I first purchased this on vinyl back in 1981 following a glowing review in one of the weekly inkies (perhaps Melody Maker?). It was presented as 2 x 45 rpm records, with great artwork and the sound quality was exemplary. An eccentric melange of free jazz, funk, 'world' music, impressionistic solo piano and experimental, this type of music can sometimes be heavy going for the more casual listener (although I'm not one) but RR&P add a consistent light-heartedness and sense of fun to everything and nothing outstays its welcome (the longest track on the original album is just over 5 minutes).
For the most part, it's driven by the flexible rhythm section of Sean Oliver on bass and Bruce Smith (later with PiL) on drums. Pianist Mark Springer gets plenty of chances to stretch out, showcasing his Jarrett/Taylor-influenced playing. Gareth Sager, lately of The Pop Group, plays sax, some scratchy rhythm guitar and provides occasional eccentric vocals. Various guests, including Ari Up of the Slits and Don Cherry make appearances but the icing on the cake is provided by Neneh Cherry, on her first(?) recorded vocal outing and who brings a sassy edge to the proceedings, although the music is primarily instrumental. This was never going to be radio-friendly stuff and Neneh would have to wait a few years for her real chance at stardom.
This is, as far as I'm aware, the first time RRP's music has been re-issued on CD. Listening to it today, the timelessness of the music is striking. It is very organic - it basically sounds live in the studio, with no synthesisers or heavy production tricks to give a clue to its provenance. It really would be hard to place it in any particular decade, other than that no mainstream record companies would entertain this kind of "thing" nowadays (it first came out on Virgin Records).
The remastering sounds excellent both on my hifi and iPod. The extra tracks are also well worth listening to and the sleevenotes include reminiscences by all the band members except Sean Oliver, who sadly passed away in 1990. At this price, the package is a steal.
RR&P would go on to make 2 further records, both of which I purchased on original release and have just replaced on CD. While both are highly recommendable, this is the starting point and remains, in my view, their best work.
Curious fans of 80s music should try before you buy - this is not pop or rock. Any chance, Cherry Red, of a live material release?
.... of the Rip Rig + Panic re-issues. Many thanks to who ever decided this should happen. I still have this on the double 12 inch, and can still remember first listening to it. This was another world, this was what I had been looking for without knowing it would be there. Total freedom!
I'd forgotten how good this was, I bought this on good old fashioned vinyl when I was a mere youngster, but hadn't played it for years, no deck anymore. Something made me think, buy God, probably from playing the Pop Group excessively of late. God how I've missed listening to this album