In November 1979 Cabaret Voltaire toured the United States, and became strongly interested in the rise of the Christian right and its use of television, especially the fund-raising broadcasts of TV evangelistEugene Scott. They compared this to the rise of Islamism, devoting a side to each strand of religious politics on their 1980 mini-album Three Mantras. Red Mecca was a culmination of this interest. According to Richard H. Kirk: "The whole Afghanistan situation was kicking off, Iran had the American hostages [...] we were taking notice [...] it's not called [Red Mecca] by coincidence. We weren't referencing the fucking Mecca Ballroom in Nottingham!"
Red Mecca was recorded at Western Works, Sheffield in May 1981.
NME named the Red Mecca the 9th best album of 1981.AllMusic praised the album, writing "Unlike a fair portion of CV's studio output, Red Mecca features no failed experiments or anything that could be merely cast off as 'interesting'. It's a taught [sic], dense, horrific slab lacking a lull."