[Hidden Rarities #18] Riff Raff

Riff Raff was an English band born in 1972 from an idea of keyboardist Tommy Eyre, who became famous for arranging the organ parts in the Beatles cover “Whit A Little Help For My Friend” proposed by Joe Cocker. He has also appeared in some works by John MArtin, Gary Moore, Michael Schenker, Greg Lake, Alex Arvey, B.B. King, John MAyall, Ian Gillan, Gerry Rafferty and Wham!. The first to join was his friend Roger Sutton, a companion already in other bands with Tommy such as Blue Whale, Juicy Lucy, Nucleus, Joe Cocker among others. Later joined Peter Kirtley (Griffin, Alan Price), Aurero De Souza, born in Brazil and also played in Nucleus and Bud Beable (Ginger Baker’s Airforce). This project was the natural continuation of the band “Crikey,” which included Rod Coombes and Joe Peters, without ever making an actual album. It was Coombes who wrote half the songs on what will become Riff Raff‘s posthumous third album “Outside Looking In.” The sessions of this album were performed between 1969 and 1972 with both the first and the second moniker, recording the songs with different lineups. It was never released at the time, remaining unreleased until 1999, when it was first released on CD by Disconforme SL and reissued in the same year by their sub-label Belle Antique. With the name of Riff Raff, the first album that was released in the 70s was the homonymous album in 1973, which at the time did not receive a great response from the public. This album was printed in 3 different versions in LP the year of its release on RCA label, being then reissued on CD only in 1999 again by Disconforme SL, in 2016 and 2017 by Big Pink always on CD, while an unofficial CD reproduction from Russia is dated 2001. Despite the response of the public was rather lukewarm, in the underground they carved out a fair amount of space. This allowed him in 1974 to record the second album “Original Man,” which according to all fans and insiders is their best work. RCA released 2 versions in LP in 1974 and then reissued on CD by Disconforme SL like the others in 1999, by Klimt Records in 2016 and in 2017 always on CD by Vivid Sound first and then by Big Pink, while a version not official not on label is dated 2001. The band’s sound is a winning mix of Rock, Jazz and Progressive, with personal characters, with keyboards as protagonists and always at the center of the scene. A band that despite the good ideas and the good technique expressed, at the time failed to establish itself as it deserved, without however leaving the underground scene. All 3 albums are well made, with interesting insights and with a solid sound, well built and executed with quality. The Riff Raff become part of this editorial on the rare pearls of Prog music and its related genres of the golden age, as they are available at affordable prices, but unfortunately they remain unknown to most. All lovers of the Jazzy sonorities of Progressive music will be pleasantly impressed by this band, which would certainly have deserved greater consideration at the time as today.

Discography

(1973) Riff Raff [RCA]
(1974) Original Man
(1999) Outside Looking In [Disconforme SL]

Lineup

Bud Beadle / Saxophone
Rod Coombes / Drums, percussion and Songwriter
Joe Czarnecki aka Joe Peters / Drums, Percussion
Aureo De Souza / Drums
Tommy Eyre / Keyboards, Vocals
Pete Kirtley / Guitar, Vocals
Roger Sutton / Bass Guitar, Vocals
Steve Gregory / Woodwind
Joanna Newman / Vocals
Joe O’Donnell / Viola

Author: Jacopo Vigezzi

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