Apr 10

M/A/R/R/S – “Pump Up The Volume”/”Anitina (The First Time I See She Dance)”

FT + Popular123 comments • 9,439 views

#598, 3rd October 1987, video

“Kept the hooks flying so fast that it sounded like a pop radio hit”

This entry is constructed around ‘samples’ of other people’s blog posts or writings mentioning “Pump Up The Volume”. Even saying that feels absurd and a little pompous – they’re just links, right? In the way that samples now are just… samples. If you listen to 21st century pop you experience them as content, not as process, with the occasional exception – Girl Talk for instance. But “Pump Up The Volume” got at least some of its power from the sample-as-process, the surprise and delight of cut ups, that videogame sense of micro-events coming at you in random attack formations.

“Colourbox was the band with the drum machines and samples while A R Kane were the shoegazers, but the more I listened to [A R Kane]’s records… it makes me wonder what Colourbox contributed!

Actually “Pump Up The Volume”‘s pace isn’t particularly fast – the track feels roomy, a sandbox of possibilities bounded by that loping bassline. It’s nice to imagine that this is down to AR Kane’s interest in dub, though the participants have suggested the ‘collaboration’ was fractious and the dreampop band’s contribution to the hit side of this double-A came down to little more than guitar overdubs. Whatever the inspiration, it means “Pump Up The Volume” has aged more gracefully than some of the spatchcocked sampladelia that followed it – though I love almost all its imitator records too.

Also, those slices of echoing guitar are the ingredient that gives this single its enduring strangeness – alien noises cutting across the hip-hop and funk sources “Pump” mostly draws on: as a proportion of the record they’re minor, but they’re also what makes it special.

“some people were yearning for acid house before it was invented, almost willing it into being”

Like “Jack Your Body”, “Pump Up The Volume” was another step towards club culture’s takeover of UK pop. But while “JYB” was an unexpected shot of purism in the compromised land of the top 10, “Volume” is a wild hybrid, made by intrigued outsiders. Which makes its success even odder – imagine the Dirty Projectors’ “Stillness Is The Move” getting to #1, maybe? The record is as much hip-hop as house – it owes more to Grandmaster Flash and Steinski than to Chicago musicians, and I’d guess hit bigger as a pop event than a club one.

“Ofra Haza turned out be to the Yeminite equivalent of Barbara Streisand or Celine Dion, didn’t she?”

The DJ house strain of club music “Pump Up The Volume” helped birth burned itself out fairly quickly because it was incestuous in terms of sample sources and easy to parody, and because unpredictable juxtaposition isn’t a consistently useful strategy on the dancefloor. But “Pump” itself chose its samples well and set them well too: the bassline working as a tour guide, and that sly top-end ripple on the drum track giving the record an intimacy where most sample workouts simply used novelty and brashness. We peep through a hidden door into a different record, hear Dunya Yunis sing, then shut it again and stroll on.

“bewilderment gave way to enthusiasm and we had a hit on our hands”.

Whatever its place in the wider story of dance music, for me “Pump Up The Volume” was a moment of pop crisis. I’d overlooked or ignored “Jack Your Body” but M/A/R/R/S was more strange and striking – and I despised it. Its rejection of structure, of tune, of identification points seemed close to nihilist: this simply wasn’t music as I could recognise it. This state of mind is hard to recover now – dance music and hip-hop have rewired how I hear music to the extent that it’s ended up being rock I’ve had to re-learn how to listen to. What seemed like a destruction of everything I associated with music now seems like a blueprint for so much I enjoy about it: an equal and opposite exaggeration, perhaps, but this record is still a milestone for me.



  1. 1
    lonepilgrim on 6 Apr 2010 #

    definitely a ten – the 90s start here with an intoxicating mix of hip hop, house, indie and anything else they could throw in – and still sounding fresh.
    Colourbox were certainly aware of dub, as their cover of ‘Baby I love you so’ proved

  2. 2
    Billy Smart on 6 Apr 2010 #

    Hurray! Well done, Tom – one of the absolute high water marks of pop. This getting to number one was a reaffirmation of pop’s ability to beguile, to turn and face the strange.

    I really liked this at the time, but fourth form reaction was generally as dismissive as the 14 year-old Tom’s. The U2-embracing majority rejected it for its alien-ness, while the small minority who liked club things disliked it for a perceived silliness and lack of authenticity, their stance supported by the pasted together video.

    I note that although it was officially billed as a double A-side you don’t mention Anitina. Understandably… AR Kane are one of my favourite late 1980s things, but I’ve never really got that song. Indeed, although I know its a heresy, I’d say that I much prefer ‘i’ to ’69′ – where the dub bits and spiralling guitars really connect together in a much more identifiably pop way, and expand and expand over four sides to create the sort of music that I hear in dreams.

  3. 3
    Billy Smart on 6 Apr 2010 #

    Number 2 watch: 2 weeks of ‘Full Metal Jacket (I Wanna Be Your Drill Instructor)’ by Abigail Mead and Nigel Goulding. That was a palpable hit amongst my peers, particularly those in the College Cadet Force.

  4. 4
    Billy Smart on 6 Apr 2010 #

    Great to see a Vaughan Oliver sleeve at number one, too!

  5. 5
    Tom on 6 Apr 2010 #

    I like “i” more than 69 too – the splintery-guitar stuff I think comes over best on their early EPs anyway. But I was never a HUGE fan – Simon R in his Blissed Out phase had an enviable knack for making stuff sound world-changing on paper that didn’t do a lot for me when I actually heard it.

    Interesting about the “inauthenticity” reaction – I wondered if something like that happened.

  6. 6
    Izzy on 6 Apr 2010 #

    Clear ten – wonderful, wonderful record.

    I’ve revisited this many times over the years and it’s never sounded dated or even anything less than the future to me. Maybe because of its very strange elements – the voyager-passage guitar, that clattery break, the slowness – it’s always felt worlds beyond its genre, whatever that is.

  7. 7
    Tom on 6 Apr 2010 #

    (And yes, I was planning to fit Anitina in but couldn’t really – I’m sure others will have more to say about it: I know Steve M is a fan. It’s a fun one to play at Club Popular nights for sure.)

  8. 8
    katstevens on 6 Apr 2010 #

    This is a record I like a lot, but I’ve never *loved* it in the same way as I have a certain 1988 #1 that I’ve always mentally filed it next to. The video however – OMG dance music lives in SPACE! Of course it does! However could we have thought otherwise?

    An interesting comment about this track from a source that I am definitely allowed to share with the world er um: “Press cuttings indicate legal proceedings imminent by Stock, Aitken, Waterman as writers of ‘Roadblock’, no claim received yet.” What happened with this? Colourbox are still the legal royalty recipients at the moment.

  9. 9
    rosie on 6 Apr 2010 #

    It’s not still 1 April is it? I swear I’ve been to bed and woken up several times since the last entry.

    Ghastly noise. Irritating and devoid of emotion. I had to turn it off after two minutes and reach for the codeine.

    I’m off to listen to some Beefheart. 1

  10. 10
    Steve Mannion on 6 Apr 2010 #

    I’m surprised and delighted that this is a 10 – thought only I would go that far.

    For starters I just love the beat, I mean the actual sound of it. People eulogise the TR-808 bassdrum but the snappy punch of (what sounds like) the 909 snare and hats are just as great. Obviously this effect can be felt on numerous other electro tracks from the time but they don’t have to contend with quite as much as what else is going on here and the general medley-like construction of the track. The bassline, comparable to Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Oh Well’ (at least in the context of the Ben Liebrand-remixed cover version that would appear two years after PUTV), is brilliantly bouncy and elastic. The low digital piano note and crashing Horn-esque thuds could be a nod to ‘Relax’ as much as to the scratchadelic medley effect of ‘The Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels Of Steel’.

    As well as the first two FGTH #1s a few other chart-topper connections can be made. The eerie screeching and heavily-echoed guitar must be one of the most ‘extreme’ sounds to feature on a #1 up until then, harking back to ‘Voodoo Chile’ at least. A more tenuous connection with another past #1 might be ‘Telstar’ due to the off-world connotations hinted at in the music (and fully thrusted in the face with the music video’s marvellous NASA footage…partly inspired by Blondie’s ‘The Tide Is High’ promo?) combined with it’s “instrumental” nature. Not only does PUTV sample a dozen or more other tracks (in doing so introducing many of us to them), it reminds me of all these other great important records from before, several of which had also topped the charts. It pays tribute to them while matching them for greatness and importance – from that greatest and most important location, the centre of the dancefloor ultraverse.

    The samples are fascinatingly selected, arranged and recontextualised and I enjoy the irony of the primary sample coming from a recent hip-hop track. PUTV apes the ‘megamix’ trend of the times, akin to Mirage’s Jack Mixes, Steinski’s cut-ups and the aforementioned TAOGFOTWOS? But unlike the latter there’s no real attempt to demonstrate “live” DJ craft here, just a similarly sequenced parade of ideas and moments (in love) from other grooves. I spent years not really thinking about the original records they came from but last year started going about tracking them down (there are lists/guides on YouTube, handily). My favourite moment is probably the introduction of the break from The Bar-Kays excellent ‘Holy Ghost’ just after the notorious ‘Roadblock’ sample. Sped up, the huge drums clatter and collide into each other but without their effect spoiled.

    The fun mystery of the track and its makers follows on from the relative anonymity of The Firm. WHO or WHAT the hell was M/A/R/R/S? There seemed to be so many people involved in the genesis of the track, challenging anew the conventions of performer status and hierarchy and highlighting the virtues of collaboration beyond a more typical band-based setup. The credit can go to Colourbox and AR Kane or Dave Dorrell and CJ Mackintosh but the very large array of uncredited voices and effects drifting or falling through space that make up the record are the stars of the show. The relative anonymity of the group allowing for greater empthasis on any visual motifs and concepts attached to the record e.g. the brilliant video and the smart, clear, attractive artwork for the record designed by Vaughan Oliver (a match for Peter Saville in my book). I was thrilled by its chart reign for three weeks and very annoyed at the dated dinos who tumbled it…

    And yes ‘Anitina’ is very good too. A triumph all-round for 4AD and certainly my favourite double A side #1.

  11. 11
    Tom on 6 Apr 2010 #

    Yes to Telstar! I was thinking of saying something about sci-fi number ones – Telstar, I Feel Love, this… and then the future arrived so we didn’t need ’em ;)

  12. 12
    Geoff on 6 Apr 2010 #

    Kat – the original recording did indeed include that S/A/W sample; I seem to remember that the single was re-pressed with the offending sample removed and replaced by a (not as good) soundalike.

