Buoyed by the commercial success of their 1982 debut album You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever, Orange Juice were well on their way to becoming one of the most influential groups of the early eighties. Their timeless brand of perfect pop had won over critics and music lovers. Released to critical acclaim in March 1982, You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever reached number twenty-one in the UK. For Orange Juice it was a case of striking when the iron was hot. 

Just eight months later, Orange Juice returned with their sophomore album Rip It Up, which was recently rereleased by Domino Records. Rip It Up featured a song that’s since become synonymous with Orange Juice, the title track Rip It Up. Not only that, but Rip It Up was the most successful single of Orange Juice’s career. It reached number eight in the UK Charts in 1983. Thirty-one years later and Rip It Up is a slice of pop perfection. However, there’s much more to Rip It Up than that one track. You’ll realise that, when I tell you about Rip It Up. Before that, I’ll tell you about the background to Rip It Up.

As work began on Rip It Up, there was a change in Orange Juice’s lineup. This came as no surprise. For some time, tension had running high between James Kirk and Steven Daly. This came to a head in early 1982. James Kirk left Orange Juice. This was a huge loss. James’ guitar parts, especially his doubles, were part of Orange Juice’s sound. Orange Juice’s loss was Memphis, his new group’s gain. Replacing James was Malcolm Ross.

Previously, Malcolm Ross had been a member of Josef F, another band on Alan Horne’s Postcard Records. Josef K were one of the most important Scottish bands of the early eighties. Featuring Paul Haig, David Weddell, Ronnie Torrance and Malcolm Ross, Josef K released a handful of singles and their only album, 1981s The Only Fun In Town. It reached number three in the UK Indie Charts. Despite this, Josef K split-up not long after this. Luckily, Orange Juice needed a guitarist. Malcolm Ross stepped into the void.

Not only did Malcolm Ross step into the void when it came to replacing James Kirk as guitarist, he penned Turn Away. With the rest of Orange Juice, he cowrote Rip It Up. Orange Juice and Zop Cormorant cowrote Hokoyo. Edwyn Collins penned five tracks, Mud in Your Eye, Breakfast Time, Flesh Of My Flesh, Louise Louise and Tenderhook. Then with David McClymont, Edwyn cowrote I Can’t Help Myself. The other tracks was Zeke Manyika’s A Million Pleading Face. These ten tracks became Rip It Up.

Just like the recording of You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever, Rip It Up was recorded at Berwick Street Studios, London. Edwyn sang lead vocals and played, lead, rhythm and twelve-string guitar. Malcolm Ross played, guitar, synths, piano and organ. David McClymont played bass and Steven Daly drums and percussion. Augmenting Orange Juice were vocalist Paul Quinn, percussionist Mel Gaynor, Martin Drover on flugelhorn plus Martin Hayles on piano and synthesiser. Louise Waddle contributed handclaps, Dick Morrissey played saxophone and Gavin Wright violin. Once the ten tracks were recorded, Rip It Up was ready for release in November 1982.

A mere eight months after their debut album You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever reached number twenty-one in the UK, Orange Juice released Rip It Up in November 1982. Disappointingly, it stalled at number thirty-nine in the UK. I Can’t Help Myself was released as the lead single, but only reached number forty-two in the UK. Then in 1983, Rip It Up was released as a single, reaching number eight in the UK. This would become Orange Juice’s most successful single. Finally, Flesh of My Flesh reached number forty-one in the UK. Whilst Rip It Up didn’t surpass the commercial success of You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever, it contains further moments of pop perfection from Orange Juice Mk. 2.

There’s no better way to start Rip It Up than with a slice of pop perfection. That describes Rip It Up, which since 1982, has become synonymous with Orange Juice. This is their finest hour. From the squelchy synth,  funky bass and chiming guitars, the years roll back. Suddenly, it’s 1983. Especially, when Edwyn’s angst ridden vocal enters. Handclaps, harmonies and drums provide the backdrop to Edwyn as pop perfection unfolds. Even the stabs of synth and howling saxophone work. Everything just melts into one soulful, funky slice of timeless pop. Thirty-one years later, it’s a reminder of better days.

A Million Pleading Faces sees Orange Juice head in a direction marked funk. That’s before the track heads in direction of Afro-beat and rock. It’s a melting pot of influences. They’re propelled along by the rhythm section, stabs of synths and reverberating guitars. Add to this dramatic rolls of drums. Then there’s the vocal. It changes hands as Orange Juice deliver lyrics full of social comment. Although there’s  some poppy hooks thrown in for good measure, it wasn’t what we’d come to expect from Orange Juice. Indeed it’s one of the weakest tracks on Rip It Up.

Mud In Your Eye sees a melancholy, heartbroken Edwyn lays bare his soul. He sings call and response, sounding like a crooner-in-waiting. The backing vocalist is a perfect foil for Edwyn, sounding like his conscience. Meanwhile, the arrangement meanders wistfully along. Washes of organ, crystalline guitars and the rhythm section provide the backdrop for Edwyn. Later, strings prove the finishing touch to this soulful opus, where hurt and heartbreak are ever-present.

Wistful string prove to be a brief curveball on Turn Away. It’s as if Orange Juice want to be Talking Heads. Post punk, rock and glam rock are thrown into the melting pot. Flourishes of guitar, synths and a funky bass accompany Edwyn, who seems to be taking his lead from David Byrne. Here, Orange Juice pay homage to Talking Heads. 

