Sunday, September 26, 2004

BOOK, AITKEN AND WATERMAN: We don't know if it's available in a glossy 12" remix format yet, but Mike Stock, once of the Stock Aitken Waterman triumverate, has written a book, and is currently doing the promo work related for it. He is starting to sound a little bitter, it has to be noted:

"Nowadays you only need to sell a couple of thousand records to get into the top 40," says Mike. "The charts are not news anymore, they are just a marketing and promotional tool. You have got to question whether the BBC is acting in the public interest by continuing to broadcast the top 40."

Jesus, that's something that Hutton missed. We can think of lots of things you can complain about with the current chart show - not least Wes dropping his surname in the mistaken beleif he's got Beyonce-like fame - but who knew they were acting against the public interest? Presumably, then, Top of the Pops is little more than a fifth-columnist attempt to sap our national pride and soften us up for the inevitable invasion of Someone Foreign and Terrible. Sadly, Stock doesn't elaborate on how this national slap in the face from the BBC fits into the wider picture, as he's got to moan about not being give no respeck:

He is furiously opposed to the opinion that the tunes are throwaway hits churned out without any real thought. "I was just romantically in love with pop music in general from a young age. I was writing pop songs as a kid and I am always looking for that elusive perfect song," he says.
Aitken and I played all the instruments and we had plenty of fights and arguments. Believe me, the passion was there. It could look formulaic or contrived but we would not have had those accusations if we were seen as a 'proper' band like Oasis or the Beatles. Well, we were a proper band. It is just that we had younger singers fronting for us."

Although, to be fair to Oasis, Noel hasn't quiet yet fallen back on getting some pretty dolly bird in to knock out the songs for him, has he? Mike, why on earth would you be worrying about credibility? You made some ace pop songs, you made a stack of cash - who cares if you're not seen as a serious artist? If you claim to love pop as much as you do, surely you realise that it's in the nature of pop to be treated as disposable. You sound like someone who fucked the taxi driver to clear the fare complaining that the cabbie doesn't even send a birthday card.

He also seems to have a slightly wonky rear-view mirror when it comes to facts, too:

"Really nobody knew Kylie when she first came over to Britain," he says, freely admitting in the book that nobody at SAW gave her any special treatment during their first meeting. In fact they kept her waiting so long that the smash hit I Should Be So Lucky was squeezed out in a 45-minute session - and then shelved for months. "You have to remember that even Neighbours itself was only on at lunchtime in those days. It actually moved to a peak slot when we had that hit, so nobody really knew her."

We were tempted to dismiss this as a bit of self-aggrandisement, especially with the implication that it was the hit that made Kylie that made Neighbours; although the essential facts are true - I Should Be So Lucky was number one when Michael Grade made the switch from repeating Neighbours at 10 am to 5.35 pm. But to suggest that nobody knew who Kylie was at that point is just stretching the point a little far - as is hinting that Michael Grade moved the show in response to the pop charts rather than the ratings. But, anyway, Stock has some more bile rising:

He rejects the notion that "real" bands like Nirvana, Blur, the White Stripes and Franz Ferdinand are any different to his own music. "Very often talking about 'real music' is just another image, it is all part of a scam.

"Sometimes you do get a scene like the 'Madchester' era in the early 90s, but that was more about chemicals than music as far as I could tell."

You can just bet he's got ideas about technology and all of that business, too. You can just bet:

"They are selling ipods and MP3 players and then blaming the internet for record sales. But if something that people actually wanted to own was being produced, then people would still go and buy it. It is like when Sgt Pepper's came out by The Beatles. Everybody actually physically wanted that record; they wanted to hold the cover and put it in their collection. People do not want to own most of these records anymore and certainly do not want to pay for them. A great pop song will cross cultural, generational, language barriers. And the songs you hear now are very inferior. They are boring and middle aged. I may have been 32 when I had my first hit but we put young people who looked like pop stars in front. We really did not do things like they do now. We were a band ourselves and we put excitement and passion into every chord."

So, in summary: The formats didn't get smaller, the songs did.

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