dispatches from the pop scene...minus the corn syrup.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

PWL On iTunes: Erik's 'Real' Album

Erik's Real is the unreleased Holy Grail of the PWL back catalog—well, okay, one of them at least. Last night the fully remastered 1994 album was added to iTunes.

It's not the best thing to come out of the Stock Aitken Waterman stable (or even the Stock Waterman one, as Matt Aitken had departed a few years prior to the recording of Real). In fact, there are far too many snoozy ballads on there. But if you're a fan of early '90s house and Euro-pop, you could do a lot, lot worse. And Erik (real name: Erica Maggs—she's on MySpace) was at least one of the strongest vocalists to emerge from the Hit Factory.

Real was eventually shelved after four singles failed to reach the U.K. Top 40. Was it because Mike Stock finally left PWL around that same time? The label itself was certainly in financial trouble at that point.

WHAT TO DOWNLOAD: One of the singles, the withdrawn "The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea," is probably one of the finest PWL tracks ever recorded. Mike Stock was clearly firing on all cylinders one last time before hitting the road to start his short-lived Love This label.

"The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea" at first sounds deceptively like a cookie cutter '90s-era R&B slow jam, but promptly launches into an exuberant slice of dance-pop about 30 seconds in:



Grab that now! (Side note: Back in fall 1995, I'd spend hours in my university's computer lab lost in online music forums. This law student guy from Florida sent me a few mix tapes of all PWL stuff, and "The Devil And The Deep Blue Sea"—in both the single mix and the "Master Performance" extended mix—was on one of them. I used to take long strolls through my college town blasting that jam on my yellow walkman. Sigh.)

TWO MORE DECENT TRACKS:

"Looks Like I'm In Love Again" (originally a single release billed as Key West featuring Erik, which charted at U.K. #46)



"Forever Now"

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