Thoughtfully, chiming guitars open Breakfast Time. They’re joined by a bouncy bass, jangling guitars and Edwyn’s unmistakable vocal. He delivers his cerebral, witty lyrics with panache. Yearning fills his vocal as he sings: “oh I wish I was young again.” Behind him, percussion is adding to an arrangement where funk, Latin, pop and rock is combined. This proves the perfect contrast to a wistful, melancholy Edwyn.

Crystalline, chiming guitars join hypnotic drums on I Can’t Help Myself. Then Orange Juice unleash their trademark sound. This time, funk, pop and soul is combined. Chirping guitars, funky bass, handclaps and stabs of synths join Edwyn’s joyous vocal. There’s even a diversion into Euro Disco, as Edwyn admits: “I Can’t Help Myself.” Later, Edwyn sings call and response as Orange Juice get funky. He vamps his way through the track, spreading joy and hooks. There’s even a blistering jazz-tinged saxophone solo that’s the icing on this delicious cake, that’s best tasted often.

One of Rip It Up’s best lyrics can be found on Flesh Of My Flesh. It comes courtesy of Edwyn. He delivers it beautifully. “Here’s a penny for your thought’s, incidentally, you may keep the change.” It’s a wonderful putdown. Scathing and cutting, it’s cerebral and witty. Orange Juice realising this, really raise their game. They don’t spare the hooks. The meandering arrangement is a fusion of funk and jazz. Jazzy horns punctuate the arrangement, as Edwyn at his poetic best, delivers another vocal masterclass.

Louise Louise is a relationship song. With trademark jangling guitar, Edwyn setting the scene from the opening bars. His lyrics paint pictures of a tumultuous relationship. It seems Louise is an aloof, enigmatic, drama queen. Frustration fills his vocal. This is reflected in the searing guitars. He feels mistreated. To get his own back, he heads to her party, where he delivers the lines: “have a wonderful birthday dear, such a wonderful birthday dear, it comes but once a year, I’ll spoil it with pinky sneer.” Revenge it seems, for Edwyn the class warrior, is a dish best served cold.

Hokoyo is totally unlike much of Rip It Up. It sees the direction head in the direction of world music and funk. Zeke takes charge of the vocal. Meanwhile, the rest of Orange Juice combine musical genres, including soul and perfect pop. When the vocal changes hands, Edwyn’s vocal provides a contrast. However, even he can’t rescue this track. It’s the wrong track on the wrong album.

Tenterhook closes Rip It Up. Wistfully, chiming guitars rhythm section and a thoughtful Edwyn combine. Memories come flooding back. So does regrets, and “he has a few.” Replacing his vocal, are riffing guitars. They’re part of an arrangement that’s like a merry-go-round, one Edwyn wants to climb off of. With a vocal full of emotion, regret and sadness, he breathes life and meaning into the lyrics.

There is more to Rip It Up than the title-track. Much more. It’s an eclectic album that showcases the new Orange Juice. The loss of  James Kirk was a huge blow. It resulted in a change in the Orange Juice sound. Their music was much more eclectic on Rip It Up. However, James’ departure affected Orange Juice. James’ guitar parts, especially his doubles, were very much part of Orange Juice’s sound. So were his songs. Now he was gone. 

James had contributed three tracks on You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever.  With James gone, other members of the band stepped into the songwriting void. Zeke Manyika wrote A Million Pleading Faces, which is a somewhat disappointing track. It’s one of the weakest tracks on Rip It Up. The first song Malcolm Ross wrote was the Talking Heads’ influenced Turn Away.  Along with the rest of Rip It Up, Orange Juice picked up where they left off on You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever. Hokoyo disappointed. It was written by Orange Juice and Zop Cormorant. This wasn’t the band’s finest hour. It’s a melange of musical influences and falls between them all. However, mostly, Rip It Up, sees Orange Juice continue on their mission to create pop perfection.

They very nearly succeeded. The only disappointments were A Million Pleading Faces and Hokoyo. Apart from that, it was almost a clear run. A combination of pop, rock, funk, Afro-beat, Euro Disco and Latin are thrown into the melting pot. Given a stir by producer Martin Hayles and it’s proof that Orange Juice had come a long way since their early years as the post-punk Nu-Sonics. 

By the time they released Rip It Up, in November 1982, they were a slick, polished and tight band. They wrote the ten tracks on Rip It Up.  Eight of these tracks work. They’re tracks variously beautiful, cerebral, joyous, literate, melancholy, poignant and wistful. Edwyn Collins’  vocals brings the lyrics to life. Quite simply, he breathes life, meaning and emotion into them. Behind him, Orange Juice’s trademark brand of perfect pop provides the perfect accompaniment. As 1982 closed, Orange Juice were well on their way to becoming one of the most important bands in Scotland’s musical history.

Sadly, that wasn’t to be. Orange Juice released just two more albums. Texas Fever released in March 1984. Orange Juice’s swan-song was The Orange Juice, which was released in November 1984. That was their finale and Orange Juice never enjoyed the widespread commercial success that other bands enjoyed. Orange Juice never scaled the heights Lloyd Cole and The Commotions and Blue Nile did. Gold and platinum albums never came Orange Juice’s way. Despite that, Rip It Up has stood the test of time. Although it’s not quite as good as You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever, Rip It Up is pretty near pop perfection. Standout Tracks: Rip It Up, Mud In Your Eye, Flesh Of My Flesh and Louise Louise.


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