After a period of working with different producers between 1985 and 1986, Dean reunited with SAW for the effervescent 1986 single Stand Up. Unfortunately, that release didn't find a wide audience, peaking at #79, and it would be a year later before a further collaboration with SAW would emerge.
Always Doesn't Mean Forever took Dean into darker territory -- both lyrically, thematically and musically -- and away from the comfort zone of her earlier hi-NRG recordings.
Sure, the pulsating synths are still there, as is the strident percussion track, but there is a slightly darker feel to proceedings on this track. Heavy orchestral hits punctuate the track, and a robust electric guitar riff (courtesy of Aitken) recurs throughout.
This sparse but heavy arrangement suits the theme of the song well, as lyrically it deals with the end of a relationship, with the protagonist telling their former lover some cold hard truths about love (and indeed life). Dean's delivery of the lyrics is well suited, as there is an almost vicious tone to her vocal here. "I never asked you to feel this way / So don't you put the blame on me" she hisses at one point, not long after declaring "I never asked you to fall in love / Now you know what life's about".
Many people make the mistake that SAW songs are all happy and positive, but whilst the arrangements may be upbeat, the lyrics are often melancholic. But I'm not sure SAW ever got so vitriolic as they did with Always Doesn't Mean Forever; there's little sadness here, or little duty of care to the former lover -- Dean's had enough of tiptoeing around hurt feelings, and she's telling it like it is.
It's a very melodic song, with real pace and urgency to the verses, with an effective bridge ramping up the excitement. The chorus isn't necessarily as singalong as other SAW examples, but it is catchy whilst suiting the pessimism of the song. Dean spits the chorus out -- "And though you're old enough to fall in love / You're still too young to know why / Always doesn't mean forever / Every time". As already stated, this is beyond melancholy -- this is a downbeat record whose pessimism almost borders on nihilism.
The arrangement is an interesting collision of styles; there's definitely a Latin Miami sound influence in there (the 12" is named the My-Ami Mix) with the electric piano, the layered percussion and the fluttering synth that backs the bridge, but we also have the orchestral hits, the SAW trademark vocal locs and the electric guitar riff which point more towards the UK pop scene of the period. As ever, there is some great playing from both Stock and Aitken.
Notably, this track features an early appearance of the "Funky Joe" sound (as it was named by Stock & Aitken). Very prominent in Kylie Minogue's I Should Be So Lucky, this resonant, bouncy metallic tone would go on to feature in a number of SAW tracks of the period, and it certainly brings a hypnotic quality to Always Doesn't Mean Forever.
It's also worth noting that this song was originally written for (and recorded by) Sheila Ferguson of The Three Degrees; she had been recording a solo album with SAW (and Matt Bianco's Mark Fisher) in 1986, which remains unreleased at the time of writing. It would be interesting to hear Ferguson's version, which presumably would be more oriented towards a soul/funk sound.
Regarding Dean's released version, I'd advise new listeners to seek out the extended My-Ami version over the 7" mix, at least for a first listen; the track has more space to breathe, and the instrumentation builds up nicely. Even better, Aitken's guitars gain greater prominence towards the end and combine with an effective slowed down sample of Dean's vocal loc to create a really haunting feel which reinforces the downbeat lyrics.
It's worth pointing out that many SAW tracks were created as 12" mixes, then editing down to 7" mixes. Such editing was often seamless, but to my ears, I think the 7" mix of Always Doesn't Mean Forever is less successful in this regard. It's not bad by any means, but I think the edit loses some of the impact and appeal that the 12" mix possesses.
There are only 4 released mixes; the 7", the My-Ami 12", plus a slightly longer 7" instrumental and a shorter instrumental version of the 12" -- all mixed by Pete Hammond.
Released in June 1987, Always Doesn't Mean Forever failed to reach the Top 75, peaking at #92 -- a rare chart misfire at a time when SAW were very much on the ascendant. It's a good little track, and one I admire greatly, but I wonder if it's thematic bleakness went against it in terms of finding favour with radio playlisters and the record buying public. Nevertheless, it is an interesting diversion for both SAW and Dean, not simply in arrangement but especially lyrically and tonally.
Always Doesn't Mean Forever - Hazell Dean
EMI Records - EM8, #92, 1987
Written, arranged & produced by Mike Stock, Matt Aitken & Pete Waterman
Mixed by Pete Hammond