disco cover, "I Haven't Stopped Dancing Yet" became the duo's biggest hit. We hear from Mick Brown about the follow-up and, for the first time on the podcast, Pat Sharp shares his memories of being a part-time pop star.

BONUS CONTENT: Hear extended interviews with Mae McKenna and Miriam Stockley, and extra questions from our interview Chris Langman about the "Especially For You" video and the Neighbours finale. Listen here.

EPISODE 47: Hand On Your Heart to I Don't Wanna Get Hurt

After blitzing the Australian and UK charts with her debut album, it was time for Kylie Minogue to move onto her follow-up, Enjoy Yourself, and thanks to the chart-topping success of its lead single, "Hand On Your Heart", there would be nothing difficult about this second album. Mike Stock returns to the podcast to discuss the inspiration and enthusiasm he had for working with Kylie at this point, and we also hear from Matt Aitken and backing singer Miriam Stockley on that topic. We take an in-depth look at the music video for "Hand On Your Heart" and director Chris Langman joins us to explain the lack of enthusiasm about it. Meanwhile, future production duo Julian Gingell and Barry Stone (aka Jewels & Stone, The Alias), who began working as assistant engineers at PWL around this time share their Kylie memories. Another UK number 1 came from charity record "Ferry 'Cross The Mersey", which was released in the wake of the Hillsborough football disaster, with Liverpudlian acts Gerry Marsden, Paul McCartney, The Christians and Holly Johnson performing on the single. Mike talks about the process of putting that together. And we wrap up the episode with the second single from Donna Summer's Another Place And Time. Did Donna dislike the song? Which version is better: single or album? We speak to Mike, Phil Harding, Pete Hammond and Mae McKenna to address those questions and more.

BONUS CONTENT: Barry Stone and Julian Gingell reveal more about their entry to the world of PWL in extended interviews. Plus, hear from Chris Langman about the Kylie Minogue videos he directed before "Hand On Your Heart". Listen here.

BONUS: The Look Of A Bright Young Britain

In this special episode focusing on the PWL look, we hear from former PWL MD David Howells, who was responsible for the label's visuals, stylist Sharon "Shazza" McPhilemy and hairstylist Lino Carbosiero. The three members of the PWL team talk about working with the label's roster of artists and what the approach to image and style was.

EPISODE 48: Sealed With A Kiss to Tell Him I Called

The UK chart-toppers continued for Stock Aitken Waterman as another two singles reached the top spot in 1989. First, there was Jason Donovan's remake of a much-covered tune. Part of SAW's series of '50s and '60s covers performed by their teen-friendly artists, "Sealed With A Kiss" had the potential to widen Jason's appeal even further, but was the plan to go for the parents and grandparents of the kids buying his records as well? We speak to Mike Stock and David Howells, and hear archive quotes from Jason about the decision. Next, new singer Sonia, Pete Waterman's latest Liverpudlian discovery, shot to the top with debut single "You'll Never Stop Me Loving You". Mike discusses the inspiration for the song, while stylist Sharon McPhilemy recalls what it was like to put Sonia's look together. We also hear from Sequal's Angie Vollaro and Maria Christensen about this episode's third single, fan favourite "Tell Him I Called". Angie and Maria talk about their emergence on Miami's freestyle scene and getting snapped up by a major label, who connected them with SAW. Beyond Sequal, we hear about Maria's time as a solo artist and a songwriter for acts like Celine Dion and Eternal, and the worldwide smash she co-wrote during her time in girl group 3rd Party.

BONUS CONTENT: What were your favourite tracks on Jason Donovan's Ten Good Reasons album? Find out as Gavin and Matt count down the listener-voted ranking from 11 to 1 and give their verdicts, with a few surprises along the way. Listen here.

EPISODE 49: Wouldn't Change A Thing to Love's About To Change My Heart

As we hit the second half of 1989, we take a look at the latest singles from Kylie Minogue and Donna Summer. On "Wouldn't Change A Thing", PWL's pop princess took another step towards a cooler sound and, in the video, a more grown-up image. Stylist Sharon McPhilemy fills us in on how the looks in Kylie's first UK-shot music video came together. We're also joined by Donna's husband and manager, Bruce Sudano, who provides their perspective on the ups and downs of the '80s, what it was like working with Stock Aitken Waterman and why they loved "Love's About To Change My Heart". Meanwhile, boy band Big Fun scored their first hit with a remake of "Blame It On The Boogie". We trace their story through a former incarnation as Seventh Avenue and a pre-PWL single with house producer Marshall Jefferson. Then, we hear about almost-single "I Feel The Earth Move", produced by Phil Harding and Ian Curnow, who describe their reaction to that cover version being shelved. Mike Stock and Matt Aitken also join us to discuss working with Big Fun on "Blame It On The Boogie" and the trio's much-discussed vocals. 

BONUS CONTENT: Hear more from Donna's Summer's husband and manager, Bruce Sudano, including his memories of "This Time I Know It's For Real" and "I Don't Wanna Get Hurt". Listen here.

