The song “I’d Rather Jack” by The Reynolds Girls was released in 1989.
Although it may not have received much acclaim, “I’d Rather Jack” is a provocative and intentionally offensive song that aims to stir up controversy in just three minutes. It not only discredits Fleetwood Mac, but also the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, heavy metal, and all forms of “old” music. Regardless of personal opinions, it is undeniably effective in its mission.
Nineteen. Title: “Sybil – When I’m Good and Ready” Year: 1993.
Not strictly a Stock Aitken and Waterman (SAW) production – Matt Aitken had already jumped ship – but let’s not split hairs in the face of such depthless fun. Pop house meets bubblegum soul, the old SAW sound given a sleek upgrade for a new era: less obviously tinny, a little more luxurious.
In 1987, the song “Roadblock” was released by Stock Aitken and Waterman.
Created as a response to those who claimed that all SAW productions were becoming too similar, Roadblock was a funky and enjoyable mid-tempo track. The idea that the first 12-inch release was a rare 70s groove track by an unknown artist seems unlikely, as it clearly has the sound of the late 80s.
17. Brilliant – Love Is War (1986)
The album Kiss the Lips of Life by Brilliant received positive reviews but did not do well commercially. Their next album, Love Is War, had a more refined, American soul-influenced production style, but it did not achieve success with pragmatic producer Pete Waterman. Waterman later expressed that critical acclaim does not pay the bills.
16. Morgan McVey – Looking Good Diving with the Wild Bunch (1987)
One of the weirder moments in SAW’s catalogue: on the B-side of Morgan McVey’s solitary flop single was a version featuring a rap by band member Cameron McVey’s future wife Neneh Cherry. A year later, Cherry polished it up and re-recorded it as Buffalo Stance, thus affording SAW a hand in one of the coolest singles of the 80s.
Mandy Smith’s 1987 release “I Just Can’t Wait” has a cool and breezy jazz version.
The SAW track that unexpectedly gained popularity. Hidden on the second version of Smith’s unsuccessful first single was this remixed version that became a favorite as a Balearic anthem. It removes most of Smith’s vocals and features an acoustic guitar solo, giving off a feeling of warmth and happiness.
The song “Happenin’ All Over Again” was released by Lonnie Gordon in 1990.
You could occasionally tell that Waterman had cut his teeth as a DJ in the 70s when the sound of northern soul seeped into SAW’s productions. It’s there on Happenin’ All Over Again: you can imagine the glorious chorus transplanted from its chattering electronic setting and booming around a talcum powder-covered dancefloor.
The song “Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi” by Kylie Minogue was released in 1987.
Kylie’s first batch of singles produced by SAW included the standout track “Je Ne Sais Pas Pourquoi,” which signaled that the trio recognized the unique quality of their work and deviated from their typical loud, generic style. The song features a series of catchy melodies that, compared to their usual sound in the late 80s, are relatively restrained.
Number 12 on the list is the song “Who’s Leaving Who” by Hazell Dean, released in 1984.
SAW’s most successful artist, Hazell Dean, created numerous popular songs that combined the energy of mid-80s gay clubs with a strong pop appeal. “Who’s Leaving Who” stands out among these hits with its Abba-inspired and Abba-level melody, particularly in the bridge and chorus.
The song “I Heard a Rumour” was released in 1987 by Bananarama.
This song is like a Frankenstein’s monster, created with reused samples. It includes a synth part from an old Samantha Fox track and a significant portion from a 1986 Italian hit by Michael Fortunati. Mix engineer Phil Hammond noted that Waterman probably had to make a deal for some of the samples. However, the final product is successful, proving that recycling can pay off.
10. The song “Divine – You Think You’re a Man” was released in 1984.
From its Waterman-voiced Two Tribes parody intro to Divine’s fabulously tone-deaf vocal snarl to its high camp lyric – “Then walk away! From the greatest lover you have ever known!” – You Think You’re a Man is completely preposterous and entirely irresistible: there’s something almost punk about how little it seems to care.
The song “Princess – Say I’m Your Number One” was released in 1985.
The bank managers may have a different opinion, but it’s unfortunate that SAW remained committed to one specific style of music. It was evident that they had the ability to create more diverse and unique music, as shown by their song “Say I’m Your Number One,” which combined elements of mid-tempo electro pop and soul with heavy inspiration from the Brooklyn Bronx & Queens Band.
8. “This Time I Know It’s for Real” by Donna Summer, released in 1989.
SAW portrayed themselves as rebels, uninterested in the traditions of music, but it was evident that they warmly welcomed the queen of disco when she came to their Hit Factory studio: This Time I Know It’s for Real is a shining example of dance-pop with an irresistible chorus.
The artist Kylie Minogue released the song “What Do I Have to Do?” in 1990.
Many artists under the label SAW who wanted to try something new were let go, but in order to not lose valuable artist Kylie Minogue, the trio stepped up and created improved songs with a more trendy and unique production style: incorporating house influences and catchy choruses, resulting in the sparkling hit “What Do I Have to Do?”
6. Mel & Kim – Respectable (1987)
The main focus of Respectable is its catchy hook, which includes sampled vocals and jarring, disorienting chords. Surprisingly, the record label deemed it too gimmicky and insisted on its removal, fueling SAW’s defiant mentality portrayed in the song’s lyrics: “Love us, hate us, but we won’t be changed.”
5. Bananarama – Love in the First Degree (1987)
It seems that SAW was not accustomed to artists expressing their thoughts or helping with the songwriting process. Nonetheless, despite its difficult creation, Love in the First Degree was outstanding and even received the approval of Motown executive Berry Gordy.
The song “Better the Devil You Know” was released in 1990 by Kylie Minogue.
The song that launched a reinvented Kylie – more mature and sophisticated, less bubble gum-flavoured – was a luxurious disco homage at odds with SAW’s reputation for a bargain basement, factory-line approach to production. The strings on the 12in version are particularly luscious, the lyrics slightly at odds with the utterly jubilant music.
Mel and Kim’s 1986 hit single “Showing Out (Get Fresh at the Weekend)”
“Rarely is ‘experimental’ used to describe SAW’s music, but after 37 years, Showing Out maintains an intriguingly unconventional appeal. As a pop-oriented reaction to early house music, it is minimal and slightly disjointed, resembling a collection of catchy melodies rather than a cohesive song. However, this approach proves to be highly effective.”
The song “Never Gonna Give You Up” was released in 1987 by Rick Astley.
SAW were often criticized for lacking quality control, but in reality, they were talented songwriters. Despite their detractors, their best work surpassed expectations. The success of “Never Gonna Give You Up” can be attributed to both Rick Astley’s charming and likable personality, as well as the song’s exceptional writing.
The song “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” was released in 1984.
SAW started their music career in the shadow of Trevor Horn’s grand production for Frankie Goes to Hollywood. Their first single, The Upstroke by Agents Aren’t Aeroplanes, was a cheap imitation of Relax. They also parodied Two Tribes on Divine’s You Think You’re a Man. However, with their song You Spin Me Round, they finally matched Horn’s work. Unlike their previous hi-NRG tracks, this one is less melodically sweet but still incredibly exciting. The rhythm is relentless and Pete Burns’ commanding vocals add to the intensity. The catchy chorus will stick in your head from the first listen. It’s a pop song that perfectly captures the wild hedonism and frenzy of a late-night dance floor.