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Riff Raff - Original Man CD (album) cover


Riff Raff

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
4 stars 4.5 stars really!!!!

Second (and last) official album, from this highly gifted group who would've probably deserved much more attention from the public. Still the "classic prog quartet", this time augmented not by one but two guest wind players and an all-around finer album. In this album Kirtley is asserting his songwriting role to the equal to Sutton, while Eyre gets only one credit.

The opening title track is right away giving you the ambiance that will pervade throughout the album, with a slightly jazzy Santana-like rock, enthralling you slowly but surely to ecstasy. A real feast, Yummmmmmyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!! This small tour-de-force is followed by another full-out fusion, this time red-hot crater-flowing fusion-lava, Havakak, which apparently guitarist Kirtley wrote with a previous group. In a relatively calmer mood is the funky-jazz rocker Goddamm The Man track, yet another superb track with a great call and response between horns section and the guitar. Still softer, Kirtley's third track on this side of the album is a more jazzy-soulish fusion, which pales a bit in comparison with previous tracks, but is still of a high calibre, just a little slow at times.

Sutton's The Waster is a slightly jazzy-bluesy-soulish mid-tempo track with big horn arrangements, and De Souza's drums tazke on conga flavours: just lovely. In a very different style, Eyre's lone composition contrasts heavily, but is nothing shocking either, especially when hearing its high quality keyboard fest. The last track is another fusion masterpiece, even if you have to wonder the track has its name for the first few minutes, but if the track does pick up at times, it remains to a superb mid-tempo with Eyre's electric piano particularly haunting, the whole album throughout.

Unfortunately, the group will have to fold (or chose to) when British musician-union forced Brazilian drummer de Souza out of the country by pushing for the non-renewal of his working visa. But this collapse was also due to US deals not falling though also. But this bunch of riff-raffers did go out in a very stylish manner pulling in a very strong British fusion masterpiece, just missing by a tad the fifth star. Definitely their crowning achievement and a must discover for fusion lovers and progheads alike.

Report this review (#81604)
Posted Wednesday, June 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars One of the most underrated prog band ever. Riff Raff released only two albums, and "Original man" imo is the best one, altough the other was very good too. Here the band has the same fusion approach of their debut effort, but more refined and technically excellent on every track. These guys play an intricate mix of pop-rock, melodic sometimes, and sophisticated jazz-rock passages. Tommy Eyre's keys, especially electric piano and synth, are the music focus, but the rythmical section contribute in a special way to beautiful band sound. Wind instruments, sax and flute, improve some fusion moments. Remarkables tracks: the opener "Original man", the intricate "Havakak" (great guitar here!) and the wonderful atmosphere of "Tom's song". This album is a real gem of English Progressive.
Report this review (#113036)
Posted Wednesday, February 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album has been a joy to listen to over the past few weeks.

Not quite blues, not quite jazz, not the horn-driven rock of If or BST, and certainly not progressive in ELP or Canterbury terms, "Original Man" melts these genres, resulting in a cohesive whole that is as original and innovative as anything released in the early 1970's.

The opening title track and the closer, "Speed", are the best examples of the album's aesthetic. Winding, exciting solos bring the extended forays to a head before the end of each track. "In the Deep" and "Tom's Song" display a lovely, jazzy atmosphere and "Havakak" is an uptempo intrumental. It's fusion in it's delivery, but sounds more like Traffic than Isotope or Nucleus. "Goddamm the Man" and "Waster" are fabulous mid-tempo blues workouts.

In all, a classic album flawlessly executed. I feel the sound captured on this record is exactly what the group was going for. Personally, I consider this album more classic rock than progressive, leading to the 4 star rating. In my collection, this is a 5 star record with honors that merits repeated spins. I'd recommend it to anyone with a penchant for original classic rock on the fringes of prog.

Report this review (#747282)
Posted Tuesday, May 1, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars 12 years later and I have to totally agree with Sean review (see below) - a magnificent fusion album, the opus Magnum of this short-lived most talented band deserves without a doubt 4 stars and misses only marginally the fifth. What a magnificent find (thanks to PA, I must pleasantly add), so many years have passed and I come to discover a recording from the early seventies that can still surprise and enthrall me as this did, lucky me !

The wind arrangements are rich without being overbearing, the percussions are delicately supportive of the general dynamics, the vocals are just right and pleasant, the collective musicianship up there at the top with the best, all this and more contributes to a very lively yet relaxed and good spirited global feeling.

Report this review (#1954615)
Posted Friday, August 3, 2018 | Review Permalink
5 stars Amazing!

This album really changed how I looked at Prog for a long time... easily one of my favorite Prog albums of all time, if not favorite albums. Extremely innovative sound (Seriously, really surprised me this album came out in 1974.), knows when to pick up the speed and when to slow down, and has a great blend of almost reggae-like instrumentals with warm acoustics and beautiful (but not overbearing) electrics. Depending on where you are in between songs, you might think they are from clearly different albums. This is an improvement from Riff Raff's self-titled album from the year prior, which to me felt a little one note. This album has an interpretive story, much more rich sound and is perfectly paced. Not too long, not too short, and is a perfect example of what to do right. There is no fat to be trimmed, and not much else than can be added to improve this album in any significant way.

This is a great album to be added to the list of you are looking for something to add to your collection. perfect for a beginner, as well.

Report this review (#2450364)
Posted Wednesday, September 23, 2020 | Review Permalink

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