Released today in 1987: Can You Keep A Secret?


Parlophone R6174

The music made at Pete Waterman’s studios in The Borough was undoubtedly the strongest single influence on the British singles charts in the second half of the 1980s. It wasn’t just Waterman’s work with his colleagues Stock and Aitken that was responsible for this, as there were other producers and production teams operating there. In his book PWL From The Factory Floor, mixmaster and producer Phil Harding says that “it is often said by others and it may, in fact, go down in musical history that there was only one ‘PWL sound’ – and that is simply not true.” He goes on to list a great many of the styles of music coming out of the PWL studios, among them Hi-NRG (see the Stock Aitken Waterman productions for Proto records, for example); soul/R&B (early records for the Supreme record company); Chicago (later Supreme singles) and other House styles including Techno, Acid, and Italo; and Latin (e.g. Harding’s work with Matt Bianco and solo records by the group’s former member Basia).

Brother Beyond’s single Can You Keep A Secret? was their first at PWL, produced by Harding and his colleague Ian Curnow. In addition to the standard 7”, a ‘Miami mix’ version of the song was prepared by Harding for a special edition 7”, the Miami sound happening to be popular at the time of the single’s release. “The Miami sound is hard to define, as it crosses over with the Chicago and London house sounds with various similarities,” Harding wrote. “The real difference, I suppose, is the choice of percussive sounds, with the agogo bell being a big feature of the Miami mixes and the addition of Latin-style grooves and percussion on top of that. Roland TR-808 [a commercial synthesizer, a programmable drum machine that sounded nothing like real drums] handclap sounds would feature on both Miami and House records and the kicks would often be the same, though generally the kick pattern on Miami mixes would move away from the straight fours-on-the-floor kicks [a ‘kick’ is what adds the extra energy to a dance track, with ‘four-on-the-floor’ being a bass drum hit on every beat] to something more stuttery and Latin.”

As for Brother Beyond themselves: “We forged a good working relationship with them. Nathan Moore was a great guy, a good singer and a great front man but the beating engine of the band was their guitarist David White, whom we got on really well with and he appreciated the energy that Ian and I put into his songs from a production perspective.” But unfortunately, Can You Keep A Secret? wasn’t a big hit, reaching #56 – at least, that’s as far as it got the first time around. “We thought Brother Beyond were going to be massive with the tracks we did with them but it took the magic touch of SAW for them to break through really big,” Harding said. After a couple of SAW-produced songs reached the Top 10 for Brother Beyond, Can You Keep A Secret? was remixed and reached #22.

NEW SINGLES on sale from Dec. 21
BROTHER BEYOND Can You Keep A Secret? (Parlophone R6174)


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