An Introduction

I first became interested in 4AD, a UK independent record label founded in 1980, towards the end of the '80's. I was falling in love with the music of Dead Can Dance, Clan of Xymox, Pixies, Bauhaus and The Birthday Party and was surprised when the 4AD label sampler "Lonely Is An Eyesore" came out in 1987 that all these bands were from the same label.

After visiting a Pre-Raphaelite exhibition of some American's collection of art, I came to thinking of all this musical art that 4AD have released that may one day drift into obscurity unless someone shows it as art. So now I'm on a crusade, to collect the first ten years of 4AD's releases and exhibit the collection on 4AD's 50th anniversary in 2030. This is a big task which will have some interesting twists and turns along the way.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Pump up the volume....ARSE!

MARRS - Pump up the volume.

I remember this hitting number one in the UK singles chart. I hated it. As a person into goth, new wave, indie, punk, prog and electronic synth music at the time and sometimes liking the odd pop tune, I found it to be yet another trend starting up where all of a sudden DJ's instead of musicians were starting to become highlighted as artists. I found the music to be quite offensive to the ear and was also the start of using samples   to fill out the song.

There were a lot of issues over sampling. The music that was used or the audio pinched from a film to be used on a song was used without permission. I understand that at the time the thought never entered the head of the person putting the song together, after all, if you're a DJ, you don't go around every artist asking to play their songs before playing one at a club, so using a sample was pretty much the same I suppose. Over the next couple of years in the late eighties, there would be a few court battles over the use of sampling in music.

It was a shock, some years later to learn that MARRS was a 4AD signing, a collaboration between Colourbox, AR Kane and a few others.

I still don't rate the song much. I know this must be heresy to some 4AD enthusiasts, but I don't love everything that 4AD put out. But for me that is a good thing, it shows that the label had some diversity and if there is diversity, not everything will be to everyone's taste. Pump up the volume has since been stamped as one of music's most influential or genre changing moments in music history. I remember Q magazine having it amongst their top 50 music changing releases.

I can appreciate that, all of a sudden this music opened up in the UK after this single. But for me that just made matters worse. It's just my little personal opinion, but I have never took stock in a DJ being a creative artist, pretty much the same as a producer. Don't get me wrong, I think that a DJ and producers have to have some artistic flair, but they are making music off the back of others greater artistic talents and as such short cutting the creative process. I'm sure many of you would disagree, but I saw a distinct change in the late eighties between the lines of what was art and what was just a commercial process.

It's a bit like pottery. There are a lot of artists that create 3d works of art from clay, but how does a cup, a mug or a bowl suddenly become an art piece as well. Where is the line drawn between a plain cup made from pottery and the same piece cup painted and decorated as art? I have the same issue with music that is made using other artists work, I'm not talking about cover versions, cover versions are generally done as homage to the original artist, but using another song as the backdrop for any easy win new song is not artistic in my opinion, it's just lazy and talentless.

So why am I whining on about sampling and DJ's? MARRS single Pump Up The Volume has arguably been the most successful single 4AD has released and, unfortunately, has so far had around 50 versions released and on top of that, because of it's success, ended up in countless chart compilations, dance compilations, DJ remix versions and compilation remix versions as well as film soundtracks, I have to collect all these as I included those as part of my collection remit. If I wasn't so enamoured with Pump Of The Volume some 25 years ago, I'm just about sick to the teeth of it now. This makes it so hard to try and collect all of the many versions and appearances of this bloody song!

Don't ever ask me if there is any difference in the music between any of the versions as I will certainly not be listening and comparing every version of it that I will acquire, I will leave that privilege to some other fan who has no problem listening to the same sodding thing over and over again. If I am asked there would be a polite reply......

There looks to be more than 60 appearances on compilations before the end of 1990, on top of the 50 something versions of the actual release.

Breathe deep and just get on with it,.....sigh


  1. Yes, this is heresy to this particular 4AD enthusiast! I'm not really into house music as a genre, but "Pump Up The Volume" is a brilliant track. It's a fun Colourbox song, along the lines of "Hot Doggie".

    Of course, I like Colourbox quite a bit, and "PUTV" is a Colourbox song through-and-through. The only thing the AR Kane guys contributed to the song was a little bit of guitar noise (which, to these ears, sounds great in this context). Similarly, the flip side of the single, "Antina", is a straight AR Kane song, with some drum machine programming by Colourbox's Martyn Young.

    And yes, there are a ton of versions of this, but the only ones I concern myself with are AD707 (the original and best version) and BAD707R (the best of the 12" remixes).

    For what it's worth, this was 4AD's one and only no. 1 single, and also the first record distributed by Cartel (who distributed nearly all the UK indies back in the day) to hit no. 1. One has to wonder if 4AD would have lasted much past the '80s if it were not for the cash infusion "PUTV" provided the label for years and years. Things certainly would have been different.

  2. Excellent..a fan. PUTV must have created some revenue judging by the number of compilations and remixes that would all have been licensed out from 4AD. I aim one day to put a picture up on here of the RIAA award for PUTV in America for a million units, I think it's a million, I need to check. In the US it was licensed through 4th and Broadway. I'll get my camera out. Thanks for the addition Leaman