Rf-Ron

 

RFD (USA): Lead Me Home (No label, 1971)
Folk/Rock
Debbie McKee (joint lead vocals)
An album of Christian folk/rock drawing on coffeehouse influences wouldn’t normally be my listening of choice, but this one is something special. The material is beautifully arranged (for dual acoustic guitars, bass and drums) and sensitively performed, with a spacy, loose feeling that calls to mind both Search Party and Shide & Acorn. The final ingredient is some superb original songs, including the stunning side-openers ‘He Is Coming’ and ‘Take Time’, which manage to sound both sacred and subtly psychedelic. GRADE: B–.

Rhea (Switzerland): Sad Sorceress (No label HD 363, with insert, 1980)
Progressive
Marie-Claire Schillumeit (lead vocals)
This amateurish, low-budget soft progressive album sounds heavily influenced by Earth & Fire circa Atlantis. It also bears more than a passing resemblance to Carol Of Harvest here and there, creating some nice folky textures and dreamy moods. This is one of the rarest European progressive LPs, with only two or three copies known. GRADE: C+.

Rhesus (Switzerland): Contrastes (Evasion EA 100 122, France, 1980)
Folk/Rock
Dominique Rosset (joint lead vocals, piano)
This is a pleasant and mellow album of folk/rock with a singer/songwriter feel, slight jazzy and progressive touches and well-composed original material. There’s nothing really exceptional on offer, however, and it’s not surprising that they didn’t get to cut a second LP.

GRADE: C+.

Sandra Rhodes (USA): Where’s Your Love Been? (Fantasy FT 510, 1973)
Country/Rock/Soul
Sandra Rhodes (lead vocals, guitar)
Offering mellow country/rock with some soul touches, this may not sound too appealing on paper. But Rhodes is a capable songwriter and guitarist, her voice is girlish and appealing, and the arrangements and production are top-notch throughout. Her material was covered by artists including Isaac Hayes, and she and her husband and writing partner Charles Chalmers later went on to form the band RCR, whom I have not heard. GRADE: C+.

Rhùn (France): Bhönus (No label, download, 2008)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Emilie Massue (joint lead vocals, percussion)
The legend on the artwork for this French band’s demo – ‘Fanfare du Chaos’ – offers an excellent indication of its contents. Their music mixes energetic, quite violent zeuhl with jazz-fusion and some neoclassical and chamber music to excellent effect – constantly surprising and inventive, it should appeal to most zeuhl and free-jazz fans and in particular delight those who love early Art Zoyd or Shub-Niggurath. GRADE: B.

Rhùn (France): Ïh (Download, 2012)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Marhïon Mouette (joint lead vocals, percussion)
The music on the band's second download mixes energetic, quite violent zeuhl with jazz-fusion and some neoclassical and chamber music elements to excellent effect – once again earning the legend of ‘Fanfare Du Chaos’. The set is constantly surprising and inventive and should appeal to most zeuhl and free jazz fans; in particular, it should please anyone liking early Art Zoyd or Shub-Niggurath. This was subsequently compiled, along with three songs from the demo, into a CD also titled Ïh (AltrOck ALT-034, Italy, 2013). GRADE: B.

Rhythm Makers (USA): The Rhythm Makers (Lariam Associates 8-9348, 1968)
Garage/MOR/’Incredibly Strange Music’
Sherri Volz, Nancy Rowell
Only one copy is known of this album, which makes an ideal companion piece to Hi-Hopes, Mystic Zephyrs 4 or the Shaggs. Five disabled children aged between ten and thirteen tackle a variety of lounge standards in a basement garage rock style, with Hawaiian guitar and trebly organ as the lead instruments. Most of the cuts are instrumental, but several have dreadful kiddie singing to up the weirdness quotient another notch. On ‘Gloria’, they sound uncannily similar to the Velvet Underground, with the singer a dead ringer for a juvenile Lou Reed. For the most part, unlike, say, the Shaggs, there’s nothing here to attract the interest of psychedelic or avant-garde fans, but this is still a minor classic of its kind, and the impossibly ancient multicoloured sleeve is a treat too. GRADE: C+.

Rialzu (Corsica): Rialzu (Ricordu LM 16, 1978)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Françoise Augé (occasional vocals)
This Corsican band took most of its influences from Magma, with this rare private pressing offering complex but also rather tentative and lightweight zeuhl. As a footnote, Patricia Gattaceca-Santini of Ottobre had earlier been a member of the band, and is featured on a live bonus track on the CD (retitled U Riguru after the opening cut). GRADE: B–.
See also Ottobre

