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Old 11-05-2013, 17:40
Grabid Rannies
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...or is there room for degrees?

I wholeheartedly agree that they contributed to a sea change in 'genericised' chart music, and within that a process that irrevocably damaged 'chart culture'. But within that also, is it really fair to say, blanketly and without any distinction, that all of their output was 'awful'?

Personally I love the early 'Hi-NRG' years - Hazell Dean and Divine especially, not so keen on Dead Or Alive for some reason though (although there was at least one good single of theirs in 1986 - Brand New Lover). I accept they're an acquired taste though, and culturally (ie gay) linked.

By 1986 there was some stuff going on that just didn't sound like anything they produced before or since - Princess's singles, and in particular Phil Fearon's 'I Can Prove It'. My jaw was when I found out that was one of their efforts, it really does not sound like anything they did before or after. Likewise, Mel & Kim's 'Showing Out' was certainly 'fresh' for the charts at the time (hence its unusually long run), and even 'Respectable' had a certain uniqueness, but the rest of the singles just didn't cut a similar (or rather, too much of a similar) swathe.

1986 however also gave us 'Venus', which I accept isn't a particular highlight. Although it's arguably less criminal than 1987's 'Love In The First Degree', which deserves all the connotations it has these days. Even within that though, the Bananas did redeem themselves in my opinion with the post 'Love' single output - I Can't Help It, I Heard A Rumour, I Want You Back - they all had a much fresher, almost continental-sounding 'pop' sound than the generic 'push-button' stuff SAW cemented firmly, IMHO, with Rick Ghastley and his 1987 hit that doesn't need to be mentioned. I think for me, that's truly where they need to begin to take the discredit for pop music convention/chart decline.

So yes I would agree that a certain 'rot' set in from the 1987 era onwards, and the lest said about Sonia, Big Fun, even Jason Donovan et al, the better. But even so, I think there was at least some distinctive stuff for Kylie (Got To Be Certain seems somehow more 'mature' both musically and thematically than the other first album singles), and the 1991 Better The Devil etc singles did at least represent a radical revamp of the team's production 'sound' if nothing else.

Also in 1987, Debbie Harry recorded the unreleased 'Mind Over Matter' with them, which to my mind is fantastic and has criminally gone unreleased to this day.

I guess the upshot of it is that I do think stylistic distinctions can be drawn across the time period they were most prolific (say 84 - 91), and that within that, there was undoubtedly a continuum of bland, conveyor-belt stuff, but I think the latter now perhaps unfairly overshadows that there are at least a handful of tunes under the SAW belt that do show at least a bit of originality, variation, and generally agreeable musicality that was chartworthy alongside its 'real music' contemporaries.
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Old 11-05-2013, 17:52
glyn9799
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If anybody needs evidence of a truly brilliant SAW track, look no further than Finer Feelings. One of Kylie's finest singles to this day imo.
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Old 11-05-2013, 17:59
Glenn A
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A lot of what they did was abysmal, but don't forget they discovered Dead or Alive and helped to revive Donna Summer's career after a long slump. Also you have to hand it to Waterman, he was a barely literate station porter who managed to make over 100 million.
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Old 11-05-2013, 18:02
Grabid Rannies
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That's true. I'd say the only 'worthy' musical thing they did in 1989 was the Donna Summer album. This Time I Know It's For Real and I Don't Wanna Get Hurt were great tracks, IMHO, but yes to be objective there were certainly a couple of 'push-button' duds on that album.
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Old 11-05-2013, 18:06
Cloudbuster
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I have to say that "I Just Don't Have The Heart" by Cliff Richard is a guilty pleasure of mine
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Old 11-05-2013, 18:09
Grabid Rannies
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I have to say that "I Just Don't Have The Heart" by Cliff Richard is a guilty pleasure of mine
I like the tune personally, but I would agree that musically it falls under the category of their most conspicuously 'push-button' / 'conveyor belt' style production of churning tracks out. Which, I assume, is a major factor in what the most vocal detractors of SAW object to.
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Old 11-05-2013, 19:16
Tal'shiar
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Interesting post OP, anyway, on with it I shall go...

Well, I think they showed business that there was a way to market music correctly. I think they helped shaped the industry of pop music, and like most things, it is pretty even in its good and bad.

The good side is that pop music was able to stablise out a little more, and with the writing duty pushed to dedicated writers who didn't perform, changing style was easy, thus you could create long term artists. When you consider that a lot of what they put out wasn't that good, the money they made from it is quite impressive, and thats what the business side of music took notice of.

The bad side is that pop music has a large section that is simply made to sell music. Whilst yes sometimes it can yield a pretty good song, its too scatter shot. In order to control this hit or miss issue, lots of artists end up serving little sections, and a sort of "Pop Family" emrges. You have your kings and queens who can bring in the huge money, and everything else sort of fits in to different levels, each one being feed a near endless supply of possible hits or simple album sellers.