EPISODE 50: I Just Don't Have The Heart to Can't Forget You

Teen heartthrobs past and then-present rubbed shoulders as Stock Aitken Waterman wrote and produced the latest hit for music industry veteran Cliff Richard and the final single was lifted from Jason Donovan's debut album, Ten Good Reasons. Matt Aitken reveals what it was like to work with an artist as well-established as Cliff and how the song they collaborated on, "I Just Don't Have The Heart", had to pass the milkman test. And while the selection of "Every Day (I Love You More)" for Jason was uncontroversial, the circumstances surrounding the first attempt at a music video for the track brought an end to director Chris Langman's work with PWL. Stylist Sharon McPhilemy, meanwhile, recalls shooting the video that did end up being released. This episode's third SAW-produced single was the follow-up to Sonia's UK chart-topping debut, but why didn't "Can't Forget You" follow "You'll Never Stop Me Loving You" into the upper reaches of the British chart? 

BONUS CONTENT: Gavin and Matt interview each other about 50 episodes of A Journey Through SAW. What song did Matt change his tune on? What was the most shocking listener reaction? What story did Gavin find unnerving? What has been the biggest thrill? Those questions and more answered. Plus, a preview of what's to come! Listen here.

EPISODE 51: Never Too Late to When Love Takes Over You

Kylie Minogue. Big Fun. Donna Summer. The last time we encountered these three artists, things were going swimmingly for each of them. In the case of Kylie, she had just racked up her seventh UK top 2 hit in a row — a run that was broken by "Never Too Late", the third single from Enjoy Yourself. As well as discussing why a tune as good as "Never Too Late" wasn't as well received as Kylie's previous singles, we hear from Mike Stock about the meaning behind the song, while Sharon McPhilemy fills us in on that dress-up music video. We also take a look at how Enjoy Yourself came together, with Kylie beginning to seek more artistic involvement in the process. Meanwhile, Big Fun moved from a remake to an original Stock Aitken Waterman composition, "Can't Shake The Feeling". Matt Aitken talks about the difficulty of nailing down the track and we look at the boy band's competition at the time: some new kids on the pop block. As for Donna Summer, the fourth single from Another Place And Time was met with a muted reception, barely scraping into the UK top 75. Was "When Love Takes Over You" the right choice? Plus, Donna's husband and manager, Bruce Sudano, recalls shooting the video, which was directed by Donna, and why she faced resistance whenever she tried to slow the tempo down.

BONUS CONTENT: Kylie Minogue and SAW mixed things up on her second album, Enjoy Yourself, with more ballads and an array of musical styles. But what are the best tracks? After more votes than any rank so far, Gavin and Matt count down our listeners' favourites and give our in-depth thoughts on the songs. Listen here.

EPISODE 52: Listen To Your Heart to Do They Know It's Christmas?

And so our journey reaches the end of the '80s and the conclusion of Stock Aitken Waterman's most commercially successful year. The final three singles released in 1989 were all top 10 hits, including "Listen To Your Heart" by Sonia, which saw a return to the poppy fare of her debut and caught the attention of comedy duo French & Saunders, who sent up the red-headed teenager in savage style shortly after. The single also featured fan favourite B-side "Better Than Ever", which was previously recorded by Lisa Fabien. We hear the story of Lisa's dreams of success with SAW and what happened to her version. Meanwhile, Jason Donovan capped off a massive year with brand new track "When You Come Back To Me", which was hotly tipped to take out the coveted UK Christmas number 1 spot and came with a music video featuring the entire PWL team, including stylist Sharon McPhilemy and hair stylist Lino Carbosiero, who recall the shoot. Jason and Sonia, along with a who's who of pop music, were also a part of charity ensemble Band Aid II, who remade "Do They It's Christmas?" five years after the original release. Mike Stock talks about updating such a landmark song.

BONUS CONTENT: Gavin and Matt take a deep dive into "Do They Know It's Christmas?", deconstructing the song performance by performance and discussing all the artists who participated. And Lisa Fabien's full PWL story. Listen and read here.

BONUS: Yoyo on the '80s: Kylie Minogue, Mel & Kim, Dead Or Alive, Rick Astley, Bananarama and more

The name Yoyo is well known to Stock Aitken Waterman fans, appearing on the back covers of dozens of hit singles and albums. The long-time PWL engineer was an integral part of the team from May 1986 when he earned a job as an assistant at the new studios at the Vineyard, London. Yoyo (real name: Boyowa Olugbo) quickly established himself as a studio talent thanks to his remix work alongside fellow assistant Jamie Bromfield as the Extra Beat Boys and he was promoted to assist first Phil Harding and then engineer for Mike Stock and Matt Aitken. In this exclusive interview, Yoyo recalls early remixes he and Jamie did for artists like Mandy Smith and Dollar, and then talks about working with SAW and artists like Mel & Kim, Kylie Minogue, Rick Astley, Bananarama, Donna Summer, Dead Or Alive, Sonia, The Reynolds Girls, Big Fun and more. He also reveals why he ultimately decided to move on from PWL as the '90s began.

