Monday, 3 August 2009

1987 Mel & Kim: Respectable

Hailing from London, Mel and Kim were the brightest stars in the burgeoning roster of Stock, Aitken and Waterman in 1987 and 'Respectable' was the second number one for the team.

An out and out dance track, the first thing that most people remember about
'Respectable' is the sung 'Tay tay tay tay' vocal stutter before the chorus, but in truth the whole track is a surprisingly wordy affair with the lyrics adding a whiff of rebellion to go with the dance moves; the 'Take or leave us, only please believe us We are never gonna be respectable' refrain acts as a baited hook to catch the pre-teen with an attitude who was too young to remember Toyah. While it's not The Clash, it's proof positive that SAW still had a certain layer of grit to their output in 1987, an edge not yet dulled by the relentless tsunami of sugary pop that was to come.

True, the attitude is dressed up in a package that's more Top Deck shandy than alcopops; Mel and Kim's lack of respectability probably only extends as far as not making their beds in the morning rather than getting strung out on heroin and having their faces tattooed at night, but it's there nonetheless and it presents the duo as two Kwik Save Madonnas from the council estate.

Because despite the faux Americana of the video, from the opening bars on there is no doubt that 'Respectable' is of British origin. With a chunkily basic rhythm and a catchily simple tune, 'Respectable' is far removed from the complex integrated beats of House, the bass funk swing of disco or the Grande Dame statements of Madonna herself, yet it surges ever forward with a watch-like precision and feel good energy that will keep any dancing feet moving, even if it did already sound curiously retro before its time in 1987.

Manufactured it may be, but it's crafted with care rather than jerry built and 'Respectable' is a classy pop tune unfairly overlooked by eighties nostalgists, making it all the more of a shame that Mel and Kim's bright star wasn't destined to shine for long.

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