Wednesday, February 13, 2013
BROTHERS AND SISTERS.......
Up until a few days ago, I only ever owned this track on a compilation CD. But I've now picked up a fairly clean 7" vinyl version for just £1. To be fair, that's not much more than the going rate on Discogs but I have saved on P&P and was able to vouch that the sleeve and the record were in what the trade would VG condition.
Turns out that it's the CD version of the single you want in your collection - it's not worth an absolute fortune but at £10-£15 it's more than you'd have paid for it. Here's the story of this groundbreaking piece of music:-
"Pump Up the Volume" is a song and the only single by British recording act MARRS. Recorded and released in 1987, it was a number-one hit in many countries and is sometimes regarded as a significant milestone in the development of British house music and music sampling. The song derives its title directly from a lyrical sample from "I Know You Got Soul", a hit single by 4th & B'way/Island labelmates, Eric B. & Rakim, released only months prior in that same year.
The single was the product of an uneasy collaboration between electronica-fusion group Colourbox and alternative rock band A R Kane, two groups signed to the independent label 4AD. The link-up was suggested by label founder Ivo Watts-Russell after the two groups had independently sounded him out about the possibility of releasing a commercially oriented dance record, inspired by the American house music that was starting to make an impact on the British charts. When the M|A|R|R|S project was first released early in 1987, the popularity of the style of the song had already started to grow.
The collaboration between the two groups did not go entirely to plan. Once in the studio, the groups' different working methods and personalities failed to be good. Producer John Fryer found himself in the middle and unable to resolve the conflict between the two groups. The result was that instead of working together, the two groups ended up recording a track each, then turning it over to the other for additional input. Colourbox came up with "Pump Up the Volume", a percussion-led near-instrumental, featuring an Eric B. & Rakim sample which gave it its title, while A R Kane created the more deliberately arty "Anitina (The First Time I See She Dance)" in another studio. Colourbox then added a heavy drum-machine rhythm and effects to "Anitina" and A R Kane overdubbed some additional guitar to "Pump Up the Volume." The coup de grace, however, was the addition of scratch mix effects and samples by DJs Chris "C.J." Macintosh and Dave Dorrell.
The two tracks were released to United Kingdom dance clubs in July 1987, on an anonymous white label with no artist credit. "Pump Up the Volume" proved to be the more popular side and was the track more heavily promoted. 4AD released the 12" single (as, officially, a double A-side) on 24 August of that year. It entered the UK Singles Chart the following week at number 35, a strong initial showing for an unknown act, especially on 12" sales. However, what gave "Pump Up the Volume" its commercial edge was the remix released a week later. This remix became the best-known version of the track, transforming it by the addition of numerous samples which provided the record with additional hooks besides its oft-repeated title chant, such as samples of tracks by Public Enemy, Criminal Element Orchestra and the Bar-Kays being used. It was this remix, rather than the original, that was edited down to create the 7-inch version of the track, which began picking up radio play.
As the record climbed the charts, the single ran into legal difficulties. With "Pump Up the Volume" standing at number two, an injunction was obtained against it by pop music producers Stock Aitken Waterman (SAW), who objected to the use of a sample from their hit single "Roadblock". Distribution was held up for several days while negotiations took place, which resulted in an undertaking that overseas releases would not include the "Roadblock" sample. Dave Dorrell later stated that he believed SAW would never have noticed the highly distorted sample had he not rashly boasted about it in a radio interview. The offending article consisted of 7 seconds of an anonymous background voice moaning the single word "hey", involved no musical or melodic information, and could never be considered plagiarism in the literary sense. SAW member Pete Waterman wrote an open letter to the music press calling such things "wholesale theft". Some publications were quick to point out that Waterman was currently using the bassline from the Colonel Abrams song "Trapped" in his production of Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up", which was competing in close proximity to "Pump Up the Volume" in the pop charts. Many observers suggested that SAW's motives had just as much to do with extending the run of "Never Gonna Give You Up" at the top of the chart. SAW had access to almost limitless legal resources and M|A|R|R|S stood little if any chance of a successful defence. Despite all this, "Pump Up the Volume" went on to spend two weeks at number one in October 1987 and was a chart hit in many other countries, receiving considerable airplay on American, Australian and European airwaves. While it was stripped from the official American release, the version containing the offending "Roadblock" sample was the version that the Australian charts credited.
M|A|R|R|S never came close to recording again. A R Kane gave interviews to the music press in which they explained that while they were proud to have been part of M|A|R|R|S, it was not an experience they were keen to repeat. They were particularly unhappy at having their contribution to "Pump Up the Volume" all but removed from the track. Colourbox attempted to carry on using the name M|A|R|R|S, but were not willing to pay the £100,000 that A R Kane wanted for full rights to the name, and the project remained a one-off.
mp3 : M|A|R|R|S - Pump Up The Volume
mp3 : M|A|R|R|S - Anitina (The First Time I See She Dance)
So now you know......