BONUS CONTENT: Hear a couple more sections from our interview with Yoyo, in which he discusses his working relationship with fellow engineer Karen Hewitt, and his post-PWL career working with artists like The Brand New Heavies and Honeyz, and writing "Walkaway Lover" by Sonia/Toni PearenListen here.

EPISODE 53: Tears On My Pillow (and We Know The Meaning Of Love)

Any fears that the public had tired of Stock Aitken Waterman were dismissed as 1990 got underway and the latest single by Kylie Minogue became the next UK chart-topper for the trio. Taken from the soundtrack to her feature film debut in The Delinquents, Kylie's remake of 1950s classic "Tears On My Pillow" got the new decade off to a great start in terms of UK chart success, although the single was not as embraced in Australia, where it became her lowest-charting hit to date. As well as looking at the cover version, we talk about the film it was released to support and the controversy at the time about the more grown-up content in The Delinquents. We also hear from Kylie's Australian-based stylist Nicole Bonython-Hines about the star's iconic look for the film's Sydney premiere. Then, we welcome Mike Stock back to the podcast for a special chat about B-sides in general and, specifically, "We Know The Meaning Of Love", the track which appeared on the flip side of "Tears On My Pillow" and just may have been considered as a duet at one point.

BONUS CONTENT: To wrap up the '80s once and for all, Gavin and Matt count down the top 10 SAW-produced singles from 1984-89, as voted by the listeners. What will be number 1? Listen here.

EPISODE 54: Happenin' All Over Again

New year. New artist. New hit. Stock Aitken Waterman's hit streak continued in 1990 with the breakthrough single for American club artist Lonnie Gordon, who had relocated to the UK in the 1980s and made a name for herself with a series of personality-filled anthems like "No Regrets", "Love Eviction", "(I've Got Your) Pleasure Control" and "It's Not Over". We hear from Lonnie about those early records — and their spoken sections — and how she targeted SAW as the producers she wanted to take her to the next level. After signing a deal with Supreme Records, home of Mel & Kim and Princess, Lonnie found herself working with PWL soon enough, with the Black Box-inspired "Happenin' All Over Again" the vehicle to take her to a more mainstream audience. Lonnie recalls the experience of working with Mike Stock and Matt Aitken on the UK top 5 track, while Mike, PWL's Julian Gingell and Supreme Records' Nick East all give their memories of the redoubtable singer.

BONUS CONTENT: Dead Or Alive were the SAW act that first attracted Lonnie Gordon's attention, and so Gavin, Matt and special guest Barry Stone (of The Alias and Jewels & Stone) take a look at the Youthquake album, counting down listeners' favourite tracks and hearing Barry's memories of his working relationship with the band. Listen here.

EPISODE 55: We Should Be Dancing to Use It Up And Wear It Out

Her time at PWL might not have yielded any hits, but the short-lived pop career of Japanese singer Kakko is the stuff of legend. We take a deep dive into the story behind her debut single, "We Should Be Dancing”, hearing from PWL’s David Howells and Nicki L’Amy Brée about how the aspiring performer learnt the ropes at the label before being sent into the studio with both Mike Stock and Matt Aitken, and Phil Harding and Ian Curnow, all of whom also recall the project. After an aborted first attempt with a song called "Stop The Clock”, Stock and Aitken settled on “We Should Be Dancing”, which is one of the most polarising SAW singles of all time. While Kakko didn’t trouble the UK chart, the latest releases from Big Fun, Sonia and Pat & Mick kept the Hit Factory in the top 40, although not always at positions the artists had become accustomed to. As musical trends changed dramatically in 1990, we hear from engineer Peter Day about SAW’s latest trick to keep their tracks club-friendly: the ubiquitous “woo! yeah!” sample, which featured on both Big Fun’s “Handful Of Promises” and “Counting Every Minute” by Sonia. Pat Sharp and Mick Brown also join us again to reflect on the unexpected achievements of their remake of “Use It Up And Wear It Out”.

BONUS CONTENT: As well as extended interviews with Nicki L'Amy Brée (who gives more insight into the culture at PWL), David Howells (who draws comparisons between Kakko and the explosion of J-pop and K-pop) and Peter Day (who shares more early memories), hear from regular PWL session singer Mae McKenna about supporting vocalists. Listen here.

EPISODE 56: Hang On To Your Love (and the journey so far) with Jason Donovan

His journey with Stock Aitken Waterman was one of the most successful, with multiple UK number 1 hits and the highest-selling album in Britain in 1989. And now, Jason Donovan joins the podcast to talk about his time at the Hit Factory. From his first steps into the music industry with Mushroom Records in Australia to his early sessions with Pete Hammond and then Mike Stock and Matt Aitken to that blistering run of singles in 1988 and 1989, Jason speaks honestly about what the experience was like for him and the artistic restrictions and business decisions at play during his debut album era. Then, we move into 1990 and his first single for the new decade, "Hang On To Your Love", and the Between The Lines album, with Jason talking about the musical direction taken, how he felt more comfortable vocally and the changes that were going on around him on the charts.

