"HOW TIME KEEPS SLIPPING AWAY"
On February 23rd, 2018 - after a 30+ year hiatus - Dancing Nation Records (DNR) presented Mel & Kim's fifth official single release. The previously unheard Where Is Love proved a huge surprise to the girls' fan base, many of whom having long expressed their hopes that unreleased material would someday surface, and its release took Mel & Kim back into the global music charts.
Where Is Love did incredibly well across the international iTunes charts, reaching #10 on the UK Dance Album Chart, #14 on the UK's club play chart, #5 on the Australian Dance Album Chart, #33 on the US Dance Album Chart, #3 on the Greek Dance Chart, #14 on the Swedish Main Album Chart, #29 on the German Dance Chart and #10 on the Italian Dance Chart. The single also reached #10 on the UK's Contemporary Pop Chart.
Described as "the first recording 'Mel & Kim' ever made", by its writer Trevor Cummings, Where Is Love is much more than just a long-lost demo recording, as has been reported. The song was actually the recording which gave the girls their original record contract with Supreme Records, paving the way for all that came after. Recalling their first meeting, which took place in his home in early 1986, Cummings mused, “Working with Mel & Kim is a moment in my career that is very special to me. I had been up all night finishing the music when Steve Rowland turned up at my house with the girls, and what I remember most was how sweet and polite they both were. They had no problem about singing in my kitchen, amongst the washing up! We got the job done, had a cup of tea and 2 hours later we said our goodbyes. Somehow I just knew they would make it!” Make it they did! Within weeks, Mel & Kim had signed a deal with Supreme Records and were well on their way to certain pop stardom. Kim also recently reflected, "At first I didn't recognise [the track] at all. But when [DNR] came back with the full story, I remembered recording the vocals in someone's kitchen and feeling terrified. Melanie was always a lot more confident than me. Then Steve Rowland, the American producer who kind of discovered us, said that he was going to take it to this label who had the artist Princess, and who'd recently had a huge hit with 'Say I'm Your Number One'... the rest is history"
2018 RELEASE PROJECT
Bringing Where Is Love to the girls' fans proved to be a long and complicated process for DNR. Having been alerted to the songs' existence by Steve Rowland, the one-time music producer who negotiated the sisters' record deal with Supreme Records, it took another year or two to track down its writer Trevor Cummings. Unbelievably, after years of thinking it was lost, Trevor had only recently rediscovered his recording, a matter of days before he was contacted by DNR. Serendipity! Sadly, being stored on a home cassette format for over 30 years had impacted somewhat on the sound quality, but the girls’ voices and the instant appeal of the song, was still apparent.
Initially, DNR were uncertain about how best to present Where Is Love, but they knew that it would be incredibly important for the fans to hear it. After all, a consistent dream of many who had been in contact through the official website was for some unheard recordings from the sisters to come to light. That the track featured Mel on solo lead, and that it had been so instrumental in bringing the sisters into the public eye, made releasing the recording a no-brainer! However, it was clear that putting Where Is Love out there in its original form would not have been possible. Instead, DNR's thoughts turned to the possibility of extracting the vocals, then re-producing the track but, as a multi-track of Where Is Love no longer exists, it appeared that isolating a clear vocal a cappella would also not be possible. Then, in 2014, DNR were given hope by the global leaders in audio source separation, Audionamix (the company behind hugely successful projects for greats such as Barbra Streisand, Elvis Presley, Donna Summer, and commercial movies from Warner Brothers.) Audionamix began to work on the track and, after an incredibly long and intricate process, which lasted for several months, they delivered a usable a cappella.