What they did though, is perhaps more evident now than when they did it. Most chart music is meant to make money, its meant to appeal to the most people and bring in the most money. They do invest a lot of money in getting the best beats, writers, producers etc, so risk is still involved to a degree, but only for the artist concerned and perhaps the label if its small enough or gambles enough of its money on a single artist/group and it doesn't pay off, but the overall structure stays intact. Innovation continues though, more often in the underground, and once in a blue moon it will make its way to the charts, and you see a shift as all the relevant groups imitating the sound which sells.

S/A/W pretty much designed this new way of doing things. In retrospect, some pretty talentless (musically speaking) guys shaped the entire face of music and made a ton of cash in the process.
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Old 11-05-2013, 19:24
mgvsmith
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In short, SAW put the business back in to the pop music business and sucked the heart and soul and all the creative and quirky elements that made British Pop so good right out of it. And pop music hasn't really recovered since. I can't put it any more kindly than that.
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Old 11-05-2013, 19:38
stud u like
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I have always been a fan of SAW. Some very happy, uplifting tunes.
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Old 11-05-2013, 19:54
Honestweegie
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Yes, load of shite
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Old 11-05-2013, 20:17
Glenn A
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Their high point for me was You Spin Me Round, an excellent pop tune from Pete Burns, who went on to have a massive career after this. Their low point has to be Sinitta's So Macho, an inane, awful song.
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Old 11-05-2013, 21:02
Brummy Girl
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I agree that they had some gems and some right stinkers. The gems in my opinion were the two Donna Summer tracks, You Spin Me Round, Say I'm Your Number One (Princess), Roadblock (a hit under their own name), Better The Devil You Know & What Do I Have To Do? (Kylie) and most of Mel & Kim's output (apart from FLM which I like the least).

Their worst songs were I'd Rather Jack, Big Fun's cover of Blame It On The Boogie and most of Sonia's songs.

I do also like Rick Astley's Whenever You Need Somebody which gets overlooked by that other song he did
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Old 11-05-2013, 21:06
sej17
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I love Stock, Aitken and Waterman and the Donna Summer album is brilliant.
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Old 11-05-2013, 22:28
chrisqc
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Love the SAW bubble gum pop sound

sam fox, kylie, bananarama, sonia, donna summers, rick astley ........

Thats what made me discover " british" music in the late 80's
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Old 11-05-2013, 22:34
RetroMusicFan
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I have always been a fan of SAW. Some very happy, uplifting tunes.
Yeah, I've always liked SAW too, their music is catchy and poppy and easy to sing along to and always gets people up dancing at parties.
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Old 11-05-2013, 22:36
hallowxmas448
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That's true. I'd say the only 'worthy' musical thing they did in 1989 was the Donna Summer album. This Time I Know It's For Real and I Don't Wanna Get Hurt were great tracks, IMHO, but yes to be objective there were certainly a couple of 'push-button' duds on that album.
That album was great.

SAW at their best.

But saying that I was 9 at the time.haha.

I loved the front cover of Donnas album to. So distinctive.
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Old 11-05-2013, 22:48
embryo
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I think they had their moments - 'You Spin Me Round' being an obvious highlight (and Dead or Alive in general really). 'Better the Devil You Know' was definitely one of their better achievements too, ditto Donna Summer's comeback - though her SAW work hardly matches up to her disco heyday. Divine is fun too.

But as others have said, most of their output was run-of-the-mill production-line rubbish. I do enjoy 'So Macho' and 'I'd Rather Jack' though, awful as they are - guilty pleasures at their most catchy and cringey!
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Old 11-05-2013, 23:34
theshadow
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I think they had their moments - 'You Spin Me Round' being an obvious highlight (and Dead or Alive in general really). 'Better the Devil You Know' was definitely one of their better achievements too, ditto Donna Summer's comeback - though her SAW work hardly matches up to her disco heyday. Divine is fun too.

But as others have said, most of their output was run-of-the-mill production-line rubbish. I do enjoy 'So Macho' and 'I'd Rather Jack' though, awful as they are - guilty pleasures at their most catchy and cringey!
I'd rather jack is a gem Love it.
But I agree with the majority on here 'This time I know its for real' from Donna Summer & SAW is an example of the perfect pop song. Its timeless.
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Old 12-05-2013, 01:46
cliffy91
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I have to say that "I Just Don't Have The Heart" by Cliff Richard is a guilty pleasure of mine
My ringtone
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Old 12-05-2013, 02:24
Lyricalis
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Their music was everywhere during my teenage years, so it's hard to judge it subjectively. It was a bit naff on the whole, but upbeat at a time when a lot of people needed cheering up.
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Old 12-05-2013, 08:20
mushymanrob
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...or is there room for degrees?

