#906: 1987, M/A/R/R/S, Pump Up The Volume

by Ray_North on June 25, 2014

I’ve been reading the biography of 4AD and the very enigmatic and, at times, visionary Ivo Watts-Russell.

Of course, for most of us, 4AD was all about Pixies, Throwing Muses, The Cocteau Twins and This Mortal Coil – that, of course, and the incredible album covers which never failed to provoke and inspire, particularly when you were a teenager.

What I’d forgotten, or perhaps, had never really appreciated was that out of the 4AD stable also came M/A/R/R/S – which for a period in my life was blasted out at every nightclub speaker. I confess I was surprised by this discovery – to my mind, this tune lacked either the ethereal quality of some 4AD stuff, or the loud, quiet, loud, quality of Pixies and Muses – instead Pump Up The Volume was a novelty record a folly, which lacked the depth or the edge that I was after when I was seventeen.

What I didn’t know was just how close this record came to destroying 4AD. It was the record label’s first number 1 hit – but, as Ivo said, it changed 4AD from a record label which was innovative and daring into a record company which had to have one eye on selling records. It also lead to one unholy row as various people including the hideous Stock, Aitken and Waterman sued them for breach of copyright and the band itself, which was a collaboration between Colourbox and AR Kane, disintegrated spectacularly in an acrimonious row over who’d contributed what to the song – leading to M/A/R/R/S becoming the only group to have a number 1 hit and never record a follow up.

Now, listening to it again after, crikey, twenty seven years, I think that its aged pretty well – the bass and drum loop hold up and the samples are fun.

So, put the put the needle on the record…..

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ceri June 27, 2014 at 12:38 pm

An amazing song, and one that has grown on me too. Good to see ATL acknowledging the majesty of the best dance music. 1988 was an amazing year for music, – I was too young to fully partake in the ‘second summer of love’ – though I did pin a smiley badge to my school jumper!


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