    There were clearly sample clearance issues in the states as well – the version I (unwittingly) downloaded somewhere has enough different samples to almost sound like a different record.

    Also, on a personal note, this one marks my debut as a singles buyer. I’d been listening to and enjoying the charts for a while, but this was the first one I loved enough (and had enough spare pocket money for) to actually go out and buy. Unlike 14 year old Tom, 13 year old me absolutely adored it for sounding so utterly unlike anything in the charts, it really sounded like the future to me and it totally deserves that 10.

  13. 13
    Steve Mannion on 6 Apr 2010 #

    Isn’t it a mis-conception that Ofra Haza is sampled on this tho? It is actually Dunya Yunis apparently (after the “put the needle on the record…” bit). People seemed to apply Haza’s name to the section following the international success of ‘Im Nin Alu’ a year or so later but they really don’t even sound alike!

  14. 14
    MBI on 6 Apr 2010 #

    I’d certainly never call it a bad song, but the idea of being attached to music like “Pump Up the Volume,” that’s just something that’s never going to happen for me. It’s a fine song, but there’s something in me that won’t accept something this far from tune and traditional structure as something I’d actively adopt as part of me.

  15. 15
    koganbot on 6 Apr 2010 #

    I thought this was fun but I never really felt it – when I think 1987 I think “Fascinated” and “Take It Off” and “I Know You Got Soul” and Deborah Allen and Roxanne Shanté and Vivien Vee, so this feels pale in comparison. But then, I was hearing with ears that had long since known dance mix medleys and “Looking For A Perfect Beat” and Flash and Steinski, not to mention years of Jamaican “versions,” so mix and match wasn’t the thrill it’d be in teen Britain (or middle America, I imagine).

  16. 16
    Tom on 6 Apr 2010 #

    Geoff: the Wikipedia entry on the single has a really great table showing the 5 different versions and which samples feature in which.


  17. 17
    Geoff on 6 Apr 2010 #

    Tom – that’s brilliant! and also confirms Steve’s point about Ofra Haza’s absence (although she was definitely sampled in Coldcut’s amazing ‘7 minutes of madness’ remix of Eric B & Rakim’s ‘I Know You Got Soul’, from March 88, and which was responsible for ‘Im Nin Alu’ being released as a single in the UK a month later)

  18. 18
    Billy Smart on 6 Apr 2010 #

    ‘Paid In Full’ surely? Quite right, though – “This is a journey into sound!” – remixing gets no better! Though I’ve read that Eric B & Rakim were unhappy when they heard it…

  19. 19

    Being swank I have two copies of this, one with SAW and one without. Also I interviewed both ARKane and Ofra Haza. (And James Brown!) (And I was in a band with one of Coldcut!) I *am* Pop will Eat Itself…

    iirc Haza’s LP was already released by GlobeStyle — but they didn’t usually do 12″s, and the Coldcut remix gave them the opportunity

    Greg Tate once described old-school rap sampling as “ancestor worship”, and the list in that wikichart bears that out, doesn’t it? It’s like “these are the constellations in OUR hemisphere”

    I think it loses energy when the bass drops out. Also: How many actual mixes of this are there?

  20. 20

    And yes, Erik B and Rakim weren’t very happy!

  21. 21
    Steve Mannion on 6 Apr 2010 #

    Of course both the Paid In Full remix and PUTV were playfully mocked in Star Turn On 45 Pints ‘Pump Up The Bitter’ and LA Mix’s ‘Check This Out’. If you were a sampler you were a samplee. PUTV’s beat itself was used wholesale on Cappella’s debut single ‘Bauhaus’, prior to the more successful ‘Heylom Halib’.

  22. 22
    Billy Smart on 6 Apr 2010 #

    My April 1988 7″ Top 20 smash copy of Im Nin’Alu (as purchased in Lewisham WH Smiths) is on WEA.

  23. 23
    Spectre5299 on 6 Apr 2010 #

    Hurrah! It’s always a great Popular moment when a truly-deserving record like this gets a 10. Like I Feel Love this house/hip-hop hybrid is a milestone; setting the blueprint for a whole new kind of dance music. Most of the 90’s dance records I love owe some amount of debt to this. But it’s not just it’s influence that grants it a perfect score, but the music that is so awe-inspiring. The bassline, drums, echo-drenched guitar, and fascinating selection of samples make this a true cut-and-paste dancefloor extravaganza. A tried-and-true 10.

  24. 24
    Billy Smart on 6 Apr 2010 #

    “both the Paid In Full remix and PUTV were playfully mocked in Star Turn On 45 Pints ‘Pump Up The Bitter’” – more an act of witless – and borderline racist – desecration than playful mockery in my book. Which Radio 1 DJ was responsible for the success of that again? Batesy? The hairy monster? It was as if the Baron Knights had never gone away.

    LA Mix were fun, though.

  25. 25
    Steve Mannion on 6 Apr 2010 #

    I can’t actually remember anything about Pump Up The Bitter except the “chorus” as it were. Did it offend Yorkshiremen?

  26. 26

    Ha! Yes, I was wrong: Ofra Haza: Yemenite Songs and the 12″ Galbi/Im Nin’Alu were BOTH out on GlobeStyle well before this OR Erik B and Rakim — in 1985/86, rerelease of an Israeli record. She came second in Eurovision in 1983, for Israel. And died in 2000, only 42 :(

  27. 27
    Tom on 6 Apr 2010 #

    It has an unfortunate cameo from “Mrs Patel”.

    You can however always tell a genre’s importance from whether comedy pisstake records get into the charts.

  28. 28
    Billy Smart on 6 Apr 2010 #

    That racist bit in full: “Amusing” high-pitched Goons-style approximation of Im Nin’Alu “Can someone help Mrs Patel out? She’s having one of her funny turns! Gunga Din!”

    We can blame DLT for this, I’ve discovered.

  29. 29
    AndyPandy on 6 Apr 2010 #

    A bit of a strange one in how this was received. with it sort of being perceived as “unauthentic” – whatever that meant!. But it translated as PUTV never receiving much airplay on the pirates or being spun at “proper” dance clubs.
    Was this because at this stage being accepted in the dance world was still subject to the whims of a sort of closed shop? – having said that CJ Mackintosh (who I didn’t even know was involved till now) and Dave Dorell were undeniably from that world.

    But I suppose the fact that I never knew who WAS involved in making this track until now speaks volumes for how relatively little it did permeate into the underground dance world which I was now fully immersed in again – my time making the industrial-cleaners and reluctantly listening to Radio 1 at work having just ended).

    The very similar in concept “Just Give The DJ A Break” by Dynamix II from the same year IIRC had no similar problems and was even played occasionally on Summer of Love pirates the next year.

    Maybe the snobbery existed because it was hiphop which more than any type of scene was extremely precious about who it was “ok to like”.
    It wasn’t to do with not being black too as no-one had any problems with 3rd Bass or slightly earlier Paul Hardcastle (qv the domination of the pirates before its release of “19” or “Rain Forest”)or the before mentioned Dynamix II.But then again the Stereo MCs were completely ignored – they didnt even make the Top 20 UK hiphop crews in “Blues and Soul” at their peak (this was pre-any dedicated UK hiphop magazines when from about 1983-86/87 British break-dancers used to have to make do with Paul Oakenfold’s 2 pages of “Wotupski” in that magazine!)

    Does anyone else have any thoughts on the roots of such musical “snobbery”?

  30. 30

    One route to disdain — or indifference — might be the label it actually came out on simply not being plugged into the usual information exchange? Coldcut’s solution to this in a few month’s time — if i’m not mistaken — was to put “Hey Kids What Time Is It?” out on a (fake) white label until it gathered momentum and cachet, then set up their record company on the back of it.

    Haha I still remember dropping Matt and Jon off at Kiss and them making me HIDE MY EYES bcz it was a proper actual pirate radio station with a secret address. (It was in the Walworth Road…)

  31. 31
    Steve Mannion on 6 Apr 2010 #

    Re the PUTV credibility issue I think it’s probably true that it fell between two stools for too many. In general, too ‘wacky’ for serious clubbers and too ‘hip’ for the types who’d otherwise vote for Colourbox in the Festive 50 (altho I see PUTV did make #46 that year so bad example maybe).

    Andy in my own experience snobbery in hip-hop is no worse than in Indie. Motivated by different causes but having similar effects (at least wrt the ‘no sell-out’ ethos in rap). Privilege (and the abuse of which) was surely a prime factor (and the major stumbling block with, say, Vanilla Ice – more than ‘wack flow’ or a cheesy sample I’d say).

  32. 32
    AndyPandy on 6 Apr 2010 #

    Steve at 25: They were set in a Geordie WMC not one in Yorkshire.

    I actually had “Pump Up The Bitter” and the one from a few years earlier called “Stars on 45 Pints” sending up the “Stars on 45” type medleys.Got rid of them years ago but think they’d still raise a chuckle now.

    Having said that if DLT was even remotely involved in their mild popularity its sort of ruined it for me!

    LA Mix or Les Adams was actually a very respected dj/producer back then and “Check This Out” wasn’t really “playfully mocking” PUTV it was just one of the more successful examples of the hundreds of similar records that came out like this back then. He was quite big around London until round about 1990 think he was playing at the Lyceum one night when I was there – think he used to play “The Best Disco In Town” show live from there on the radio a Friday night after Steve Walsh had passed away.

    Yes Eric B and Rakim were very angry remember them being very racistly/sexistly insulting about the singer back then.

  33. 33
    Jimmy the Swede on 6 Apr 2010 #

    Like Rosie, I thought that this was another April Fool from Tom…

    For me, the advent of this being number one simply meant that the game was up for the charts. After this, I just didn’t care any more. If ever the currency of being number one was devalued, it was by this thing.

    Rosie # 9 – Not Captain Beefheart and codeine for me. My escape from M/A/R/R/S is going to be “Pet Sounds”, a homemade shepherds pie and a bottle of claret. The Swede needs reassurance. Wouldn’t it be nice?!

  34. 34
    Conrad on 6 Apr 2010 #

    this is a great track that I appreciate a lot more today thanks to my early 2000s journey through turntablism and hip hop, and this is exactly the type of scratch-laden, playful hip hop I love.

    Sounds incredibly fresh and exciting now. Didn’t know what to make of it in 1987.

    Records this inventive should be allowed a free pass on sample clearance on grounds of bringing new artistic merit to an existing work.

