Today’s POP RESCUE from a fate uncertain, is the 1987 debut album F.L.M by duo Mel & Kim.
This 11 track album opens with title track and third single F.L.M, and you’re instantly transported into the unmistakeable world of legendary hit-makers Stock, Aitken, and Waterman with a pumping beat and bassline. Catchy lyrics and dance piano is woven together by a plethora of vocal samples. The mystery of quite what FLM is, is soon revealed in the chorus as the duo sing ‘fun, love, and money‘.
This is followed by debut lead single Showing Out, sometimes known as Showing Out (Get Fresh At The Weekend). This song is a brilliant piece of pop – full to the brim with vocal samples and beats. Both Mel and Kim’s vocals here sit perfectly alongside the music. I often forget this song is actually ‘Showing out‘, as the ‘Get fresh at the weekend‘ section is made more prominent in the vocals. There’s a really catchy little synth riff that just weaves itself throughout the verses and chorus, ensuring that this song is all just one big catchy piece of pop. This song reached #3 in the UK singles chart – a perfect start to their short career.
Biggest hit, and the longer album version (5m 43s) of second single is up next – yes, tay-tay-tay-tay tuh-tuh-tuhtuhtuh tay-tay take or leave it, it’s Respectable. This single version of this song is absolutely flawless – it’s so catchy in both verse and chorus, and it’s perfectly understandably a staple of any 80s compilation. The lyrics, vocal samples, and sheer pace of this song – including the cackling laugh, make this one of the most memorable musical moments of the 1980s. Unsurprisingly, it gave them their one and only #1. This album version tries a few different vocal and musical approaches that don’t quite match the quality of the single edit.
This is followed by Feel A Whole Lot Better, which was also listed as Whatever It Is in Canada, US, and Japanese pressings of the album. This song has a much more subdued feeling to it – it’s less bouncy as the three predecessors. At times it reminds me of some early Bananarama tracks, where the duo sing in unison. The bassline pulls the song together, set upon a simple snare and bass drum beat. It’s a nice gentle pop album track.
I’m The One Who Really Loves You is up next, and this is quite a contrast – cowbells, percussion, and ‘toot toot‘ backing vocals present an intro that feels almost carnival. This song is bass heavy, but Mel and Kim’s soft vocals warm the track perfectly. The chorus sounds great, but at times it feels like it’s a bit choppy when it cuts from verse to chorus and back again.
Up next is More Than Words Can Say starts off sounding like something you’d expect to hear on a Living In A Box album – with electric guitars roaring towards the verse. Mel and Kim take it in turns in the verses, delivering this mid-tempo 80’s power rock ballad.
System follows this, reminding me a little bit of some of the early Five Star hits – perhaps this was a response to their System Addict? This is quite a nice little pop song, with some great vocal harmonies, but it definitely belongs here on the album.
Some fast pace synths and beats usher in From A Whisper To A Scream, which again reminds me of Bananarama vocally and musically. This has quite a thumping beat and number of vocal samples – and probably could have worked well as a single.
The drum intro for Who’s Gonna Catch You, is teasingly like the beginning of Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley. However, once past that, Mel and Kim come bursting in with this great bounding track, and probably could have fared well as a fourth single from this album.
Penultimate track is the Phil Harding remix CD bonus track – Showing Out (Freehold Mix). This mix, which lasts 4m 39s and is shorter than the earlier album version, gives the song a worthy edit. It makes use of some of the catchier moments of the song, and plays with all the vocals and synth stabs you’d perhaps expect.
A plodding bass and beat leads final track (the other CD bonus track) – a Phil Harding and Pete Hammond mix Respectable (Extra Beats Version). It’s not particularly why this track is here (at 6m 12s), as it’s an instrumental apart from some feint ‘hey, man‘ vocals in the background and sampled cackles off in the distance. It reminds me somewhat of the 1986-onwards Top Of The Pops theme, and all it needs is Mike Read saying ‘and this week’s highest climber is Culture Club‘ over the top. This mix feels like padding.
Over all, this is a great little pop album. The three singles dominate here, and probably could have done with spreading out a little rather than being all bunched together at the start. Mel and Kim make light work of the vocals, and are given a slight range of styles to explore. Sadly, we’d not get to hear much more.
This album is undeniably from the 1980’s Stock/Aitken/Waterman stable, and there’s some brilliant vocal, sample, and music ideas here, which undoubtedly evolved to give us plenty more hits from other artists over the immediate years that followed.
Where are Mel and Kim now?
The phenomenal success of Mel and Kim’s career was sadly cut short after single That’s The Way It Is, when Mel died from pneumonia in 1990. Her pneumonia had developed due to catching a cold whilst undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer. Their second album was shelved, incomplete.
Kim went on to release her eponymous solo album in 1990 in collaboration with former Bros member Craig Logan, scoring hits including Don’t Worry, and G.L.A.D. Her second album Breakaway (1993) was not a commercial success.
An expanded edition of the F.L.M album was released in 2010 through Cherry Red Records, including That’s The Way It Is and a host of remixes.
POP RESCUE RATING
- POP RESCUE 2015 RATING: 3 / 5
- 1987 UK CHART POSITION: #3, certified Platinum.
- POP RESCUE COST: £3.00 from an eBay seller.