Cult Classic: Orange Juice-Rip It Up.

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 much-anticipated sophomore album Rip It Up. It featured a song that’s since become synonymous with Orange Juice, Rip It Up. On its release, it became the most successful single of their career. It reached number eight in the UK Charts in 1983. However, there’s much more to Rip It Up than that one track. 

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 and James Kirk left Orange Juice. This was a huge loss as his guitar parts, and especially his doubles were an important part of Orange Juice’s sound. Orange Juice’s loss was  his new group Memphis’ gain. Replacing James Kirk 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 the release of their album, and Malcolm Ross joined Orange Juice.

 Malcolm Ross wasn’t just a guitarist, he was also a songwriter, and penned Turn Away. With the rest of Orange Juice he wrote Rip It Up. Orange Juice then joined forces with Zop Cormorantto to write Hokoyo.Meanwhile, Zeke Manyika had written A Million Pleading Face. However, much of Rip It Up was written by one man, Edwyn Collins.

He contributed five tracks on Rip It Up, Mud in Your Eye, Breakfast Time, Flesh Of My Flesh, Louise Louise and Tenderhook. Then Edwyn Collins and David McClymont cowrote I Can’t Help Myself. With the ten tracks that became Rip It Up written, Orange Juice headed to London to wrote record their sophomore album.

Just like the recording of You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever, Rip It Up was recorded at Berwick Street Studios, London. The rhythm section included drummer and percussionist Steven Daly, bassist David McClymont and Edwyn Collins who played rhythm, lead and twelve-string guitar and sang lead vocals and played, lead, rhythm and twelve-string guitar. New recruit Malcolm Ross played, guitar, synths, piano and organ.

Augmenting Orange Juice were vocalist Paul Quinn; percussionist Mel Gaynor; violinist Gavin Wright; saxophonist Dick Morrissey; Martin Drover on flugelhorn; Martin Hayles on piano and synthesiser and Louise Waddle who contributed handclaps. 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. The members of Orange Juice hoped the singles would fare better than the album.

When I Can’t Help Myself was released as the lead single, it stalled at  number forty-two in the UK. Then in 1983, Rip It Up reached number eight in the UK and became Orange Juice’s most successful single. However, Flesh of My Flesh was released as the third single it reached just forty-one in the UK. This was disappointing given the success of  Rip It Up. Orange Juice hadn’t been able to build on the success of their first top ten single.

Orange Juice’s much-anticipated sophomore album didn’t surpass the commercial success of You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever. However,  Rip 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 and suddenly, it’s 1983 again. Especially, when Edwyn Collins’ angst ridden vocal enters. Handclaps, harmonies and drums play their part in the arrangement. So do  stabs of synth and a howling saxophone as everything just melts into one soulful, funky slice of timeless pop. 

A Million Pleading Faces sees Orange Juice head in a direction marked funk before heading in direction of Afrobeat and rock. It’s a melting pot of genres and influences. They’re propelled along by the rhythm section, stabs of synths and reverberating guitars. They’re joined by dramatic drum rolls, a vocal full social comment and some poppy hooks on this genre-melting track.

Mud In Your Eye sees a melancholy, heartbroken Edwyn Collins lays bare his soul. He sings call and response sounding like a crooner-in-waiting. The backing vocalist is a perfect foil sounding like his conscience. Meanwhile, the arrangement meanders wistfully along. Washes of organ, crystalline guitars and the rhythm section provide the backdrop for the vocal. 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 on a track where post punk, rock and glam rock are thrown into the melting pot. Flourishes of guitar, synths and a funky bass accompany Edwyn Collins who seems to be taking his lead from David Byrne as he pays homage to Talking Heads. 

Thoughtfully, chiming guitars open Breakfast Time. They’re joined by a bouncy bass, jangling guitars and Edwyn Collins’ 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 vocal.

Crystalline, chiming guitars join hypnotic drums on I Can’t Help Myself before 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 Collins’ joyous vocal. There’s even a diversion into Euro Disco, as he admits: “I Can’t Help Myself.” Later, Edwyn Collins 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 musical cake.

One of Rip It Up’s best lyrics can be found on Flesh Of My Flesh. It comes courtesy of Edwyn Collins. 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 and the meandering arrangement is a fusion of funk and jazz. Jazzy horns punctuate the arrangement as Edwyn Collins at his poetic best delivers another vocal masterclass.

Louise Louise is a relationship song. With trademark jangling guitar, Edwyn Collins sets 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 and this is reflected in the searing guitars. He feels mistreated and to get his own back 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 Collins class warrior, is a dish best served cold.

Hokoyo has a genre-melting sound and initially, heads in the direction of world music and funk and later soul and perfect pop. Zeke Manyika takes charge of the lead vocal while, the rest of Orange Juice combine and switch between musical genres. Later, the vocal changes hands, and Edwyn Collins’ vocal provides a contrast on a track that shows another side to Orange Juice. However, it’s the weakest song on Rip It Up and seems out of place on the album.

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

Just months after the release of their debut album You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever, Orange Juice returned with their much-anticipated sophomore album Rip It Up. The title-track gave the Glasgow band the biggest single of their career and nowadays, is regarded as their finest hour.  Despite that, and what was a  much more eclectic sounding album Rip It Up failed to match the commercial success of You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever.  

The loss of  James Kirk was a huge blow for Orange Juice. His guitar parts, especially his doubles, were very much part of Orange Juice’s sound. So were his song. He had written three songs on You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever, and  other members had to fill the void caused by his departure.

This they did with varying degrees of success. Two members of Orange Juice contributed songs for the first time. Zeke Manyika’s contribution was  A Million Pleading Faces which was a disappointing song which seemed out of place on the album. Much better was the Malcolm Ross’ composition Turn Away, which sound as if it had been influenced by Talking Heads. However, Edwyn Collins continued in his role as Orange Juice’s songwriter-in-chief writing five songs and cowrote three more as the band continued on their mission to create pop perfection.

On Rip It Up they combined elements  of pop, rock, funk, Afrobeat, Euro Disco, jazz, Latin and world music. It’s given a stir by producer Martin Hayles and the result is Rip It Up, a cult classic from one of the pioneers of Scottish jangle pop. They 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, Orange Juice were a slick, polished, tight and talented band. They wrote songs that are beautiful, cerebral, joyous, literate, melancholy, poignant and wistful. Edwyn Collins’  vocals brings the lyrics to life, breathing life, meaning and emotion into them. Behind him, the rest of Orange Juice provide the perfect accompaniment with their trademark brand of perfect pop.

As 1982 drew to a close closed, Orange Juice were well on their way to becoming one of the most important bands in Scotland’s musical history. It also looked like they would enjoy a long and successful career.

Sadly, that wasn’t to be. Orange Juice released just two more albums. Texas Fever released in March 1984. Orange Juice’s swansong was The Orange Juice, which was released in November 1984. That was the end of the Orange Juice story.

They never enjoyed the widespread commercial success that other bands enjoyed and never scaled the heights Lloyd Cole and The Commotions and The Blue Nile did. Gold and platinum albums never came Orange Juice’s way during a career that lasted just six years. Their two finest albums were You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever and Rip It Up, which has stood the test of time and is pretty near pop perfection. 

Cult Classic: Orange Juice-Rip It Up.

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