  35. 35
    thefatgit on 6 Apr 2010 #

    No doubt a 10 and bloody hell! This turned my head in a big way. Having heard that it came from the same label that gave us The Cocteau Twins, I had some kind of internal crisis. AR Kane and Colourbox collaborating with Dave Dorrell and some fella called CJ Mackintosh, dreampop to hip-hop via p-funk, world music and house? (Points two fingers at right temple and pulls imaginary trigger making PWOOUUUGGGGHHHH sound).

    In all fairness, we ought to have been prepared for a moment such as this. Age Of Chance, Steinski, Paul Hardcastle and Coldcut had nudged hip-hop towards the dancier end of the spectrum. M/A/R/R/S crystallised this intention with this record. For the cherrypicker like me, this was everything compressed into a scooby snack of a record, and it took a while to make sense of it and work out what all the flavours were. However PUTV had an infectious and compelling groove, and if you let it in, then you couldn’t take it off the turntable.

    A little note of acknowledgment for “Full Metal Jacket(I Wanna Be Your Drill Instructor)”. Having seen the movie and felt the dehumanisation of young men as they are trained as marines, was less a war film and more a study of the american psyche, Mead and Goulding’s samples of R. Lee Ermey over party-funk nestled alongside PUTV’s ColdWarSpaceRaceStarWars video, felt like a reappraisal of the US/UK “Special Relationship” forged by Thatcher and Reagan. Did we really want to be dragged around on a US leash? Global politics was changing. Somebody mentioned the U2 crowd would have rejected this. Having owned every U2 album since “October”, I felt more in tune with PUTV and even “Licensed To Ill” than I would listening to “The Joshua Tree”. Just goes to show how out of step Bono was around this time.

  36. 36

    As usual my sense of times passed is all scrambled: Coldcut’s “Say Kids” preceded this by some months, and “Paid in Full” was almost exactly contemporary.

  37. 37
    Tom on 6 Apr 2010 #

    Yeah, Coldcut were the pioneers here in the UK at least – Marc Gascoigne once did a tape for Franks’ APA with a prehistory of sample house (including one amazing Velvets-Philip Glass-James Brown mashup I wish I had a good quality copy of).

  38. 38
    Steve Mannion on 6 Apr 2010 #

    I loved ‘..Drill Instructor’ at the time too and was fun being confused by wondering if said drill instructor was in fact named Abigail.

    At this point 9 years old I think I was experiencing an enthusiastic peak wrt the charts and most of what was in them be it the Fat Boys or bloody T’Pau. The biggest party-poopers were indeed U2 and their Joshua Tree singles, boring me to tears. My attitude to Bono & Pals changed dramatically soon after tho for reasons that I may attempt to rationalise another Popular time.

  39. 39
    Steve Mannion on 6 Apr 2010 #

    Actually that’s a point. The Edge-y ear-splitting guitar howls on PUTV wouldn’t sound amiss on Achtung Baby!

  40. 40
    swanstep on 6 Apr 2010 #

    Comparisons to Telstar (especially) and I Feel Love seem very apt to me. But both of those got Tom-scores of 9. Cssty suggests that that’s the right score for this too. (I also tend to think 9 is right independently of cssty considerations. Oh well.)

    Anyhow, having dabbled in and been actively turned off by first wave House music, this and the Coldcut remix of Paid in Full and Public Enemy’s It takes a nation of millions (the latter being a pure extinction level event of a generation) were a friggin’ revelation and/or revolution. No fads, this music was fun and imaginative as all get out, not at all boring. A good chunk of the future had rudely showing up and elbowed everything else aside. The broadly clubby music had serious legs, projecting the globalized, interconnected future built around sampling, and shared content that came true, etc., and Rap was now officially huge. Rakim’s flow astounded, and with PE, rap had a genuine colossus to stare down the Beatles, Led Zep, whomever you like. A massive few months at the 1987/1988 boundary.

    It’s worth pointing out too, that Sinead O’Connor’s Lion and the Cobra album came out in November 1987 with this vid a few months later. The full sonic connection between rock and all this new sampled drum kit stuff had been made at this point. I was in my own little musical bubble at the time and so didn’t pay close attention to what was really going on until the end of 1988… but the M/A/R/R/S track was in the charts and everywhere as the undeniable, visible sign of a truly massive, multi-faceted musical reformation that was going on, and that a lot of us spent the next several years catching up with. So Tom’s hi-score certainly isn’t crazy (sorry Rosie).

  41. 41
    swanstep on 7 Apr 2010 #

    And U2 weren’t too far off the pace here: the Hollywood remix of their forthcoming bunnyable track was seriously nodding to M/A/R/R/S’s world…

  42. 42
    TomLane on 7 Apr 2010 #

    A low peak of #13 in the States, although the single was certified gold. Another unbiquitous 80’s song that is even more popular now (in the States) than when it was on the charts.

  43. 43
    Doctor Casino on 7 Apr 2010 #

    Once again Popular serves as an intriguing history lesson on stuff that’s just never been on my radar before. Listening to this for the first time tonight, I basically enjoyed the track but find a 10 completely baffling….and thus interesting. Always nice to get these transmissions from alternate realities with different canons than your own, and force yourself to inhabit this other world. Really don’t get it, but happy to be exposed to it…

  44. 44
    tonya on 7 Apr 2010 #

    It’s a 10 for me, hugely important even if you already knew about sampling, hip hop and house music. Some other sampled records from this time sound cheap, but this one always sounded smooth. My recollection is that this was more popular among hip hop fans in California than with the alternative rock set.

  45. 45
    swanstep on 7 Apr 2010 #

    A couple of links that might be useful for novices:
    Eric B. and Rakim, Paid In Full (Coldcut remix)
    Public Enemy, Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos

  46. 46
    Pete Baran on 7 Apr 2010 #

    My sister had a tape to tape stereo at this point and I spent a whole weekend using it to make my own remixes of two separate taped off the radio versions of PUTV, with stabs of my own attempts of samples to add to it (Ian Dury’s Hit Me With Your Rythmn Stick was not successfully interpolated into the mix). For me this was the breakthrough of the music, I imagined I understood how it worked, and that I could do it too. It is thus a bit of a pity that I did not have the access to the tools I could use now to do this, but its amazing how idyllic being chained to a Amstrad tape deck can seem now.

  47. 47
    MikeMCSG on 7 Apr 2010 #

    I’ll have to join Rosie and Jimmy in the naughty corner on this one. Tom’s initial reaction was exactly mine but unlike him I haven’t shifted from it. I did actually give this a fair hearing because I rated Colourbox from previous singles such as “Breakdown” but couldn’t get this at all. It’s just a bassline with some random effects and samples. At least 19 and even Jack Your Body had some nice keyboard bits (and the former a lyrical premise) but this has no compromises. At the time I think I made the dodgy assumption that there must be too many chart return shops in London so black tastes were over-represented in the charts. I just couldn’t conceive that anyone would want to put this on their turntable at home. I know it’s a big question but when and why did melody and meaning become unimportant to people ?

    As you’ll have guessed from the above this was a bit of a departure point for me. It was around this time that the charts switched to being announced on the Sunday Chart show instead of Tuesday lunchtime and that didn’t help. Partly this was due to Bruno Brookes and his moronic pretence that the chart was still being compiled while the show was on air. Anyone with even a basic grasp of mathematics would know that you can’t work out what’s at no 40 before what’s at no 1. But it wasn’t just him; I liked the certainty of the old show, knowing exactly what was going to be played and when (perhaps going back to when I used to tape things off the radio) and after 14 years of listening to the show religiously I started to tune out. This was also due to Erasure’s “The Circus” being just about the only record I liked in the charts at the time. It didn’t seem worthwhile investing two hours of my life in listening to it anymore.

  48. 48
    will on 7 Apr 2010 #

    A landmark Number One, for sure. Though being a young indie Luddite I didn’t like it at the time. I’m sure I remember complaining loudly that it was nothing more than a hip version of Stars On 45.

    And yes, and Mike points out, PUTV’s first week at Number One was the final chart to be announced on a Tuesday lunchtime, and thus the classroom culture of smuggling radios into lessons and dissecting the new chart during the lunch break ended forever.

  49. 49
    Izzy on 7 Apr 2010 #

    47. why did melody and meaning become unimportant to people?

    Wow. It’s never occurred to me until now that this record could be seen as unmelodic or lacking in meaning, and I’d’ve said that my tastes have generally tended towards the traditional structure of pop. I don’t normally count myself as a massive fan of dance or hip-hop or anything, and I’m definitely not criticising – but I am interested in this perception of it lacking the essential qualities of a record, because I just don’t see it.

    I wonder if it’s just age that is the difference here? I was eleven when this came out and I got and loved it instantly, and I guess my whole enjoyment of music since has been coloured by knowing that this stuff exists and that it can be brilliant, or alternatively that dance culture has been the water in which I’ve swum all these years, and never realised it. If your perceptions were formed just a couple of years before, this might never have happened. Or it could just be this record and its succession of thrilling hooks – maybe this has always been melody and meaning enough for me.

  50. 50
    Tom on 7 Apr 2010 #

    Melody I don’t know about but yeah PUTV has plenty of meaning – like a lot of club pop it’s a meta-record, a record about the thrill of a DJ dropping a great track. With a lot of these records the meaning works best when distributed and experienced as a crowd, PUTV is slightly different though: as a few people have said it’s not an especially good club banger, so beyond the formal meaning (DJs R GRATE) there’s a layer of meaning around the space and sense of possibility in the music. Coldcut brought that subtext into the text of their record with the “This is a journey into sound…” sample – a journey you could make on a dancefloor but also in an armchair :)

  51. 51
    MikeMCSG on 7 Apr 2010 #

    #49 Izzy, I’m sure age does play a part in it (I’m 11 years older than you) and of course if you didn’t remember too much of what went before this wouldn’t seem so revolutionary. If you enjoy it that’s great. I am interested in why what hitherto seemed fairly essential (there were exceptions of course)ingredients to a hit record – a memorable tune and reasonably coherent words – became superfluous.

  52. 52
    MikeMCSG on 7 Apr 2010 #

    #50 Yes good answer. As someone who didn’t go out much at the time I probably underestimated the expansion of the clubbing demographic. Would people then buy the single to re-create the thrill of the club in their home ?

  53. 53

    I’m not that convinced that it’s just a matter of age: to me what’s arriving now is the half of music that had been acting as incontestable and undeniable backline for most of what counted as meaning in rock, since around 1965 (and in pure groove terms 1969 or so). No James Brown: no Stones. And what was taken to matter in the Stones wouldn’t have registered or arrived at any peak of importance without the palpable spectre of what it drew from and played with. So now that rhythm and gameplay* become the hook, instead of melody and meaning, this isn’t the emergence of something new and vanishing of something old, more like the tilting back towards the key element that had been simultaneously present and overlooked for so long.

