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Riff Raff - Outside Looking In CD (album) cover

OUTSIDE LOOKING IN

Riff Raff

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.05 | 2 ratings

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Sean Trane
Special Collaborator
Prog Folk
3 stars While the Eyre and Sutton pair where working with Mark-Almond prog duet, they had the time to record an album with Alan Marshall (future Zzebra)and drummer Rod Coombes (future Strawbs and Stealer's Wheel, but Mark-Almond became successful in America, so their project (then-named Strabismus) got put on hold. So to call this album Riff Raff might be a bit misleading, but there are bonus tracks from a recording session where both Kirtley, De Souza (and second drummer Kenny Slade), making the link to the RR group (which was an idea of new-member Kirtley). All tracks (including, bizarrely, the bonus tracks) are writing by bassist Sutton and drummer Coombes Self-produced, this album is much rockier than the two RR albums, and the opening title track is certainly a lengthy energetic number, rather contrasting with its (also length) follow-up Blind Man with its choral middle-section (recorded in the Guilford cathedral).

However, much in the line of Blind Man, the Bach piece is not bringing anything new to music. The side ends with an ultra-short Paranoiac (musically-linked to the previous track). Since this album never came out under the vinyl format, it is relatively hard to tell which track would've been on which side since Buthelezi is also linked to Paranoiac (and therefore to the Bach piece), but it quickly develops into a drum solo. So far, this unreleased album has reserved us a few surprises, being much more classically- influenced than the two official RR albums. A bluesier (almost 11-min) To Be Free, not the most essential and semi-jam, but certainly still enjoyable is the next track. However, Changes is rather pale and a bit useless.

As for the bonus tracks supposed to be making the link from this first album to the RR group, not much is specified (and the second track, For Every Dog, should certainly be credited to new-guitarist Kirtley and drummer Coombes getting the writing credits on these seems if not abusive, at least erroneous) as to when the sessions took place, who was still in the group (three drummers for the whole disc and two for the bonus tracks. "Child of the summer" is a very nice jazz-laced with soul vocals really announcing the eponymous album and is a small gem, Morning being a bit soul-folk-like, but allowing for instrumental interplay (a good flute-guitar duet), while the 7-min The Garden is a reflective piece offering peaceful ballad-like ambiances.

This "debut" album is rather different-sounding to the classic RR (almost no comparison to the superb Original Man), and is rather non-essential, but still offers a few interesting moments. The bonus tracks are of a bit more interest as they really represent the Riff Raff genesis. Up to you to decide. Personally I would've been happier had these four bonus track been present on the eponymous RR album.

Sean Trane | 3/5 |

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