It’s well-known that trends and genres come and go very quickly in pop music, and I remember many years ago now, when I was much younger, that there was a time when there was a lot of what could be classed as “rave” music on the chart. This was rather different to a few years earlier, it took me a while to get used to this, and I don’t know how I could be so grumpy about something at such a young age.
But as the years have gone by and I have got older, despite the faceless producers and the thumping noises, I have come to appreciate this genre a little more, which contains what I think is one of the most extraordinary pop music stories of the 90s. Shut Up And Dance are a production duo from Hackney who formed in the late-80s, and they released their early singles and albums on their own record label.
They had already delighted us with some of their singles which reached the lower end of the chart in the early-90s, including “£20 To Get In” and “Autobiography Of A Crackhead”. But they caused a big stir in May 1992 when they released “Raving I’m Raving”. This was mostly based around American singer Marc Cohn’s 1991 hit “Walking In Memphis”, using the same tune, and some amended lyrics to describe rave culture.
There was also a contribution from Peter Bouncer (whoever he might be), and I’m sure that I can hear a dash of Raw Silk’s 1982 hit “Do It To The Music” in there too. But there were quickly problems, as the sample hadn’t been cleared, and Cohn had something of a sense of humour failure over the new lyrics. This meant that “Raving I’m Raving” had to be abruptly withdrawn, no further copies could be pressed, and any money made from the copies that were sold had to be donated to charity.
All of this did mean that “Raving I’m Raving” reached no. 2, and joined such other rave classics that made no. 2 in 1992 including “Sesame’s Treet” by Smart E’s, and, er, “On A Ragga Tip” by SL2. This also became the first single to peak at no. 2 and spend only two weeks on the chart. A version that sounded almost nothing like the original had to be performed on Top Of The Pops, and I’m still not sure if the original can be played on the radio all these years on.
They went on to have one more minor hit in 1992 with “The Art Of Moving Butts”. After this year of rather mixed fortunes, Shut Up And Dance returned in April 1995 with “Save It Til The Mourning After”, which sampled Duran Duran’s 1982 hit “Save A Prayer”, and sent them into the Top 40 for the final time. Finally in July 1995, “I Love U” reached no. 68. This sampled Perez Prado’s “Guaglione”, which had recently had a revival of interest after being used in a famous advert for Guinness.