    *This record is gleeful and witty and knowing at one level — a playfulness aimed at the high cognoscenti of dancemusic — as well as actually and effectively rhythmically constructed and delivered; post-punk often achieved the knowingness but it rarely had the chops too…

  54. 54
    MikeMCSG on 7 Apr 2010 #

    #53 But was there any particular reason why that tilt happened at this point in time ?

  55. 55
    wichita lineman on 7 Apr 2010 #

    I think PUTV is a great noise, has worn very well too, but…

    Didn’t anyone else feel at the time it came out that the ground had been broken long before by Grandmaster Flash’s Adventures On The Wheels Of Steel? THAT was a record that I couldn’t make head or tail of when I first heard it in 1981. It sounded like a joke I didn’t get, and it took a few plays (by David Jensen and John Peel both) before I realised the bursts of laughter, self-referencing and sense of reckless fun was the whole point.

    Pump Up The Volume sampled stuff like Time Zone’s Wild Style which sounded dated to me in 1987. A great record, but 3 or 4 years old, so not old enough to be old school (an expression that I don’t think existed in 1987), just old fashioned. Maybe this explains the “inauthentic” tag?

  56. 56

    “the key element” should i think be “a key element”

    here’s koganbot on the unresolveable core of james brown’s music (haha quoting me, but he explores it much more clearly)

    what i’m suggesting is that the coming tilt over towards “dancemusic” was a correction — perhaps an overcorrection — in respect of two contradictory but necessary constituent parts with pop’n’rock as a whole: focus on one without the other and you’re missing more than half the picture (because the picture is the interraction)

    agewise i was 27 in 87; kogan is older

    ps also: i thought of this last night — this is the actual arrival of the idea of club music that trevor horn was dreaming with frankie; this really is a crackling marriage of ideals not a purity of distillation…
    pps: ok i think my various arguments contradict one another but i’m on deadline with a film review and basically procrastinating by posting at all

  57. 57
    punctum on 7 Apr 2010 #

    It is at this point that I feel the urgent need to balance out the largely dismal picture of 1987 as painted by its number one singles by stating that 1987 was in fact one of the most exciting of all years for music. Scarcely a day passed without some new and unexpected perspective on rap or rock or pop or dance music or (insert Dewey decimal system classification category of your choice) catching my ear. Hip hop in particular was in the midst of its most golden of ages; Public Enemy had emerged out of a blackened hole in the collapsed centre of nowhere, providing the most startling use of random noise in pop since Pere Ubu; Eric B and Rakim were stretching the syllabic flow of rap into new, indeterminate undulations of whimsical and pointed length; Schoolly-D had moved into the previously undefined arena of nihilist rare groove; Boogie Down Productions were finding new ways of minimising minimalism; LL Cool J was angling to become the first hip hop superstar (Cut Creator, rightly described by Reynolds as the Jimmy Page of scratching, makes LL’s Berry-citing “Go Cut Creator Go” sound like the violently exuberant Lazarean resuscitation of rock). Meanwhile, dance music, principally in the form of House (and nascent techno), was conquering and redrawing everything we might illogically wish to expect from a “pop record.” Somewhere in between lay what the NME hilariously dubbed “sonic theft merchants,” those DJs, pranksters and activists who, in those accidentally halycon days just prior to the tightening-up of laws on sampling and copyright infringement, were happy to throw in elements from dozens or even hundreds of other records to embellish, centralise and strengthen their own. Sadly the latter, insufficiently brave new world soon caved in on its own wearisome tribal insistence on “identity,” such that sampling was soon reduced to the same half-dozen James Brown and Led Zeppelin quotes rather than the diatonically shattering embraces between Bartok and Slayer which would, for example, underline the pioneering work of Switzerland’s Young Gods. The extra ounce of courage was lacking…though the good humour of “Bits And Pieces” by Coldcut, themselves less than a year away from their own number one, must not be overlooked, nor the surprisingly successful fusion of cut-up and indie snarl achieved by the first incarnation of Age Of Chance.

    The British duo Colourbox had started playing around with the notion of placing samples at centre stage and eliminating the tangible author as early as 1982; such 1985 efforts as “Looks Like We’re Shy One Horse” with its shoot ‘em up cowboy film cut-ups, construct a template which a dozen years later would belatedly detonate into the mainstream in the form of Big Beat. As an electronic dance duo they are the direct antecedents of the Underworlds, Leftfields, Orbitals and Chemical Brothers who would briefly, or not so briefly, rule the world at various stages throughout the nineties.

    In the meantime rock had also set about reinventing itself, and not just in the form of the Rick Rubin-produced Cult joyfully and unapologetically bringing back the delicious indulgence of Zeppelin, after a decade of enforced denial, with the fantastic and defiantly shallow “Love Removal Machine.” Steve Albini’s Big Black built upon 1986’s revolutionary Atomizer to produce the stuttering sweep of Songs About Fucking (Robert Plant’s top album of that year), Throwing Muses and the Butthole Surfers methodically broadened out their appeal via their own divergent paths, Hüsker Dü (alas unsuccessfully, since they had split by 1987’s end, leaving behind Warehouse: Songs And Stories, the polished bookend to Zen Arcade) and REM were preparing to pierce the mainstream, Sonic Youth gained a temporary definite article and produced maybe their masterpiece with Sister, Dinosaur (then still without the legally-imposed “Jr”) and the Pixies emerged with their entirely unanticipated takes on guitar music – all of which centred around the reinvention of the role of the guitar in rock, the realisation that textural innovations and perspectives were entirely possible without the need to use the guitar as a cock substitute, in its commitment to sonic and aesthetic equality demonstrating significant markers leading towards a “feminisation” of rock. In Britain C86 had been revealed as an endearing dead end, with only the Wedding Present making any real advancements (the tremendous George Best album of which, amongst many others, the teenage Kurt Cobain would take careful note) My Bloody Valentine were already preparing, with “Strawberry Wine,” to make tentative moves towards breaking the mirror and stepping through to the other side, but they were still a year away from their real breakthrough. Spacemen 3 and Loop were already halfway there – their respective 1987 album releases, The Perfect Prescription and Heaven’s End, were milestones (and for the acts themselves, their best work) largely missed or dismissed at the time, but their combined influence on subsequent developments in rock falls perhaps just one horse shy of incalculable.

    But the most remarkable group of them all may have been AR Kane. In an age where we were guiltily forcefed the soulful, passionate honesty of Jackie Wilson and Ben E King, the East End trio of black musicians had other priorities. They began 1987 with a one-off single for the One Little Indian label, the promising “When You’re Sad” which seemed to announce the first true advancement on the sonic parameters suggested by the Jesus and Mary Chain (by 1987, the Mary Chain themselves had abandoned feedback and structural experimentation in favour of the dour balladry of Darklands). But even that didn’t prepare us for the shattering three-track Lollita EP which appeared on 4AD a few months later. Produced by Robin Guthrie with a force and fire temporarily absent from the Cocteaus’ own work of the period – they were just about emerging from their meditative, New Age-y Victorialand phase – the record laid out new possibilities for British rock music. The title track itself sees Alex Ayuli’s beautifully dazed voice flow over barlines and across syllables in the manner soon to be made familiar by the Kevin Shields/Bilinda Butcher approach, while the group’s guitars alternately caress and howl imperiously. It is a luxurious swoon of a minor key song – hear how Ayuli sighs the line “oooh my head slides and slips” like a jetstream vanishing into a seabed of snowdrops – but the title gives the subtext away; this is illicit and dangerous love, and the frustration gradually mutates, via the smoothness of the second song “Sado-Masochism Is A Must,” into the open, horrific violence of the closing “Butterfly Collector,” culminating in Ayuli screaming “I’m gonna KEEP you!” over and over while we experience the most hostile avalanche of white noise heard in British rock since the Buzz’s “You’re Holding Me Down.” This too cuts off suddenly, as knife slits water.

    4AD head Ivo Watts-Russell was very keen on seeing his label’s artists as part of a communal family and encouraged collaboration between them, mainly via his successful ongoing This Mortal Coil project, and dreamed up the idea of a collaboration between Colourbox and AR Kane. Unfortunately the two sets of musicians found little common ground, and arguments swiftly ensued, with the result that each group ended up working separately and passing their work to each other for adaptation and embellishment. Thus “Pump Up The Volume” is mainly Colourbox with some occasional strata of AR Kane guitar, while “Anitina” is principally AR Kane with additional Colourbox drum programs and samples.

    It was “Pump Up The Volume” which sold the record, of course; but it has been its fate to become one of those tracks which, though indisputably radical and immeasurably influential from the moment of its appearance, has long since been superseded by subsequent developments, and therefore now sounds rather old-fashioned and musty, even though it can hardly be blamed for the onset of bad impersonations which appeared (and continue to appear) in its wake. It is best heard in its original and relatively sparse 12-inch version. Featuring live scratching by DJs CJ Mackintosh and Dave Dorrell in addition to Colourbox themselves, it builds up its few ingredients steadily and logically and its snakelike groove works well with all the space left around it. Samples are comparatively few; Rakim rapping the title, the soon-to-be-obligatory James Brown snatches, a spot of Trouble Funk Go-Go percussion in the centre, some distant female soul group harmonies, and a couple of others – Mackintosh and Dorrell’s scratching is largely abstract, their whooshes bodilessly floating through ghost spaces like Grandmaster Henry James. In the track’s second half the cap is appropriately doffed to Art Of Noise – but note the cumulonimbi of AR Kane guitars which systematically drone and cut through the beats at highly irregular intervals.