BONUS CONTENT: Director Paul Goldman talks about working with Jason Donovan on the music videos for "Hang On To Your Love" and "Another Night", and how it compared with his work on "Better The Devil You Know" by Kylie Minogue. Listen here.

EPISODE 57: Better The Devil You Know Part 1: the song

After two very successful albums at PWL, but little in the way of artistic control, Kylie Minogue was ready for a change. And in this first part of a two-part special looking at landmark release "Better The Devil You Know", we hear from those closest to her about the strategy taken to compel Stock Aitken Waterman to agree to a more collaborative approach. From directly influencing the style of tracks — edgier, clubbier — to veto power on the final mixes, Kylie gained input to an extent way beyond any other Hit Factory artist. In turn, SAW delivered what is widely regarded as one of their all-time best tracks. The lead single from eventual third studio album Rhythm Of Love, "Better The Devil You Know" was SAW tapping back into their club roots, but in a way that was still pure pop. And while the song has gone down as a landmark release in Kylie's career, not everyone was thrilled with the way the working relationship or the musical output was developing. Interviews in Part 1: Mike StockMatt AitkenYoyoPete HammondJulian GingellMiriam StockleyKaren Hewitt and, for the first time on the podcast, Kylie's former manager of 26 years, Terry Blamey, who reveals previously unknown information about their relationship with PWL.

BONUS CONTENT: Extended interviews with Terry Blamey (including more on the early days with Kylie), Paul Goldman (including the unseen version of "Better The Devil You Know" and more on his work with Dannii Minogue) and Steve Anderson (including what he thought of "Better The Devil You Know" in 1990). Listen here.

EPISODE 58: Better The Devil You Know Part 2: the video and legacy

As great a song as it is, "Better The Devil You Know" would not have been anywhere near as impactful as it was without its accompanying music video. A landmark in Kylie Minogue's career, the video transformed her image from that of girl-next-door to "sex kitten", according to director Paul Goldman, who joins us to detail the before, during and aftermath of the shoot, including his run-ins with PWL over the direction it took. Stylist Nicole Bonython-Hines recalls piecing together the various looks for the video and manager Terry Blamey gives his thoughts on why the video was so important for Kylie. We also hear from Sharon McPhilemy and David Howells from PWL about the reaction from Kylie's UK label to the new-look star. Then, Kylie's long-time musical director, Steve Anderson, talks us through their enduring relationship with the song and how it has been reinterpreted on tour over the decades.

BONUS CONTENT: Extended interviews with Terry Blamey (including more on the early days with Kylie), Paul Goldman (including the unseen version of "Better The Devil You Know" and more on his work with Dannii Minogue) and Steve Anderson (including what he thought of "Better The Devil You Know" in 1990). Listen here.

EPISODE 59: One Love One World to You've Got A Friend

They'd been on the verge of breaking through for a couple of years, and sisters Romi & Jazz had their hopes up when their record label paired them with Stock Aitken Waterman for their latest single in 1990. The siblings join us to share their musical journey — from their first steps into the industry with a bhangra meets hi-NRG remake of The Four Tops' "Reach Out", which was co-produced by former SAW associate Pete Ware, to their two initial singles with Chrysalis Records, "People In The House" and "Love Crime". Romi and Jazz talk about their aim of breaking down barriers with their fusion sound and rewriting the rule book for Asian women, despite some resistance from men in their culture to them even being onstage in the first place. Their collaboration with SAW, "One Love One World", was a club-influenced, socially conscious track born out of Romi and Jazz talking to Mike Stock and Matt Aitken about the struggles they'd faced as young Indian women. Another song with a more serious theme than you'd expect from the Hit Factory was "You've Got A Friend", a collaboration between Sonia and Big Fun (featuring Gary Barnacle on saxophone) for UK charity Childline. With help from Matt Aitken, we discuss the record and why the original track was chosen over a cover of the Carole King song of the same name, which the pop stars also recorded.

BONUS CONTENT: In the full interview with Romi & Jazz, the sisters talk about their image and how that changed for "One Love One World", how it felt to take on Motown classic "Reach Out", their lives before and after their music career and more. Listen here.

EPISODE 60: One Thing Leads To Another to Another Night

When they came to work with Stock Aitken Waterman, pop act Yell! had one top 10 hit under their belt already — a remake of Dan Hartman's "Instant Replay". Signed to Simon Cowell's Fanfare label, the duo comprised of Daniel James and Paul Varney recorded their follow-up, "One Thing Leads To Another", with SAW, but it was not the success anyone hoped it would be, despite being a fresh new sound from the Hit Factory and the guys both being talented singers. Paul joins us to discuss his start in the entertainment industry and Yell!'s short-lived career, while we explore the external factors that impacted their success, including record company wrangling and negative press that took a particularly cruel tone. As it would turn out, not even Jason Donovan was able to live up to his previous successes in mid-1990 as his latest single, "Another Night", became his first to miss the top 10. Jason talks about the reaction to that chart shock and why going out on the road later in the year would prove essential to his longevity. Mike Stock, Matt Aitken, Peter Day and David Howells also share their thoughts on the Between The Lines era of Jason's career. 

