Rip Rig + Panic are a noisy mess, but I think that’s the point. There’s a lot to like on these three expanded reissues, which represent their total recorded output, complete with B-sides and sessions. In many ways, amidst the ‘80s backdrop of yuppies, stock markets and privatisation, they were ahead of their time, using multi-cultural sampling and anarchistic methods to provide party music impossible to dance to.
Debut God is something like Prince having a very public and loud nervous breakdown. Horns and piano riff away at one another, sometimes discordantly. It’s not exactly music you can relax to, more like watching or listening to Laurel and Hardy move furniture through a jazz club. It’s entertaining, but if you’re in the wrong mood, it could set your teeth on edge. Neneh Cherry tells us in the (great) interview sleeve notes that she thought the band “were mad” to ask her to join, and there is certainly a hint of madness in the music. This was improvisional work with few to no rehearsals.
A year later, I Am Cold continues the story, the album starting with “You’re My Kind Of Climate”; the song perhaps wilfully commercial, as if to say – we could do that if we wanted to, but we probably won’t. Indeed, they generally don’t here, and the band admit they were considered a tax loss band by their label, “a bunch of lunatics that would turn up in their offices to get out of the cold”. As the album lurches forward, the ironically titled “Storm The Reality Asylum” again suggests they could turn on normality when they desired. Don Cherry’s intermittent trumpet on the album taunts us gently.
Finally, Attitude is the band at the most comfortable in the studio. It’s more together and accessible, but still outlandish. The engineer thought that the band were “all out of their minds on drugs”, but in fact they were just relaxed “being pretty mad” around each other. This is a group with a sense of humour, evidenced by the continuing original song titles – “Eros: What Brings Colour Up Your Stem” (although my favourite song title is “She Gets So Hungry At Night She Eats Her Jewellery” from their second album). The emphasis remains on free jazz, but if you enjoy being in the midst of chaos, or enjoy experimental music, Rip Rig + Panic are for you.
Label: Cherry Red
Release Date: 31 MAY 2013
FIRST PUBLISHED BUCKETFULL OF BRAINS (ISSUE 81)