These three expanded reissues, representing Rip Rig + Panic’s complete recorded output (with B-sides and sessions), show a band purposefully grappling with chaos. God is slightly terrifying (as He should be), but still entertaining. It’s improvisional free jazz, updated for the ‘80s and urbanized by Neneh Cherry’s edgy vocals. She tells us in the interview sleeve notes that she thought the band “were mad” to ask her to join, and there is certainly a hint of madness in the music.
I Am Cold continues the story, the album starting with “You’re My Kind of Climate”. It’s a surprisingly commercial beginning, but going by the rest of the album, the band were not focused on hit singles. You need a sense of humour to appreciate it—Rip Rig + Panic are pranksters, suggested by their song titles (“She Gets So Hungry at Night She Eats Her Jewellery”), and the band admit they were considered a tax loss band by their label. As the album winds on, the ironically titled “Storm The Reality Asylum” does suggest their moments of lucidity could lead to a winning formula.
Final album Attitude shows the band more at ease in the studio. As a result, it’s their most accessible. Despite this, the engineer thought that the band were “all out of their minds on drugs”. In fact, they were just relaxed “being pretty mad” around each other. The emphasis remains on free jazz, but if you enjoy music that will challenge you, to make you wonder just what was going on to make such a racket, Rip Rig + Panic are for you.