There was no real overall plan and we worked with a succession of producers and engineers. There was Gary Langham who worked with Trevor Horn. Why didn’t I get Clever Trevor to produce us? He is without doubt a genius but I think he was having the same trouble with our chart rivals Frankie Goes to Hollywood after the massive success of Relax and Two Tribes. Did I mention that Magenta had been Frankie’s PR in the early days too? Them and Prince. That girl sure could spot the talent. Langham came in with a mountain of equipment, all plugged into a single socket in the wall. We felt like ELP. There was Liminha flown in from Brazil where he was a top producer (or so someone in the Brazilian office of EMI told me).

Ever on to a new idea, we had written a version of La Bamba called Rio Rocks, but again Degville struggled with the vocal, wasting hours of expensive studio time, getting hopeless, completely soulless take after take. Getting the vocal out of Martin had always been like pulling teeth and the idea of what it took to be a singer had always seemed totally alien to him. But what did I expect? He was a clothes designer when I gave him the part and he’d been really good at that. Years later he started to sing really well too, even with feeling and soul, maybe he just had to do it his way.

Somehow most of 1987 went by in a blur of half songs, holidays and drinking, still struggling to find a chorus for the elusive ‘Success’ until we finally had enough songs for an album.

Then the Pete Waterman Saga started. Stock Aitkin and Waterman were that year’s most successful producers, having hits with everyone they worked with. Surely they could be the only producers worthy of a song called Success? It was one of my more perverse ideas, going against the obvious as always. Doing exactly what we should not do. Outrage working with pure pop. There was no one I trusted like Ambrose at the label to run it by so I called my old friend and the bands original benefactor Fatchner. It’s brilliant he said. Do it. So we did.

Pete Waterman came over the river from Southwark and was sitting in my garage studio. I played him a cassette of the demo we had finally recorded. Solving the missing chorus conundrum by just using the bridge as the chorus. Pete listened once, said yes, its definitely a hit and off he went with the cassette in his pocket.

A week later he called me at home. “Come to Southwark and have a listen” he said, “its done. We just need Martin to sing along with the guide vocal and you’re gonna love it”.


Done, finished, recorded and we had not even been to the studio? That’s the way they worked I realised. Who did the guitars I coughed, grasping for something to say. “Kids don’t like guitars Tony” said Pete with confidence, dumbfounding me even more.

This was going to be harder than I thought. The track did sound like a hit, that much was certain, but a hit for Kylie not Sigue Sigue Sputnik. I was to spend the coming weeks (or was it months?) over at their studio, at war with Stock, Aitken and Waterman battling to get guitars on the track, battling to to get heavy synths on the track. I resorted to subterfuge, when Pete had gone home for the weekend to play with the real life steam engines he collected (thats right, real ones, giant ones, not Hornby models I used to own as a kid) and sneaked into the studio to record with the assistant engineer.

I don’t know who eventually pummeled who in to the ground. I suspect it was a bit of both, but X played his guitars, Degville sung for his life and I came away with a Kylie record with a bit of Sputnik on it and the distinct impression that Pete was really glad to see the back of me. It did sound like a hit though and I needed a hit to keep the label’s confidence in us.

[Chapter 15...]