Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1082

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Review

Phil Harding: PWL From The Factory Floor - Expanded Edition (Cherry Red Books)

Phil Harding - PWL From the Factory Floor (Cherry Red Books)

 

6.8

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UK release date 22.11.2011

Stock, Aitken, Waterman produced some of the most exciting music at a time when the industry needed a huge injection of excitement. Of course, not everyone felt like this â and I must admit on occasion I did hear myself saying âoh no, not againâ â yet on reflection, it was a period in time we needed.

The music produced by this so-called hit factory, or British Motown, was instantly recognisable â it was chirpy, almost lightweight, bouncy, spirited (and, dare I say it, throwaway) yet the hooklines and choruses made them compulsive listening â and it wasnât always down to Kylie Minogue and little Jason either! And lord knows theyâve got a lot to thank these guys for.

Names like Rick Astley, Hazell Dean and of course Mel & Kim, are the first who spring to mind, to cross into commercial dance thanks to SAW, before the mighty Donna Summer got aboard their disco train. But thereâs also hosts of others who benefited from the hit makersâ magic â the Four Tops, Chic, Diana Ross, Jimmy Somerville, Jermaine Stewart, Debbie Harry, Thelma Houston, Imagination, The Three Degrees, and so the list goes on, who racked up a staggering 30 million sales across the globe. Yes, itâs absolutely mind blowing. And highly profitable too!

Producer Phil Harding - whose career spans thirty+ years, ranging from his work with The Clash in the seventies to producing for Boyzone and East 17 twenty years later - details all aspects that went into building the stars for PWL. Written in a refreshing and frank style, Phil tells the inside story of this most successful record company, providing a broad and honest perspective from the top to the bottom of the companyâs pecking order. For example, one minute heâs mixing PWLâs classics, the next heâs training amateur engineers. He writes about the technicality of studio work, taking in the cutting edge techniques he developed. Thereâs bags of information about the acts and their recordings; thereâs interviews with some of the artists, insights into unreleased PWL projects, loads of photos, and is everything you want to know about the company.

A definite must for PWL fans of course, but for the curious reader, a terrific, informative read of how one of the most successful British record companies built up a multi-million pound empire to become the legend that it is today. Thanks Phil. You answered many questions for me. Hope the book does really for you.
Words SHARON DAVIS

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