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RIFF RAFF

Jazz Rock/Fusion • United Kingdom


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Riff Raff biography
Founded in 1972 - Disbanded in 1974

One of those early 70's forgotten prog bands, Riff Raff came together almost as a natural consequence of the member's different paths crossing each others at times. Although the group started quite different than the final stable line-up, it was mostly the brainchild of Tommy Eyre and Roger Sutton (both having played with Ainsley Dunbar's Blue Whale and Retaliation, Juicy Lucy, Joe Cocker, Nucleus, Mark-Almond, Alan Price, Trinity with Auger and Driscoll, etc.) and later on Pete Kirtley (Griffin, Alan Price) and Aureo De Souza (Brazilian-born, played with nucleus) and Bud Beable (Ginger Baker's Airforce). Their music hovers between rock and jazz, but is not easily pigeonholed in either, neither;-).

They released their eponymous debut album in late 73, but they had already recorded a previous album the year before under a different line-up, but for obscure reasons, it was not released until almost 25 years later. After a second album, the members parted ways, but all three albums are definitely worthy of the proghead's interest a forteriori if he likes Jazz-rock.

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Alcoholic AlligatorAlcoholic Alligator
Extra tracks
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RIFF RAFF discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

RIFF RAFF top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.28 | 20 ratings
Riff Raff
1973
3.92 | 30 ratings
Original Man
1974
3.28 | 6 ratings
Outside Looking In
1999

RIFF RAFF Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

RIFF RAFF Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

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RIFF RAFF Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Original Man by RIFF RAFF album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.92 | 30 ratings

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Original Man
Riff Raff Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Quinino
Special Collaborator Errors & Omissions Team

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.

 Original Man by RIFF RAFF album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.92 | 30 ratings

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Original Man
Riff Raff Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Suedevanshoe

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.

 Riff Raff by RIFF RAFF album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.28 | 20 ratings

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Riff Raff
Riff Raff Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by The Owl
Prog Reviewer

3 stars This obscure British band's debut album has some more than worthwhile prog moments to it, especially "Your World", "You Must Be Joking" (which has some utterly HILARIOUS instrumental passages) and the album closing epic Le Meme' Chose, 12 minutes of everything from a spacey Miles Davis "Bitches Brew"-esque opening, to heartfelt gritty vocals, time changes galore, roaring Hammond organs, slashing guitar and jaunty reeds! These guys could play!

The remaining tracks though aren't that memorable, leaning dangerously towards bland soft/folk rock which is areal shame because those other 3 tracks are just so fiery and engaging. At its best, this band makes me think of what would've happened if early Chicago kicked Pete Cetera out o the band and went full speed ahead prog. Worth having for "Your World", "You Must Be Joking" and "Le Meme' Chose"

 Original Man by RIFF RAFF album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.92 | 30 ratings

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Original Man
Riff Raff Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by armapo

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.
 Original Man by RIFF RAFF album cover Studio Album, 1974
3.92 | 30 ratings

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Original Man
Riff Raff Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator 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.

 Riff Raff by RIFF RAFF album cover Studio Album, 1973
3.28 | 20 ratings

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Riff Raff
Riff Raff Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

3 stars 3.5 stars really!!!

Riff Raff's first (official) album was released in late 73, and engineered by Eddie Offord. The "classic prog" quartet, augmented on a rather permanent basis by guest saxman Beadle, develops a good mix of jazz and rock and the result comes out as more progressive than a Chicago, BS&T or The Flock, but I would not rate it as pure jazz- rock, brass-rock or fusion. With bassist Sutton as one of the main writer (he co-wrote all the tracks on the unreleased debut album) but often in partnership with Eyre, and guitarist Kirtley often contributing, the least we can say is that Riff Raff is a very multi- facetted band.

Opening salvo is an excellent tone-setter with a rather blues-based, jazz-laced soft- rocking extravaganza here the vocals can at times make you think of Plant's interventions (minus the voice and plus some multi-vocal chorus), making it a highlight. Followed by three lesser tracks (two of them written by Eyre) hovering between prog and soft rock, but with impeccable musicianship including cellos, 12-string guitars, flutes and saxes. The second-last track Joking is bringing back the brilliance of the lead-off song and sometimes the guitar feels like Duane Allman being still alive, too bad it ends in a fishtail spin. I guess all of you are waiting for the 12-min+ monster track, La MÍme Chose (the same thing), and yes, the track is THE highlight of the album with its slow intro, reminding Miles' Bitches Brew, but it quickly picks up into a superb mid-tempoed (English-sung) jazzy-rock (some Santana is detected here and there, mostly in Eyre's Greg Rollie-like organs) funked-up fusion. A superb moment, unfortunately making you long for more of it, but we are at the end of the album.

One of the main weaknesses of Riff Raff is maybe the lack of strong identity, induced by the many songwriters, this albums fails to completely convince the proghead. A strong start and a good finale of an album might be a little few arguments to make a strong album. Still definitely worth a spin, but not all that essential either.

 Outside Looking In by RIFF RAFF album cover Studio Album, 1999
3.28 | 6 ratings

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Outside Looking In
Riff Raff Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by 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.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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