Following their success with Princess's hit song – 'Say I'm Your Number One' - Supreme Records were keen to repeat this with their newly signed female duo.  As he had with Princess, Nick East brought the sisters to Stock, Aitken & Waterman who originally penned a similar sounding, 110 BPM, RnB/Soul track for them entitled 'System', or 'Everybody's Got A System', to give the track its original working title.  The Stock, Aitken & Waterman production team was pre-'The Hit Factory', so there was much more time given to record and perfect the tracks they produced for the artists prior to their release.  This allowed much more time for the sisters to adjust to the studio environment and, over the following months, 'System' was recorded and mixed, and a photo shoot with Chris Edwick commissioned for its sleeve.  The recording was even sent to be manufactured for release before Pete Waterman took a chance and halted its production.  Kim later recalled, "Mel and I were very excited but about a week later I got a call from Nick East saying that Stock, Aitken & Waterman had scraped the track.  Mel and I were devastated, 'cause we thought it was because we didn’t do it with the right vocal or they didn’t like us, but Nick assured us that they would call us when they came up with another track."  

Pete was aware that he had found something different with Mel & Kim and he believed that the sisters needed a different début, a fresh tune, that had attitude and impact to match their feisty and fun personas.  

In 2008 Kim recalled "They were thinking - two black chicks from East London - we will take them down the Princess route.  Then they took us down the pub and we were all ‘Cor blimey mate, ow’s your father?’ and they thought, this song is too soft for them.  Pete said ‘Scrub the track, we need something tough for these girls!’  Pete really does tune into the artist!”  

With an incredibly fast turn around Pete linked the girls with the emerging 'Chicago House' sound, which was still underground on the London club scene, and the writing of 'Showing Out (Get Fresh At The Weekend)' was undertaken. 'System' did make Mel & Kim's début release, but only in dub form on 'Showing Out''s b-side.  It was only with the release of Mel & Kim’s début album – 'F.L.M.' - that we finally heard the full vocal version of 'System'.

The 'System' House Mix/Garage Mix and House Mix/Garage Mix -Edit were the first released mixes, appearing on the b-side of both of the 7” & 12” international releases of 'Showing Out'.  These initial treatments are definitely Garage/House in flavour though there is also a strong Soul vibe running throughout the production. The full length mix is a mid tempo dub treatment that gives little away in terms of the songs lyrics and vocals only utilising the chorus and a few of the sisters' ad libs over its length. The House Mix/Garage Mix -Edit is, as the title suggests, simply an edit of the full length House Mix/Garage Mix.

 

With the release of the 'F.L.M.' album listeners were finally able to hear the vocal version on the 'System' – Album Mix.  This mix is similar to the Garage/House mix though the production is less sparse with the addition of guitar and keyboard chords and, of course, the full vocals. The same mix but with a slightly longer edit was featured on the Atlantic Labels 'F.L.M.' issue. 

With the reissue of the 'F.L.M.' album in its extended deluxe form on Cherry Pop Records, three additional mixes of 'System' were released.  The 'System' - Garage Vocal Mix revisits the previously released Garage/House Mix with the addition of the sisters' full vocals. Other than this it doesn't stray far from the original treatment.  The Cherry Pop Reissue also includes the 'System' - Original 12” Mix which was intended to be the first released version of the song.  This mix differs from the others and begins with Mel & Kim's vocals in acapella before it launches into some vocal effects using lines from the same chorus lyrics.  The mix progresses with very similar instrumentation to the album mix but it is slightly sparser without some of the additional instrumental tracks and chord progressions. The vocal samples return during the middle instrumental break before the vocals kick back in which carry the mix to its conclusion.  The 'System' - Alternative Mix presents the song in an edited form of the Original 12” Mix and offers a slightly sparser version of the Album Mix.

The 2019 'Singles Box Set', also released by Cherry Red, included the System Dub Mix, which is similar to the Hpuse mix, with addition of some vocal locs which weave throughout the production.  Also featured is the Instrumental of the album mix.

Looking back it is difficult to surmise what impact 'System' would have had had if it had been Mel & Kim's début single.  Given it is similar in sound to 'Say I'm Your Number One' it would certainly have created a stir on the dance floors and pop charts of the U.K. and Europe though it may not have brought with it the same impact that the 'Showing Out''s 'London House' sound created.  Nor would it have been indicative of Mel & Kim's youthful and exuberant personalities which were as much a factor in their success as their voices, songs and image.  What is true is that Pete Waterman's commercial instinct was arguably never more attuned than it was when he took the lead in directing how Mel & Kim would be presented to the public by changing course with their début release.  That said, 'System' does display Mel & Kim's ability to be diverse with their sound which they no doubt would have explored more as their career developed.

©2019 www.melandkim.com. All written content is owned by www.melandkim.com -  info@melandkim.com

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