samedi 30 juillet 2011

Peter Wilson's second album will get you retro-intoxicated by the 90's PWL sound

It is finally (high)time I post my review for fellow Hit Factory forum-mate Peter Wilson's second released album, Stereo, that is out on iTunes
or on manufactured CDR +bonus disc full of remixes via his label (
I already owned his first one, Follow me, released on Klone Records in 2007 with the Boney M sampled single Doin' fine and cherished the Steen Ulrich remix in the style of Stock Aitken & Waterman of I wanna dance as well as the other one he produced in that PWL style, I love you unashamed, so it is with great anticipation that I was a-waiting for this new album recorded with Matt Pop, the one and only european producer that mixes as if he was Pete Hammond and Phil Harding united in the same person for retro-PWL remixes of pure bliss.

Between these two CDs, Peter Wilson has emerged as a new force in underground pop/dance production teams, working with songwriting & production partner Chris Richards inside their T1 alias, for Haywoode, Carol Jiani & Evelyn Thomas (Are you man enough), Samantha Fox & Sabrina on their cover of Blondie's Call me or Amanda Lear on her Brand new love affair 2009 album. But when his brand new single Intoxicated was released last year, along Matt Pop, I felt something even better was coming. Co-written by the australian partners with their new production friend, it was a clear move in the right direction, taking from where Peter left with Klone, 90's influenced euro-pop, and into a clearer direction, aiming at recreating the sound Peter Wilson or Matt Pop (such as I) fell in love when they were younger, the PWL sound, made of Stock Aitken & Waterman songs/production with genius mixes by MixMasters Pete Hammond and Phil Harding... In that sense, Intoxicated was perfect as leading single for the forthcoming album ; the inspiration was clear but well incorporated with today's sound, so that it would not be taken for a full-on retro number.

