Don’t You Tell Me No…

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The Innocents Song: A Little Respect (1988)

Artist: Erasure

Album: The Innocents

Writers: Andy Bell, Vince Clark

Label: Sire (US), Mute (UK)

Don’t you tell me no…Soul, I hear you calling…Oh, baby please give a little respect to me..

If it’s not the repeated refrain, “that you gimme no,” it’s the refrain “don’t you tell me no” that people remember most about this song. The song is actually called A Little Respect and there is not a moment or melody in it that is not its own hook. In 1989 it was the third single from their album The Innocents and the second hit for Erasure after ‘Chains of Love.’ It scored big on multiple charts, reaching no. 14 on the Billboard Hot 100, and doing even better on the alternative, and dance charts, among others. It reached no. 4 on the U.K. charts. Today, it is arguably the group’s most famous song.

Erasure, consisting of only two members, Vince Clarke and Andy Bell, was on of the first, and the most successful ‘synth group’ of the 1980s. Although they relied on technology for their sound, it was their instinct for well-crafted pop songs, together with Andy Bells’ dramatic and passionate vocals, that set them apart. Their success should not be taken for granted. Andy Bell, often described as ‘flamboyant,’ was the first openly gay performer of the era.

Erasure was formed when Vince Clark, formerly of the groundbreaking synth-pop group Depeche Mode and of Yazoo put an ad in a British newspaper looking for a singer. He received 40 tapes, one of which was from Andy Bell. Their first album, Wonderland, did not do so well. But they began to find their songwriting mojo in their second album. They released the preview single ‘Sometimes,’ which went to no. 2 in the U.K., before releasing their second album The Circus in 1987, which was highly successful in Britain. Then came The Innocents and their first hit in the U.S., ‘Chains of Love.’ This was actually the group’s highest-charting single from the album, reaching no. 12 on the Billboard Hot 100, but ‘A Little Respect’ proved to be the most notable and well-remembered.

The video for the song was a tongue-in-cheek romp, with sight gags to match the lyrics, such as Vince Clark spooning sugar into tea during the line “a little something to make me sweeter,” trying to take a hammer to a heart that Andy Bell is holding during “refrain from breaking my heart,” holding up two sole (fish) and showing a poster from the Seoul Olympics during the word “soul” plus many others. It is reportedly the only video Andy Bell remembers actually enjoying making.

Erasure ‘A Little Respect’ Official Video

Erasure is also known for bringing about an Abba resurgence with their 1992 Abba tribute album Abba-esque. This, in turn, led to a cover version of ‘A Little Respect’ by the Abba tribute band Bjorn, on their album Erasure-ish on which they did an Abba-style version of the song. Nine years later the band Wheatus, a ‘nu-metal’ band covered it and went all the way to no. 3. Their version is a great way to hear what I was saying at the beginning. Even taken out of the “synth” context, this is a great pop song.