Catherine Ribeiro & 2 Bis (France): Catherine Ribeiro Et 2 Bis (Festival FLDX 487, 1969)
Progressive/Avant-Garde
Catherine Ribeiro (lead vocals)
Ribeiro’s debut album immediately establishes her unusual style: dramatic, declaimed vocals delivered over spacy, repetitive, semi-improvised backing. With a very French feel, she often sounds like she’s updating Édith Piaf for the psychedelic and progressive rock generation, although her vocal stylings are much wilder and angrier, at times dissolving into shrieks, sobs and glossolalia. Unlike later albums with Alpes, the tracks are all fairly short and seem to use conventional rather than home-made instruments; there is greater emphasis on acoustic guitar and drums and percussion (including some tablas). Sounding like nothing that had gone before, her style was truly mouldbreaking and was vastly influential on French rock. GRADE: B–.
Catherine Ribeiro & Alpes (France): No. 2 (Festival FLDX 531, 1970)
Progressive/Psychedelic/Avant-Garde
Catherine Ribeiro (lead vocals)
Album number two (with her backing band renamed) is a huge step forward, with the characteristic Alpes spaciness making its presence felt. The eighteen-and-a-half-minute ‘Poème Non Epique’ is especially impressive, almost approaching Brainticket levels of weirdness, but this is a remarkable album all through. GRADE: B.
Catherine Ribeiro & Alpes (France): Âme Debout (Philips 6325 180, 1971)
Progressive/Psychedelic/Avant-Garde
Catherine Lara (principal vocals)
This is probably the best, and certainly the most varied, of Alpes’ albums. The title track features one of Ribeiro’s most impassioned vocal performances, whilst ‘Diborowska’ is mournful folk and ‘Alpes 1’ is a mellow, almost hypnotic, space-rock instrumental. Forty years on, the breadth and originality of Ribeiro and principal collaborator Patrice Moullet’s vision still surprises. GRADE: B+.
Catherine Ribeiro & Alpes (France): Paix (Philips 9101 037, 1972)
Progressive/Psychedelic/Avant-Garde
Catherine Ribeiro (lead vocals)
Whilst Âme Debout is my favourite Ribeiro LP, Paix is certainly her quintessential work. The album is dominated by two very long pieces – the twenty-four-and-a-half-minute ‘Un Jour… La Mort’ and the fifteen-and-a-half-minute title track, both of which are quite laid-back yet also very trippy and weird. In short, this is another Alpes classic. GRADE: B.
Catherine Ribeiro & Alpes (France): Le Rat Débile Et L’Homme Des Champs (Philips 9101 003, 1974)
Progressive/Psychedelic/Avant-Garde
Catherine Ribeiro (lead vocals)
This is even more spacious and tripped-out than Paix, with long minimalist instrumental sections fronted by repetitive organ figures and eerie violin. Whilst the album doesn’t take Ribeiro into any new areas, it’s still a hugely impressive piece of work and ends in a freakout of considerable intensity. GRADE: B.
Catherine Ribeiro & Alpes (France): Libertés (Philips 9101 501, 1975)
Progressive
Catherine Ribeiro (lead vocals)
With real bass, drums and percussion rather than home-made alternatives, this is in part closer to conventional progressive rock. Some of the lengthy instrumental passages are almost dreamlike, but Ribeiro is in typically confrontational mood, and like its predecessor this becomes steadily more manic as it progresses. The only real misstep is a spoken word track, but at least it’s not too long. GRADE: B.
Catherine Ribeiro & Alpes (France): Le Temps De L’Autre (Philips 9101 155, 1977)
Progressive
Catherine Ribeiro (lead vocals)
Whilst this is another fine album in Alpes’ usual style, Ribeiro was noticeably beginning to repeat herself rather than break any new ground. Lacking the variety of Âme Debout, the broad vision of Paix or the wildness of the last couple of LPs, this is a very good, rather than great, album. GRADE: B–.
Catherine Ribeiro (France): Les Blues De Piaf (Philips 9101 156, 1977)
Chanson
Catherine Ribeiro (lead vocals)
Ribeiro’s first solo album, released almost simultaneously with Le Temps De L’Autre, is as far from Alpes as one can imagine. As its title suggests, this is a collection of Édith Piaf songs performed with orchestrated backing. This isn’t my kind of music at all, but it’s undeniable that Ribeiro does it brilliantly. GRADE: C+.
Catherine Ribeiro (France): Jacqueries (Philips 9101 201, 1978)
Chanson
Catherine Ribeiro (lead vocals)
Having tackled Piaf, Ribeiro now offered a selection of Jacques Prévert poems set to music. This is a bit more varied than Les Blues De Piaf with rock band backing as well as orchestration; once again it’s very well done but all a bit arch. GRADE: C+.
Catherine Ribeiro & Alpes (France): Passions (Philips 9101 270, with inner, 1979)
Rock/Progressive
Catherine Ribeiro (lead vocals), Mireille Bauer (drums, percussion)
This is surprisingly mellow for an Alpes album: the opening cut ‘Ioana Mélodie’ is a tender hymn to Ribeiro’s daughter. The following ‘Frères Humains’ is more in her usual vein, but the two instrumentals are rather gentle and the two long cuts much inferior to her previous work. The addition of a full-time violinist and a guest saxophonist on two cuts also changes the band’s sound, not necessarily for the better. GRADE: C+.
