It’s easy to forget just how important musical odd couple Erasure were when they arrived in 1986 cheerfully singing about gay love and heartbreak on TOTPs with songs like ‘Sometimes’, ‘Oh L’amour’ and ‘Stop!’. Like Bronski Beat, flamboyant, openly out front-man Andy Bell was a trailblazer singing in celebration of love and individuality, in a society that still hadn’t fully accepted homosexuality, or even embraced the fact that yes gay men have lovers too. “That’s just how society was.” Andy Bell told the Guardian recently “People like me and Jimmy Somerville were just very honest. It’s staggering how it’s changed, gay marriage and all. I think the public is in tune with mother nature and we evolve without realising it. We fight for our rights and stuff, but politicians are the last people to sign everything off.”
Released in 1988, ‘A Little Respect’ is Erasure’s infectious signature single, lifted from perhaps their defining album ‘The Innocents’ produced by Stephen Hague, known for producing Pet Shop Boys, it dealt with the contradictions and pain of love and religion. Ripe with bountiful beats and wonderful dappling euro-synths provided by more reserved mastermind Vince Clark, there’s a gloriously bittersweet juxtaposition throughout between the exultant music and Bell’s impassioned plea for compassion to a lover who had spurned him on the sea of an insatiably bubbling melody, in that way it’s a nod to the tradition of Motown and Aretha Franklin‘s own ‘Respect’.
Bell’s vocals are effortless, perfectly capturing turmultuous feelings of loving someone who doesn’t always love you back, hinting at a society that’s dissaproval had put up obstacles (‘What religion or reason/Could drive a man to forsake his lover?) sailing from restlessly confessional to spiralling exclamation (‘Give a little respect to me!’) with ease in the sublime, singalong choruses his sustained high notes proving just why Vince Clarke picked him out of a host of singers who replied to an advert in Melody Maker.
Lest we forget electro boffin Vince Clarke was the man responsible for the early giddy synth sound of Depeche Mode typified by a song like ‘Just can’t get enough’, the man who together with Alison Moyer crafted the minimalist soul versus machine, pop brilliance of Yazoo‘s ‘Upstairs at Erics’ that also included its own run of pop classics. Erasure may have been derided at the time by some but they proved their critics dead wrong with a run of quality albums and hit singles, well into the 1990s and beyond.
‘A Little Respect’ is a song with a lifespan that’s lived on well beyond its release, reaching number four in the UK chart, it has since become a kareoke classic, a film staple, inspired flash mob singalongs, hell even Wheatus had a hit with it(where are they now?)! A calling card for individuality, and pride in the LGBT community ‘A Little Respect’ is simply a fantastic pop song with an enduring message, one that is only more relevant with the passing of time!