The Second Disc

Expanded and Remastered Music News

Archive for the ‘Dead or Alive’ Category

Never Gonna Give You Up: Iconic Pop Production Team Stock Aitken Waterman Celebrated with New Box Set

with 7 comments

It may have been the “flavor of the month” as European ’80s pop went, but the distinctive sounds of Stock Aitken Waterman and the PWL label was one heck of a flavor, earning a rather generous compilation/box set treatment, Pete Waterman Presents The Hit Factory: Soundtrack to a Generation  in the U.K. this summer.

Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman began working for Waterman’s PWL production company in 1984, specializing in Hi-NRG dance music by U.K. pop artists like Hazell Dean and Dead or Alive; the latter group’s “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record),” produced by the SAW team, was a No. 1 hit in the U.K. and peaked at No. 11 in the States, the first step in solidifying the team’s popularity.

When they attracted the attention of girl group Bananarama, however, things really started to take off. The SAW/PWL collective turned into England’s equivalent of the Motown assembly line, with an array of fresh-faced young talent performing peppy originals and synthed-up covers of pop classics. Several of the artists, including Rick Astley and Kylie Minogue, enjoyed major international success.

While the mainstream press usually dismissed their works as fluff, those who came of age among ’80s and ’90s pop charts do love what they heard, and have been well-suited by the odd wave of nostalgia for that sound in the form of reissues and compilations (Cherry Pop has overseen expansions of many PWL albums in recent years, along with this compilation from longtime SAW partner and engineer/mixer Phil Harding).

A PWL “Hit Factory Live” Concert to be held in London next month will feature a good amount of the artists on this new set, which will be available from Sony in the U.K. as a double-disc compilation or a triple-disc box set with a bonus CD of rare and unreleased dance mixes. Both sets will be released in England on July 9, two days ahead of the anticipated live event.

Hit the jump to take a look at all the hits on The Hit Factory!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

June 12, 2012 at 11:20

Cherry Pop Laces Up Dancing Shoes with Compilation of Rare ’80s, Motown Mixes

with one comment

Cherry Pop Records has a major treat next week for British club junkies of the ’80s: a double-disc set of rare and unreleased remixes by noted engineer Phil Harding.

If you’re a British pop junkie who came of age in the ’80s, you’re doubtlessly familiar with three names: Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman. The trio of producers hit it big with Hi-NRG pop, all clean beats and shimmering synths, from Bananarama’s “Venus” to Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.” All told, the trio racked up over 100 Top 40 hits in their native country – an impressive number in any year.

But one lesser-known name is arguably just as essential to the team and their famed PWL Studios: Phil Harding. A mixing engineer who’d worked with everyone from The Clash to Matt Bianco by 1984, the importance of Harding’s engineering skills was obvious from his work on the first major SAW hit, Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record).”

Harding, who’d later work with Depeche Mode, Erasure and the Pet Shop Boys, wrote his own account of his work in the record industry, PWL – From the Factory Floor, in 2009, releasing it in a limited run through Cherry Red’s book arm. Now, as a greatly expanded edition of that book arrives in U.K. shops, Cherry Pop has produced a double-disc set of some of Harding’s rarest mixes for U.K. acts and legacy groups.

There’s no shortage of hits on Phil Harding Club Mixes of the ’80s, including remixes of “You Spin Me Round,” ABC’s “When Smokey Sings” and cuts by Five Star, Holly Johnson and Godley & Creme. But the nectar for collectors is multitudinous: four unreleased tracks and mixes by Rick Astley, including an unused 12″ mix of “Never Gonna Give You Up,” are included. Jimmy Ruffin, elder brother of Temptations member David and solo artist in his own right (“What Becomes of the Brokenhearted”), has two latter-day tracks on here, only one of which has ever been released, and never on CD until this set.

Most humorously for Motown fans is the inclusion of three of Harding’s then-contemporary remixes of classic Motown singles, including The Four Tops’ “Reach Out I’ll Be There” and The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.” (While the breakbeat-heavy mixes can’t hold much of a candle to the originals, their quirky charm and collectibility doubtlessly appeal themselves to someone out there!)

The set and the expanded book (both of which can be ordered together through Cherry Pop) are out Monday, November 14 in U.K. shops. Hit the jump for a full track breakdown!

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

November 10, 2011 at 17:38

In Case You Missed It: Dead or Alive Spun Right Round

leave a comment »

Here’s a title that slipped through our radar a few weeks back: a new compilation by ’80s dance-pop sensations Dead or Alive.

DoA, the brainchild of Liverpudlian singer Pete Burns, was founded in 1980 and gradually got successful off the back of some catchy, up-tempo tunes and Burns’ video-ready, gender-bending outfits (frequently accessorized with an eyepatch). After a steady string of mid-charting U.K. singles, including a cover of KC and The Sunshine Band’s “That’s the Way (I Like It),” DoA exploded in 1985 with the irresistible “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record),” produced by a then-unknown trio of Mike Stock, Matt Aiken and Pete Waterman. (The trio would dominate the ’80s British club scene thanks to more hits like Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.”) The song was a No. 1 hit in the U.K. and went to No. 11 in the U.S., and the band continues to perform and enjoy success from time to time (“You Spin Me Round” reached the U.K. Top 5 in 2006 off the strength of Burns’ appearance on Celebrity Big Brother, while rapper Flo Rida took the chorus for his No. 1 hit “Right Round” in 2009).

This new, import compilation (a release date hasn’t been set for the U.S.) features all the band’s biggest hits from the ’80s, all in their original single mixes. Many of these tracks are making their debut on CD, which is more than enough for the ’80s pop collector in your life.

Order it from Amazon here and hit the jump to read the track list. (Special thanks to our good friend Vinny Vero for reminding us about the set!)

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Mike Duquette

November 16, 2010 at 15:26