M|A|R|R|S - Pump Up The Volume (1987)
- 80's score: 2.6
- Genre(s): House
"Pump Up the Volume" is the only single by British recording act M|A|R|R|S. Recorded and released in 1987, it was a ...
"Pump Up the Volume" is the only single by British recording act M|A|R|R|S. Recorded and released in 1987, it was a number-one hit in many countries and is regarded as a significant milestone in the development of British acid 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 labelmates Eric B. & Rakim, released months prior in that same year.
The single was the product of an uneasy collaboration between electronic 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 UK chart. 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.
A.R. Kane had released an E.P. entitled When You're Sad on One Little Indian Records in late 1986. Frustrated by the lack of support from One Little Indian, Alex Ayuli of the band approached 4AD owner Ivo Watts-Russell to see if his label would take them on. Derek Birkett, the owner of One Little Indian, was under the impression that 4AD were trying to poach his band, and, along with label designer Paul White and Einar Örn Benediktsson from the Sugarcubes, visited the 4AD offices in Alma Road to confront Watts-Russell. Colin Wallace, a 4AD staff member, convened a team from the warehouse to support Watts-Russell. Despite a heated argument in which a furious Birkett told Watts-Russell "You don't do that. You fucking stole my fucking band," A.R. Kane signed to 4AD for a one-off release. Following the release of the Lollita EP, the band voiced their disappointment with One Little Indian, who had failed to deliver on a promise that A.R. Kane could work with producer Adrian Sherwood. Watts-Russell suggested that they instead work with Martyn Young of Colourbox.
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 gel. 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 groups ended up recording a track each, then exchanging them 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 that 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." Mackintosh and Dave Dorrell. Colourbox told Watts-Russell that they didn't want "Anitina" on the B-side and wanted "Pump Up the Volume" released solely as a Colourbox track. Watts-Russell overruled them, in part because of Young's notoriously slow work rate with the prospect of the track being held up for another 12 to 18 months, and released the track as M|A|R|R|S as originally planned. This led to the relationship with the band collapsing, and they never recorded for 4AD again.