OK, so there's a thin line between what was SAW and what was just Pete Waterman. To the best of my knowledge, Pete Waterman didn't write or produce songs, he just found the 'talent' and let Matt and Mike get on with the sound. So really this should come under the 'Pete Waterman AND SAW' banner, but who could ever accuse Pete of not hogging the limelight?
Back in the 80s, Mike Stock said something like - if we were from the Bronx and Mel and Kim from the East Side, we'd have a lot more credibility. And, up to a point, he was right. SAW's work with Mel and Kim ranked alongside their best. But every great song there was a stinker - the problem with Pete and SAW was, they didn't care who they made into stars or how - they freely admitted they could take anyone off the street and make them into a pop star. Trouble was, that didn't make them a GOOD pop star, and SAW couldn't move wit the times. As the 90s dawned, with a new age of techno, rave etc, SAW were still peppering their tracks with that repetitive clashing drum machine and banal lyrics.
But wait, don't overlook them for all that. In between the dross, they wrote some truly fab pop songs. I Heard A Rumour, Love In The 1st Degree, anything by Kylie, Say I'm Your Number 1, Respectable, Showing Out - all were pop masterpieces and still sound good today. But for every Kylie or Princess there was a Sinitta or a Hazell Dean, or a Jason Donovan or a Big Fun. I can't understand why SAW didn't count themselves lucky to have a great stable of artistes - Princess, Kylie, Mel & Kim, Bananarama, Rick Astley - and concentrate on writing really good stuff for them. No, they had to prove they could do it with anyone - and they couldn't. Soon they were saturating the charts by also releasing tracks that sounded like they had been rejected as not good enough from their stars' albums, and they'd thought "Oh, just give it to Big Fun instead."
Hazell Dean was known as the secretary of pop and only had a few hits with SAW. Sinitta's star waned very quickly - the likes of GTO and Cross My Broken Heart were throwaway, with no heart or soul to the music. Sinitta was obviously desperate for fame (see for proof the way she desperately clings onto Simon Cowell even now, even though he has a girlfriend and a baby - I bet Lauren thinks she's a right odd one!). Sinitta came to SAW because even she realised that So Macho wasn't going to be a stepping stone on the road to pop longevity. SAW took on Jason Donovan simply because they were writing and producing for Kylie and thoguht they'd give him a try too as he was popular at the time. See, they weren't reasons to take on artistes. Everyone's popular at some time or another, but those with real star power are obvious - you only had to look at Kylie to know she would be around for a long time. Whatever anyone else may say, her records with SAW were great.
If You Were With Me Now - a track included here but often missed off Kylie's own Greatest Hits compilations - is fabulous, worth the price of this CD alone. But for every stunner, you have the pap. Steps, for example - I'm all for catchy pop, but H and Claire????? Lisa Scott-Lee? And Lee Latchford-Evans once admitted he didn't even sing on the records, he was just there because Pete Waterman considered 5 to be the magic number. Lisa Scott-Lee - absolutely desperate for fame - was the only survivor of the original Steps, just goes to show how interchangeable Pete Waterman felt his 'stars' were.
So if you want real SAW class, go for the individual albums - Mel and Kim's, anything by Kylie, Princess, anything by Rick Astley. There's also a great SAW track "Tell Him I Called" by Sequel that's available on one of the Hit Factory compilations, and was sadly never a hit in the UK. Buy this album for the great tracks, and skip the dross. Steps should just be allowed to fade into pop obscurity where they belong ........