BONUS CONTENT: Gavin and Matt talk further about the attention Yell! received from the press, in particular Smash Hits. Plus, there are extended interviews with Paul Varney and Peter DayListen here.

EPISODE 61: Hey There Lonely Girl to Rhythm Of The Rain

Although they'd achieved some hits with ballads that they had produced, Stock Aitken Waterman were better known for their uptempo pop/dance tracks, but in mid-1990, four ballads in a row emerged from the Hit Factory. Three of those were the latest releases in the jukebox era series of remakes, with Big Fun ("Hey There Lonely Girl"), Sonia ("End Of The World") and Jason Donovan ("Rhythm Of The Rain") all reinterpreting golden oldies. In the cases of those first two artists, it would be their final singles with SAW — and we discuss what became of both Big Fun and Sonia after they parted ways with PWL. Also this episode, Lonnie Gordon's long-awaited follow-up to "Happenin' All Over Again" finally hit stores, but it was a complete change in style from the song that had taken her into the UK top 5. Mike Stock, Julian Gingell and Lonnie herself talk about the situation involving soulful ballad "Beyond Your Wildest Dreams" being chosen over clubbier tracks "How Could He Do This To Me" and "If I Have To Stand Alone".

BONUS CONTENT: It's track by track time! Gavin and Matt count down listeners' ranking of the songs on Between The Lines by Jason Donovan and give their verdict. Listen here.

EPISODE 62: Wow Wow Na Na to Make It Easy On Me

Although she had been signed to PWL in the UK for a while and scored a couple of hits with remakes of "Don't Make Me Over" and "Walk On By", Sybil went into the studio with Stock Aitken Waterman in 1990 to record soulful ballad "Make It Easy On Me". The American singer/songwriter joins us to discuss starting out with US label Next Plateau in 1986, her string of club hits that caught the attention of PWL, those Bacharach & David covers with Tony King's pivotal remix work and what it was like working with SAW themselves. Earlier in the episode, Matt Aitken helps us unpack "Wow Wow Na Na" by Grand Plaz and "Ole Ole Ole" by LA Mood — two SAW-produced dance tracks that were released anonymously. And as we reach Jason Donovan's final single from Between The Lines, "I'm Doin' Fine", we hear from him and his tour backing singer Dannielle Gaha about life — and love! — on the road.

BONUS CONTENT: Included in the extended interviews, Sybil talks about her collaborations with Next Plateau label-mates Salt 'n' Pepa and what she thinks of Steps' remake of "Make It Easy On Me", Matt Aitken discusses dance music in 1990 and previous football-related single "All The Way", and Dannielle Gaha shares more memories of touring with Jason Donovan. Listen here.

EPISODE 63: Step Back In Time (and Rhythm Of Love)

After the big creative risk that was previous single and video "Better The Devil You Know", Kylie Minogue and Stock Aitken Waterman went for something more playful with follow-up "Step Back In Time". With its fun lyrical nod to '70s disco music and a video dripping in retro style, the song was pure pop joy — and another big hit at a time when the Hit Factory sorely needed one. Mike Stock and Matt Aitken recall pulling the lyrics together for the nostalgic tune, while Phil Harding and Ian Curnow provide insight into the mixing stage, which was a crucial part of the process in delivering a single that satisfied Kylie's desire to be relevant in clubs. Phil and Ian also discuss the track they wrote with Kylie in 1990, "I Am The One For You", as part of PWL's efforts to accommodate her eagerness to develop her songwriting skills. Over in the US, Kylie also wrote with Michael Jay, who returns to the podcast to talk about Rhythm Of Love track "The World Still Turns", while former PWL engineer Peter Day also shares memories of working on the album, in particular the track "Always Find The Time". And on the visual side of things, Nick Egan details how he came to work with Kylie on both the "Step Back In Time" video and the cover for Rhythm Of Love

BONUS CONTENT: Is this the long-awaited Rhythm Of Love track by track? Yeah, that's a fact! Gavin and Matt count down your favourite songs from Kylie Minogue's third album and give their verdicts on each tune. Listen here.

EPISODE 64: If I Have To Stand Alone to Breakaway

What a tumultuous year 1990 had been for the Hit Factory — and the final four singles produced by Stock Aitken Waterman that year certainly highlight that. What should have been Lonnie Gordon's second SAW-produced single, "If I Have To Stand Alone", came out as her third, but despite being in the same vein as top 5 hit "Happenin' All Over Again", it under-performed on the UK chart and the If I Have To Stand Alone album wasn't even released there at the time. Lonnie joins us for one final time to discuss the disappointment she faced as a result and the US dance hits she recorded with Black Box in the following years. New girl group Delage was launched in December 1990 with a remake of disco classic "Rock The Boat" — and Karina and Emma from the group reveal how the project came about. Meanwhile, one final single was belatedly released from Donna Summer's Another Place And Time album. Mike Stock tells us about the lyrical change Donna requested for "Breakaway" and the late singer's husband and manager, Bruce Sudano, talks about the song's success in South America and why Donna ultimately decided not to return to PWL. And we take a look at "Send A Prayer (To Heaven)" by Errol Brown — an often-forgotten Christmas song by the late former singer of Hot Chocolate.

