“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.
Brothers and sisters! Pump up the Volume! M|A|R|R|S was a collaboration of the groups A.R. Kane and Colourbox. The name is an acronym derived from the first names of the five artists involved in the project: Martyn Young (from Colourbox), Alex Ayuli and Rudy Tambala (from A.R. Kane), Russell Smith (an associate A.R. Kane member and founder of Terminal Cheesecake), and Steve Young (from Colourbox).
The only release of this collaboration was the double A-sided single “Pump Up the Volume” / “Anitina”. Of the two songs, “Pump up the Volume” became the hit. It was a sampling of several songs, and was inspired by the American house music that was starting to make an impact on the British charts. The song went on to be a #1 hit in several countries, and peaked at #13 on the U.S. charts on February 20, 1988.
The groups never recorded together again. Apparently they did not get along with each other. Producer John Fryer found himself in the middle and unable to resolve the conflict between the two groups. So instead of working together, the two groups ended up recording a track each, then turning it over to the other for additional input.