Catherine Ribeiro & Alpes (France): La Déboussole (Philips 6313 096, with inner, 1980)
Rock/Progressive
Catherine Ribeiro (lead vocals)
The final Alpes album is a significant return to form after the relatively disappointing Passions. Aside from a jazzy remake of ‘Paix’ that closes the disc (and Alpes’ career), all of the songs are short and somewhat funky, but with Ribeiro on fine form. It’s a great pity that she concentrated on solo work after this point. GRADE: B.
Catherine Ribeiro (France): Catherine Ribeiro (Philips 6313 354, with inner, 1982)
Pop/Rock
Catherine Ribeiro (lead vocals)
Ribeiro’s first solo album of self-penned material continues the funky rock style of La Déboussole but swaps Alpes’ wildness for slick arrangements including lots of horns. It’s perfectly listenable, with ‘Insoumission Mondiale’ coming closest to recapturing the spirit of Alpes, but it’s hard to see what she was trying to achieve by moving in this direction. Surprisingly, the dramatic ballad ‘Dans La Creux De Ta Nuit’ (easily the album’s weakest cut) was co-written with Peter Gabriel. GRADE: C+.
Catherine Ribeiro (France): Percuphonante (Ioana Mélodies IM 001, with inner, 1986)
Rock/Progressive
Catherine Lara (lead vocals)
Percuphonante reunited Ribeiro with her former writing partner and Alpes leader Patrice Moullet; not surprisingly, this is much closer to Alpes than her three previous solo albums. The downside is that this was recorded in the mid-eighties, and on a shoestring budget as she was now issuing her music independently, meaning that most of the backing is from synthesisers and drum machines. The result is a good album, but one that could have been excellent with band backing. Surprisingly, the nine-and-a-half minute closer ‘Paix 86’ is not another remake of ‘Paix’ but a new composition with the same name. GRADE: C+.
Catherine Ribeiro (France): 1989… Déjà! (EPM FDC 1057, CD, 1989)
Chanson
Catherine Ribeiro (lead vocals)
Like its predecessor, this has mostly synthesised backing; unlike its predecessor, it’s a collection of interpretations of traditional songs about the French Revolution. As with most of Ribeiro’s ventures into this territory, it’s very well done. GRADE: C+.
Catherine Ribeiro (France): L’Amour Aux Nus (Mantra 073, CD, 1992)
Chanson
Catherine Ribeiro (lead vocals)
Ribeiro’s first live album sees her accompanied only by a pianist as she performs standards like ‘Je Ne Sais Pas’, ‘Ne Me Quitte Pas’, ‘Vie Monotone’, ‘Les Prisons Du Roy’ and ‘Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien’ as well as a few of her own compositions. Whilst it’s interesting to hear her perform with this kind of backing, this is also quite one-dimensional — and it’s a long album too. GRADE: C.
Catherine Ribeiro (France): Fenêtre Ardente (Mantra 081/642081, CD, 1993)
Rock
Catherine Ribeiro (lead vocals)
Ribeiro’s first album of original material since Percuphonante is quite varied and in parts quite dramatic. However, without any extended tracks or any pushing of boundaries, it’s also quite nondescript and only really gathers much pace with the last two cuts, which have a bit of an Alpes feel. This was Ribeiro’s final studio album, although she reunited with Patrice Moullet in 2002 to cut a new Alpes LP; this was never released. GRADE: C+.
Catherine Ribeiro (France): Vivre Libre (Alby Music 112 601, CD, 1995)
Chanson
Catherine Ribeiro (lead vocals)
Another live set of chansons, including several self-penned numbers, accompanied mainly by piano but also by a percussionist and a string quartet. This is a bit livelier and more varied than L’Amour Aux Nus, with a dramatic reading of ‘Stress Et Strass’ being particularly good. GRADE: C+.
Catherine Ribeiro (France): Chansons De Légende (Alby Music 3027012, CD, 1997)
Chanson
Catherine Ribeiro (lead vocals)
Basically part two of Vivre Libre, though with more minimalist and piano-dominated backing. This was followed by yet another live album in 2002 (the double Live Au Théâtre Toursky) that is so obscure that I had no idea it even existed for many years. Since this was yet another voice-and-piano set of chansons (largely duplicating the tracklistings of Vivre Libre and Chansons De Légende) it would almost certainly grade it as a C. GRADE: C.
Catherine Ribeiro (France): Chante Ribeiro Alpes – Live Intégral (Nocturne NTCD437, double CD, 2008)
Rock
Catherine Ribeiro (lead vocals)
This isn’t exactly an Alpes reunion – only Francis Campello was a previous Alpes member, and quite a few of the songs are taken from Ribeiro’s solo releases. Nonetheless, it’s good to see her backed by a rock band for the first time in years, and this blows away any of her previous live albums. Interestingly, the band includes a dedicated pedal steel guitar player; this isn’t an instrument that one would associate with Ribeiro’s style, but the arrangement works rather well. As a footnote, there is some confusion as to whether this is an expanded reissue of another CD entitled Catherine Ribeiro Chante Ribeiro Alpes – Ribeiro’s own website states that that was recorded in November 2005 whereas this dates from February 2007, but both have the same cover design, and all six tracks from the single CD appear on the double. GRADE: B–.

