Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Peter Wilson On Mandy Smith - Interview

I've always loved Mandy Smith. She was the bad girl of Stock Aitken Waterman. While Kylie wore pearls and innocently chirped "I Wouldn't Change A Thing", 17 year old Mandy posed for pictures in her knickers and belted out saucy anthems like "Victim Of Pleasure". Despite her incredible lack of UK chart success, I honestly believe Mandy's debut album is a Hit Factory classic. "I Just Can't Wait" (the lead single) is a gorgeous little pop tune that would have raced to #1 if someone less controversial had recorded it, while the ultra camp Daize Washbourne penned "Boys And Girls" was a deserved #12 smash hit (in Italy). My personal favourite is "He's My Boy", which has to rank as one of Stock Aitken Waterman's most intoxicatingly tacky efforts. Unfortunately, Mandy seemed to dropped off the face of the earth in the late 80s and never released another album. I always wondered what happened to her and now I know thanks to Peter Wilson! Apart from producing Amanda Lear and Haywoode, Peter also found the time to interview Mandy about the PWL years and the recent re-release of her album. He also asks Mandy about recording "Got To Be Certain" before Kylie, which I found particularly fascinating. If you want to read more about this fabulous diva, check out the full version of the interview over at the Hit Factory Forum. I'm just printing the highlights (with Peter's permission).

We’ve missed you! Where have you been for the past 20 years?
That's really nice, thank you! Wow! Where do I start? After signing a record deal in the USA, I became quite ill. I already had quite a weak immune system, so with a heavy workload and lots of stress from personal life issues and UK press, my mind and body could take no more. I had to take an early exit from the music biz with a heavy heart. Over the years I have concentrated on getting better and living a life doing the things that I've always wanted to do, like, getting married (twice), having children (like my beautiful son Max aged 8) being a make-up artist, and working with a charity called
Five Star Appeal. I've taken time out to enjoy being a mum and just spend time living and experiencing things that I didn't when I was younger.

How did your signing with PWL come about?
I was 16 at the time and my manager had a call from Pete Waterman's office to see if we could set up a meeting and talk about making a single which is every young girl's dream. I had heard it was the idea of Pete Burns from the group Dead or Alive, who had seen and read about me and put this notion to PW. So, many thanks to PB really.

What was the first song you recorded with SAW?
I remember my first day in the studio with Mike Stock and Matt Aitken, I was nervous but tried not to show it. I was also really excited at having such a great opportunity and experience second to none. The first song I recorded was "Terry" by Twinkle, it didn't get released back then, so I went on to record "I Just Can't Wait" which was my first PWL release. "Terry", by the way, has just been added to my recent re-released album for those of you who would like to have a listen.

What is your favourite song on the album? And when did you last listen to it?
I listened to it recently, because they sent me a copy due to the re-release. My son wanted to hear it, so I put it on and gave him a mini Mandy concert just to make him giggle! I really enjoyed listening to (and singing) "Positive Reaction".

If you could have recorded any other SAW song, what would it have been?
All true SAW fans will know this track, it was by a band called Brilliant and the track was called "Love Is War". When I used to hang out at the studio, I would watch MTV or have a nose around - looking at the albums that had been recorded or get previews of the new Kylie or Jason videos. One day while nosing, I found this song by Brilliant and played it to death, it's a classic SAW production that never really hit the big time! It did in my world!

Do you have any memories of meeting and/or touring (PWL Roadshows) with other PWL acts and who was your favourite?
I suppose the main people I did mini tours with (were) Kylie, Jason Donovan, Rick Astley and Sinitta. We all worked so hard that half the time, we would get the shows done, have dinner together and fall into bed exhausted, ready for the next days work! Sometimes, depending on which town we were in, we'd go to a local club/disco for a good dance and fall into bed at getting up time! Rick Astley was my favourite person, he was so genuine and a real sweetheart.(Great voice too!)

You released 5 great singles in the UK, but the first 4 did not make the charts. However you didn't give up, that's real determination at such a young age. How did you handle it?
I was always a little disappointed when they never made the UK charts, because your home ground is always the place where you would like success! But I think with being so well accepted in Europe and the Far East, I just kept working and hoped that one day the UK would change. I was really happy though with how well the singles did abroad, so that carried me through.

"Don't You Want Me Baby" finally gave you a UK chart placing with hard work starting to pay off. Was this a proud moment for you?
Yes and No really! I think at this point in my life, I was a bit fed up with the British press, as they had given me quite a rough ride, so I was not expecting a hit - and then to have a UK chart placing was a nice surprise. My health at this time was starting to wane a little, which also took the fun out of things.