I wholeheartedly agree that they contributed to a sea change in 'genericised' chart music, and within that a process that irrevocably damaged 'chart culture'. But within that also, is it really fair to say, blanketly and without any distinction, that all of their output was 'awful'?

Personally I love the early 'Hi-NRG' years - Hazell Dean and Divine especially, not so keen on Dead Or Alive for some reason though (although there was at least one good single of theirs in 1986 - Brand New Lover). I accept they're an acquired taste though, and culturally (ie gay) linked.

By 1986 there was some stuff going on that just didn't sound like anything they produced before or since - Princess's singles, and in particular Phil Fearon's 'I Can Prove It'. My jaw was when I found out that was one of their efforts, it really does not sound like anything they did before or after. Likewise, Mel & Kim's 'Showing Out' was certainly 'fresh' for the charts at the time (hence its unusually long run), and even 'Respectable' had a certain uniqueness, but the rest of the singles just didn't cut a similar (or rather, too much of a similar) swathe.

1986 however also gave us 'Venus', which I accept isn't a particular highlight. Although it's arguably less criminal than 1987's 'Love In The First Degree', which deserves all the connotations it has these days. Even within that though, the Bananas did redeem themselves in my opinion with the post 'Love' single output - I Can't Help It, I Heard A Rumour, I Want You Back - they all had a much fresher, almost continental-sounding 'pop' sound than the generic 'push-button' stuff SAW cemented firmly, IMHO, with Rick Ghastley and his 1987 hit that doesn't need to be mentioned. I think for me, that's truly where they need to begin to take the discredit for pop music convention/chart decline.

So yes I would agree that a certain 'rot' set in from the 1987 era onwards, and the lest said about Sonia, Big Fun, even Jason Donovan et al, the better. But even so, I think there was at least some distinctive stuff for Kylie (Got To Be Certain seems somehow more 'mature' both musically and thematically than the other first album singles), and the 1991 Better The Devil etc singles did at least represent a radical revamp of the team's production 'sound' if nothing else.

Also in 1987, Debbie Harry recorded the unreleased 'Mind Over Matter' with them, which to my mind is fantastic and has criminally gone unreleased to this day.

I guess the upshot of it is that I do think stylistic distinctions can be drawn across the time period they were most prolific (say 84 - 91), and that within that, there was undoubtedly a continuum of bland, conveyor-belt stuff, but I think the latter now perhaps unfairly overshadows that there are at least a handful of tunes under the SAW belt that do show at least a bit of originality, variation, and generally agreeable musicality that was chartworthy alongside its 'real music' contemporaries.
most of you know my feelings towards this destructive trio... but i do agree with most of this post.

yep, they had some good tracks early on when the sound was fresh, i agree that the rot set in in 87 when waterman boasted 'he could make a pop star out of anyone', and they employed a scattershot approach, releasing alot of sameish tracks by a variety of artists. in truth take away kylie, jason (off the back of neighbours, a ready made fanbase, (which business wise was a very shrewd move by them) ) and rick, there was pretty much no one left. yes the bananabints had a few hits, but look at the charts 87-90, saws success was mostly down to kyles and jason.

i didnt like donna summers saw material, she imho, peaked in 82 with 'the sate of independance'.

In short, SAW put the business back in to the pop music business and sucked the heart and soul and all the creative and quirky elements that made British Pop so good right out of it. And pop music hasn't really recovered since. I can't put it any more kindly than that.
yet again in in complete agreement with your post. that is exactly how i see it, and is exactly why i detest them.

Love the SAW bubble gum pop sound
its not really bubblegum though...it was Hi NRG. real bubblegum came out of new york in the late 60's via kastenetz-katz .
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Old 12-05-2013, 09:02
Rip the TV Eye
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There was a demand for that sort of music and they supplied it. I can't blame them for that.

Every single era has had music that was terrible but there were also artists making fine music too.
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Old 12-05-2013, 09:55
Theo_Bear
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People in the 80's and early 90's wanted that sort of music, SAW gave it to them. Some of it was fantastic, some of it OK, some of it pretty dire even by standards back then.

The really good stuff they did more than stands up today.
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Old 12-05-2013, 11:25
mushymanrob
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There was a demand for that sort of music and they supplied it. I can't blame them for that.