    The track was remixed for the American market, using a substantially greater number of samples, and the 7-inch edit of this mix is the famous version which pushed it up through the clubs and towards becoming the first independently-distributed number one single. Maximalist where the original 12-inch was minimalist, we are now bombarded with waves of familiar and not-so-familiar samples, including some up-to-the-second Public Enemy (the “Brothers and sisters!” intro to “Rebel Without A Pause,” then only available in Britain as a white label 12-inch import), a snatch of the Last Poets to remind us that PE didn’t quite come from nowhere, a speeded-up section of Ofra Haza’s Yemenite wailing (which Coldcut subsequently adopted into their far more classicist approach to sampling in their “Seven Minutes Of Madness” remix of Eric B and Rakim’s “Paid In Full,” a Top 20 hit later that year which led to one of the most surreal of all TOTP appearances since both DJ and rapper were clearly unaware of the remix’s existence) and sundry others, turning the track into a sonic theft bombardment which would be endlessly replicated over the next generation. Coupled with MARRS’ staunch refusal to appear on TOTP – a musician-less video was shown instead, but since neither half of MARRS was talking to the other it’s unsurprising that they wished to keep a low profile – “Pump Up The Volume” had a profound effect on how pop and dance singles would henceforth be constructed. Sonic theft bombardments inevitably mean legal action, and several court cases came up, most notably from Stock, Aitken and Waterman, who objected to an uncleared sample from their rare groove scam hit of the time “Roadblock” being used; this section had to be withdrawn from later pressings of the single, but it is worth noting that the bassline of Sybil’s “My Love Is Guaranteed,” a big SAW-written/produced club hit of the same period, owes more than a little to “Pump Up The Volume.” The remix now sounds cluttered and overly boisterous with more than a laddish hint of “look how many records I can slot into these four minutes” and in itself wouldn’t require much evaluation in 2007 apart from its undeniable historical significance.

    “Anitina,” however, is a different story. Quite possibly the least heard of any single track to reach number one – other than the stalwart John Peel and Janice Long on evening Radio 1, it received zero radio airplay, and due to the messy legal battles initiated shortly thereafter regarding rights to the MARRS name, as well as AR Kane’s angry walkout from 4AD, it has (in common with the Lollita tracks) yet to be reissued on CD (unless anyone knows different; a CD version of the single certainly came out at the time because I’ve got a copy) – it is also one of the greatest; the record was specifically conceived as a double A-side, and thus both sides were credited in the chart listings, which means that this glorious blast of futurism can legitimately be termed a chart-topper.

    “Anitina” is brilliant, from its intro of handless, attack-free guitars into which Colourbox’s gigantic drum tracks (doubtless influenced by Keith LeBlanc’s contemporaneous work with Tackhead and Mark Stewart) slam like gods. Soon the hurricane relents to let in a Human League-ish bassline, and Ayuli’s voice shimmers out of the dub tangents to say much the same as he said in “Lollita” – “Little dolly…follow…I’ll feed you sugarkane.” As he pleads “Keep me close/Hold me tight” the guitars float back in with immaculately immense majesty – a chorale which again predicts the pink canyons of Loveless. The song sets up its protagonist as a child-catching pied piper: “All my little dollies, follow…follow, hollering…play the pipes, follow?” while the sexual urges cannot be suppressed (“Ooh sweet, sweet/Touch me where it’s forbiddden”). Ethereal venality, the clean dagger concealed beneath the satin duvet cover.

    Beats crumble up into multiple assaults midway through as Ayuli intones a lament: “Crackle’s sick,” to which Colourbox immediately respond with a barrage of “SICK!” voice samples. Then the storm once more breaks to let in a backwards drum track with scratchily lyrical guitars over which Ayuli works on the syllabic implications of the words “follow” and “holler,” before the final, apocalyptic onslaught which he rides with fearless, aqueous joy. Harmonically the guitars augment and ascend, and then with one final feedback-meets-voice squeal – orgasm of causes ambiguous – the song drowns itself to its own fade.

    As I mentioned, serious disagreements, both with Colourbox and with Robin Guthrie, ensured AR Kane’s premature departure from 4AD, and their two historic albums, Sixty-Nine (1988) and “i” (1989), each of which proposes an entirely new future for rock and neither of which has ever been properly followed up (although if the various contributors to Screamadelica had not listened intently to “i” I would be extremely surprised – the Primal Scream of 1987 still faithfully tethering themselves to the Byrds of early 1966), appeared on Rough Trade and, though doing little commercially, happily remain in print. Given some of the lamentable experiences through which 1989 Popular will be obliged to wade, AR Kane’s gain was the public’s loss. But for such a wonderfully radical record to get to number one practically via the back door – and not even intentionally, in the manner of “God Save The Queen” – was enough to remind this (then) 23-year-old writer that marvellous miracles could still occur, and that music of quality and adventure was still able to scythe its way through the assorted film themes, AoR balladeers, coasting megastars and dismal cover versions and reveal what the true music of 1987 really was like – though of course, those with open ears and generous minds were glad to be caught in its entrancing embrace.

    (Oh, and Rick Astley? Lovely lad, lovely number one hit, more Michael McDonald than Luther Vandross to my ears and probably more Craig Douglas than either – and that’s all I have to say about “Never Gonna Give You Up” at the moment other than it sounded great on a sunny Friday afternoon on the M25).

  58. 58

    We’re only saying the “tilt” happened now because now is when a very rich and well-made expression of it got to No.1 in the UK: in other words, its presence became something even its opponents could no longer ignore. But it had been gathering the momentum to become a tilt for years. Cabaret Voltaire’s track titled “James Brown” came out in 1984: one their first (?) LP for Virgin; ie — for them — the moment of shifting above ground.

    At some point round now — might be some years earlier, might even be later — the network of clubs and labels that served UK dance audiences became extensive enough to hit critical mass in terms of charting material. Changes in the nature of radio earlier in the 80s — simply the number of stations, and how they were encouraged to define themselves and their brand niche — also plays a massive role.

  59. 59
    punctum on 7 Apr 2010 #

    Jonathan King on Round Table in 1984 reviewing “James Brown” by Cabaret Voltaire in an outraged splutter: “This will never be a hit if I have anything to do with it!”

  60. 60
    wichita lineman on 7 Apr 2010 #

    Re 57: “number one practically via the back door”. I feel like a killjoy, but AR Kane only reached number one on paper (ie Music Week) didn’t they? In the same way The Fatima Mansions and Jesus Lizard would later score unlikely hits.

    It feels vaguely appropriate to don my vinyl nerd hat and list the genuine (as in both sides have received significant airplay) double A sides that have been missed on Popular:

    1959: Elvis Presley – I Need Your Love Tonight/ (A Fool Such As I)
    1961: Everly Brothers – Ebony Eyes/ (Walk Right Back)
    1961: Shirley Bassey – Climb Ev’ry Mountain/ (I Reach For The Stars)
    1961: Elvis Presley – Little Sister/ (His Latest Flame)… one of the best double siders evah!
    1962: Elvis Presley – Rock A Hula Baby/ (Can’t Help Falling In Love)
    1963: Cliff Richard – Bachelor Boy/ (The Next Time)
    1971: Rod Stewart – Reason To Believe/ (Maggie May)

  61. 61
    Tom on 7 Apr 2010 #

    #60 I still plan to do a “Popular Special Edition” at some point covering these off. But then I plan to do a lot of things and they don’t actually get done.

  62. 62
    wichita lineman on 7 Apr 2010 #

    Well, I’m intrigued to know your thoughts on Ebony Eyes, but I’m happier to read your thoughts on AR Kane : )

  63. 63
    punctum on 7 Apr 2010 #

    Vinyl Nerd (Chelsea Division) Replies:

    “Reason To Believe” technically speaking listed as A-side for first two weeks of chart run only then flipped since all DJs were playing the other side. See also “I Talk To The Trees” by Clint Eastwood, listed as a double-A for the first fortnight of “Wand’r’n’ Star”‘s run.

  64. 64
    MikeMCSG on 7 Apr 2010 #

    # 56 Good article, thanks. I think the loosening of R1’s grip on the nation’s music consumption habits probably is a key factor.

  65. 65
    Erithian on 7 Apr 2010 #

    Something is happening here but you don’t know what it is, do you Mr Jones?

    Well, melody and meaning meant a lot to me and still do – which is why the main things I recall with fondness from 1987 were “The Joshua Tree” (unapologetically), the Christians album and “Wonderful Life”. And, as mentioned before, I was 25 at the time and several of the people mentioned by Punctum in his survey of the 1987 musical landscape might as well have been on another planet. But you know what? – I do have a lot of time for this record.

    Perhaps it’s the relentlessness of the riff that grounds everything – speaking to Rosie in another place I likened it to the marching synths in “Are Friends Electric?”. Maybe it’s the sheer inventiveness of the samples being worked into the mix (where in many other cases samples just seemed a lazy way of using other people’s music instead of making your own). And possibly it was that almost accidentally fantastic video: just as those Old Grey Whistle Test archive films coloured your perception of the tracks they were used to provide illustration for, the NASA archive footage as a signifier for space-age and up-to-the-minute (even if they were 20 or more years old even then) helped the viewer to accept that this was something new and exciting, even if the makers of the record hadn’t had those images in mind.

    Maybe melody and meaning are to an extent analogous with representative painting in the 20th century – granted, they weren’t being made obsolete by some new-technology equivalent of cameras, but increasingly there were alternatives coming down the road. If you buy the analogy, “Pump up the Volume” and the like were audio Jackson Pollock, or sound collages – not to everyone’s taste but there was room for it if you were in a broad-minded or receptive mood. Not that I liked a huge amount of what it spawned though. Before long a few seconds of Funky Drummer or that bloke going “I know you’re gonna dig this” would have me wincing and switching stations. For now, though, I could live with this one.

  66. 66
    wichita lineman on 7 Apr 2010 #

    I knew I could rely on you to spot another! I Talk To The Trees possibly received as little airplay as Anitina. I don’t think I’ve ever heard it.

    Did no one else think PUTV sounded a little dated re samples (Wild Style, Pump Me Up) in 1987? Curious to know if I’m on my own here

  67. 67
    MikeMCSG on 7 Apr 2010 #

    #65 The Tubeway Army analogy is interesting because at 14 I did feel AFE heralded something new and exciting much in the same way younger people responded to this. Perhaps I was just too grumpy – I was starting my accountancy course which I really didn’t want to do at this point – to accept that what I still thought was exciting didn’t turn “the kids” on anymore. Strangely enough “Freak Like Me” is just about the only record where the sample doesn’t automatically make me want to put the source record on.

  68. 68
    thefatgit on 7 Apr 2010 #

    #66 I think it was PUTV that got me hunting the bargain shelves for Time Zone, which somehow passed me the first time round. In the same way, that “Paid In Full” 12″ encouraged me to seek out Ofra Haza. It didn’t matter if it sounded “dated”. The rules were being ripped up and re-written. How many DJ’s looked at their Rare Groove collections and thought about what would sound good over a generic “Funky Drummer” or “When The Levee Breaks” break?

    Once a cherrypicker, always a cherrypicker.

  69. 69
    Tom on 7 Apr 2010 #

    #66 obviously at the time I had no idea about that stuff! Now? Well, I take your point, but what makes PUTV work is the frame around the samples as much as the chosen snippets themselves*. Adventures Of G Flash is more eclectic (and would also have been a good shot for a 10 in the amazing parallel world in which it qualifies) but also a lot more lurch-y: I’m not sure there’d been a ‘sampladelic’ record as smooth as PUTV before this.

