"MAKE MUSIC, MAN."
By the autumn of 1989, Mel and Kim had parted ways with Supreme Records and signed to EMI, and there were plans to release a new single and album, early into the new year. Not to be outdone, Supreme Records still maintained the rights to the sisters' previous recordings and, in a bid to capitalise on their success, they commissioned 'DMC' DJ Alan Coulthard to produce a 'megamix' of their four smash hit singles, plus new versions of Showing Out, which they planned to pave the way for an F.L.M. Remix Album. Nick East (Supreme Records MD) shared, “The megamix was just an idea we had to re-inject some interest into the F.L.M. album. The album sold well off the backs of the first two singles, and I felt we had at least two more singles on there but, because Mel wasn't able to promote it, it didn't sell millions like it should have done.”
Sadly, neither Mel & Kim's new single with EMI or the F.L.M. Remix project, materialized, although Supreme Records did release Alan's megamix, under the title 'Megamix:Ninety', in the UK as planned, on the 29th of January 1990.
With Mel & Kim no longer signed to their label, Supreme Records were completely unaware of Mel's ailing health, as they powered ahead with their plans to release the megamix and - in the first week of January 1990, promotional 7" and 12" singles of the Megamix: Ninety were sent out with an accompanying, poorly written, press sheet which focused on the girls' prior chart successes at the label.
Then, as with the sisters' third single release F.L.M., Supreme Records' plans were disrupted by some truly shocking news; this time of Mel's death, and although the UK release of the Megamix:Ninety went ahead as planned, it's distribution was severely limited and the single went completely un-advertised.
Over the coming months, the Megamix:Ninety was, more fully, released across Europe, on the labels: Blow Up, Mega, Polydor & Bite, this time with a press sheet that paid tribute to Mel, and her success with Kim, calling them "probably the most successful singing duo of the 80s", and hailing the Megamix:Ninety as, "the last sound document of Mel & Kim".
Megamix Ninety UK and German Press Releases
SLEEVE DESIGN, PHOTOGRAPHY & EDITIONS
The sleeve design for Megamix:Ninety utilises a stunning photograph from the 1987 Brian Aris' shoot, commissioned for the F.L.M. Album. The image is printed in close up and in black and white, with 'Megamix:Ninety' printed in orange lettering.
The French and Scandinavian releases of Megamix:Ninety use the same design, but both the photograph and the lettering appear in black and white. All releases utilise a small Pierre Terrason shot of the girls on the back cover, alongside the track listing and chart information on the individual single releases combined into the mix.
Megamix:Ninety only received a very limited UK release on promotional 12” & promotional CD, on the Supreme label. The 12" single came in a Supreme Record company logo sleeve and the label does not include the usual 'promotional copy' title.
Megamix:Ninety received a much wider release in Europe, with official releases in Germany, France, Scandinavia and Belgium, appearing over four formats – 7” and 12” vinyl and 3” and 5” CD. Interestingly, there were some variations in the track listings between these releases.
The UK promotional CD includes the full version of Alan's Megamix:Ninety, The Italio House Mix, and The Italio House Mix Edit of Showing Out. Unusually, the Music Factory produced Leave It Out John' Megamix from 1988, which, until then, had only been available on a DJ mix 12” and CD, through the Music Factory DJ service label, is also included. This megamix boasts the four UK single releases alongside I'm The One Who Really Loves You and From A Whisper To A Scream, and ends with an interesting spoken sample from the girls' studio banter.
In addition, there is also a very rare Test Press Promotional CD which was made available to DJ's using the same catalogue number - PRCD(X)161 - as the UK Promotional CD. This four-track disc leads with The Leave It Out John! Megamix, and is followed by one of Alan Coulhard's alternative edits of the officially released Megamix:Ninety Ninety treatments. There is little difference other than the running time of this edit - 6.37 - although it employs slightly less segued samples in its intro and transitions from song to song. The Test Press disc also includes The Showing Out/Respectable Combi Mix and Showing Out The Italio House Mix.
