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  • Writer's pictureMark Howitt

Songs in the Key of My Life: 6

Theme from S-Express, S’Express (1988)

As I say, each to his own. But …

If you’re going to get your Mum to drive you into town to buy a record then, well, wouldn’t you make it something memorable, something in later years you could both reminisce over, a story she could share with her grandkids? I mean for me it would have been unforgettable because my Mum never learned to drive, so that would have been an experience and a half. In her early sixties in 1988 she was still pedalling around south Edinburgh on her Raleigh Shopper but, at the age of 23 I was quite capable of going to record shops myself. Too capable my Mum might have said.

So, when Ken Bruce from Greatest Hits Radio gets round to phoning me to ask what my Golden Year is I might actually say 1988, to put the record - as it were - straight. I’ll say first of all not Kim Wilde’s Hey Mister Heartache (and we’ll both have a chuckle at that). I’ll then explain that I bought all three records without the help of my mother (by this time Ken will be on the floor).

“But please Mark, your first record.”

And I’ll say, “Theme from S-Express by S’Express.”

Don’t know when that year, or where, I came across it, but it’s one of those rare records that when I unexpectedly hear it, even now, after all this time, that stops me in my tracks. A mad mash up of Eurodisco and acid house with a collage of samples from Debbie Harry to Rose Royce, Gil Scott-Heron to Yazoo, timeless in the sense it doesn’t fit into any era whatsoever. From the moment it starts with the train horn and then the squelchy baseline, it never fails to put a smile on my face.

A couple of years ago (which increasingly for me can mean anything up to 15 years back) I read an interview in the Guardian with the record’s two creators, DJ Mark Moore and musician Pascal Gabriel. They had no sampling equipment, the hi-hat was recorded from the sound of a hairspray canister and the whole record put together for £500.

And yet, on that modest budget they created a titanic dancefloor classic.

Enjoy this trip

Enjoy this trip

And it is a trip

Countdown is progressing

Uno, dos

Uno, dos, tres, cuatro

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