    *and “dated” is a relative term here too, we’re not in “Uno dos tres QUATRO” territory yet.

  70. 70
    swanstep on 7 Apr 2010 #

    @Tom 69. It’s not *exactly* the same thing, but Eno/Byrne’s My Life in the Bush of Ghosts was pretty sample-tastic, and it absolutely programmatically pushed found sound and timbre and rhythm as an alternative musical focus to melody + unified meaning/singer. The original vids for Jezebel Spirit and America is Waiting, which aren’t available any more it seems, were pretty similar to PUTV’s nifty vid IIRC. At any rate it was Byrne singing the praises of Public Enemy that first put them on my and lots of other people’s radar late in 1987.

    One way to look at things: Eno was everywhere – behind U2, behind the ambient/chill-out side of club music, which was also starting to get big in its own right (it was on sunday nights on triplej in Sydney), and with byrne behind the sample-arama/rhythmic globalizers.

  71. 71
    Tom on 7 Apr 2010 #

    I love MLITBOG to bits, and it’s definitely another ancestor, but the smoothness there is a bit easier because they’re building each track around an individual sample source, no? All the stuff in “America is Waiting” (say) comes from the same broadcast right?

  72. 72
    Lex on 7 Apr 2010 #

    A lot of the comments here are sort of weird in all directions to me!

    Personally I like it but don’t love it; my opinion’s fairly close to Kat @8 and Kogan @15. I obviously wasn’t aware of it at the time, and only heard it for the first time at some point in university. I guess at the time it’d have the thrill of the new but it’s not a particularly exciting dance track to me (and there’s a ton of dance from this era, and before, that I do find as thrilling as though no one had ever made sounds like that before, so it’s not just that). It’s more like a hip-hop instrumental (which makes me want to hear the full MC vocal) with a few cut-and-pasted samples. I’d file it under “nice to hear at a house party” but if I was the DJ I wouldn’t play it. Then again, I was never into the Avalanches either, who are pretty obvious descendants of this aesthetic.

    AndyPandy @29 provides some useful context which pretty much explains why I’m not totally into it! Really not surprised that it didn’t gain significant traction with the actual clubbing community – I’ve long had an antipathy to music made by “intrigued outsiders” trying to replicate someone else’s scene.

    But all these comments about how this track marked “the death of the charts” or that it’s too far from “traditional structure” (wtf does everything have to be a three-minute verse-chorus-verse pop song now?) or that insinuate that dance and hip-hop music are responsible for the abandonment of “melody and meaning” are even weirder! W/r/t “melody” – that bassline is definitely a melody to my ears, and in any case it has rhythm. “Meaning” – I don’t know what this even refers to, tbh, I don’t know what it means that a song “means” something.

    @52 it depends on the track – when I listen to dance music at home, sometimes it’s to recreate the club experience, sometimes because you hear the track in a different way in a home-listening context.

  73. 73
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 7 Apr 2010 #

    @70: yes, the great lost* project in respect of the MM canon that punctum is repping for — not wrongly — is the harmolodic collision funk that laswell** and ronald shannon jackson were exploring on the back of the no wave thing in nyc 79-85: material — feat.whitney! — prefigures and creates the context for eno/byrne

    *by “lost” i mean that MM — having shed its jazz coverage — was allergic to the point of bigotry*** about this entire zone: i was soon off wire-wards to work on MY version of the meaning of 1987; i am probably sourer than punctum is abt the MM achievement bcz for me, then (at wire) it wasn’t a reliable ally, it was part of the problem (but i should also note that — as a very busy editor — i was picking up information second or third and at best; when you’re putting a monthly together with a tiny team, you just don’t have TIME to keep up with where everyone else is at…)

    **played in new york gong = as ever the centre!

    ***this is a strong word and of course doesn’t apply to everyone at MM, but i did write for MM very briefly, and i know whereof i speak

  74. 74
    swanstep on 7 Apr 2010 #

    @Tom 71. I think you are right that most of the found sound on any one track tends as you say to come from single sources (there was lots of diverse sampling for rhythmic elements). But let’s face it, the effect is ominous with Eno/Byrnee rather than playful the way M/A/R/R/S have it. And as I recall, when Byrne was talking up PE as literally the future of music he was referring to songs like ‘night of the living base heads’ where there are 20 or so recognizable samples – and other tracks that combined slayer and jamees brown. Byrne defintiely thought this stuff was a useful step beyond what he and eno had done.

  75. 75
    wichita lineman on 7 Apr 2010 #

    Re 68: My point was that the rule books weren’t being ripped up and re-written, because that had happened years before. Wild Style may have been unknown to you but it had been a huge electro favourite (if not much of a chart hit). It wasn’t crate digging in the way Paid In Full’s use of Ofra Haza was. Not sure what your cherry picking line means.

    Re 69: Yes, PUTV is much smoother structurally isn’t it, and the repeated use of the title is effectively a chorus; bassline aside Wheels Of Steel doesn’t have a major hook. From memory you’re right about MLITBOG. I remember Was Not Was’s Tell Me That I’m Dreaming (with its similar “out of control” space race sample) coming out pretty much simultaneously.

    The big difference of course – and I don’t think I’ve been citing obscure precursors/samples – is that PUTV got to number one! Amazing!

  76. 76
    thefatgit on 7 Apr 2010 #

    Sorry Wichita, the cherry picking line was basically what I was doing all through that decade. Hence I was all over Curtis Mantronik and Afrika Bambaataa and not Time Zone. It might sound as though I was deliberately selective, but really our local Our Price was quite small, until I could afford to get out to the larger chains/specialist shops.

  77. 77
    punctum on 7 Apr 2010 #

    #73: I guess the elephant in the 1987 room was Arthur Russell – World Of Echo came out that year – since he and David Byrne (on Dinosaur L’s “Kiss Me Again,” recorded in parallel with the time when Byrne hooked up with Eno but not directly involving Eno) pretty much set the tone for this whole affair; then Laswell and Shannon Jackson ran with the snarly James Chance thing, married it up with James “Blood” Ulmer’s notion of propulsion and took it underratingly forward. In reality at this time Wingco was the only one at MM with a foot or an interest in this camp; Simon R was and is a jazz/improv agnostic, nods at it when it comes into his neighbourhood but doesn’t dig it (as in plough for it, or scurry under it) the way a Ben Watson would do.

    (My chief memory of this particular 1987: astonishing week of performances by DB’s Company with Lee Konitz, Richard Teitelbaum, Steve Noble a.o. immortalised on the Incus CD Once; opening track sounds like Stan Getz’ Focus fed through AR Kane’s ring-around-the-noses modulators.

    See also “Help Me Mo, I’m Blind,” last track on Noise Of Trouble by Last Exit with guest Herbie Hancock doing his “Maiden Voyage” thing while Brotzmann snorts and hacks out his thing and eventually the dynamic propels Herbie into becoming a free form lovebug!

    And Low Life by Brotz and Laswell, most of which sounds like Albert Ayler covering “Relax” in Dylan Carlson’s attic.

    Oh, and The Inexhaustible Document by AMM, which starts where the first AR Kane album ends.)

  78. 78
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 7 Apr 2010 #

    That Lee Konitz performance is what tipped me from being “all free improv all the time” to “this old time jazz, i should give it a try!”

    That Company Week was the Manchester Free Trade Hall of erm everything ever! I wonder who else was there?

  79. 79
    a tanned rested and unlogged lørd sükråt wötsît on 7 Apr 2010 #

    John the postman, Vic Godard the postman ect ect

  80. 80
    punctum on 7 Apr 2010 #

    Graham Fellowes COMEDIAN…

    1987 also offered two ace albums by the Pete Waterman of post-no wave free jazz thrashy thingy John Zorn, namely Cobra (the original hatArt box issue) and the rather marvellous Spillane with Albert Collins keeping his countenance.

    Not to mention Scum by Napalm Death BEGINNING OF TIME

  81. 81
    Billy Smart on 7 Apr 2010 #

    In the top 10, 1987 also gave us New Order’s True Faith and This Corrosion by the Sisters of Mercy, two singles that I find as breathtaking now as I did then.

  82. 82
    Alan on 7 Apr 2010 #

    True Faith won Best Video at the Brits which I remember causing a bit of a stir ftb THEY ARE INDIE.

    PUTV and it’s cobbled-together video was a marvel. Someone already mentioned Are Friends Electric, and this had the same “landed from another (amazing) planet” vibe for me. The stuff coming on the heels of this in early 88 was where I truly started to love it though (inc bunny’d tracks and a top favorite that stalled at number 2).

    When PUTV is played at popular it’s noticeable how slow and un-dance-friendly it is, but even at the time I don’t recall ACTUALLY dancing to it. Just going WOW when I heard it. Of course, if I’d been paying attention I wouldn’t have been so amazed – but then THIS GOT TO NUMBER ONE, and retrospectively got me to make sense of a lot of other stuff that had been going on before. I didn’t make the colourbox connection for quite a long time after acquiring THE colourbox album too. College peers were not into it, and I think it was down to an uncle (who was quite the spoddy record collector) to point it out to me.

  83. 83
    Alan on 7 Apr 2010 #

    haha, the wonder of http://www.chartstats.com/ has told me what kept that track at number 2. and NOW I DON’T REALLY MIND

  84. 84
    punctum on 7 Apr 2010 #

    I played “Anitina” once at Club Popular – didn’t provoke much of a reaction one way or the other but Rob B gave me the thumbs up so that was nice.

  85. 85
    Tom on 7 Apr 2010 #

    It’s been played at several Club Populars I think, in that sense it is the true “Baby Jump of the 80s”.

  86. 86
    glue_factory on 7 Apr 2010 #

    Re: 82 and PUTV’s slowness The Dust/Chemical Brothers wheeled it out as an end-of-the-night tune more than once in the days of the Heavenly Social. But then again their own stuff from this era (Chemical Beats, for instance) occupies a similarly slow, arguably un-dance-friendly niche.

  87. 87
    Matthew H on 7 Apr 2010 #

    Ha. Thanks for the link. It reminded me that my 1987 self rated Hue & Cry’s Labour Of Love higher than this. Who’s to say he was wrong?

    I understand the alienation some felt (both now and then), but I was drawn to PUTV’s otherness. Even in early teens, there were plenty of rock purists about who dismissed this as “not real music”; me, I was starting to understand party music and the base pulling power of bringing a groovy mixtape to a house party. This was an early building block.

