My heart goes bang bang, bang bang

Phil Harding's insider view of PWL

I’m going through somewhat of a large Stock/Aitken/Waterman resurgence at the moment. Partially because of new CD reissues of classic SAW artists like Sonia, Big Fun & Boy Krazy. But also because of new book I’m reading by PWL (Pete Waterman Ltd) mixer Phil Harding. The book is called “PWL from the Factory Floor” and is an inside account of those crazy SAW years in the 80s/very early 90s.

Phil Harding along with his partner Ian Curnow did all those fantastic HARDING/CURNOW remixes for SAW songs. Phil describes Mike Stock and Matt Aitken as the “A” Team at the studio and he and Ian as the “B” team. If you think about some of those wonderful 12″ mixes like Dead or Alive’s “You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)” Murder Mix and the 12″ mix of “Venus” by Bananarama…well, Phil’s work speaks for itself.

The 12″ Murder Mix of  “You Spin Me Round” didn’t leave my turntable much for about 9 months in 1985. And the 12″ of “Venus” was magic – to see the look on the faces of people when DJs would play this at – for example – the Newtown Hotel – was incredible. The mood of the place changed instantly. It was as if everyone had suddenly taken an “upper”! 😉 And then it was a rush to the dance floor. Even people (like me) who wouldn’t normally dance.

Phil Harding’s book is a great read if you’re interested in the history around SAW & PWL. And it is written without a lot of ego and big-noting which makes it different from other books written about the same subject matter.

The whole SAW/PWL era had such a profound influence on me – I couldn’t even calculate how much money I spent on their records (and still am with all these CD special edition reissues!) I am always eager to hear stories of what really went on behind the scenes and all the characters who made up the PWL team back then.

The SAW/PWL wasn’t as much of a phenomenon in Australia as it was in the U.K. It has been difficult, over the years, to have anyone understand what I’m talking about when discuss my enthusiasm/obsession with Stock/Aitken/Waterman. Yeah they know Kylie and they know Jason and they maybe know Dead or Alive…but they don’t have any idea how all these iconic records came together or why. If I said “Today’s Sound, Tomorrow’s Technology” or “The Sound of a Bright Young Britain” to someone here, they’d think I was nuts.

So that makes “PWL From the Factory Floor” even more special to read. Someone who was a key part of the whole thing telling the story – and someone who gets it, someone who REALLY gets it!

Phil talks about how a lot of the iconic songs were created originally as 12″ versions and then cut down for the 7″ single/radio versions. This makes perfect sense to me because some of the 12″ versions just seem so perfect and complete. “Venus”, “You Spin Me Round” and “You Think You’re A Man” being excellent examples of this. I always think of the 12″ versions when I remember them. “Venus” even had a 12″ film clip (video) which was quite revolutionary at the time.

Dead or Alive were an early act to come under the SAW umbrella. The classic “Youthquake” LP produced “You Spin Me Round”, “Lover Come Back To Me”, “In Too Deep” and, of course, “My Heart Goes Bang Bang”….

(links below may require you to click through to YouTube depending on where you are in the world)

Thank you Phil Harding (& Ian Curnow) for being such an essential part of this magic era and helping produce this music that has stayed with me for the last 25 years. And thank you Phil for writing the book and giving the view from the Hit Factory floor!

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2 Comments

  1. Hello the best judge
    Many thanks for your kind comments about the book, we hope to have news about the double cd remix package soon

    x Phil

    • So yet another CD I’m going to have to buy….this addiction never ends! 😉


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