"As a regular visitor to the PWL studios in their glory days in the mid to late Eighties, I can attest that Phil accurately captures not only the personalities but also the atmosphere of The Borough building, the lifestyle, the work regime, that prevailed during those magical few years of PWL/SAW world domination. Some of the stories - about particular tracks and artists - were new to me, but several brought back great memories of hit records that Phil mixed for me (when I worked for RCA and Chrysalis) and memories of the relentless 24/7 music-making way of life at the studios... Phil sees everything - as the book title states - from 'the factory floor' rather than the boardroom, but he deserves great credit for documenting in such remarkable detail the huge achievements of Mike, Matt and Pete, as well as his and Ian Curnow's outstanding work as 'mixmasters' and producers."
Peter Robinson | RCA Records, A&R Director (1983-88) | Chrysalis Records, A&R Director (1988-2001) | Dome Records, Managing Director (1992-)
"PWL From The Factory Floor: Expanded Edition takes an already admirable book and turns it into a truly useful text for a variety of audiences. It works as a research reference, as a potential text for college courses (one can envision a popular music course that examines the record 'factories' from the 20th century, such as PWL, Motown, Stax, etc, for which this would be a great resource) and finally, as an entertaining read about a fascinating era in pop music." Click here for full review + Phil interview in the Journal on the Art Of Record Production
Eddie Ashworth | Assistant Professor & Sequence Director: Audio Production - Ohio University
"This is an important book for many reasons. It provides a fascinating insider account of a key moment in the history of British pop and dance music. It has the best account I've ever read of what a mixer does and why they do it. It charts the impact of changing technology on studio practice while showing how that technology was itself been shaped by the endless imaginative verve of producers and engineers.
And, above all, it illustrates brilliantly how in popular music the creative process is essentially collaborative, involves a fusion of aesthetic, commercial and technical judgements that is impossible to understand without access to the kind of detailed analysis that Phil Harding provides.
This should be on the reading list for every course on music technology, music performance and music business."
Simon Frith | Tovey Professor of Music | University of Edinburgh
"For an exhaustive account of the functioning of a highly successful studio at the height of its powers, this book would be hard to beat.
From the attention to detail and the sense a reader gains of what decisions were made, how, and why, Harding's account of some of the nuts and bolts of Pete Waterman's operation is very much that of the critical insider. This perspective has much to offer the serious student."
Professor Allan F. Moore | Dept of Music & Sound Recording | University of Surrey
Book extract/article in 'Pro Sound News Europe'...
Top review of the book in 'Blues & Soul' magazine...
FEEDBACK FROM THE PUBLIC
"Wow. Just finished reading Phil's book from start to finish. I've read both Mike Stock's and Pete Waterman's efforts, but this is truly in a league of its own - in terms of depth and presenting the PWL story in such a vivid, definitive and 'real' way. The MS and PW books feel artificial and 'window dressing'-like, in comparison... For me, this is the business. I totally forgive Phil for brushing off my demo tape in 1989!!"
"Wow! I finally got around buying 'PWL From The Factory Floor' and I would go on to say that it is a 'PWL bible'... it is an amazing read."
"I loved it...It gave a side that Pete and Mike don't really give in their books."
"Future hit makers - learn from the master!.... This book is an utter masterpiece on so many levels... and no matter what level of interest you have in phenomena that was Stock Aitken & Waterman, you'll quickly discover interesting facts and nuggets that you won't read anywhere else. To me, the name Phil Harding was just something that I often saw (no pun intended) on the back of the biggest hit records I bought in the 80's. Little did I know that he did much of the heavy lifting work on some of the most successful SAW (and other) records of all time.
One of the most impressive features of the book comes from Phil Harding's clearly wonderful mild nature. There is no muck racking or abuse going on and the only slightly bad word you'll find in the entire text is a mild poke at Simon Cowell, who appears early in his career as a bit of a beggar and blagger with limited musical knowledge. For the 'SAW fan' there is sufficient and interesting background on the artists, accompanied by amusing anecdotes in many places. There are also wonderful black and white pictures that range from studio shots through to floor plans and promotional adverts - it's a real treasure trove.
For the budding producer this text is totally invaluable, giving away business and production information that is massively useful if you read between the lines. It covers how many of the sounds were achieved, the equipment that was used and the process which was followed in sufficient detail. It describes the working methodology and, most importantly, that not everything they touched was a massive success and that perseverance was often important in turning things around. The success of SAW was not just down to Mike, Matt and Pete and this book opens your eyes to the many other people involved who were critical cogs in this hit machine. They pretty much all get acknowledged, mentioned or a hat tipped in their direction in this book.
I grew up with Stock, Aitken & Waterman, going on to make a good living as a mobile DJ playing their records in the late 80's. Their work literally helped me put food on my table. Some people unfairly slated them for records that 'sounded the same' but reading this book you soon come to realise this really was not the case. Perhaps the team did make 'uncool' records in some peoples eyes, but they packed dance floors and filled the charts. Commercial success feeds you, critical acclaim is a luxury. The major contribution that Phil Harding made to this success is both very understated and undeniable and this is a five star read. I can't wait for his next book on the 90's boy band phenomena!"
