“DROP THAT GHETTO BLASTER!”

When NYC performance artist Karen Finley screamed those words on her obscure 1986 single “Tales of Taboo,” she probably never dreamed she’d end up on one of the biggest dance floor anthems of the ’80s. But DJ Mark Moore heard it and decided to include it in the number of samples he used to create S’Express’s huge 1988 club hit, “Theme From S’Express.” (download)

In fact, let’s run down those samples, shall we?
• You’ve got Finley’s declaration, as mentioned,
• “I’ve got the hots for you” comes from TZ’s “I Got The Hots For You” (surprise!)
• “Uno, dos, tres, quatro” is from Debbie Harry’s “Feel The Spin,”
• I believe that’s Holly Johnson’s laugh from the end of “Welcome To The Pleasuredome” at the end,
• and Rose Royce’s “Wishing On A Star” gets nicked from liberally.

Who knows what else is hiding in there? While M|A|R|R|S ran into considerable legal difficulty due to all the uncleared samples in 1987’s “Pump Up The Volume,” I never heard of any similar issues with “Theme From S’Express.” Perhaps the frenetic video caused legal departments seizures when it was screened during strategy meetings?

I remember this song being the source of a minor controversy in my hometown when DJs at our local alternative/goth/New Wave bar, the Nine of Clubs, began playing it. “It’s not alternative!” the purists would scream, rushing off the dance floor in protest, heading to the DJ booth to bitch about Front 242 not being played every five minutes.  Eventually, the industrial dogmatists would be proved right, as acid house’s takeover of club culture spread rapidly, culminating in the Nine of Clubs becoming AlterHouse (see, it’s Alternative AND House! Brilliant!) in the early ’90s.

Of course, now I defy you to find a club that plays real dance music, house, alternative or otherwise…

“Theme From S’Express” peaked at #91 on the Billboard Hot 100 and at #1 on the Hot Dance Music Club Play Chart in 1988.

Get S’Express music at Amazon or on S'Express