This review is for: Pete Waterman Presents the Hit Factory
(3CD edition, but also covering the 2CD edition)
I am a huge Stock Aitken Waterman/PWL fan, so I pre-ordered the 3CD edition. I was shocked to see it go out of print so fast because there was no warning that this was a limited edition. Now I see the price escalating, so I figured I would write a review to tell people exactly what is on the discs, so you can decide whether it really is worth tracking down at the high prices now being asked, or whether the 2CD edition is good enough.
The 3CD set contains the exact same tracks on the first 2 discs as the 2CD edition. These are the hits that the fans will already have multiple times, but if you don't have them already this may be sufficient (However, before buying the 2CD edition, I would say it is worth first looking at the track selection on Stock Aitken Waterman "Gold
", which in my opinion is stronger, particularly because it includes the Donna Summer hits which are missing here. Plus you get a disc of 12" mixes without a crazy price tag).
There are 2 things of note on the first 2 CD's
1) the version of Mel & Kim's "Showing Out" is the 4:50 Vocal edit used for the Japanese 7" and included on the U.S. 12" single. To my knowledge, this has never appeared on CD before.
2) the "WIP 2 Tribute Mix" is in my opinion a waste of space. It only has 4 tracks and these don't even go together well: Loveland "Let The Music Lift you Up", Rick Astley "Never Gonna Give You Up", Stock Aitken Waterman "Roadblock", Steps "Better The Devil You Know". Just looking at that list is enough to tell you those tracks don't go together at all. The track selection and execution of this mix is poor and I won't be playing it again.
Onto disc 3 now, which is a mix of essentials and disappointments. I'll go through them track by track:
01) Princess "Say I'm Your Number One (Princess To A King Mix)" - This is a 7 minute unreleased Tony King remix, which is very good and I would say an essential purchase for a fan of SAW/PWL.
02) Mondo Kane "New York Afternoon (Extended Version)" - This has got that great 80's Matt Bianco vibe. First time this 12" mix has appeared on CD and great to finally get it.
03) Three Degrees "The Heaven I Need (Extended Version)" - This is the full UK 12" version for the first time on CD. It was previously included on a Dutch CD: "Dance Classics 19/20" but faded early. There was also another version on a 4CD set called "Maximum 80's", but that was the 12" version released in Germany & Holland. So this is the first time we get the full UK 12" version.
04) Morgan McVey featuring Neneh Cherry "Looking Good Diving (With The Wild Bunch)" - This was from a Morgan McVey B-Side and is fascinating to hear what would later be reshaped by Bomb the Bass' Tim Simenon into the first huge hit for Neneh Cherry; "Buffalo Stance".
05) Mandy Smith "I Just Can't Wait (Alternative 12" Mix)" - This is the 12" version released in Germany. Only really essential for collectors who must have everything (like me!)
06) Precious Wilson "Only The Strong Survive (Extended Version)" - I never thought I would see this on CD. I have loved this 12" since it was released back in 1987. Listening to it again it still sounds great, but I would imagine if you are new to the song in 2012 it might not be that essential. It is less immediate than most SAW tracks. But if you like Three Degrees, you'll probably like this too.
07) Sybil "When I'm Good And Ready (Original 12" Mix)" - This is an unreleased Dave Ford 12" mix and I have to say it is excellent. For me, this is the best version of this song. I never thought any of the released mixes quite got it right, although the "Woman's Prerogative Mix" came closest. This Dave Ford mix gets it absolutely spot on.
08) Jason Donovan "Too Many Broken Hearts (Party Hardy Mix)" - This is the version from the B-Side on the U.S. 12" single which incorporates a snippet of Pat & Mick's "I Haven't Stopped Dancing Yet". The volume levels are not quite right when it chops back into Jason, but it is an interesting mix and I'm glad to finally have this on CD.
09) Kylie Minogue "What Do I Have To Do (Billy The Fish Mix)" - I tracked down this mix on a South African Kylie "Greatest Hits" CD last year. It's not that essential. It sounds virtually identical to one of the other mixes I already had.
10) Dead Or Alive "You Spin Me Round (Buzzing Bees Mix)" - I have been a Dead Or Alive fan since before they were famous and this version has been the stuff of legend for a long time (alternatively known as the TDF mix), so to finally see this released was exciting. However, I've tried to listen to it a few times and I think it's dreadful. In the entire history of Dead Or Alive, I rate this as a real low point. Both the Murder Mix and the Performance Mix are far superior.
Amazon also lists a track which was going to be included, but which isn't on the disc: Dolly Dots "What A Night". It is disappointing that it didn't make it onto this collection, but it is available on a 2CD set from Holland which is expensive but worth it because it does include the full PWL 12" version: Give the Girls a Break
So, over all, this is a really good collection, but with a few letdowns. The lack of Donna Summer is no doubt due to licensing restrictions following her passing and I would have created a better megamix, but I would say this is an essential purchase and easily worth 5 stars.