Rip Rig + Panic
|Rip Rig + Panic|
|Years active||1980 - 1983|
|Associated acts||The Pop Group, Float Up CP|
|Past members||Neneh Cherry
Rip Rig + Panic were a post-punk band founded in 1980, and disbanded in 1983. They were named after a 1965 jazz album by Roland Kirk. They were formed by Sean Oliver (bass), Mark Springer (piano, sax, vocals), Gareth Sager (guitar, sax, keyboards, vocals) and Bruce Smith (drums, percussion)—the latter two formerly of The Pop Group)—with singer Neneh Cherry. Other members included saxophonist Flash (David Wright), singer Andrea Oliver, trumpeter David De Fries and viola-player Sarah Sarhandi.
The group strayed from more conventional post-punk, mixing avant-garde elements with jazz and led by Cherry's innovative pop/soul singing style. Their second album, I Am Cold, included a number of tracks featuring jazz trumpeter Don Cherry (Neneh Cherry's stepfather). They also appeared with Nico on a BBC radio session.
Rip Rig + Panic was formed in 1980 by drummer Bruce Smith and guitarist and saxophonist Gareth Sager after the dissolution of their previous band, The Pop Group. Naming their newly founded project after the 1965 Roland Kirk album of the same name, the duo preferred to explore their free jazz and reggae roots in contrast to their former band's avant-garde and political leanings. Pianist Mark Springer, who had performed live with The Pop Group, began collaborating with the duo by playing keyboards and occasionally providing vocals during live shows. Eventually, vocalist Neneh Cherry joined followed by bassist Sean Oliver. This line-up released the single "Go! Go! Go! This Is It"/"The Ultimate in Fun (Is Going to the Disco With My Baby)" on 13 August 1981, with Gavin Martin of NME saying "Rip Rig and Panic tread a fine line between undisciplined wasted and ingenious commercial aplomb."
The band's debut album, God, was released on 3 September 1981 by Virgin Records. It fused free jazz and free improvisation with post-punk, funk and reggae music. The music received high marks from NME for their viruoso playing and esoteric sense of humor, with the review calling it "an act of faith in tumult." The single "Bob Hope Takes Risks" followed on 27 November. For their second album, I Am Cold, the band adopted a more commercial approach in their sound while further embracing jazz and world music influences. The album was recorded with the help of vocalist Andrea Oliver and jazz trumpeter Don Cherry. The band made a guest appearance in an episode of the British sitcom The Young Ones performing their 1982 single "You're My Kind of Climate". 1983's Attitude was the band's final and most accessible album, supported by the singles "Beat the Beast" and "Do the Tightrope".
Rip Rig + Panic became Float Up CP in 1985 and produced the album Kill Me in the Morning, but amicably dissolved shortly thereafter. Cherry commented on the group's end in an interview with Spin: "Everyone needed to go and do their own thing. I don’t remember us splitting up, but there was an overspill into another overspill."
The band's members continued to their musical involvement. Mark Springer continued to record as a solo artist, debuting with Piano in 1984. Sean Oliver became a session musician for Terence Trent D'Arby, co-wroting his 1987 hit "Wishing Well". Oliver died of sickle cell anemia in March 1990. In 2010, Sager and Smith reformed and began touring and recording with The Pop Group.
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