Michael Richards & Gaynor Space (UK): Songs… With Strings Attached (Hermes Music VOXCD1, UK, 2006?)
Folk
Gaynor Space (principal vocals, guitar)
The cover makes this look like new age (and apparently Michael Richards released several albums in this vein), but on hearing the spellbinding opening versions of ‘Scarborough Fair’ and ‘Once I Had A Sweetheart’, the obvious reference points were Folkal Point and Laine & Alan. This is simply beautiful, haunting folk, setting tradition (crystalline acoustic guitars and harps) against modernity (most of the other instruments are sampled) to stunning effect. A lack of variety starts to become apparent in the middle, but the album find its feet again by introducing congas, first on a magnificent rendition of Donovan’s ‘Song Of The Wandering Aengus’; it ends with an uncredited version of ‘Gaudete’ that was clearly inspired by Steeleye Span’s rendition yet is different enough not to be a homage. With stunning recording quality, this is one of the best folk albums of recent decades, and it’s remarkable that a duo this obscure (I can’t find a single reference to this on the internet and cannot even date it) was capable of producing something of this quality. GRADE: B.

Janelle Richey (USA): Remembering (No label LP-1010, 1974)
Folk/Singer/Songwriter
Janelle Richey (lead vocals, guitar)
I’d always imagined this to be a Christian album, with the cloying mood that implies, but in fact it’s a lovely, gentle set of coffeehouse folk, with 16-year-old Richey’s crystalline voice backed by acoustic guitars, bass and occasional piano and flute. At times it gets a little precious, and I’m not sure I needed to hear another version of ‘Annie’s Song’, but at its best this is lovely stuff and she undeniably has considerable singing and writing chops. The best number by some margin is the self-penned ‘Rainy Day Dreams’, which creates a hazy and mildly psychedelic mood. GRADE: C+.

Rickity Thatch (UK): Three Rivers (EAR EARL 5001, 1975)
Folk
Vickki Belle (joint lead vocals)
With simple backing from acoustic guitars, contrabass, flute and whistle, this is pleasant traditional folk that at various times resembles Galley, Vulcan’s Hammer or acoustic Faraway Folk. Although rather generic, it’s an extremely expensive LP and one of the hardest seventies folk private pressings to track down. GRADE: C+.

Right Of Little Rest (USA): The Right Of Little Rest (No label, with booklet, 1976)
Folk/Rock/Singer/Songwriter
Robin M Paige (occasional vocals), Virginia Garzilli (occasional vocals), Marjorie Roy (occasional vocals), Jennifer Field (occasional vocals)
Housed in a striking sleeve featuring a scarlet sea monster, this university project album is the first volume in a series that came to be known as ‘Follies Bazaar’. Very much a collective effort, it features different combinations of musicians on different tracks, with a few female singers here and there. The music is equally varied, from folk instrumentals to singer/songwriter numbers and mildly psychedelic light rockers. The heaviest cut ‘Am I Not The One?’, fronted by Robin Paige, is probably the most interesting, reminding me a little of North County Rock Association. GRADE: C+.
See also Follies Bazaar

Rinky Dink & The Crystal Set (UK): Cameo Roles (Harvest SHSP 4047, with insert, 1975)
Lounge/Progressive
Astral Plane Jane
Manhattan Transfer-meets-progressive rock is the only way I can describe this quite bizarre album. I would love to know something about this band, but it seems they only cut this one terminally obscure album, then vanished. GRADE: C+.

Minnie Riperton (USA): Come To My Garden (GRT 30001, 1970)
Pop/Soul
Far from the bold eclecticism of Rotary Connection, this is a gentle, melodic album of old-fashioned pop/soul. There’s nothing particularly thrilling or groundbreaking, but it’s extremely well done and showcases Riperton’s beautiful voice to fine effect. GRADE: C.
See also Rotary Connection

Rise & Shine (Sweden): Second Demo 1994 (No label, cassette, 1994)
Rock/Metal
Josabeth Leidi (lead vocals)
I haven’t encountered Rise & Shine’s first demo, but their second is a decent if compact affair, offering six songs in around 20 minutes. Musically, it’s stripped-down, bluesy hard rock – solid and enjoyable without being truly special, though the last two cuts on side two up the ante. GRADE: C+.
Rise & Shine (Sweden): FlowerPowerMetal (Black Widow BWRCD 023-2, CD, Italy, 1998)
Rock/Metal
Josabeth Leidi (lead vocals)
Like their demo, this is engaging if amateurish, heavy without being majestic, and solid without being exceptional. The singing, songwriting and musicianship are all workmanlike rather than being inspiring, and the album as a whole is decent if a mite underwhelming. GRADE: C+.
Rise & Shine (Sweden): Roadflower (Black Widow BWRCD 037-2, CD, Italy, 2000)
Metal
Josabeth Leidi (lead vocals, guitar, flute)
The slight hesitancy that marred their previous releases has gone – this is harder, heavier, meaner and much more confident. In fact, if stripped-down, no-nonsense bluesy heavy rock is your thing, you could absolutely love this. GRADE: C+.
Rise & Shine (Sweden): Ghosts Of The Past (Plug Or Die PLUCD022, CD, 2006)
Metal
Josabeth Leidi (lead vocals, guitar, flute)
This time round, it’s more obvious how much Josabeth Leidi is influenced by Janis Joplin, and if one listens closely a faint Big Brother-style acid-rock influence can be discerned in the backing as well. However, when all’s said and done this is once again straightforward, stripped-down heavy rock – and for the most part once again pretty good. GRADE: C+.
Rise & Shine (Sweden): Empty Hand (I Hate IHRCD092, CD, 2011)
Metal
Josabeth Leidi (lead vocals, guitar)
This isn’t an easy band to review, as every album is very much of a piece. However, if there’s a constant, they seem to be growing in confidence with each release, and this is certainly a strong album (if not a particularly ambitious one). GRADE: C+.

