ROB HALFORD 'Would Love To See' JUDAS PRIEST's Collaboration With STOCK, AITKEN And WATERMAN Get Leaked: 'They're Fun Pieces Of Music'

March 1, 2024

In a new interview with NME, JUDAS PRIEST singer Rob Halford spoke about the band's never-released collaboration with S/A/W, the English songwriting and record producing trio consisting of Mike Stock, Matt Aitken and Pete Waterman, well known for their U.K. pop hits with BANANARAMA, Rick Astley and Kylie Minogue.

At the start of 1988, JUDAS PRIEST and S/A/W spent four days in a studio in Paris, France and recorded three tracks, a cover version of "You Are Everything" by THE STYLISTICS, and two songs penned by S/A/W ("Runaround" and "I Will Return"). The PRIEST members later indicated that the sessions were nothing more than an experiment that was never intended to see the light of day.

When the NME interviewer noted that Pete Waterman said last year that he thinks PRIEST's cover of "You Are Everything" would have been Stock, Aitken and Waterman's biggest-ever hit had it been released, Rob said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I kind of agree with him, 'cause I've got that on my phone somewhere, and it sounds great. I mean, look what happened to Kate Bush with 'Stranger Things' and 'Running Up That Hill', one of the greatest songs ever written. That's what I'd love to see with those Stock, Aitken and Waterman tracks. It doesn't matter. You don't have to say this is from JUDAS PRIEST. It's a song. Let the song do its job. What's the other two called?"

Reflecting on the recording sessions with Stock, Aitken and Waterman, Halford said: "That was a great day in Paris. It was wonderful to see the guys, 'cause we walked in there; there's me and Glenn [Tipton] and Ken [K.K. Downing]. And they've got the studio in Paris. And we hadn't got a clue what we were gonna do. They had the idea for the cover; we got that sorted. And then the other two, they just literally made 'em in front of our eyes. It was just… God. They just made this really cool pop tune in front of our eyes. Each of them knew their job. That was a great, great day. I think we were there for one day. We flew in and we did the thing and had some dinner and then we all went home back to the U.K. It was just remarkable."

Rob went on to say that PRIEST's collaboration with Stock, Aitken and Waterman was his idea. "I said to the guys, I go, 'What do you think about doing something with Stock, Aitken and Waterman?' [And they thought] 'He's at it again. Why does he do these things?' And I go, 'No, just, let's just [try it]. If it doesn't work…'

"I've always had this thing about, if you don't have a go, you don't know. You can't talk about something unless it's been created, until you've gone through the motions. You can't sit there and go, 'Well, that ain't gonna work.' Well, how do you know it's not gonna work? You've gotta go through the experience. We went through the experience.

"I still love those songs even now," Halford added. "And it would be… in my lifetime, I would just love to see 'em get leaked. Leak 'em for all I care. Let's just see where those songs take us. 'Cause it sounds great. You can hear the voice, you can hear the guitars. They're really fun, fun, fun pieces of music.

"So, yeah. I haven't seen Pete in living memory. And maybe I can just say, 'Just leak these. Send a file off to some place. Send a file off to TikTok and just see where it takes us.'

"He's a lovely guy, Pete. He's very respectful. Maybe he's waiting for somebody to go, 'Do what you want with them, Pete.' So, I'm at NME. Do what you want with them, Pete. Because PRIEST has become this indestructible, invincible shield. If suddenly a Stock, Aitken and Waterman track is released, I don't think it's gonna be the end of the band. People listen to music differently now."

In a 2021 interview with Darren Paltrowitz, host of the "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz", Downing was asked if he was one of the PRIEST members who voted against having the material released, K.K. said: "It was one of those things. Basically, our manager was friends with Pete Waterman; they'd been friends for years. And I think Pete flew over to Denmark when we were recording over there; I think it was the 'Ram It Down' album, if I remember rightly. But we met with Pete, and Pete is a great guy. The whole team was very, very talented. And they just suggested we fly to Paris and spend a couple of days there and lay a couple of tracks down, and that's what we did. And so we met up with the guys. Their pre-preparation was absolutely wonderful and they made everything very easy for us. And we put down three tracks.

