The home of acts such as Princess and Mel & Kim, Supreme Records had hit something of a groove making music with cool, soulful female artists - many with production duties handled by the hot production trio of Stock, Aitken and Waterman. Their latest signing in 1987 was a 16 year old from Newcastle called Louise Nicholson, styled simply as Lou, and who was put on the fast track to stardom.
She was teamed with Phil Harding and Ian Curnow, essentially the PWL b-team, although both were well-regarded songwriters and producers in their own right. Harding's work had included work with Phil Fearon and Matt Bianco's most recent albums to name but two. The song the trio came up with was Rookie's Revenge, a record very much of its time thanks to copious references to the London culture of B-Boys and Rookies. You've probably never heard of Lou or even her record before. Yet to many it will still sound oddly familiar.
Here's what happened. Although the single was sent out in promo form in the summer of 1987 its planned release was shelved. Quite why isn't immediately clear, although the suggestion was that the label became nervous about Lou's age and wanted instead to wait until she was slightly older. Thus Rookies Revenge languished on the shelf.
There it might have remained, but for Phil Harding who had also been invited to apply some remix magic to a flop single by another act whose potential had yet to be realised. Handed the master tapes of the gentle ballad Rise To The Occasion by Climie Fisher he spotted that the vocals would dovetail nicely to an existing bassline and backing track he'd created earlier in the year but which appeared to be stuck in development hell. Thus was born the "hip-hop mix" of the Climie Fisher track, possibly one of the earliest ever examples of the mash-up - one song to the tune of another. The new mix was released at the end of 1987 and was swept into the charts in the new year, the single and act having very little to do with the house music boom of the time but carried along on its wave thanks to the most perfectly timed remix of the era.
Lou herself was more than a little disgruntled that "her" single had been co-opted in such a manner and made pointed comments in the press to this effect. Seeking to capitalise on the success of the Climie Fisher track, Supreme Records at last authorised the release of Rookies Revenge by the now 17-year-old Lou in March 1988 but it was clear the moment had gone. The single crawled to a mere Number 93 and vanished from sight almost immediately afterwards.
Climie Fisher went on to land a string of further hits, including the monster follow-up Love Changes Everything. Lou, on the other hand, was destined to remain hitless, a second single was apparently released later in 1988 but there is very little trace of its existence. Rookies Revenge may well be the most familiar flop record of its era without anyone being fully aware of why.
Text adapted from Chart Watch UK - Hits of 1988. The encyclopaedic guide to this, and every other hit single of the year.