  88. 88
    AndyPandy on 7 Apr 2010 #

    Wichita @75 etc: I think you’re very right and that this is being celebrated on here because it took the elements to pop No1.

    But it was if not completely dated at least far from boundary-breaking. There’d been broadly similar stuff for 4 or 5 years ever since ‘the Wheels of Steel’, Grandmixer D St ‘Crazy Cuts’ etc and I’d say this wouild only have been looked on as part of a pioneering movement circa 1982-84.And we know how quickly the dance/clunb world moves on.

    And as far as a more more flowing sound goes Dynamix II ‘Just Give The DJ A Break’ which those into hiphop and house had been caning for months earlier in the year outdoes this and is also actually danceable.

    As has been said the lack of hiphop/dance club/station action on this track may be just for the simple reason that as has been said the concept had already been done to death by late 1987 and this only appeared as new to a pop or rock audience.

  89. 89
    Billy Smart on 7 Apr 2010 #

    But M/A/R/R/S bought pop and rock elements to the party that were new! Most notably the skliding guitars…

    Had The Wheels of Steel’ or ‘The Wildstyle’ been number ones it would have been as great a cause of celebration as PUTV, of course – but I listen to each song for different reasons, and find different qualities in each.

  90. 90
    Tom on 7 Apr 2010 #

    I think it’s a bit of a given that the charts are around 6-12 months behind the clubs – as club music becomes a more regular presence here we’ll see a lot of records which were (at the time) old.

    Obviously this makes it harder for their original audiences to get excited about the record going to #1, though if it’s the same record (rather than an example of the sound) I’d assume they still like it. And to a critic at the time it might matter too – you could make a case that crits should be looking to what’s happening in the clubs at the moment rather than what’s crossing over later.

    But as both original and mainstream impact recede into the past it stops mattering, to me at least. It’s interesting! But it doesn’t affect how I hear the record any more.

  91. 91
    anto on 7 Apr 2010 #

    This sounds to me like the the first number one we’ve heard which is really impatient for the 1990s to get started in much the way I think of Tubeway Army as having an eighties number one in 1979.

  92. 92
    Paulito on 7 Apr 2010 #

    Anto @91 There’s an even earlier example of what you’re talking about – Donna Summer in 1977.

  93. 93
    Elsa on 8 Apr 2010 #

    A DJ friend of mine likes to play the 45rpm version of this at 33rpm. It actually sounds quite “normal” and more Jamaican.

  94. 94
    Lex on 8 Apr 2010 #

    @91 I’m really impatient for the ’90s to get started, after so long thinking of Popular as something covering prehistory (ie before I was conscious of pop music) it’ll be really weird and exciting to actually remember the songs being at No 1.

  95. 95
    wichita lineman on 8 Apr 2010 #

    Tom, that’s very interesting. For me, with records like Baby Jump, I’m fascinated to know what national mindset could get it to no .1. I know how my ears hear it in 2010, but possibly they’d have heard it differently in 1980 or 1990. Several people have mentioned how their memory of Never Gonna Give You Up was as something close to Luther Vandross or even Barry White. We all hear it as a white boy with a decent voice in 2010, so how did our ears deceive us collectively in 1987? I really don’t know but I really want to find out.

    I heard PUTV In 1987 pretty much as AndyP remembers it, liked it a lot, but it seemed like observers trying to recreate something they loved (granted, with a few added gtr noises). Not groundbreaking. But now, yes, it really anticipates 1994/95.

  96. 96
    Steve Mannion on 8 Apr 2010 #

    #95 That kind of ‘deception’ has occurred with numerous pop stars I think, from Madonna to Eminem to even Duffy. I see it as a good thing that expectations are confounded in this way, with those expectations being fairly harmless if there can be ‘positive stereotyping’ at all.

  97. 97
    Izzy on 8 Apr 2010 #

    I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been deceived, personally – it never occurred to me that black or white people would sound a different way. I’m really surprised that Rick Astley being white was such a thing – again possibly just because NGGYU was part of my musical formative experience, so deep-voiced soul was always just another way for people to sing, regardless.

    The more so because the division along racial lines always seems to me to have been something created after this era, with MTV probably responsible. Watching e.g. the video for ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ where some of Whitney’s suitors are white, stupidly seems a bit shocking now, because you’d never get that these days, at least coming out the US. Some of the best stuff of the era for me is in that kind of ambitious inclusivity (e.g. Prince, or even ‘Pump Up The Volume’ itself), but it was kind of backed away from after around 1991 – a landmark #1 from that year being the last serious attempt at that kind of world title unification.

    All that said, I’ve never heard a mumbling, badly-produced indie guitar band on the radio and even for a moment suspected I’m listening to four sharply-dressed black dudes, so life may yet hold some surprises.

  98. 98
    MichaelH on 8 Apr 2010 #

    re66: I remember at the time thinking I had heard lots of those samples on the hip-hop records Peel was playing, but it didn’t feel dated to me, so much as an attempt to draw together all the disparate threads that were coming over from the US to the UK (in the pre-internet age, of course, it wasn’t a piece of cake to follow those threads for yourself). It felt like a state-of-the-nation address for people who were aware in any way of the dance and hip-hop underground. It must be said, however, that my perspective is that of someone who was only aware of said underground via Peel, not via any real connection at source.

  99. 99
    Steve Mannion on 8 Apr 2010 #

    Well, funnily enough, I can imagine some people thinking AR Kane were white.

  100. 100
    David Belbin on 8 Apr 2010 #

    I bought ‘Baby Jump’ and the next Mungo Jerry single. I think it was something to do with liking the first one so much and wanting to show loyalty (that was my excuse at 12, anyway, dunno about the rest of the country). Oh and, btw, Punctum, ‘Anitina’ is on Spotify so now easily accessible to all.

  101. 101
    lonepilgrim on 8 Apr 2010 #

    I think what makes PUTV stand out is the underlying sparseness of the propelling bassline, smeary, dischordant guitars and clattery drums – it’s like a poppier version of Metal Box. The various combinations of samples add a sprinkling of fairy dust over the whole thing.

  102. 102
    rosie on 8 Apr 2010 #

    This might be a good place to mention that there were rumblings at around this time of something that would eventually have a much bigger impact on popular culture than house music ever could.

    Home computers had been around for a decade. Producers of house music were no doubt making good use of them, and lonely teenagers already spent their spare time on their BBC micros and Commodore Amigas talking a curious technical lingo on bulletin board systems, using the parental phone receiver stuffed into an acoustic coupler running at 300 baud. The Internet had academics and the US military in contact with each other but very few others unless they had the resources to put in a fixed line.

    But it was only towards the end of 1987 that a BBS in New Malden stated getting ideas above its station. It became CIX Communications, and started to attract non-geeks, mainly London-based journalists. It also started offering a read-only link to Usenet. A chap called Cliff Stanford, who used the name demon on CIX and who was a serious geek who ran an electronics shop in Hendon called Demon Computers (I bought my first modem from him) and had shelled out a considerable sum for his own Internet link, started to offer a service whereby he would pass on to Usenet messages sent to his CIX account for that purpose.

    The rest is history. A few years later, Cliff Stanford offered read/write Internet access for “a tenner a month” and Demon Computing became Demon Internet. And that is how we come to find ourselves here.

  103. 103
    Steve Mannion on 8 Apr 2010 #

    Actual computer-based music still seemed a strange vision at this point. I can only remember the Pet Shop Boys using one (as a prop obv) on TOTP…maybe Erasure too…and being ugly, hefty and brutally honest devices they never became popular performance tools until the laptop era. Miming was miming but there was still some illusion to maintain. All rather daft, The Orb had the right idea…

  104. 104
    AndyPandy on 9 Apr 2010 #

    And of course the whole Kraftwerk “Computer World” album from as early as 1982!Didn’t they appear to play computers on one of the videos I haven’t seen it for 28 years so I might be wrong.
    And I also remember someone like Trans-X (Living on Video) or Alphaville (Big In Japan) seeming/pretending to play computers on their video.

  105. 105
    Mark G on 13 Apr 2010 #

    ARKane famously left 4AD, but where did Colorbox go?

    Also, from #Way-back

    Pete Waterman injuncted this over the sample of “Roadblock” specifically to stop it becoming number one in preferance to one of his. He admitted as much later on.

    Which is why, presumably, Colorbox still get the moneys from this.

  106. 106
    lonepilgrim on 20 May 2010 #

    I feel compelled to mention – this was Number 1 when the Great Storm of 1987 hit the UK.

  107. 107
    Hofmeister Bear on 20 May 2010 #

    In terms of home computers being used as a musical aid the Atari ST was the benchmark because of it’s MIDI ports and software. It was a mainstay in recording studios long after it had ceased to be used for anything else and would occasionally show up on a TOTP performance.

  108. 108
    fallingfast on 20 May 2010 #

    Re #105 – 4AD tried to get Martyn Young back into the studio c1990 (maybe as Colourbox, maybe not) but nothing came of it, and since then (tumbleweed)…

  109. 109
    Chris Gilmour on 3 Jun 2010 #

    I was getting quite used to the sounds of house by now, but there was something quite different about PUTV, it seemed grimier, tougher, deeper, and seemed at odds with everything else at this time which was so bright and polished. ‘Jack Your Body’ just sounded a little unusual and it did still seem like a novelty. This really did seem to come from somewhere new and even felt a little unsettling at first. I think this the first record I heard that used samples to create the actual foundations of something completely new, as opposed the using snatches of vocal or lifting a bass line to provide the hook. (I hadn’t heard Adventures on the Wheels of Steel then!) I also think the samples really worked to give it a much fuller, more organic sound than the house hits that came before it. (I’m actually loathe to call this house, but that’s what we called it then)

    There’s so much to love about this record, the ‘greatest record of the year’ sample is still thrilling (and yeah, it was kind of true) and the use of Eric B & Rakim to punctuate the whole thing is just incredibly clever. Oh, and that amazing, energizing bass line, rolling relentlessly over everything, is impossible to tire of.

    The whole ‘Roadblock’ farrago was fairly ridiculous, as PWL had just remixed ‘My Love Is Guaranteed’ by Sybil using a thin appropriation of the PUTV groove and the same Eric B sample (it’s the ‘Red Ink’ mix if you’re interested) and SAW, as great as they often were, were often um, ‘inspired’ by the club hits of the day. ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ used the same bass line as Colonel Abrams ‘Trapped’, a far more obvious lift that the tiny snatch of ‘Roadblock’ used for PUTV.

