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Digital Subscriptions > Classic Pop > May-18 > PHIL HARDING

PHIL HARDING

FROM BEING STOCK AITKEN AND WATERMAN’S ENGINEER AT THE HIT FACTORY IN THE 80s, PHIL HARDING THEN PRODUCED EAST 17, 911 AND BOYZONE IN THE 90s. CLASSIC POP CATCHES UP WITH A MAN WITH A UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE ON TWO DECADES OF HUGE CHART ACTION

THE PRODUCERS

BEHIND THE MUSIC

Phil Harding has turned the experiences of two tumultuous decades of his life into both a book and a PhD. The book, PWL From The Factory Floor, details his tenure as Stock Aitken and Waterman’s engineer, while the PhD focusses more on his time in the 90s when he and studio partner Ian Curnow stepped up to produce some of the biggest records of the day including East 17’s Stay Another Day and Boyzone’s Words.

“My dominant memories are the fantastically fast rise of it all,” Phil recalls of his time at PWL/SAW.

“I don’t think many will agree with me, but I think 1987 was PWL at its peak. It was pre-Kylie and we still had the dance community on our side, where it all started with the hi-NRG scene. But then, and love him as I do, Tilly Rutherford [general manager at PWL Records] announced at a dance conference that ‘with the success of Kylie, we don’t need the dance community any more’. When you discard a community of supporters, well, that was the start of the fall. Waterman spent the next few years trying to win them back, hence all the Kylie dance mixes. We got to the point where we were doing 12-inch mixes where there was no sign of it being Kylie for the first two minutes to fool the DJs! So yeah, around 1988 or ’89 we sold out although not too many of the others would agree with that.”

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About Classic Pop

In the new Classic Pop we celebrate 30 years of Kylie Minogue – from the PWL early days through to the iconic noughties classics and her new No.1 album, Golden. We also take an in-depth look at Kylie’s Fever for our Classic Album feature. As a special treat for Kylie fans, we have an exclusive limited edition special fan pack issue of the magazine available with four fantastic A4 glossy art cards of the star. Subscribers will receive an exclusive version of the issue with a collectable cover. Elsewhere, we are granted a rare audience with Scritti Politti's Green Gartside, we serve up our Top 15 sophisti-pop albums of all time and Prefab Sprout feature in The Lowdown. We chat to Kim Appleby about her new TV show and the prospect of new music; Sophie Ellis-Bextor talks to us about her new album of orchestral reworkings of her back catalogue and Daphne & Celeste return to the pop fray. Our album reviews section features Sting and Shaggy, CHVRCHES and Alison Moyet. This month’s reissues section includes John Foxx, The Human League and Brian Eno. On the live front, we check out gigs by Erasure, Morrissey, Paul Weller and Lloyd Cole.