Rise & Shine (Sweden): In The Shadow (Freedoom FRED 005/PAR 035/FR 006, 2017)

Rock/Metal

Josabeth Leidi (lead vocals, guitar)

Once again, there’s not really much to say – this is a solid metal album by any measure, with decent material and performances, but Rise & Shine still haven’t elevated their music to the first rank. GRADE: C+.

Rising Moon (Guernsey): The Rising Moon (Theatre Projects 07691, 1976?)
Folk/Rock
Brenda Farnell (joint lead vocals, guitar, violin)
Privately released in the band’s native Guernsey, this is an enjoyable traditional folk/rock LP, with backing from acoustic guitars, violin, mandolin, whistle and rudimentary percussion. On several tracks they sound a little like Galley, with a rich vocal sound, whilst on others they more closely resemble an unplugged Steeleye Span. Hardly surprisingly, the album remains extremely rare, with only a handful of copies known. GRADE: C+.

Lolita Ritmanis & Brigita Ritmanis-Osis (USA): Meitenes Dziesma Latvijai (Riga H28, with insert, 1980)
Folk/Rock
Lolita Ritmanis (principal vocals, synthesiser, bells), Brigita Ritmanis-Osis (occasional vocals, keyboards)
The former Dzintars leaders’ album as a duo (although this is, if anything, closer to being a Lolita Ritmanis solo set) is a vast improvement on their former band. Without the need to utilise choral voices or target the music at the cabaret circuit, the sisters managed a lovely album of gentle folk/rock ballads, with a couple of effective uptempo rockers thrown into the mix. This is also much rarer than any of the Dzintars LPs. As a footnote, Lolita Ritmanis went on to become a classical composer of some repute. GRADE: C+.
See also Dzintars

River Flows Reverse (Hungary): When River Flows Reverse (Psychedelic Source, download, 2021)
Psychedelic
Kriszti Benus (principal vocals)
With Kriszti Benus providing most of the vocals and Bence Ambrus most of the instrumentation, this is another set – under another band name – of late-night cosmic psychedelic jams from the Psychedelic Source crew. This is perhaps a mite folkier than most, with quite a bit of banjo, and has some modern jazz references too thanks to the occasional trumpet, but otherwise it’s very much in the usual style – and up to their usual standard. GRADE: B–.

Riverson (Canada): Riverson (Columbia ES 90136, 1973)
Folk/Country/Rock
Franki Hart (joint lead vocals, guitar, piano, recorder)
Among the five or so best albums to emerge from Canada in this period, Riverson’s sole LP blends rural rock of the Neil Young school with first-rate songwriting and perfectly-judged instrumental performances. Highlights including the poignant, catchy single ‘Clear Night’ (which should have been a worldwide hit) and a powerful cover of ‘Eleanor Rigby’, but there are no real weak points. Unsurprisingly, this is an expensive and sought-after LP, even though they enjoyed some minor chart success in Canada at the time. Most (if not all) copies have a pressing fault during ‘Take Me’ at the end of side one, causing the needle to stick. GRADE: B.
See also Freedom North

Riverstreet (USA): Riverstreet (Rare Summer 111012, with insert, 1981)
Rock
Rosie Workman (joint lead vocals, keyboards)
This good-natured barroom rock and Southern rock album isn’t enormously memorable, but it does have some excellent guitar work and solid original compositions with sometimes (and probably unintentionally) amusing lyrics. The disc comes housed in a striking silver foil sleeve, which is perhaps its most noteworthy feature. GRADE: C+.

RJ Fox (USA): Retrospective Dreams (Black Bamboo BBCD-211, double CD, 1994, recorded 1971-1978)
Folk/Rock
Sherry Fox (joint lead vocals, piano)
This comprehensive overview of the career of RJ Fox (aka Oasis) features 39 songs spanning seven years. The first eight comprise a 1971 LP recorded for Atlantic (with Jefferson Airplane’s Spencer Dryden on drums); the set also includes eight out of eleven songs (why not the other three?) from the 1973 Oasis album plus a plethora of other recordings. With fine recording quality throughout, it’s an excellent overview of their career and packed with good material leavened by their excellent Crosby Stills & Nash-style harmonies and spacious acoustic and electric instrumentation, though they certainly weren’t the most varied band. GRADE: C+.
See also Cookin’ Mama, Indigo, Oasis, Starcrossed

Road Home (USA): Peaceful Children (Dunhill DS 50104, with booklet, 1971)
Pop/Rock
Dee Archer (joint lead vocals)
Mellow soft rock with partly religious lyrics. Dunhill obviously had big plans for this, as it boasts both a gatefold sleeve and fold-out lyric insert. It’s a nice LP for genre fans, but aside from the impassioned ‘Restitution’ there’s nothing here that was ever likely to catapult the band into the big time. Keyboardist Bill Sprouse Jr later formed a more overtly devotional version of the band, before dying of complications from obesity at the age of 26. GRADE: C.

