“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. It is made up of about 250 samples. The line, “Pump Up The Volume” came from “I Know You Got Soul” by Eric B. & Rakim, which was released earlier in 1987. Other samples include Coldcut’s 1987 song “Say, Kids What Time Is This” and James Brown’s “Funky Drummer.” It also contains three seconds of Stock Aitken & Waterman’s song “Roadblock,” but the group didn’t get official clearance and Peter Waterman placed an injunction for five days while the copyright issues were worked out.
This was the first ever #1 UK hit on an independent record label: 4AD. It also reached #1 in Holland and New Zealand.
M|A|R|R|S was a one-off collaboration between members of A.R. Kane (Alex and Rudi Kane) and Colourbox (Martin and Steve Young), both veteran 4AD artists. They took their name from the four collaborator’s initials plus that of label boss Ivo Watts-Russell, who suggested they get together. Those four are the credited songwriters on the track.
In 1988, this song was featured in the films My Stepmother Is An Alien and Bright Lights, Big City (The GenX Book Club’s debut selection coming this October).