Album Review: Orange Juice – ‘Rip It Up’
Orange Juice was a Scottish post-punk, new wave band, first formed in Glasgow, Scotland. ‘Rip It Up‘ is the second studio album by the band, and it was first released in November 1982. This album features the self-titled song, which was the first and only song to feature in the UK Top 40 (featured at no. 8).
When you first listen to the album, you’ll be confused yet intrigued as I was, simply because of the collaboration of odd, slightly dark vocals with upbeat synthesisers and extended saxophone solos. The modulated vocals of frontman Edwyn Collins work really well with the fast-paced guitar and rhythmic drums. Part of the reason I believe this album works really well, is because of the mash-up of upbeat, constantly changing melodies and almost unrealistic vocals with the poetry of the lyrics. The sound of the band is quite a nonsensical one, however, if you take a look at the lyrics, they are quite poetical in their own way. “When I first saw you, something stirred within me, you were standing sultry in the rain”. Yes, it’s no Shelley or Poe, but they are beautifully simple in their own way.
The album is a giant boiling pot of completely different songs, yet they all go together perfectly. For example, songs such as ‘Breakfast Time’, (a perfect nostalgia song by-the-by) is incredibly slow paced, and literally on the next track, it’s the polar opposite and the pace is much faster on ‘I Can’t Help Myself‘ and ‘Flesh of My Flesh‘.
‘Rip It Up’, is not a quintessentially indie album, so I came to discover. When listening to it fully, it reminded me of the African sounds of Californian based four-piece, ‘Fool’s Gold’. It seems to me, being the ignorant person I am, that there is some sort of African language being spoken on ‘A Million Pleading Faces‘ and ‘Hokoyo‘, which made the tracks much more interesting. Simply because they are proving themselves to be so in tune with other cultures, which makes an album more diverse in so many different ways.
In terms of themes, the album is very consistent. The title, derived from the self-titled first track on the album summarises the whole album and what it is inevitably all about, and the title for the track is taken from the lyric in the song ‘Rip it up and start again‘. Rip what up exactly, I don’t know. It could be ripping up the time vortex to start again, or ripping up anything, really. It’s all open for interpretation. (So make sure you share your interpretation in the comments section!). But initially, the album is about love and the loss of it. To be honest, I’m quite bored of the topic of love. I understand why people choose to write about it, because it is raw, human emotion, and because of various experiences, but to be honest, I’m tired of artists singing about love. It’s a matter of opinion, but I’d like to see more artists talk about death and a completely opposite theme. It’s very rare that music artists choose to do so, which is why it would be interesting to see.
However, I did get the feeling that the band were trying too hard to come across odd and quirky which just came on as forced. Collins’ vocals seemed too staged and slightly melodramatic to me. On the track ‘Turn Away‘, Collins’ vocals sound completely different to his vocals on songs like ‘Breakfast Time‘, and to be honest, I much prefer his vocals on ‘Turn Away‘ as they sound more natural.
So, for the reasons given, I am awarding ‘Rip It Up, a 4/5 stars! Don’t get me wrong, Although I did enjoy the album, there were a few negative things that stood out in my mind. The great thing about this album and the band in itself is that they are so genre ambiguous. The frequent use of synthesisers on ‘Hokoyo‘ would make you think electronica, yet the extended saxophone solos on songs like ‘I Can’t Help Myself‘ make you think jazz and this makes for a lot more three dimensional band, so to speak.
Music Bloggery Recommends: ‘Rip It Up’, ‘a Million Pleading Faces’, ‘Turn Away’, ‘I Can’t Help Myself’ and ‘Hokoyo’