BONUS CONTENT: Hear about Lonnie Gordon's life after the Bad Mood album, when she performed for Cirque de Soleil and almost made a comeback in the UK, but ended up having to leave the country for 10 years. PLUS: If I Have To Stand Alone track by track episodeListen here.

SNEAK PEEK: Kylie by Kylie Minogue and Youthquake by Dead Or Alive track-by-track previews

Check out previews of two of our most popular bonus track-by-track episodes. Gavin and Matt discuss Kylie, the debut album by Kylie Minogue, and, with special guest Barry Stone, talk about the first SAW-produced album by Dead Or AliveYouthquake. As well as giving our thoughts on every song, we count down listeners' favourite tracks. If you enjoy these sneak peeks, you can subscribe to hear the full bonus episodes and all the other extra content at

Meanwhile, existing subscribers can now listen to the bonus track-by-track episode for If I Have To Stand Alone by Lonnie Gordon, which has been added to the bonus content.

Thanks to everyone for listening and supporting the podcast — see you in 2024 for more of A Journey Through Stock Aitken Waterman.

BONUS: Promoting PWL — Sharp End's Ron McCreight on Kylie, Jason, Sinitta, The Reynolds Girls and more

You can have the best single in the world, but there's little chance of it being a hit if no one hears it. That's where pluggers come in — taking songs to radio and convincing programmers to playlist them. In 1987, Ron McCreight and his business partner, Robert Lemon, joined forces with PWL's Pete Waterman and David Howells in a plugging company that became known as Sharp End. In this special episode, Ron talks about how the music industry power players teamed up and the role Sharp End had in not only taking Stock Aitken Waterman's music to radio and TV but also handling publicity and promotion for many of the artists to work at the Hit Factory, including Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Sinitta, Sonia, Hazell Dean, Mandy SmithThe Reynolds Girls, Big Fun, Boy Krazy and more.

BONUS CONTENT: In the full interview, Ron McCreight also discusses Lonnie Gordon, Carol Hitchcock and Yell!, and working with Kylie in her Deconstruction era. He also delves into the complicated relationship between PWL and Kylie's manager, Terry BlameyListen here.

BONUS: I Should Be So Lucky musical review

Fresh off the plane back from the UK, Matthew Denby gives his verdict on Stock Aitken Waterman's I Should Be So Lucky: The Musical. In a podcast first, Gavin and Matthew discuss the musical in video format, which you can watch below. Subscribers can also listen to an extended conversation about the musical (details beneath the video).

BONUS CONTENT: In the full 26-minute review of Stock Aitken Waterman's I Should Be So Lucky: The Musical, Matt shares his thoughts on how well the songs translated to the musical format, which tracks he enjoyed most and which he would've liked to have heard more of, which tune got the best reaction and more. Listen here.

EPISODE 65: What Do I Have To Do Part 1: the song and mixes

In 1991, it was another bold step forward for Kylie Minogue, and in the decades since, "What Do I Have To Do" has cemented its place among fans' all-time favourites from her extensive back catalogue. But the third single from Rhythm Of Love didn't come together easily, with a lengthy period of time spent mixing the club-influenced track — and remixing it. Songwriters and producers Mike Stock and Matt Aitken, mixers Phil Harding and Ian Curnow, and engineer Peter Day all join us to discuss the evolution of the song and the inspirations and thought processes behind the different versions. Backing vocalists Miriam Stockley and Mae McKenna also return to the podcast to reveal how Kylie threw the rulebook out the window when it came to recording the BVs for "What Do I Have To Do".

BONUS CONTENT: Hear extended interviews with David Thomas, David Hogan and Peter Day. Plus, Miriam Stockley discusses her hit single with Praise, "Only You", her solo career and what her PWL work means to her. Listen here.

EPISODE 66: What Do I Have To Do Part 2: the styling and video

While "What Do I Have To Do" by Kylie Minogue stands on its own two feet as a song, the impact of the single was increased greatly due to the striking imagery on display on the single cover and in the music video. Celebrity stylist David Thomas takes us right back to the early years of his career and tells the story of how he was hired to style the video. His desire to take Kylie into a much more fashionable direction was something she was right on board with and their collaboration produced some of the most iconic visual images of her career. Video director David Hogan, who also joins us on the podcast, delivered an edgy, stylish, exciting music video that remains a fan favourite — and he recalls how it came together and some of the challenges posed by particular scenes. Responsible for the phrase "SexKylie" being coined, the video for "What Do I Have To Do" was a huge step in Kylie's career that further proved how in control of her image she now was. 

BONUS CONTENT: Hear extended interviews with David Thomas, David Hogan and Peter Day. Plus, Miriam Stockley discusses her hit single with Praise, "Only You", her solo career and what her PWL work means to her. Listen here.