"It was essentially myself and Glenn, I think, really, that said that we shouldn't release the tracks," he explained. "As much as we liked them and they sounded great — they were all very professional — it just wasn't right for us. And we stood by that decision. And today, I personally think it was the right decision, for sure. But no one — our manager or Pete or Stock and Aitken — none of them ever said anything to us about it. It was our decision, and they were very cool with it. And that was it. It just went by. So, there you go."

Back in 2015, a snippet of PRIEST's version of "You Are Everything" surfaced on YouTube. You can check it out below.

Regarding PRIEST's cover of "You Are Everything", Tipton told Guitar magazine in a 1989 interview: "I don't know whether it will ever be released. I can tell you I'm pretty sure it will never be on a JUDAS PRIEST album."

Downing previously told Guitar about the group's collaboration with S/A/W: "Stock, Aitken and Waterman are very popular producers in England, producing quite a lot of hit songs by people like Rick Astley and BANANARAMA. We did a little work with them for experimental reasons. It was great to work with them because they are very professional and very good producers.'

He continued: "Everybody is very naive and think that just because they produce these pop hit artists that's all they can do. In actual fact, they can do a lot more that than."

Downing went on to say: "We had a bit of spare time and cash and we got together and had many long hours of table tennis. And we did a couple of songs. We [also] did 'Johnny B Goode'. We were asked to possibly do 'Reckless' for the original 'Top Gun', which we missed out on because we didn't want to take anything off the 'Turbo' album. We thought this would be a good opportunity to go in and do some stuff for future movies. It was purely experimental and fun."

Halford told the New York Post that he'd "love to release [the songs], but there's a different consensus within the band. Our rendition of 'You Are Everything' is just beautiful. It's an '80s megarock ballad, with big drums, big vocals, sweeping strings. People are a lot more open-minded now, whereas in those days it could have created a bit of push-back, maybe even some damage to our reputation."

"We signed a piece of paper that says when we're all dead, they can release them," Halford joked to The Aquarian. "I personally love those songs. They're fucking great. We've never been afraid to try everything. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't. And the exercise of those songs totally worked, but they were completely wrong for us, if that makes sense. In the manner of the adventure of going to Paris for three days. … I'm totally responsible for that because I just said to Glenn one day, 'What you think about this deal?' 'Let's do it.' We never shut each other down. Even the most ridiculous things sometimes are ridiculous, but you don't know until you carry the exercise. That's what we did. We went over there and had a blast."

Tipton told Super Channel 88 in 1988: "We went in [with Stock, Aitken and Waterman], we did four days in Paris, we got four days in between Christmas and going back into the studio. It was a mutual thing, an experiment to just see what would come of it. We weren't chasing hit singles; we'd actually finished our album anyway and we had only got mixes left to do."

He continued: "I think what a lot of people don't realize about them is there's far more to them than 'hit' producers. I mean, Mike Stock's a great guitar player and we work really well together.

"The tracks we came up with were very interesting. I don't suppose they'll ever be on a JUDAS PRIEST album, but we've been approached a lot recently to do film soundtracks and things, so maybe they'll be used for that. Who knows? But were really pleased with them. We've never been scared to experiment, so..."

Tipton added: "What I think people thought, you know, it was bizarre because we were surprised at the sudden, almost like a backlash. People thought it was going to be like 'JUDAS BANANARAMA PRIEST' or something, God forbid we should ever do that — we wouldn't compromise the band in anything of that nature. But as it's turned out, we've got a fantastic heavy ballad and we've got two real good rock tracks; but we've got too much material for 'Ram It Down'..."

Halford added in a 1988 interview with Tele 5 Hard 'N' Heavy: "[The tracks are] mixed and they're hidden away in a vault in our office in London, and some day, at some point, people will hear them — it's just getting the timing right. We didn't put them on 'Ram It Down', because we had all the material already written anyway, so there wasn't any real need to include them, but I think a lot of people were worried you know. They think, 'Oh god, JUDAS PRIEST is going to sound like Rick Astley or BANANARAMA!' and we go, 'No! No! No! It's not going to be like that!' We would never jeopardize our career. We know what JUDAS PRIEST means to ourselves and we know what JUDAS PRIEST means to the fans around the world, so we'd never compromise ourselves — we'd never do anything less than what people expect from us. So they're three very powerful songs, you know, so maybe you'll hear them in 1990 or the year 2000, I don't know. We would like people to hear them, because I think people are very curious about what's happening and we had a fantastic time with them..."

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