Roadcase Royale (USA): First Things First (Loud & Proud LNPD60, CD, 2017)
Rock
Liv Warfield, Nancy Wilson
This collaboration between members of Heart and the New Power Generation unsurprisingly sounds like a slightly more soulful Heart album. Also unsurprisingly, like almost every Heart album since the early nineties, it’s consistently solid without ever being notably great. GRADE: C+.
See also Heart, Nancy Wilson

Roar Of Silence (Germany): The Roar Of Silence (No label MK-MK-CD-001, CD, 1992)
Rock
Annette Lenze (joint lead vocals)
This odd little album draws on all kinds of interesting music – West Coast, folk/rock, progressive, psychedelic and heavy rock – and melds it into a quirky whole. However, it’s most distinctive feature is the almost liturgical male and massed vocals: coupled with the thin, trebly sound and frequently delicate atmosphere, it makes one expect a Christian artefact, though I can’t detect any such leanings in the lyrics. Strangest of all, this dates from the early nineties – or about 15 years later than it sounds. GRADE: C+.

Roaring Hundreds (UK): Hearsay (Blatant BLA12, 1986)
Folk/Rock
Carin Rose (joint lead vocals, percussion)
I didn’t have high hopes for this: from the band’s new wave-ish garb on the cover, I expected it to be punk/folk, a genre I detest. Whilst there are a few hints of that style in the male singing, this is in fact a good folk/rock set with backing from acoustic guitars, electric bass and percussion. The songs all sound traditional but in fact were self-penned, which is a considerable achievement in itself. Overall this is a solid set, though not among my favourites in the genre. GRADE: C+.

Roata (Romania): Formatii Rock (13) (Electrecord ST-EDE 03895, 1990)
Rock/Metal/Progressive/New Wave
Elena Perianu (joint lead vocals, keyboards)
This obscure Romanian band blends influences from different kinds of music: new wave (the male vocals and programmed drums), metal (the guitars) and progressive rock (the song structures). The end result is odd, rather dated music that is still mildly interesting and exotic. This was a split album, with the second side being given over to the all-male band Foileton. GRADE: C+.
Roata (Romania): Va Fi, Lazare, Va Fi! (Eurostar/Valah Productions, with insert, 1992)
Rock/Metal/Progressive
Elena Perianu (joint lead vocals, keyboards)
Their album proper tones down the new wave edges considerably, and is even more eccentric. With material ranging from near-glam-rock to an odd instrumental with a decidedly Scottish feel, this is a curious record that blends influences in most unpredictable ways, although relatively straight guitar and synthesiser-led neoprog remains their most common style. GRADE: C+.

Robespierre (Austria): Hard Blood (Steyrer Disco 18.002, West Germany, 1980)
Rock/Progressive
Babs Mang (dulcimer, backing vocals)
Most reviews of this album note the uncanny similarity of Franz Mang’s vocals to Ian Anderson’s, and that resemblance is definitely the first thing that strikes you about Robespierre. However, they certainly weren’t Jethro Tull clones: this is pleasant, melodic song-based progressive with a folky touch and some good tunes and riffs. GRADE: C+.

Robin (USA): Thinkings By Robin (Karisma KLP-1001, 1969?)
Singer/Songwriter/Folk
Recorded when the artist was 16 and allegedly pressed in a run of 100 copies, this album was completely unknown until a few years ago. It’s a truly lovely singer/songwriter affair with simple acoustic backing and a mixture of wistful and more whimsical cuts; the former are truly superb, with some beautiful singing. In many ways, this outclasses quite a number of similar albums that gained major label release around the time. GRADE: C+.

Rock Flowers (USA): Rock Flowers (Wheel WLS 1001, 1971)
Pop/Soul
Rindy Dunn (joint lead vocals), Ardie Tillman (joint lead vocals), Debby Clinger (joint lead vocals)
Pleasant but derivative pop/soul with lots of harmony vocals, creating a sound not dissimilar to the Supremes. The catalogue number may suggest a private pressing, but Wheel was in fact a short-lived subsidiary of RCA – and, more oddly, an affiliate of the Barnum & Bailey circus company. Unusually, the band was marketed heavily towards children, with their own line of dolls, each of which was packaged with a 6" single on thick coloured plastic. GRADE: C–.

Rock Mountain (USA): Rock Mountain (No label 2528 CTR, 1980)
Rock
Patty Albigese (joint lead vocals)
This pomp-rock and AOR album bears more than a passing resemblance to Jefferson Starship circa Freedom At Point Zero, although it’s wider-ranging, from bouncy power-pop to darker progressive folk. Patti Albigese rather resembles a slightly softer Grace Slick and there are definite prog touches here and there; all the material is original except for the closing Billy Joel cover. GRADE: C+.