DNR then had the difficult task of deciding what musical direction to take with Where Is Love. The sisters recorded 11 songs with Stock Aitken Waterman throughout their career, but by 1988 they were ready to move their sound on and had planned to record the second album in the States, with a host of different American producers. With that in mind, DNR felt that, rather than releasing something that would continue the SAW sound - brilliant though it was - they should attempt to reflect where Mel & Kim may have taken their sound had things been different. Where Is Love needed to be a little more edgy and more 'Mel & Kim' spirited than the obvious route. DNR compiled a wish list of producers they felt would bring their vision to fruition. Producers who would work with them to produce a track which hinted at how Mel & Kim may have sounded today.
SLEEVE DESIGN, PHOTOGRAPHY & EDITIONS
Where Is Love was released over four formats, all of which featuring exclusive remixes:
Jewel Case CD Release - To satisfy the collectors who prefer to own a physical copy, rather than today's go-to download or stream, 'Where is Love' was presented as a collector's edition 9 track CD. Although the CD did not include the Leeds House Version of Where Is Love, it did however include the exclusive Alternative Radio Version. The sleeve features an unreleased image by Brian Aris, which appears as fresh today as it did when taken over 30 years ago. The strikingly simple shot is displayed as a close-up of the girls' faces, without the distraction of those wonderfully imaginative hairstyles and fashions that Mel & Kim are still known for, and it captures the sisters' timeless beauty perfectly.
Digital Download - A 9 track digital download was available through iTunes and DNR Music, both of which included the exclusive Leeds House Radio version of Where Is Love. This edition carried a digital sleeve image, originally shot in March 1987 by David Anthony for a fashion spread in the UK newspaper The Daily Express. The image was then reproduced in some European magazines, albeit in very low quality, however, DNR ensured that the image was stunningly restored for its use with 'Where Is Love'.
Limited Collector's Picture Book/CD Edition - Fans could also purchase an incredibly limited collector's Picture Book/CD edition of Where Is Love. With only 300 copies printed, the lavish release was beautifully packaged as an 8" by 8" hardback book which contained an array of unreleased shots, and outtakes of the girls many photo sessions, with photographers including: Brian Aris, David Levine, Paul Rider, David Anthony, and even David Bailey OBE, who had photographed Mel & Kim for UK Vogue Magazine. The book also provided information on the origins of 'Where Is Love' and the accompanying CD, which was held within the design of the back cover, contained an exclusive 6 track Where Is Love remix CD, five of which unavailable on any other format.
Maxi CD Release - A Maxi CD also followed in an alternative picture sleeve from Brian Aris' first session with the girls, for UK magazine Cosmopolitan. Although shots from this session were widely used in many publications, the frame selected by DNR for the Maxi CD cover was unreleased and required extensive work to restore it due to storage damage it had suffered over the years. Echoing the design of the jewel case sleeve, the Maxi CD image is displayed in close-up and pulls focus on Mel & Kim's facial features. The Maxi CD included a slightly different edit of the Kissy Sell Out Remix, the 7th Heaven Club Mix and a brand-new interpretation of Where Is Love, courtesy of the talented producer Arian!
In addition, two other formats of Where Is Love were pressed...
A Promo 2-track CD was sent out with the DNR press pack, featuring the US Radio Mix and the 7th Heaven Radio Mix of Where Is Love. The CD was packaged in a grey, black and white title sleeve, and included an inner sleeve featuring a black and white shot of Mel on one side and Kim on the other, taken from the limited collector's Picture Book/CD edition.
There was also an incredibly limited picture disk pressing commissioned, which was sent out with some of the promo packs. Using the same track listing as the promo CD, with the addition of the Arian remix, the design uses the Aris shot from the Maxi CD sleeve.
As a special thank you from DNR, all those who had pre-ordered the Where Is Love CD/Book Edition were entered into a lucky draw and 50 of those names where picked at random. The Winners received, either a Where Is Love Maxi CD or one of five stunning and extremely limited edition, Where Is Love promotional photographs, all of which were autographed to them personally by Kim.
Initial promotions for the Where Is Love release, began with the first video teaser, on August 11th, 2017.