EPISODE 67: Better Off Without You to R.S.V.P.

She was our very first interviewee back in Episode 1 — and we finally reach the conclusion of Hazell Dean's Stock Aitken Waterman journey with her version of "Better Off Without You", which was released in 1991. The Queen of Hi-NRG joins us once again to discuss recording a song previously cut by Lonnie Gordon and her thoughts about the SAW sound struggling in the early '90s. Girl group Delage were also finding it hard to land a hit with original SAW tune "Running Back For More" missing the mark. Karina and Emma from the group return to chat about the track and Delage's metamorphosis into Eden once they left the Hit Factory. Pat Sharp and Mick Brown also pop in to talk about their 1991 charity cover, "Gimme Some", and we hear from Jason Donovan, Mike Stock and Sharon McPhilemy about "R.S.V.P." — the song that gave Jason's sound and image a makeover. We also look at his first foray into musical theatre and the ramifications of that on his working relationship with SAW.

BONUS CONTENT: In our first rate for 2024, we count down your favourite Hazell Dean singles released between mid-1984 and 1991. From pre-SAW hit "Searchin' (I Gotta Find A Man)" to her final PWL release, "Better Off Without You", where will the 13 songs place? Listen here.

EPISODE 68: Shocked

The fourth in arguably the best singles run in pop music history was also a first for Stock Aitken Waterman, as external mix team DNA took care of the 7" remix of "Shocked" by Kylie Minogue, Neal Slateford from DNA tells us how the unprecedented remix came about following the runaway success of his and production partner Nick Batt's reinvention of Suzanne Vega's "Tom's Diner". A key component of the "Shocked" remix was the rap by Jazzi P, who also joins us to talk about the triumphs and trials she faced as a female hip-hop artist and how her contribution to the Kylie track came about. We also hear from the song's writers and producers Mike Stock and Matt Aitken, engineer Pete Day and PWL mix team Phil Harding & Ian Curnow about their involvement with "Shocked". Returning guests David Thomas and David Hogan talk us through the styling and music video for the single — and we sum up the importance of the Rhythm Of Love era in Kylie's career.

BONUS CONTENT: Extended interviews with Jazzi P (more detail on her music career highs and lows, why she doesn't rate modern rap and her recent return to recording) and Neal Slateford (working with Kim Appleby, DNA's studio album and his unexpected career change). Listen here.

EPISODE 69: Roadblock 91 to All Mixed Up and Matt Aitken's departure

It had to happen at some point. In May 1991, the Stock Aitken Waterman era ended when Matt Aitken walked away from his role as one third of the songwriting and production trio. In this episode, he explains what prompted his decision and we explore the changing nature of PWL at the time, which was a contributing factor in the split. Mike Stock also weighs in on Matt's departure and reveals whether he blames his musical partner for leaving. In terms of the music, we look at one of the most polarising singles in the SAW catalogue — and one which was among the last things Matt worked on. The latest Neighbours stars to come to the Hit Factory, Gayle and Gillian Blakeney (aka The Twins) were hoping to follow other SAW stars up the chart, but "All Mixed Up" was a commercial disappointment. It also divides fans like almost no other track. We follow the sisters' story from their early appearances on Australian TV to their deal with Mushroom Records and discuss why their SAW experience wasn't so great and why their single provokes such strong reactions. Plus, we take a quick look at the 1991 remix of "Roadblock", which featured in-demand rapper Einstein.

BONUS CONTENT: The Twins were the latest in a long line of Neighbours stars who released music. Gavin and Matt play a game of Hate Or Rate (for the first time since Episode 25) with nine other singles by cast members of the Aussie soap, including Stefan Dennis, Anne Charleston & Ian Smith (yes, really), Guy Pearce, Holly Valance, Delta Goodrem and Stephanie McIntosh. Listen here.

EPISODE 70: That's What Love Can Do

The Boy Krazy story is one of the most interesting — and complicated! — in the SAW history. The American girl group was put together through auditions in New York, going through a few line-up changes before the final five-piece, Johnna, Josselyne, Kimberly, Renee and Ruth Ann, signed a deal with PWL Records and flew to London to start recording with Stock Aitken Waterman. Kimberly and Josselyne join us to reminisce about that process and how debut single "That's What Love Can Do" came together. Released in mid-1991 in the UK, it unfortunately didn't connect with the British public, but over a year later, it started picking up steam in the US when a Denver, Colorado radio station put it on high rotation. By 1993, it became one of SAW's biggest hits on the Billboard Hot 100. Kimberly and Josselyne talk us through the highs and lows of that process. And thanks to Mario at Cheer Up (@cheeruppopparty), we're also able to share some of an interview with Johnna, who performed lead vocals on "That's What Love Can Do". Great song, great story!

BONUS CONTENT: Hear more from Kimberly and Josselyne about Boy Krazy coming together and the various releases of "That's What Love Can Do" in extended interviews. Listen here.

