Home > Acid house, Dance, House, Who sampled who ? > Who sampled who ? Marrs’s Pump up the volume vs The Bar Kays

Who sampled who ? Marrs’s Pump up the volume vs The Bar Kays

Pump Up the Volume is a song by British recording act M|A|R|R|S. Despite being the act’s only single, it was a number-one hit in many countries and is generally regarded as a significant milestone in the development of British house music and music sampling. The single was the product of an uneasy collaboration between reggae group Colourbox and alternative rock band A R Kane, two groups signed to the independent art-pop 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. 1987 was also the year this song played as the soundtrack for the movie American psycho and the whole yuppie scene in NY city.

Just as important to M|A|R|R|S in the long run was the underground dance scene which was beginning to emerge in the UK, particularly records such as “Say Kids What Time Is It?” by Coldcut and “All You Need Is Love” by The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu. These sample-heavy dance records were critically acclaimed, but failed to achieve mainstream success.

The track was released to United Kingdom dance clubs in July 1987, on an anonymous white label with no artist credit. “Pump Up the Volume” 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 first big British-made house hit, “Pump Up the Volume” marked a turning-point in the popularity of the genre. Eric B. & Rakim’s “Paid in Full”, which entered the top twenty in November, sold on the strength of a Coldcut remix which unashamedly recycled elements from the M|A|R|R|S single. This was a very rapid response indeed, since “Pump Up the Volume” seemed to catch the record industry off-guard. It was not until February 1988, four months after “Pump Up the Volume” reached the top ten, that the floodgates truly opened. Like “Pump Up the Volume”, many of the first major wave of British house hits were on independent labels. Not all of them displayed an obvious influence from M|A|R|R|S, though many did. Among the hits clearly following in M|A|R|R|S’ footsteps were “Beat Dis” by Bomb the Bass, “Theme from S’Express” by S’Express, and “Doctorin’ the House” by Coldcut featuring Yazz and the Plastic Population. These in turn spawned imitators from across Europe and the U.S. The sample montage craze would soon burn itself out, since many of the later records relied heavily on recycling the same samples already heard on the hits mentioned above.

Here is a partial list of samples (there’s 20 of them) used for Pump up the volume :

1) Bar-Kays, “Holy Ghost” : Drums, with moog
2) Criminal Element Orchestra, “Put the Needle to the Record” Vocal sample (“Put the needle on the record when the drum beats go like this”)
3) Eric B. & Rakim, “I Know You Got Soul (acapella version)” Vocal sample (“Pump up the volume, dance”)
4) Original Concept, “Pump That Bass’ Vocal sample (“Pump that bass”)
5) Trouble Funk, “Pump Me Up” Vocal sample (“Pump-pump me up”)
6) Public Enemy, “You’re Gonna Get Yours (My 98 Oldsmobile)” Vocal sample (“You’re gonna get yours”)

MARRS : Pump up the volume [4AD : 1987]

The Bar-kays : Holy ghost [Stax : 1978]

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