The 24 second clip was greeted with surprise and excitement by the girls' fans and included instrumentation from Phil Harding's recently submitted PJS Club Remix. Although the teaser video displayed the eyes of both girls from the soon to be released jewel case CD sleeve image, along with their name, it did not feature any lyrics or the songs title, leaving many to simply assume that another deluxe package of the F.L.M. album was about to be released (as opposed to a never heard before track). It would be another four and a half months before the fans and other interested parties received their next clue of what was to come.
'Where Is Love' - 1st promotional video teaser
Following the initial video teaser, a second video announcing the imminent arrival in more detail was released on January 4th, 2018. The 42 second video utilised the instrumentation from the 7th Heaven Remix of Where Is Love, and stated, "We are excited to announce The fifth official single", before launching into the chorus vocals from 7th Heaven's treatment.
DNR followed this with a video countdown clock, set to count down to the Where Is Love release date. The ticking clock, set for February 23rd, 2018, appeared on the girls' website and Facebook page, and led to the planned pre-sales beginning, via both iTunes and PledgeMusic.
'Where Is Love' - Second promotional video teaser
One of the first producers on DNR's wish list for Where Is Love was the Radio One DJ, and giant of the British dance music scene Kissy Sell Out. Kissy quickly set about creating his own brand of magic, and the remix he produced blew DNR away, and really showed the true potential of what could be achieved. Kissy was understandably proud of his production, and his association with a new Mel & Kim track and, unbeknownst to DNR, he began featuring it in his hugely popular live sets and podcasts. Within weeks, his fresh and instantly identifiable treatment of Where Is Love started creating a buzz on the international dance music scene, with many fans of Kissy asking about the production, but having no idea who Mel & Kim were. DNR had already planned a clear promotions schedule via online and club outlets, that featured which mixes would be presented in the run up to the release date. However, with the unplanned interest around Kissy's production creating such a stir, and any Google search on recent online Mel & Kim activity clearly announcing that there was a new Mel & Kim song, its title, and that Kissy Sell Out had remixed it, DNR feared the track would be leaked early, and they were forced to rethink their promotions plans. Instead of using the 7th Heaven Remix, backed with the US Radio Mix, to debut 'Where Is Love, DNR were forced to utilise the Kissy Sell Out remix as the public's first introduction to the track. This was released as a full mix video file, via DNR's Youtube page on January 4th, 2018.
DNR circulated the Where Is Love press pack, which had been created before the Kissy Sell Out Mix hit. This included the single's press release, a promotional 6" by 6" glossy promo card (which came in 5 different designs) and a CD featuring the US Radio Mix and the 7th Heaven Radio Mix.
Dancing Nation Records 'Where Is Love' Press Release & Promo Cards
Quickly following the release of the press kit, DNR were contacted by a number of interested parties, including the hugely influential Official Charts website, who secured an exclusive preview of the Where Is Love Radio Mix, which they premiered on February 15th 2018.
Promotion of the Where Is Love release continued to snowball, with a mention on the influential DJ Steve Right's hugely popular BBC Radio 2 afternoon show, and this was quickly followed by a number of mentions and features on worldwide radio shows, magazine publications, online blogs, and websites.
Australia's DNA Magazine reviewed the track and proclaimed [Where Is Love is] "a rip-roaring affair! Less pop and more club. Better late than never!"
Australia's Neon Nights radio show, on JOY 94.9, said of the track "It only takes a moment to feel alright.. and, you know what? This is the return of Mel & Kim, it's at #5 on the Australian Dance iTunes charts. It sounds really good and all the mixes are fantastic."
With Where Is Love finally in the public domain, phase two of the promotions schedule began with club promotions, courtesy of Euro Solution. The companies input in promoting the track through the clubs and retail outlets thrust Where Is Love into the UK Music Week Club chart at #23, where it continued to climb to #14. The track was embraced by DJ's throughout the UK who's feedback included...