BONUS: Remixing The Hits with Tony King

To mark the third anniversary of A Journey Through Stock Aitken Waterman, former PWL remixer Tony King joins us to share his story of going from Phil Harding's assistant to being responsible for a Billboard Hot 100 smash hit thanks to his remix of "Don't Make Me Over" by Sybil. Tony recounts the "weird" way he landed a job at PWL and how his first task was to remix "Packjammed (With The Party Posse)" by Stock Aitken Waterman — in a matter of hours. He also talks about some of his early remixes on tracks by Kylie Minogue and The Reynolds Girls. We follow Tony's journey into the '90s and how crucial his partnership with Asha Elfenbein was to the development of his remix ability. He also weighs in on the changes at PWL in the '90s, including the departure of Matt Aitken and the proliferation of dance sub-labels and European licensing deals.

EPISODE 71: Happy Together to Word Is Out

They were the pop stars that changed everything for the Hit Factory — and in this episode we discuss pivotal singles for Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue. In Jason's case, his remake of "Happy Together" was his final single with PWL, as he made the leap to musical theatre and a new record label. The cover version was also the first Stock and Waterman production, with Matt Aitken now out of the picture. Jason joins us for one last time to discuss the parting of ways with PWL, his third studio album, All Around The World, and how his career has developed until the present day. As for Kylie, she kicked off her fourth studio album with new jack swing single "Word Is Out" and its controversial music video. Terry Blamey, Mike Stock, Julian Gingell and Pete Day all share their memories of the Let's Get To It era of Kylie's career, while remixer Tony King talks about his Summer Breeze remix, which was released as the official single version in Australia.

BONUS CONTENT: Two of Mike Stock's favourite B-sides are up for discussion: "She's In Love With You" by Jason Donovan (B-side to "Happy Together") and "Say The Word — I'll Be There" by Kylie Minogue (B-side to "Word Is Out"). Plus, Gavin and Matt discuss the most-downloaded episodes on the occasion of the podcast's 3rd birthday. Listen here.

EPISODE 72: Make This A Special Night to So Proud Of You

Late in 1991, PWL was trying all sorts of things to get back in the charts on a regular basis, including working with '80s funk/soul band Cool Notes. Single "Make This A Special Night" harked back to some of SAW's earliest releases when they dabbled in R&B — and was one of several tracks recorded with the group, which was now a trio. Singer Lauraine McIntosh talks about Cool Notes' progression from reggae outfit to commercially successful soul group with mid-'80s hits "Spend The Night" and "In Your Car" — and the downturn in popularity that followed. She reveals the never-before-discussed story behind her 1988 guest vocal on "Don't Make Me Wait" by Bomb The Bass and how she wound up as a session singer at PWL, which led to Cool Notes' deal. Meanwhile, Kylie Minogue was also taken in a more soulful direction with "If You Were With Me Now", her big ballad duet with R&B sensation Keith Washington. Former PWL engineer Pete Day shares his memories of recording with Keith and we discuss the song's video and promotion, including the approach Kylie's Australian record company took with the single. Former Yell! member Paul Varney returned to PWL as a solo artist, but it seems the company didn't quite know what to do with him, almost releasing Kenny Thomas-esque track "If Only I Knew" before opting for the more pop-influenced "So Proud Of You", with both tracks ending up having a connection with the work of in-demand house producer and remixer Steve "Silk" Hurley. Paul talks about the back-and-forth situation with his two solo tracks and his subsequent musical projects, including writing Precious's 1999 Eurovision entry, "Say It Again".

BONUS CONTENT: In the full interview with Lauraine McIntosh, she discusses the Cool Notes story in more detail, working with other producers at PWL, how her time in the band ended and son Bradley joining S Club 7. Plus, Pete Day talks about working with Cool Notes and another PWL link between Lauraine and the Hit Factory. Listen here.

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EPISODE 73: Keep On Pumpin' It to Give Me Just A Little More Time (and Do You Dare)

There was no denying the popularity of rave and techno in the UK in 1991, and Stock and Waterman went all clubby as the year drew to a close — with help from some key collaborators. DJs Paul Taylor and Danny Bennett (aka Danny Hibrid) from Angels nightclub visited PWL to work with Tony King on remixing Kylie Minogue album track "I Guess I Like It Like That". The result: a completely new single, "Keep On Pumpin' It", which came out in its own right. Paul and Tony tell the story of this club classic, which was issued to clubs as a white label ahead of its commercial release. Meanwhile, the unlikely pairing of Malcolm McLaren and Alison Limerick were brought together to work with SW on "Magic's Back", the theme song to Malcolm's documentary, The Ghosts Of Oxford Street. Alison talks about the project and her own run of '90s club classics, like "Where Love Lives", "Make It On My Own" and "Time Of Our Lives". And, as we commence our journey into 1992, the third single from Let's Get To It was Kylie's remake of "Give Me Just A Little More Time", which was backed by rave-inspired B-side "Do You Dare". 

BONUS CONTENT: If you enjoyed the Alison Limerick, Paul Taylor and Tony King interviews from this episode, there's plenty more where they came from. Hear them all in full. Listen here.

PLUS: Let's Get To It track-by-track bonus episode!

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