Every single era has had music that was terrible but there were also artists making fine music too.
i think they created the demand, they deliberately targeted a new young audience, kids who didnt 'get' or were interested in indie, rock or hip hop. by 87 there was a gap in the market, a gap left as 'traditional' pop bands like duran duran, wham!, spandau (who had courted the young audience alongside older ones) had matured or split. by shrewdly signing up scott and charlene they had a ready made market.

as a businessman myself, i think they played the game perfectly, from a business perspective they created a product as cheaply as they could, and sold it for as much as they could, as businessmen i can respect them for that.

but as a music fan, they started the ruination of pop music, they popularised and took the stigma out of being a manufactured product. the kids of the day didnt care, the older people generally did. they showed that business could create a product that sold, and pop music has pretty much stagnated ever since.

acts they created that were popular in the late 80's could still sell today, that is not a good thing, 25 years of stagnation or variations on a theme. just look at the previous 25 years, 1963, see the variety, the fresh new genres and styles in pop (leaving aside rock, soul, dance/disco) there was between 1963 - 1988, then compare 1988-2013. and it was SAW that created that change. i witnessed 25 years of interesting, varied, exciting pop, followed by 25 years (and counting) of basically all the same stuff, businessmen creating a pop product.

People in the 80's and early 90's wanted that sort of music, SAW gave it to them. Some of it was fantastic, some of it OK, some of it pretty dire even by standards back then.
.
actually people didnt! SAW's apparent success lies firmly on the shoulders of kylie and jason. take them out of the equasion and theres not much left. i could find no more at any one time then 3 SAW tracks in the top ten, i found that they only occupied no higher then 11% of the charts in their best year, and something like 3% between 84-93.

so the suggestion that they 'dominated' (ok you didnt say that ) made by some is factually inaccurate.
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Old 12-05-2013, 14:19
VoodooChic
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...or is there room for degrees?

I wholeheartedly agree that they contributed to a sea change in 'genericised' chart music, and within that a process that irrevocably damaged 'chart culture'. But within that also, is it really fair to say, blanketly and without any distinction, that all of their output was 'awful'?

Personally I love the early 'Hi-NRG' years - Hazell Dean and Divine especially, not so keen on Dead Or Alive for some reason though (although there was at least one good single of theirs in 1986 - Brand New Lover). I accept they're an acquired taste though, and culturally (ie gay) linked.

By 1986 there was some stuff going on that just didn't sound like anything they produced before or since - Princess's singles, and in particular Phil Fearon's 'I Can Prove It'. My jaw was when I found out that was one of their efforts, it really does not sound like anything they did before or after. Likewise, Mel & Kim's 'Showing Out' was certainly 'fresh' for the charts at the time (hence its unusually long run), and even 'Respectable' had a certain uniqueness, but the rest of the singles just didn't cut a similar (or rather, too much of a similar) swathe.

1986 however also gave us 'Venus', which I accept isn't a particular highlight. Although it's arguably less criminal than 1987's 'Love In The First Degree', which deserves all the connotations it has these days. Even within that though, the Bananas did redeem themselves in my opinion with the post 'Love' single output - I Can't Help It, I Heard A Rumour, I Want You Back - they all had a much fresher, almost continental-sounding 'pop' sound than the generic 'push-button' stuff SAW cemented firmly, IMHO, with Rick Ghastley and his 1987 hit that doesn't need to be mentioned. I think for me, that's truly where they need to begin to take the discredit for pop music convention/chart decline.

So yes I would agree that a certain 'rot' set in from the 1987 era onwards, and the lest said about Sonia, Big Fun, even Jason Donovan et al, the better. But even so, I think there was at least some distinctive stuff for Kylie (Got To Be Certain seems somehow more 'mature' both musically and thematically than the other first album singles), and the 1991 Better The Devil etc singles did at least represent a radical revamp of the team's production 'sound' if nothing else.

Also in 1987, Debbie Harry recorded the unreleased 'Mind Over Matter' with them, which to my mind is fantastic and has criminally gone unreleased to this day.

I guess the upshot of it is that I do think stylistic distinctions can be drawn across the time period they were most prolific (say 84 - 91), and that within that, there was undoubtedly a continuum of bland, conveyor-belt stuff, but I think the latter now perhaps unfairly overshadows that there are at least a handful of tunes under the SAW belt that do show at least a bit of originality, variation, and generally agreeable musicality that was chartworthy alongside its 'real music' contemporaries.
I pretty much agree with everything you say bar Bananarama - Venus in 86 was a great pop song and Love in the First Degree came after I Heard A Rumour and the album WOW! is superb.

I would say they became generic and stale in late 88 early 89. Pretty much everything after this period was recycled and bland - they became almost a HI-NRG cattle market - NOT Kylie and Donna though - they seemed to work their hardest with these 2.

A shame they could produce a masterpiece like Kylie's "Rhythm of Love" in 1990 - the same year as Sonia's quite awful "Everybody Knows" - which I bought again when it was re-issed a few years back but only for the memories! and Jason Donovan's "Between The Lines" - Jason does not have a good voice and was ONLY signed because of Kylie.
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