    Was talking to my dad about this record not long ago, and was surprised to hear that this was the tipping point for him where he got off the bus, as the very same record represented a beginning for me. I’d just got my ticket and sat down on the top deck!
    It’s a 10, unsurprisingly.

  110. 110
    seekenee on 7 Sep 2012 #

    Nearly 17 and I was so disengaged with what was happening in the charts at this point and there was still no consensus within the weekly music press about WHICH WAY to go so at the time I just filed this as more chart rubbish and I somehow missed the hip hop element, I mean I didn’t link it to The Message or Buffalo Gals, say.

    The only way I heard this song in 1987 was on its Top of the Pops slot and it wasn’t till later when I heard it on my friend’s hi fi that I started to appreciate it. In 1989 he taped Isn’t Anything for me (we’d recently been deafened by MBV in Dingwalls) and put PUTV after it to fill the side and in that context it was a revelation.

    It did take a few years to sink in and it’s the sound that elevates it – the cross screen knife guitars against the groove are extraordinary and the piece is still expanding in my mind as an unstoppable open entity (unlike Heart of Glass or Two Tribes which are like perfect diamonds washed up on the beach, PUTV is still flying out into space)
    I like the fact that your scores are arbitrary and flexible, Tom, but I couldn’t imagine this as ever being less than 10
    Also I was wrongly suspicious of my friend’s motives for owning this 12”. He used to organise his collection into record companies, this section for creation, that section for 4AD and I felt he was just buying this because it was on 4AD. But he obviously was buying it for other reasons and in any case I now realise that it’s not important WHY someone owns/buys a record, what’s important is that they literally put the needle on the record and/or desire the record and what it signifies. Also there is as much meaning in the sleeve design/size/weight of it as there is in the recording.
    (Re U2, in fairness to them they were tuning in to the groove aspect by 88 with, as someone mentioned above, the remix of Desire and also God pt II and its remix (and this is not to lessen the otherness of the Joshua Tree which really doesn’t sound like generic 80s rock) – this predated any such dabbling from e.g. Primal Scream and both bands followed similar trajectories of exploring deep south USA gospel groove but U2 routinely bitterly ridiculed while Primal Scream critical darlings.)

  111. 111
    wichita lineman on 8 Sep 2012 #

    Nice piece, seekenee. I was slightly impervious to PUTV at the time for other reasons – it sounded weirdly late in the day, a smart-arse British indie Adventures On The Wheels Of Steel, but in retrospect it anticipates Bomb The Bass/S’Express DIY UK dance music.

    One other thing – I think Primal Scream lost their critical darling status a few years back, plenty think of Bobby G as a trad rock clown (esp in the US). They got away with murder for a while, but I can’t believe anyone stands up for Give Out But Don’t Give Up these days. I’m intrigued to know how they play with anyone too young to remember Higher Than The Sun first time round. I still love the It Happens/Velocity Girl (Jim Beattie) era, the Screamadelica (Andrew Weatherall) era and, err, that’s it.

  112. 112
    Mark G on 8 Sep 2012 #

    Revisiting the remastered Scdelica, the stonesy tracks sounded better than I remembered.

    Rep for GiveOut..? I guess I’d have to, um, “Revisit” it.

  113. 113
    Cumbrian on 10 Sep 2012 #

    #111. I’m intrigued to know how they play with anyone too young to remember Higher Than The Sun first time round.

    I was 10 when HTTS came out and not quite old enough to be into music of that stripe, so my knowledge of Primal Scream falls into what you’re after. Obviously the following is just one man’s opinion.

    I came at Screamadelica after I’d heard later albums. As a result Vanishing Point and XTRMNTR (plus Screamadelica) are the albums I think of when I think of Primal Scream. It’s telling, for me at least, that two of these are very heavily influenced by non-band members (Kevin Shields was in on the XTRMNTR sessions) and the third, Vanishing Point, seems to get a shot in the arm from Mani’s arrival in the band (whereby the bass is pushed right forward). I like all this stuff well enough – and I also reckon Echo Dek is a pretty decent set of dub remixes of Vanishing Point material – but I can’t say I listen to it every day. Once or twice a year for all these albums is probably sufficient.

    XTRMNTR seems to me to have a few deliberate nods to Screamadelica (the two different versions of Swastika Eyes referencing HTTS, the MBV remix of If They Move Kill Em from VP referencing Loaded being a remix of a track from the then previous Primal Scream album). At the time, I thought (in my youthful ignorance/rebellion) that it was incredible, loud, dangerous, exciting – lyrics referencing the fucked up state of the world, etc. Looking back, I don’t think I could be more wrong, at least from the point of view of the lyrics (I still think XTRMNTR is a great racket though)

    Around this time PS were playing a song called Bomb The Pentagon (swiftly reworked when someone actually did) and it now seems to me that Gillespie was just trying on a set of agitprop slogans for size, particularly given that his default mode seems to be that of a trad rocker (also, he managed to hole his rock n roll credentials with his plea that a local pub not have it’s opening hours extended because it would prevent him sleeping – it seems that anarchy and what not is alright, except when it’s on your doorstep). All in all, I think he’s not a great singer and a pretty terrible lyricist but he does have a knack for finding good people to work with.

    Can’t get with Velocity Girl and all of that stuff – it just sounds really weedy. Of their fake Stones stuff – love Movin’ On Up (is that more Stephen Stills than Stones?) and Damaged, like Rocks – I think the rest is a bit boring though.

  114. 114
    Mark G on 10 Sep 2012 #

    That “pub” business was Kevin Shields, not Bobby..

  115. 115
    Steve Mannion on 10 Sep 2012 #

    Maybe the music media thought Shields wasn’t famous enough so made it Bobby? http://www.nme.com/news/primal-scream/25896

  116. 116
    Mark G on 11 Sep 2012 #

    or maybe they’re all at it! (diff pub even: http://www.inthemix.com.au/news/intl/25238/My_Bloody_Valentine_producer_makes_noise_complaints )

  117. 117
    seekenee on 21 Mar 2013 #

    P. Scream great imho btw -plenty of unique moments on Vanishing Point/XTRMNtR/evil heat

  118. 118
    anto on 21 Mar 2013 #

    Primal Scream are fine when they pursue their experimental side as they did on Screamadelica/Vanishing Point etc. What’s frustrating are the lapses into trad rock when they pull on their leather trousers and crank up their Les Pauls, quite simply they’re not very good at that style of music. Booby Gillespes vocals are a factor here. He’s a limited singer to say the least but his voice does have a fey tone that’s suited to boyish rapture (like Ian Brown) or druggy despondency (like Jim Reid). When Bobby tries to be Mick Jagger or Rod Stewart however he just looks a bit of a doofus. He has neither the vocal range nor the charisma.

  119. 119
    hectorthebat on 12 Feb 2015 #

    Critic watch (for PUTV only):

    1,001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die, and 10,001 You Must Download (2010) 1-1001
    Bruce Pollock (USA) – The 7,500 Most Important Songs of 1944-2000 (2005)
    Dave Marsh (USA) – The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made (1989) 543
    Michaelangelo Matos (USA) – Top 100 Singles of the 1980s (2001) 101
    Pause & Play (USA) – Songs Inducted into a Time Capsule, One Track at Each Week
    Pitchfork (USA) – The Pitchfork 500 (2008)
    Stephin Merritt (Magnetic Fields) – The Best Recordings from 1900 to 1999
    Swellsville, Chuck Eddy (USA) – The 100 Best Singles of the 80s (1990) 75
    BBC (UK) – Pop on Trial, Top 50 Songs from the 1980s (2008)
    Mixmag (UK) – Nominations for the Greatest Dance Track of All Time (2012)
    Mojo (UK) – 80 from the 80s: Our Fave 45s for Each Year, 1980-1989 (2007) 3
    NME (UK) – The 100 Best Songs of the 1980s (2012) 50
    New Musical Express (UK) – 40 Records That Captured the Moment 1952-91 (1992)
    Q (UK) – 100 Songs That Changed the World (2003) 49
    Q (UK) – 50 Years of Great British Music, 10 Tracks per Decade (2008)
    Q (UK) – The 1010 Songs You Must Own (2004)
    Q (UK) – The 80 Best Records of the 80s (2006) 29
    Q (UK) – The Ultimate Music Collection (2005)
    Uncut (UK) – The 100 Greatest Singles from the Post-Punk Era (2001) 65
    Panorama (Norway) – The 30 Best Singles of the Year 1970-98 (1999) 9
    Gilles Verlant and Thomas Caussé (France) – 3000 Rock Classics (2009)
    Hervé Bourhis (France) – Le Petit Livre Rock: The Juke Box Singles 1950-2009
    Les Inrockuptibles (France) – 1000 Indispensable Songs (2006)
    Rolling Stone (France) – The 100 Best Singles of the Last 25 Years (1988) 90
    Volume (France) – 200 Records that Changed the World, 2008 (38 songs)
    Rock de Lux (Spain) – The Top 100 Songs from 1984-1993 (1993) 17
    Toby Creswell (Australia) – 1001 Songs (2005)
    Giannis Petridis (Greece) – 2004 of the Best Songs of the Century (2003)
    Village Voice (USA) – Singles of the Year 5
    Face (UK) – Singles of the Year 4
    Melody Maker (UK) – Singles of the Year 6
    New Musical Express (UK) – Singles of the Year 5
    Spex (Germany) – Singles of the Year 40
    Rock de Lux (Spain) – Songs of the Year 12

  120. 120
    John R on 29 Jul 2016 #

    This tune was,
    and is the bollocks.

  121. 121
    weej on 30 Jul 2016 #

    If we’re talking about Pump Up The Volume, it would be a little remiss not to mark the recent passing of one of its creators – http://pitchfork.com/news/66780-steven-young-of-colourbox-and-marrs-is-dead/

  122. 122
    Stuart Copeland on 30 Jul 2016 #

    That’s a real shame, I rediscovered Colourbox this very week. Given they could have quite a commercial sound at times, I’ve often wondered if a different, less specialist, label than 4AD could have got them into the charts, at least once. It’s easy to imagine tracks like Arena or their World Cup Theme as one-hit-wonder hits.

  123. 123
    benson_79 on 6 Oct 2020 #

    I don’t dislike this record but I would never give it a 10 purely on its sonic merits. The plethora of 10s handed out in the comments feel very objective, and considering its landmark status and cultural impact that’s probably fair enough.

    There was plenty of wailing and gnashing of teeth at the time about how making records out of other peoples’ records would end up killing music, I definitely remember a discussion on TVAM to that effect. Crazy times eh?

    Primal Scream are the ultimate superficial band btw. If great songs reveal more layers with every listen then theirs are the exact opposite.

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