Rock Of Travolta (UK): My Band’s Better Than Yours (Juggernaut JUGS 001, CD, 2001)
Metal/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Ros Murray (bass, keyboards, cello)
This short debut offers some very imaginative progressive metal with lots of experimental and classical touches. A fair comparison would be an instrumental Chrome Hoof (who came slightly later, so Rock Of Travolta may well have influenced them) without the zeuhl and jazz edges, although this very occasionally puts me in mind of Nurse With Wound of all people (notably the slightly menacing found voices at the start of the disc). With music ranging from aggressive riffing and complex tempo changes to relaxed passages with strings and horns, this is a very varied and creative album and a powerful statement of intent. GRADE: B.
Rock Of Travolta (UK): Uluru (Tablature TABLAT001-2, CD, 2003)
Metal/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Ros Murray
A little less metallic and a touch more industrial than its predecessor, this is a good rather than great follow-up. It’s still creative and sometimes startling, but it’s nowhere near as varied and the element of surprise is largely missing. Nonetheless, there is some fine music on offer. GRADE: B–.
Rock Of Travolta (UK): Fine Lines (Big Red Sky BRSCD010, CD, 2011)
Metal/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Jennie Bates (keyboards, cello, samples)
Whilst not quite returning to the heights of their debut, this is a definite step up from Uluru, blending powerful doom riffs with electronics and strings on a succession of varied yet cohesive tracks. Once again, there’s a definite similarity to Chrome Hoof, although this time round they also remind me of Kong. GRADE: B.

Rock Workshop (UK): The Very Last Time (CBS 64394, 1971)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Ginger Harper
Sounding more American than British, this outfit drew heavily from Chicago, Blood, Sweat & Tears and early Cold Blood. A wild instrumental demonstrates their psychedelic brass-rock sound at its best, with the songs being somewhat more restrained and soulful, sometimes putting me in mind of Vinegar Joe and its predecessor Dada. Whilst the album varies from the good to the truly great, it has real funk and swagger throughout, bolstered by a superb recording. GRADE: B–.

Rockin’ Rollin’ Blues Band (USA): Wild And Untamed (No label WLL 1001, 1976?)
Rock/Garage
Michelle Krause (joint lead vocals)
The band is aptly named, since this is as good an album of stripped-down, amateurish biker rock as anyone could wish for. Unsurprisingly rooted in blues and rock and roll, the band offer some great hard rock performances on ten self-penned cuts (or so the credits say; several tracks borrow liberally from other songs). Here and there, their fuzzed repetitive riffing recalls the Velvet Underground, although I’m sure the resemblance was unintentional. The equally inept collage cover has led to the album gaining some interest among ‘incredibly strange music’ collectors. GRADE: C+.

Rockleberry Roll (Italy): Desperation (Freedom FLPS 19705, 1973)
Rock
Very little is known historically about this rare LP, which comes housed in a striking silver sleeve, except that it was a project of the prolific musician Ivan Graziani. Contrary to some claims on the internet, Rockleberry Roll wasn’t simply a pseudonym: this was clearly the work of a band, as much of the album has female vocals. Musically, it covers various styles of pop/rock, from slightly bluesy ballads to some excellent fuzzed-out garage rock (occasionally with glam or even rock and roll edges). The weird, lost-in-time vibe is heightened by the odd production, which places the lead vocals, drums and other instruments off-centre in the manner of many stereo recordings from the early sixties (although the music was clearly recorded in the seventies). With some very well-written, catchy songs, this is a thoroughly enjoyable and unassuming album. GRADE: C+.

Rockship (Germany): Rough Enough (Tin Can 42452, CD, 1997)
Metal
Inga Rumpf (lead vocals, guitar)
Why Inga Rumpf suddenly decided to form a metal band at this stage in her career, I have no idea – of all the myriad genres she had previously touched upon, she had never shown the slightest interest in metal. Nonetheless, this is a good album, with stripped-down arrangements, a punchy sound and some fine original songs, plus unusual covers of Marvin Gaye’s ‘Sexual Healing’ and Stevie Wonder’s ‘Superstition’. GRADE: C+.
See also Atlantis, City Preachers, Frumpy, Inga Rumpf

Roger & Wendy (USA): Roger And Wendy (Horny 71-RW, 1971)
Folk/Psychedelic
Wendy Becket (joint lead vocals, bass)
After leaving Euphoria and before forming Bermuda Triangle, Roger and Wendy Becket issued 50 copies of this LP, produced by ‘Sam The Twat’, on their own Horny imprint for family and friends. Each came in a plain black textured sleeve with a handwritten message from the couple. Musically, the disc consists almost entirely of covers and hints at the spacy direction they would pursue with Bermuda Triangle, though it’s more stripped-down, with bass, piano and autoharp (all electric) being the only instruments. The nine-minute opening version of ‘Wind’ is wonderfully eerie and forlorn, but much of the rest is more typical contemporary folk fare, with the autoharp adding some distinction. The production is odd to say the least, with several cuts featuring the voices and instrumentation crammed into one stereo channel: maybe the engineer really was a twat. The reissue corrects some of these mix problems, but has muted sound quality, and – more seriously – plays around with the track listing. A short joke song is replaced with the even more mediocre 'Motorcycle Madness', 'Just Like A Woman' loses around 90 seconds, and worst of all 'Wind' is butchered from well over nine minutes to well under four, losing the album's best moments. GRADE: C+.
See also Bermuda Triangle, Euphoria, R&W Penney

Roisin Dubh (Germany): I Have Seen The Highlands (No label, cassette, 1991)
Folk
Corinna Hartmann (joint lead vocals, bodhrán, whistle), Stefanie Schmidt (joint lead vocals)
Not to be confused with the similarly (though not quite identically) named Italian outfit, this German band also played delicate, gentle Celtic folk with acoustic backing. Whilst this is a very pleasant and accomplished album, it doesn’t really bring anything new to a fairly crowded genre. GRADE: C+.