"This book is AMAZING. I hate that word. It's thrown around a lot now, but really, no other word will do. Such good value and packed to the rafters with extra stuff not in the first edition. Loved the background into individual acts (Hazell Dean, Dead Or Alive, Kylie, etc)."
"Just finished Phil's second book and thoroughly enjoyed it - much improved on the first and the amount of information is incredible. Great stuff."
"I started to read it - all these unreleased songs !!!! Wow"
"I just received my copy this morning. Very, very interesting, far better than Mike Stock's or Pete Waterman's IMHO."
"This book is absolutely amazing! I have the original version but the expanded edition is really something else. Well done to everybody involved. And what a treat to see the SAW Discography and Phil Harding Unreleased Discography in print. Now release some of those mixes, Phil!!"
"While the newly released Pete Waterman compilation may grab the headlines and sell to the masses, this complementary Cherry Pop release gives Stock/Aitken/Waterman enthusiasts a much meatier treat... Together with Ian Curnow, Phil Harding engineered and mixed the vast majority of recordings originating from the PWL studio, and a great deal more as well. This double-disc set contains 25 newly mastered classic remixes and rarities. Among the SAW-related songs here, there's the Murder Mix of Dead Or Alive's You Spin Me Round, the pleasingly chilled R&B mix of Rick Astley's She Wants To Dance With Me, and Sinitta's Body Shopping in a New Vogue mix.... Harding also helped to remix several Motown classics in 1988, including The Jackson 5's I Want You Back, and Diana Ross' Love Hangover, which appears on CD in said mix for the first time. Add Eighth Wonder's I'm Not Scared, Pepsi & Shirlie's Heartache and Five Star's Rain Or Shine, all in muscular dance mixes, and you have quite a feast. As a companion to the CD, there is an impressive 600-page book by Harding entitled PWL From The Factory Floor."
"Phil Harding Club Mixes Of The 80s can be regarded as a step up from the usual 12" compilation fare... The time spent on research, remastering and clearance has reaped dividends, with a genuinely interesting and rare selection for the connoisseur. This CD is actually a complimentary release to the expanded edition of Phil Harding's book PWL From The Factory Floor and if the excellent, detailed sleeve notes and interviews on this release are anything to go by, that book should be a treat... A highly recommended compilation."
"Where's the beef? It's in this collection of 25 dance-club remixes from the 80s, the decade of big hair and even bigger shoulder pads... Phil Harding crams this two-disc set full of a plentiful bounty of well-known hits and obscure picks that will rock the dance floor down. Phil Harding Club Mixes Of The 80s is a winner, a welcome addition to any club rat's playlist."
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(More coming soon)
FEEDBACK FROM THE PUBLIC
"The sound quality of this album is just amazing! It's been remastered in 24Bit! The 2CD set comes with a glossy booklet, with loads of background information, technical remixing details and colour photos of each release... Technically this is a great collection... 10/10 for producing this."
"I think this is a phenomenal CD set!! It is obvious because of the care that went into the track listing and the pains they took to remaster this in stellar sound. I have a lot of these mixes, either from vinyl and/or CD and these are now the best versions...
Hands down, the newly discovered master of Dead Or Alive's 'You Spin Me Round (Like A Record)' is the cherry on top of the sonic sundae!!! Uncompressed and glorious in its audio clarity and 'epic-ness', it is like hearing the song for the first time... Thank you so much for making this track and the rest available to us. Phil Harding is an incredible mix-meister and I'm grateful that some of his audio treasures are being preserved for future generations... This release sparkles in its dazzlement!!!"
"...The booklet is beautiful and full of info..."
"...Outstanding job, from sound to track listings..."
"EXCELLENT! EXCELLENT!! This is AWESOME!! :) I've been looking for some of these tracks FOREVER, and could either not find them or only get them on vinyl! The sound quailty is great and the track selections are fantastic! A great slice of 80s dance music... The liner notes are really fascinating!"
"Because all songs have been remastered, the sound quality is perfect and can not imagine that it is a production of some 25 years ago. Phil Harding Club Mixes Of The 80s is a power-laden climax of the disco area of the 80s."
"This compilation is super. The music's great. The notes are fantastic. I'd buy a Volume 2 if it contained as many great tracks and unreleased material - and the fantastic notes."
"...The [You Spin Me Round] Murder Mix does indeed sound the best it has ever done..."
"...It is such a great pleasure to FINALLY have such a high quality version of 'You Spin Me Round'!..."
"...I have bought what I think is the best CD ever. I may not need to purchase another in my lifetime! The album in question is the 2 CD set of Phil Harding Club Mixes Of The 80s. I have been in heaven ever since it arrived... It has been simply wonderful re-discovering these gems again... As is often the case, I bought this set in order to get a single song that I realised I'd been missing for 20+ years - it was Blue Mercedes 'I Want to be Your Property'... But of course, I almost skipped over this song in order to listen to the zany dance remixes, so evocative of my youth, of other, long forgotten tracks. If you wandered past my house this evening you might hear Eighth Wonder's version of the Pet Shop Boys song 'I'm Not Scared', or Rick Astley's 'She Wants to Dance With Me'. 80s 12" mixes! Bring them back!"