Friday, 14 January 2011

90: Star Turn On 45 Pints, “Pump Up the Bitter” (no.12, 1988)

“The names have been changed to protect the committee.” Now here’s a TOTP appearance we can all get behind. One of those one-hit novelties inspired by an (inspired) one-hit wonder, this shameless cash-in re-envisions M/A/R/R/S’s legendary dance track “Pump Up the Volume” in the manner of a shambolic Whitley Bay club night, complete with male stripper (“He’s not affiliated!”), a scratching gurner, and a particularly fine spoons break. This was the 80s, of course, when anything could apparently constitute a hit record, and there happens to be a very funny gag at the heart of “Pump Up the Bitter”: that while the hipsters from M/A/R/R/S would end up fighting legal battles to justify their sampling, so too would their own record find itself open to exploitation for ostensibly comic purposes. The ultra-PC could, I suppose, object to the decision to render Ofra Haza’s “Volume”-making sample in the character of one Mrs. Patel, but this remains a novelty hit with a uniquely British feel; the musical equivalent of a Carry On movie, it may be rubbish of a sort, but at least it’s *our* rubbish. Hear also: Star Turn’s Bros-inspired version of “Silent Night”, featuring the priceless late-80s declaration “they’re a good turn, the Bros”; and the rarely-aired follow-up “Are You Affiliated?”, with its rousing, magnificent chorus.

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