Sunday, April 19, 2009

New STOCK, AITKEN & WATERMAN reissues on the CHERRY POP label!



CHERRY POP RECORDS releases three of the most in-demand titles from the STOCK, AITKEN & WATERMAN vaults!

So, who are STOCK, AITKEN & WATERMAN and why should you already know those names?

Well, because those three gentlemen (Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman) were the most popular production team (and songwriters) during the latter part of the '80s and early part of the '90s. They had an incredible run of hits, including 100 Top 40 chartbusters! In fact, their partnership remains one of the most successful in all of music history!

Still not clicking with you? Well, perhaps you know some of these songs? The SAW team either produced or wrote (or both) these worldwide hits:

DEAD OR ALIVE/You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)
RICK ASTLEY/Never Gonna Give You Up
KYLIE MINOGUE/I Should Be So Lucky
SAMANTHA FOX/Touch Me (I Want Your Body)
DONNA SUMMER/This Time I Know It's For Real

There are tons more tracks I could list, but I'm sure you'll be familiar with those, right?. If you never really linked the songs together before in your head, I'm sure it might make some sense to you now? That incessant rhythm, those infections melodies... the SAW production team had a way of making even the most banal song entertaining (not saying any of the above songs are banal... far from it!). When the three head honchos were too busy, they also had great producers like Pete Hammond, Phil Harding and Ian Curnow working alongside them in their PWL studios.

(Believe it or not, SAW actually produced three tracks for Judas Priest some 20 years ago, which remain unreleased to this day. If you thought this was a rumor, think again: I asked Rob Halford about it and he confirmed that it was true and perhaps, one day, the public will hear the results!)

The Stock, Aitken & Waterman sound and style was like an '80s version of Motown: great, catchy tunes and an array of vocalists moving through their Hit Factory offices like a human production line. Add in a bit of Nile Rodgers & Bernard Edwards' Disco flair and Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis smooth R&B grooves and the PWL/SAW sound was familiar yet unique. Staunch music critics frowned upon the very idea of SAW, but Pop and Dance music lovers (ie: the consumer) ate it up like it was food from the Gods.

So, after that semi-brief history on the production team, let's concentrate on today's delicious three course meal, direct from the Stock, Aitken & Waterman kitchen! These three releases come courtesy of of of UK label CHERRY RED's latest imprints, CHERRY POP.

So, let's start with the appetizer:

PRINCESS-"Princess (Special Edition)"
PRINCESS was a session singer who came in to lay down some vocals for SAW tracks that they intended to shop around to various artists. She essentially made "Say I'm Your Number One" her own and SAW, while hesitant at first, released her version... and the rest is history! With this enormous hit under their belts, they started work on more tracks together. This, her 1986 debut album, was the result. More hits followed, including "After The Love Has Gone", "I'll Keep On Loving You" and "In The Heat Of A Passionate Moment". While an R&B album at it's core, this full length had an extremely tasteful Pop production, adding to it's crossover appeal. While the original album featured only eight tracks, every one of them is a treat with absolutely no filler. Thankfully, the fine folks at Cherry Pop have added an additional seven tracks including remixes PLUS Princess' original demo of "Say I'm Your Number One', the track that started it all! This digitally remastered and expanded editions is available and is worth your time and attention.

Moving on to the main course:

LONNIE GORDON-"If I Have To Stand Alone (Special Edition)"
With some great R&B/Soul/Dance session work already under her belt, Philadelphia-born vocalist Lonnie Gordon made her way to the UK in the late '80s, eventually finding herself snug in the welcoming arms of the SAW/PWL corporation. While releasing a slew of singles that should have dominated the upper reaches of the Top Ten, Lonnie's SAW career didn't pan out as well as many expected. While she is best remembered for the hit single 'Happenin' All Over Again", none of her other singles made as much of an impact and this album was only released in Europe, Japan and Australia. To be honest, it's truly hard to understand why she didn't chalk up more hits and become a worldwide Dance music sensation! Lonnie's voice was (and still is) a big, booming and beautiful thing. Like Donna Summer, Freda Payne and Gloria Gaynor all rolled into one, Lonnie had the chops and the charm to become a superstar. The album itself is one of the most consistent full-length albums in the SAW catalog, filled with great Dance/Pop and fully deserving of the Special Edition treatment it receives here. Not only do you get the original 10 track album, there are seven bonus tracks added featuring great mixes PLUS the amazing "How Could He Do This To Me?", one of SAW's finest moments that was initially scrapped and remained in the vaults for many years. Full of flavor and depth, this is a tasteful and filling meal for the body and soul.

And now, for dessert:

MANDY SMITH: Mandy (Special Edition)
MANDY was the self-titled 1988 album from the British teenage model and gossip column favorite MANDY SMITH (who was married at the age of 13 to Rolling Stones' bassist Billy Wyman, who was 47 at the time!). Like SAMANTHA FOX before her, Mandy's beauty and notoriety made her the perfect vehicle for SAW's Pop tunes: the public were so fascinated by her anyway, she was bound to shift a few units just out of the curiosity factor. Her singing career under the PWL banner began when she was 16 and ended just three years later, but there is enough tasty treats left behind to satisfy your sweet and fluffy cravings. This album features her hit singles, some nice album tracks and, on this Special Edition, eight bonus cuts that includes remixes and non-album tracks. Highpoints include "Boys & Girls", "Positive Reaction", the Giorgio Moroder-inspired "My Boy" and her 1989 recording of Human League's "Don't You Want Me" (retitled "Don't You Want Me Baby?" with slightly altered lyrics). While a few tracks veer unconvincingly towards a straight Pop sound ("Victim Of Pleasure" sounds like a weak Stacey Q impression), it's the light-hearted Dance tracks that end up working the best. Though not as soulful as Princess and Lonnie Gordon, Mandy Smith's Dance/Pop is light, tasty and the perfect ear candy to top of this delicious SAW meal.

Needless to say, these albums are unpretentious and fun, the perfect antidote to the dreary and drab news that we hear each and every day on TV and the internet. Add a little fun and sun to your life with Cherry Pop's latest offerings!

Peace, love and pancakes,
Stephen SPAZ Schnee

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