The hit was I’d Rather Jack, released in early 1989 on Pete Waterman’s PWL label. That year arguably saw the song’s writers and producers, Stock Aitken Waterman, at the peak of their popularity. Certainly commercially this was true, but with strong revenue streams and nearly two dozen of hits there were bound to be some detractors. The main criticism was that Stock Aitken Waterman records were frivolous, shallow and throwaway, hardly ‘real’ music at all. Waterman said I’d Rather Jack was “inspired by a radio seminar I went to where everyone was banging on about demographics. I wanted to make a record that cocked a snook at that whole idea of the blanding out of youth culture, something that pricked the balloon of pomposity about having reverence for old rock bands. It was just a bit of fun….” Not everyone saw the funny side. PWL engineer Phil Harding said, “This record epitomized how bad it could get, and confirms to me that this year was the start of the PWL/SAW creative downfall. The record was awful – cheesy and corny beyond belief and I felt embarrassed to be associated with the building every time I heard it on the radio. I can’t explain it any better than that. Many others in the building felt the same about it, yet no one dared say anything about how horrible the record was, for fear of losing their job.”
The question of who should perform the song was apparently settled very casually. “I’d met the girls at a show and thought, we may as well use these two,” said Waterman of Liverpool sisters Linda and Aisling Reynolds. They had apparently handed him a demo tape they had made and asked him to produce them, so he did. “The record went flying up the charts but when The Reynolds Girls appeared on ‘Top Of The Pops’ they killed it stone dead. If it was Mel And Kim it would have been #1.” It might well have been, but then the song would have ended Mel And Kim’s career as surely as it did The Reynolds Girls’. “There was a small media backlash against The Reynolds Girls, but somehow PWL got away with it,” Harding remembered. PWL got away with it by sacrificing The Reynolds Girls and allowing them to take the blame for the cringeworthy arrogance of I’d Rather Jack.
The rumour at the time was that PWL dropped The Reynolds Girls because they had become “too big for their boots”. “There were plans to record something else but it was scrapped,” Harding confirmed, but he identified another party as the cause of the problem. “I’m told the manager of the girls (their father) was very difficult both to get on with and to do business with… don’t get me wrong – The Reynolds Girls themselves were very nice people.” Their father founded Renotone records on which to release the girls’ second and final single, Get Real. It flopped, and The Reynolds Girls disappeared. The pair have rarely commented on their brief pop career since. Linda Reynolds apparently went on to join an obscure, short-lived dance group called Hype but like both her sisters withdrew from the entertainment industry after that: Linda and Aisling’s younger sister Debbie had already quit her 80s occupation as a soap opera actress.
NEW SINGLES on sale from Nov. 27
The HUMAN LEAGUE Don’t You Want Me (Virgin VS464)
MADNESS It Must Be Love (Stiff BUY134)
Gary NUMAN Love Needs No Disguise (Beggars Banquet BEG68)
STRAY CATS Little Miss Prissy (Arista SCAT5)
BON JOVI (Jon Bon Jovi) Living In Sin (Mercury JOV7)
BROTHER BEYOND When Will I See You Again (Parlophone R6239)
Jason DONOVAN When You Come Back To Me (PWL PWL46)
The REYNOLDS GIRLS Get Real (Renotone RENS001)
SONIA Listen To Your Heart (Chrysalis CHS3465)
SOUL II SOUL (Jazzie B) Get A Life (10 Records TEN284)
WET WET WET Broke Away (Precious Organization JEWEL10)