THE OFFICIAL MIXES
Trevor Cumming's original 1986 production of Where Is Love channelled the synth-pop sound which was popular at that time, and the original 119bpm vocal construct of the song showcased the now beautifully familiar sound of the girls blended vocals on its choruses, with Mel singing solo, throughout the verses, about her need to find love, and Kim's beautifully familiar voice singing the songs lyrical bridge, in a 'call and response' style which reassured that all would be OK.
For its 2018 release, DNR enlisted an eclectic mix of established names and exciting up and coming production talent to reinterpret Where Is Love, and it was essential that the remixed productions didn't just present the same song as the original demo production, with the addition of an uninspired dance beat. It was imperative that the new productions all had their own personality and struck the right balance between honoring the spirit of Mel & Kim’s musical energy and suggesting where their sound may have developed. As DNR only had one song to work with, they strived to produce the widest variety of mixes possible, viewing each new production as if it were a completely different song, in an approach reminiscent of Grace Jones’s 'Slave to the Rhythm' album, where the entire album was built on one song and it’s different versions.
LVNT's US Radio Mix was the very first version to be completed, and the vocal loc chorus of which carried onto several other versions. LVNT completely re-imagined Where Is Love as a contemporary club offering, and breathed new life into the track, by completely deconstructing the original chorus, and adding some interesting vocal effects which echo the sounds synonymous with the girls’ smash hit singles.
(Available on digital download and on the 9 track CD editions)
The 7th Heaven Club Mix, and the 7th Heaven Radio Mix, combined the hugely successful production teams unmistakable sound, with some serious signature Mel & Kim vibes which captured the girls' sense of fun in a heartfelt homage, guaranteed to delight fans and take them on a celebratory musical tour-de-force. Behind the scenes, DNR had been in close negotiations with all three members of the legendary production team Stock, Aitken & Waterman (responsible for creating all of the girls' previous single releases) in order to secure usage clearance for the extended instrumental homage breaks, and all three producers, not only gave their blessings to DNR, but also, waved any publishing rights owed to them
(The 7th Heaven Club Mix is available as a digital download and on the 9 track CD edition, and the 7th Heaven Radio Mix is only available on the limited Picture Book/CD Edition.)
The Final DJs Remix, created by rising talent and 'one to watch' - Germany-based, Sebastian Stuetz - gives Where Is Love a minimalist 90s deep house club vibe. The production completely deconstructs the original song structure to create a very individual interpretation of the track, and the remix plays with both the verses and the chorus to create something cool and vibey. The original treatment, which can be heard through Final DJs own music platforms, featured Mel's solo vocals pitch shifted throughout, but after careful consideration, DNR decided to go with the version that appears on the official release, rather than using the low pitched vocal treatment of the original remix. Click here to listen.
Another rising talent enlisted to work on Where is Love is Zack Massagrande, who completely altered the original composition of 'Where Is Love' for his Zack Massagrande Remix production. Zack deconstructed the original production to create a truly unique interpretation which gave it a beautifully spiritual, chilled out, vibe, which was very different to any of the other productions.
(Available on digital download and on the 9 track CD editions)
Mel & Kim where known for their energy and their vibe, which fitted perfectly with British dance scene giant Kissy Sell Out. Kissy completely re-produced Where Is Love, transforming the original pop construct into an achingly edgy club track that instantly caused waves as part of the DJ/producers live sets and podcasts. A favorite of Kim's, Kissy's mix channelled the spirit of Mel & Kim whilst bringing their sound bang up to date!
(The Kissy Sell Out Remix is available on digital download and on the 9 track CD edition whilst the Kissy Sell Out Radio is only available on the limited Picture Book/CD Edition.)
As with all of the commissioned remixes, the 2018 Radio Mix transformed Where Is Love completely and the producer Austin Leeds and DNR, strived to carefully balance the euphoric club sounds Austin had created with a more mainstream pop sensibility. The track stays true to the original song construction within its verses and bridge but then lifts it with a refreshingly deconstructed chorus. Austin and DNR also created the 2018 Extended Version, the Full Length Version, the Alternative Radio Mix and the Leeds House Mix, the later containing elements of LVNT's production.
