Its fair to say that by the end of the 1980s, music producers Stock, Aitken and Waterman had a stranglehold on the British pop charts masterminding hits for Kylie Minogue, Jason Donovan, Bananarama, Rick Astley and even Cliff Richard.
Stock, Aitken & Waterman’s success wasn’t overnight however and their path to the top of the charts was a long one, kick-started by their successful collaboration with Hi-NRG artist Hazell Dean’s on Whatever I Do (Wherever I Go) featured on their first long play project, 1984’s Heart First.
Heart First which also featured Hazell’s earlier hit Searchin’ (a collaboration with another mainstay of the Hi-NRG scene, Ian Anthony Stephens.) surprisingly didn’t make a huge impact on the charts at the time of release. So, a timely deluxe reissue to coincide with Hazell Dean’s live dates throughout 2020 is a welcome one.
The album has been newly remastered from the original analogue tapes and features extensive bonus material including highly sought-after full-length mixes of all the singles, several of them long out-of-print or previously unissued on CD.
Undoubtedly, apart from reacquainting myself with Hazell’s early hits Searchin’ and Whatever I Do , Wherever I Go (and how glorious they still sound after all these years) there are also 7 and 12 inch versions of her double A sided single from early 1984, a cover of Barbra Streisand’s Evergreen coupled with the original Jealous Love.
There’s also a pleasant reminder of Hazell’s pre-chart Eurovision hopes with the self-penned 1984 Song for Europe entry Stay in My Life, which finished seventh after Belle & The Devotions win of Love Games. How quickly had I forgot that (or Sinitta’s entry of the same year) just goes to show there was bigger success to come from both artists!
With the title track Heart First getting a 2020 remix from acclaimed producer Matt Pop this release is already proving more popular second time not only for fans of the Hi-NRG scene but for pop historians wanting to hear where it all began for Stock Aitken and Waterman.
A passionate release, clearly the album lived up to its title with the work ethic of artist and producers totally being Heart First.