Stereo starts with Intoxicated in full glory and even though it hasn't been the breakthrough hit Peter Wilson deserved, it is the better way to let this brand new CD start to play. Included as a bonus is its remix by none others than Dave Ford & Ian Curnow, the PWL ex-partners, on their Back to the Borough remix that takes the sound right back to 1988/90 with full PWL treatment, like Pete Hammond and his recent retro remixes succeeds in. It has been the start of a new dream story for Peter Wilson as the duo has collaborated more with him on his album, producing and even co-writing with him, but we'll see more of this later.
Second track is another Matt Pop production that was co-written with Peter Wilson, Walk the night, and it sounds very reminiscent of the first album, with Italodance/Eurobeat inspiration, and definitely retro 80's. The arrangements are really haunting on the verses but the chorus is strong and appealing, although not enough for me to become a single.
The new single and real treat comes next, with a song called Twenty four seven whose credits must have driven every Hit factory forum member mad even before listening to it : "written by Stock/Aitken, produced by Dave Ford & Ian Curnow and mixed by "Mixmaster" Dave Ford" says the CD inlay and it is like it were PWL times again ! Alas not, the song is only a re-interpretation of an unreleased one that Mike Stock & Matt Aitken wrote in their Love This Records days and that was recorded by a stranger dude called Dean Cohen. The demo version of the song was airplayed on fan's radioshow sometimes but remains unreleased to these days so this new version with full PWL producers sounded like heaven on earth ...and it truly IS ! Peter Wilson's version sounds a lot more PWL-ish and HITmade than Dean's mellow original. It seems it is the new forthcoming single (along with a new track Broken man as B-side) and I wonder if Matt Pop is gonna give it a hand for a mix or two too. Not that Dave Ford & Ian Curnow's work ain't my cup of tea, but they've updated their sound for the new millenium and the song doesn't sound that much retro PWL to me, more into the late 90's PWL productions. I like it a lot and can't wait for the official releases to download the new remixes for it !
On track 4 is the current second single off the album and the other Ford/Curnow production that gave its name to the CD, Stereo. This is the one Peter Wilson co-wrote with Dave Ford and Ian Curnow and whoever came with it, it has the magic "I-iaïaïï... woa-iaïaïï" vocal gimmick that gets stuck in your head and makes this song addictive and dangerous like poison : once you've listened to it, for the whole day you've got it in the head ! That is a hit and I can't be wrong about that... The remix package includes a Matt Pop retro stereo remix that gives the song a 300% PWL sound from 1988/89 and I only regret there hasn't been a radio version of that remix. Peter Wilson & Chris Richards' T1 astral flight remix makes it trancey and clubby for continental clubs and the Glamma club mix just takes it to club heaven. But thu shall not forget the original Ford/Curnow long play that clocks at 7'07 and is included in the album's bonus CD too.
Next is another 90's PWL inspired upbeat except the song soon sounds more like a Modern Talking/PWL crossover like Dieter Bohlen used to write for his Blue System project in the 90's... And truth is Tell me the truth IS a Dieter Bohlen song he wrote in 1991 for Bonnie Tyler and her Bitter blue album, except Peter Wilson's voice sounds a lot better than her (or Dieter's if he had sung it) and the Matt Pop production makes it the perfect follow-up hit single release for me. It could really be big in Germany and nearby countries where this sound has always been high in the charts. The Matt Pop's nothing but the truth remix sounds perfect too while the classic 12'' mix is less retro and I really hope all Modern Talking/Blue System fans will buy Peter's album just for these gems ! They'll like the rest of it too, for sure.
Time for a new Peter Wilson/Matt Pop composition and One starts nicely, with electronic sounds and arrangements that remind me of Erasure for once. I think it takes too long before the chorus finally comes but then it didn't grab me neither and I feel at nearly 5'30 that this song is just an album track, a try into a different territory. When the break comes, it definitely sounds even more like Erasure so I guess it was another inspiration the duo had in mind when they wrote this one. Peter's vocal range shines extremely well on this one though and there's no doubt he is a talented singer too !
The other track that has surely set the Hit factory fans on fire was Peter's cover version of Haywoode's Stock/Aitken/Waterman hit from 1986, You better not fool around, with full Mel & Kim-a-like retro production by another PWL Mixmaster, Pete Hammond himself, and in full length glory, with an album version of 7'49. Poor me who likes radio edits over original 12'' :(. But there's nearly no annoying time thanks to the two Pete's talents. I'd love to see it get a single release too, so that a more radio friendly edited version sees the light of day, as well as more remixes, even though this original sounds perfect, as if he was Hit Factory made and recorded at the PWL studios back in the days, and just re-discovered from the original tapes and released now...
Next is another Peter Wilson/Matt Pop composition and it could sound difficult to face the comparaison after such a masterpiece but I live for love, although it starts a little too gimmickly with distorted sounds, lives up to the model and is a very good slice of dance/pop, upbeat and fun, with good chorus and strong vocals. I only would have loved the Matt Pop production to be more PWL inspired on that one, as the acid distorted synthé loops that are completely invading the song at moments are very boring, even at first listen. It is a shame 'cos I love the song a lot...
Thankfully, an even better track follows, and Heart beat fast shares with the previous song its better things, a good rhythm, a killer chorus, but with a full retro PWL beat a la Dead Or Alive that makes my feet can't stop moving in rhythm all through the song. I have to precise Chris Richards is back as co-writer on this one, along Peter & Matt, with Matt Pop's better than ever production skills, so when the song comes to its end at 3'33, I already miss it and there is no remix for it included on the bonus CD. It would deserve some though !
Last song on track #10 is called Better run away and is a Peter Wilson/Chris Richards T1 alone composition, even though the production is another retro PWL Matt Pop work, even more with Dead Or Alive inspired effects this time. At 6'46, this is another extended original version included that sounds like it could have been stolen from the Vineyard basement DAT chamber of secrets for sure... but there is a 4'49 Dave Ford's T1 remix on the bonus CD that shortens its length more into radio friendly format, even though it updates its sound too so that the retro PWL treatment is replaced by a trancey dance storm. I miss a Matt Pop radio version ! Could there be one, one day ?
My CD includes then the Ford/Curnow remix of Intoxicated and Matt Pop's retro remix of Stereo before the bonus remix CD shares more beats but the iTunes version follows with Mechanical as track #11. Written and produced by Peter with Chris Richards, this is the Peter Wilson's demo version they did for Amanda Lear without her releasing it. It is very different from the sound of the rest of the album ; it is more laid-back, haunting with layers of synthés a la Giorgio Moroder. I must admit I can't hear what Amanda's voice would have sounded on this one. Pete's surely fits the job more here :) but it is a nice bonus, definitely not worth full inclusion in the tight Stereo tracklisting, but a good way to wait for the remixes to come like an encore.
Remixes are all courtesy of Matt Pop, T1 or Dave Ford with/without Ian Curnow except the Glamma remix of Stereo I already talked about and a SleazeSisters anthem mix of Intoxicated that would fill every club floor with boys and girls dancing in ectasy with their hands in the air in just a second, for sure ! Peter Wilson and PWL addicts should order the double CD from the Energize Records site, just for the bonus remixes that are not available via iTunes, but beware though, these are manufactured CDRW with full colour printing & inlay and high quality sound, but they don't look like your usual CD from records companies.
Another let-down maybe that can be explained by the lower profil artist's budget is the video for Stereo, that unexpectedly has filmed Peter in front of tagged workhouse walls for a full urban/R&B image that doesn't fit the song at all. On the opposite, the short extracts showing him in a basement with sunglasses under redlight or classy in a rotating armchair would have fitted the video of this clubby song a lot more... But it's always easy to judge when it is already fine enough to have a full video for this single, and Peter said he likes it and took fun acting for it that's all folks !

Now if you want to know more about him, follow him on Facebook, and don't forget to buy his album whichever way you want from the links I started this post with :

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