(The Radio Mix and Extended Version are available on digital download and on the 9 track CD edition. The Leeds House Radio is only available digitally. The Alternative Radio Mix is only available on the 9 track CD. The Full Length Version and the Leeds Extended House Mix is only available on the Limited Picture Book/CD Edition.)
The Arian Mix, which leads the 3 track Maxi CD, takes Where Is Love in a completely different direction to all of the other treatments by layering the vocal production with electric guitar sounds, synthesizers, and the producer's personal vibe and sound!
Recognising the desires of many of the girls' fans, DNR were keen to also include a retro sounding remix of Where is Love as a homage to Mel & Kim's original productions, and who better to create this than the famed 'Mixmaster' who mixed Showing Out and Respectable, Phil Harding. Phil and his team PJS created the PJS/Phil Harding Club Mix, the PJS/Phil Harding Radio Mix and the PJS/Phil Harding Piano Dub, all of which capture the sound of 86/87 to perfection.
Phil Harding Production Notes
‘’It was a nice surprise for PJS Music Productions to be contacted by Dancing Nation Records, with a request for a Remix of the unreleased Mel & Kim track Where Is Love. The vocal tracks were supplied to us at 119BPM, and we felt that this was the perfect tempo for us to match the original Mel & Kim 'London House' club-style that was featured on their first two singles, Showing Out ’and Respectable, both of which, I had a hand in mixing at PWL Studios, in the 1980s.
Our start point was for PJS music arranger and programmer, Julian Wiggins, to match a suitable 1980s House-style chord structure to support the supplied vocals. This was easy for the chorus but a little more complex for the soulful/R+B style verse and pre-chorus. Once we had a basic pad/piano and bass part, it was time for PJS rhythm arranger and programmer, Simon Dalton, to get the retro 1980s London House groove going. At this point, as a team, we tend to break off into our own studios to concentrate on our own roles, mine being to oversee what Julian and Simon are doing in their studios, in order for me to start preparing for the final mix in my own studio.
Once we had the basic drums, percussion and drum loops in place, that allowed Julian and I to find the featured keyboard riff (intro and link sections), and the rest of the keyboard parts required to support the Mel & Kim vocals. Personally, I really wanted to keep the chorus vocals simple a catchy, without the vocal locs and samples that feature on some of the other mixes featured on this release. The defining moment for this was when Julian hit upon the classic Matt Bianco/House Music styled piano part that features throughout the chorus. This gave us the ‘chorus lift’ that we were looking for, and nicely fills the gaps in between the "Where Is Love" vocal lines in the choruses.
Julian did go on to perform a wonderful piano solo, towards the end of our extended club version, but it was considered too ‘Matt Bianco’ for a Mel & Kim mix. Perhaps Dancing Nation Records may make this available at a later date.
In typical PWL style, I completed the extended club mix first, and edited the radio mix from that, so if any techies out there wonder why there is a tempo variation in the PJS radio mix – that’s the reason."
Having played a major role in earning Mel & Kim their original recording deal, Where Is Love is an integral piece of their story. The song not only green-lighted the start of something very special and set Mel & Kim on a path to chart-topping success - its 2018 release (some 30+ years after its original recording) reignited interest in the achievements of two sisters who shared a dream, whilst introducing their music and their story to a whole new generation.
In early 2020, Classic Pop Magazine placed Where Is Love at #18 in their 'Top 20 Posthumous singles' feature (alongside tracks by Whitney Houston, Prince, Michael Jackson, Amy Winehouse and John Lennon), and said that the release "brings the classic Mel & Kim sound into the 21st century whilst retaining the pure sassiness that captivated us all back in the late 80s." This feels especially appropriate given that, in many ways, Where Is Love bookends the sisters' incredible career... at least for now.