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1987 was the year that Stock Aitken Waterman began the transition from trendy underground producers to mainstream hitmakers. 

Dead Or Alive started the year well, scoring a Top 20 hit with Something In My House, although two other SAW produced singles HOOKED ON LOVE and I'LL SAVE YOU ALL MY KISSES fared less well. All 3 songs were taken from the SAW produced album, MAD, BAD AND DANGEROUS TO KNOW.


Morgan McVey's LOOKING GOOD DIVING featured Neneh Cherry on the B-side singing the original SAW-produced version of "Buffalo Stance" that would prove to be a massive hit in 1989.

Mel & Kim followed up the success of SHOWING OUT with the number one RESPECTABLE, SAW's first written and produced chart topper. However, as third single FLM and debut album of the same name were released, it emerged that Mel Appleby had been diagnosed with cancer, effectively forcing Mel & Kim to put their music career on hold while Mel fought the disease. 

The Sun newspaper recruited SAW to organise and produce the Ferry Aid single LET IT BE to raise money for the families affected by the Zeebrugge ferry disaster - the single reached #1 and featured artists like Paul McCartney, Kate Bush and Mark Knopfler. When it was released at the beginning of April it entered the chart at Number One and in the process knocked Mel & Kim off the top spot.

Georgie Fame teamed up with SAW for two projects: a solo single, SAMBA and as a guest vocalist on the Mondo Kane single, NEW YORK AFTERNOON, both proving the versatility of the three producers. The Georgie Fame-less Mondo Kane followed up with AN EVERLASTING LOVE IN AN EVERCHANGING WORLD but it failed to chart, as did O'Chi Brown's 100% PURE PAIN and Splash's QU'EST-CE QUE C'EST.

Mike, Matt and Pete produced two singles for Phil Fearon, AIN'T NOTHING BUT A HOUSE PARTY and I CAN PROVE IT, although the latter single only credited SAW as having mixed the record.

Early in '86 SAW got a call from Nick East who wanted them to work with a new act called Mel & Kim.

Mel and Kim Appleby had tremendous energy and enthusiasm and SAW recorded a song with them called "System". After a celebratory trip to the pub SAW quickly realised that the soul songs they had in mind did no represent the girl's personality. They took influence from a new sound breaking out of America called ‘Chicago House’ and gave it a UK edge. The new direction resulted in the duo’s first release SHOWING OUT (GET FRESH AT THE WEEKEND) which shot to #3 on the chart and was a hint at the success to come.

However, the big SAW success of 1987 was undoubtedly the arrival of Rick Astley.


After being discovered singing with his band in Warrington Rick had worked as a studio assistant at PWL to build up his confidence before he got the opportunity to get in the recording studio. His debut single "Never Gonna Give You Up" was recorded in late '86 and it was kind of forgotten about amongst the more pressing releases from Bananarama and the like. In the Spring of '87 it was chanced upon again and by the time the final mix had been completed everyone knew it would be a smash. Released in July, it raced to Number One, spending 5 weeks there and a total of 23 weeks on the chart. It also became the biggest selling single of 1987. The follow ups, covers of O'Chi Brown's "WHENEVER YOU NEED SOMEBODY" and Nat King Cole's "WHEN I FALL IN LOVE" reached #3 and #2 respectively, while his debut album "WHENEVER YOU NEED SOMEBODY" topped the album charts worldwide.

Despite this success, Stock Aitken Waterman found that other worthy releases like Edwin Starr's "WHATEVER MAKES OUR LOVE GROW" and Michael Davidson's "TURN IT UP" couldn't break into the charts.

All in all 1987 was a great success, 3 Number One singles from the production team and a massive selling debut album from Rick Astley. The team were kept very busy with 35 single releases and contributions to albums from Dead Or Alive, Mel & Kim, Bananarama, Sinitta, Samantha Fox and of course Rick. Could they keep up this pace and success in 1988?

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