Nothing Has Been Proved

Writers - Tennant/Lowe
First released - 1989 (Dusty Springfield); 2001 (PSB)
Original album - Reputation (Dusty Springfield); Introspective 2001 reissue Further Listening 1988-1989 bonus disc (PSB)
Producer (PSB version) - Pet Shop Boys; (Dusty Springfield version) - Julian Mendelsohn, Pet Shop Boys
Subsequent albums - Concrete
Other releases - 1989 single by Dusty Springfield, produced by PSB (UK #16)

This track, recorded and originally released by Dusty Springfield on her album Reputation, was written by Neil and Chris for the film Scandal, which concerned the notorious Profumo Affair. This imbroglio, which rocked the British government in 1963 ("'Please Please Me''s number one…"), involved several cabinet ministers who had enjoyed relationships with a pair of prostitutes qua "models" who were also fooling around with a Soviet naval attache with connections to the Russian spy ring. There were also some indiscreet photographs taken of nude goings-on next to the swimming pool of a stately mansion. Court proceedings and a suicide followed in its wake.

At any rate, the events as described in the song, though necessarily abbreviated and vague, are essentially accurate. By the same token, the people described in the song, such as Stephen Ward, are equally real, though Neil cites them by first name only. The thrust of the song is that, indeed, nothing—at least nothing that indicated actual treachery by the cabinet members involved—had been proved. Just sexual indiscretion. Yet it was enough to cause an uproar in the press, to rattle the government, and to cause one of the central figures in the affair to kill himself. This, of course, is Neil's implicit condemnation of the prurient, puritanical impulses that cause such terrible things to happen over what should be personal, private and, in fact, nonconsequential matters.

The PSB demo of this track was released with the 2001 reissue of Introspective. Neil seems to struggle somewhat with his vocal, almost certainly because the melody was written with Dusty's range in mind rather than his own. The instrumental track on the demo also differs from that of Dusty's version in some subtle but intriguing ways. Dusty's hit single rendition features Neil as support vocalist, intoning the lines "It's a scandal… such a scandal" during the bridge as well as doubling Dusty's lead during lines quoted (or at least paraphrased) from Stephen Ward's suicide note: "Sorry about the mess…."

A fascinating footnote is the fact that, in his book The Complete Dusty Springfield, author Paul Howes says that Neil—ever the historian, having long been intrigued by the Profumo Affair—wrote the original version of this song, with pretty much the same lyrics but a different melody, before he even met Chris. It was resurrected for Dusty and Scandal, with Neil and Chris collaborating on a new melody.



Officially released

Pet Shop Boys rendition:

Dusty Springfield rendition:

List cross-references