Megamix:Ninety was officially released in two versions. The Radio Mix, which is featured on the 7" single, comes in at 3.56 and combines Mel & Kim's four official single releases – Showing Out, Respectable, F.L.M. & That's The Way It Is - segued together in order of their release. There is very little in the way of new production on the sections of the singles used for the mix although there is an interesting vocal sample which appears to be Mel saying, “Make music man!” as the mix flows between Showing Out & Respectable. There is also the addition of a male voice saying “That's how it is, and keep on looking out for number one” from Pete Hammond's House Remix of That's The Way It Is as well as the Chic - Le Freak samples from Phil Harding's F.L.M. - 2 Grooves Under 1 Nation Remix. Being an edit there are only brief sections of the singles included in the megamix. The 7" single comes with the Italio House Mix Edit of Showing Out.
The Maxi Version is presented on the 12" single, and comes in at 7.10, expanding on the amount of time used of each of the four songs. The b side features the full Italio House Mix of Showing Out.
Alan did produce a number of treatments for the Megamix Ninety before the final mix was selected by Supreme. However, the other treatments are very similar to the released mix with only minor differences in edit.
The 2019 Singles Box Set, released by Cherry Red, included a second megamix which was created by Alan back in 1989. This version is titled 12" Remix and differs from the far more radio friendly Megamix:Ninety in its construction and the order in which the tracks play. There is also the addition of a line from Feel a Whole Lot Better thrown into the mix.
(Please refer to the discography section relating to Showing Out's single release for information on the Italio House Mixes)
Promotional Test Press CD Release
"In September 1989, before I knew that Mel was ill, Supreme asked me to do a megamix of the girls' hits, which I was really excited to do, as I loved Mel & Kim's stuff, and their vibe.
Although I was sent the DAT (Digital Audio tapes) tapes, I have a feeling that I actually mixed the megamix from vinyl, and I did two versions - plus two different remixes of Showing Out - the ‘Italio House Mix’ and The 'Techno Mix' - using the Italo sound which was current at the time with groups like Black Box, etc.
My favorite track of theirs would be That's The Way It Is. I'd really like to have remixed that, but I am rather proud of this megamix - especially the sample effect in the mix from F.L.M. into That's The Way It Is. It still gives me goose bumps, although I know I shouldn't say that about my own mix.
I had put a lot of work into the megamix, and I think it was one of my best mixes, but it was never [properly] released in the UK, out of respect for the family [after Mel's death]. As a young producer who had left DMC, a few months before, I had my own reasons for being devastated, as I think it would have been a big hit and it would have helped establish me at a very difficult time in my life. But I quickly realised that not releasing it was the right decision. Lfe is far more precious than anything. There can be nothing more tragic than the death from cancer of a young girl struck down in her prime. Who knows what Mel and Kim would have achieved otherwise?"
Following Mel's death, Supreme Records made the decision to cancel their planned publicity campaign for the Megamix:Ninety and they didn't commission a video to accompany the release, which obviously had a huge effect on its sales across Europe (where, later that year, it received wider distribution).
Much later, an unofficial video surfaced, featuring a compilation of clips from the Showing Out & Respectable videos, intercut with clips of Mel & Kim performing Showing Out & Respectable, on the Dutch TV show Countdown, Respectable, performed on the Dutch show Pop Formule and F.L.M., Performed at The Montreux Rock & Pop Festival.
Megamix:Ninety was, most certainly, a victim of the timing of its release...
If there had been more time placed between Mel's death and the Megamix:Ninety release then, perhaps, it would have been embraced as a fitting and respectful tribute, and received a more extensive release and promotions schedule. However, the lack of an official video, record company promotion, and the timing of the release, impacted greatly on its chart positions, and the Megamix:Ninety did not repeat the success of the individual tracks of which it was comprised.
However, Alan Coulthard's fast-paced megamix is not without it's merits, and the passing of time has seen it be viewed as it was always intended - a bite sized homage to the girls and the four smash hit singles they released together, under Supreme Records.