After "Don’t You Want Me Baby", no more releases followed and you kind of vanished. A lot people missed you, and expected a 2nd album. What happened?
As I mentioned earlier I went to the USA to promote the album and upon my return to the UK I was to make a video for "Don't You Want Me" and finish promoting it. Sadly, that plan didn't come to fruition. I really missed working. It was a frustrating time but I had to learn to cope, by just being positive and getting better.

2005 saw the release of SAW Gold, which included the release of your unreleased original version of "Got To Be Certain". Did PWL let you know this was coming out and how did you feel about it?
To be honest I can't remember them telling me but I do remember feeling really chuffed that people had a chance to hear my version. I did prefer the production on Kylie's though.

Apparently you turned down "Got To Be Certain", is this correct? Did you not feel right about the song at the time, or feel now looking back, that it would have been your breakthrough song in the UK, given it's success with Kylie?
I never turned it down, I think they just tried out songs from the vaults on different artists and went with the one that fitted the artist best. It would never have been my breakthrough song, Kylie had the gold touch at that time and if she'd have sung "I Just Can't Wait", I'm sure that would have been a hit too. Of course at times when I heard "Got To Be Certain" being played on the radio, I would sometimes think, that could have been me! (With a smile!)

After 21 years, your album "Mandy" has been released again in the UK, with the unreleased tracks and rare mixes. What a great CD collection and great achievement. How did you feel when you heard about the release?
With great surprise and I feel more proud of my album now, than I ever did. I was 16, 17 when I recorded most of the songs and I took it all in my stride but looking back, what an achievement/experience.

I remember you coming to Australia, winning many fans when you were here. "Victim Of Pleasure" was charting and getting a lot of radio play. Do you have any memories of coming here?
I loved Australia, I remember describing the people as being warmer than the English and more genuine than the Americans, real cool folk! Not very PC to say that, these days! One of the main memories I have are that of being really tired, because I had just done a mini tour of Japan, but I did enjoy my time there. I got to meet up with Kylie and Jason again and meet a family member of mine that I had never seen before.

You are one of rather few PWL acts who has always spoken to warmly and fondly about SAW and PWL, which is wonderful. What was the best thing about PWL for you?
They really were like a big family, everything was done in house (hence it being called, The Hit Factory) and I always felt protected and cared about, even though they had success on a big scale, they cared about the small stuff!

SAW did receive a lot of stick from the public, music snobs and sometimes even their own acts. How did you feel about that when you would hear it?
It happened to most artists who didn't write their own songs or played instruments, what I mean by that is, their egos kicked in and the critic's words kicked in and they all thought they could do better than SAW. It was a credibility thing. It happens in every walk of life, but the secret with SAW was, if it ain’t broke, don’t try and fix it!

Do you own many SAW records?
Yeah. I have some favourites like Banarama, Mel and Kim and Kylie.

The last CD you bought?
Lady GaGa.

Finally, Mandy there are a lot of fans who miss you. Do you have a message for them?
Thank you so very much for buying the songs that gave me such great opportunities in life, to travel and meet many different people. Every day I learn something new and I embrace it and my many past experiences have made me part of who I am today and that's a very contented, happy person. Thanks again and God bless.

Mandy's legendary debut single!


tommie said...

Wow, so nice to hear that Mandy looks back at her short-lived music career with nice memories. I didn't even know her debut was reissued!

I seem to remember her appearing on Swedish television...

tommie said...

... Lady CaCa completely stole her look from the I Just Can't Wait single cover! That thieving slut.

Mike said...

LOL I thought that too!

Ro Ro said...

I always loved Mandy. She knew riding the rich daddy dick was all a girl needed to advance in life. You have my love and respect girl.

Paul said...

Love Mandy. Love Pete. love you.

I'm all about the love today!

Jay said...

Excellent interview until she reveals that she bought the shitefest by that VILE attention seeking bland WHORE tranny CaCa...

undisco_me said...

What a coup, Mike, she is a legend!

I Just Can't Wait is more of a Bananarama track than a Kylie one, but she has great insight and I am glad she has managed to not let her disappointments eat away at her - she sounds like she's almost on the right path (Lady Gaga? I know I like her, but even I know I should know better).

Adem With An E said...

Fucking amazing. Just what I needed after my awful day, thank you poss x

Anonymous said...

Thanks - I hope we see-hear more from Mandy Smith. I miss her! She needs to be on reality television - or at least be a judge on some tv talent show.

Anonymous said...

Where can I read the complete interview ? Can't find it on the Forum...

Anonymous said...

I remember SAW when I was a kid mixing records , they all had the same BPM's . It was great , made me the best D.J.

Long Live Retro. PARLAPIANO