Róisín Dubh (Italy/Ireland): Róisín Dubh (Cetra LPX 64, Italy, 1978)
Folk
Kay McCarthy (principal vocals), Barbara Barbatelli (mandolin, violin)
The back cover describes the LP as containing ‘antiche ballate e musica per danze tradizionali irlandesi’, and that’s a fair summation of its contents. With bass the only electric instrument, the disc offers gentle and sometimes quite intricate interpretations of Irish songs and instrumentals, and the end result is an enjoyably haunting set. Their authentically Irish singer Kay McCarthy went on to cut a solo album, also released only in Italy, which is similarly rare and expensive. GRADE: C+.
See also Kay McCarthy

Rolo Tomassi (UK): Rolo Tomassi (Danger Laser Phaser Razor, blue vinyl, with insert, 2006)
Metal/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Eva Spence
This British avant-metal band’s debut album (though they consider it a mere EP, and at just over 25 minutes, it’s a moot point) is quite astonishing. Similar to Sleepytime Gorilla Museum without the RIO elements or Unexpect minus the neoclassical touches, they offer remarkably relentless and experimental music filled with manic riffing and interspersed with shrieking death vocals, broken up by more ambient moments that provide some breathing space. It’s certainly not for everyone, and they might have benefited from a more varied singing style, but at its best this is truly breathtaking. GRADE: B.
Rolo Tomassi (UK): Hysterics (Hassle HOFF 055CD, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2008)
Metal/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Eva Spence (principal vocals)
Even better than its predecessor, this is a landmark work of avant-garde progressive metal, comparable in its importance to Sleepytime Gorilla Museum’s debut. Death vocals are again used widely, though this time alongside clean and folky singing, whilst the manic thrash metal sections contrast effectively with more relaxed passages of progressive rock and borderline classical music. The results are quite astounding. GRADE: B.
Rolo Tomassi (UK): Cosmology (Hassle HOFF 089CDA, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, 2010)
Metal/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Eva Spence
This is both similar to, and slightly different from, Hysterics. The manic riffing, crazy tempo changes and shrieking death vocals are all still present, but the latter are utilised less, with Spence opting to demonstrate her very attractive clean singing style. However, the most notable cut is the closing title track, which abandons metal altogether for a spacy, vaguely Krautish piece of progressive rock. GRADE: B.
Rolo Tomassi (UK): Astraea (Destination Moon DM006CD, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2012)
Metal/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Eva Spence (principal vocals)
This isn’t a huge step forward from their previous albums, but it’s slightly more mellow, with a more varied vocal approach from Eva Spence. As with their previous LPs, it’s a short record, but being less intense feels a little insubstantial, despite the music being of a very high quality. GRADE: B–.

Rolo Tomassi (UK): Grievances (Holy Roar HRR135CD, CD, with digipak and booklet, 2015)
Metal/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Eva Spence
Predictably, Grievances is powerful, majestic, dynamic and varied, not to mention beautifully recorded. Predicatably, it’s likely to figure among my top albums of the year. But the music is also predictable for Rolo Tomassi, so while this stands alongside the very best of 2015, it doesn’t stand among their very best work. GRADE: B–.

Rolo Tomassi (UK): Time Will Die And Love Will Bury It (Holy Roar HRR221CD, CD, with gatefold minisleeve and booklet, 2017)
Metal/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Eva Spence (joint lead vocals)
‘Nothing short of astonishing’ announces the breathless blurb on the sticker, but although this is a fine album it doesn’t deliver any surprises to anyone familiar with Rolo Tomassi’s oeuvre. The more-or-less continuous suite of music alternates hard-riffing sections (complete with blast beats and death vocals) with more ambient moments fronted by Eva Spence’s whispered croon to great effect, but one is left feeling that these old dogs could benefit from learning new tricks. Thus, whilst the album’s excellence is beyond doubt, its usefulness is more questionable. GRADE: B–.
Rolo Tomassi (UK): Eternal Youth (Destination Moon DM002, double CD, with digipak and booklet, 2011, recorded 2005-2011)
Metal/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Eva Spence
This excellent compilation brings together the band’s first album with a whole host of cuts from EPs, singles, cassette and split releases, whilst the shorter second disc concentrates on oddities, demos and remixes. Two hours of Rolo Tomassi is probably a bit too much, as they’re not the most versatile band, and the acoustic demos and dance mixes are a mixed bag, but there’s plenty of amazing music here. GRADE: B.

Rolo Tomassi (UK): The BBC Sessions (Holy Roar HRR156CD, CD, with digipak, 2016, recorded 2008 and 2013)
Metal/Progressive/Avant-Garde
Eva Spence
This mini-album features four longer (and more relaxed) songs from 2013, followed by five much shorter (and more manic) songs from 2008. The whole thing is a bit insubstantial, and it confirms that the impression that Rolo Tomassi have two basic styles – manic riffing with hardcore vocals or spacy keyboard excursions with melodic vocals – but it’s nonetheless brilliant. GRADE: B.

Jaine Roman Pitt (USA): This Beautiful Feeling (Unity 108, 1974)
Singer/Songwriter
Jaine Roman Pitt (lead vocals, guitar)
The subtitle ‘Songs Of Meditation And Life’ sums up the LP well: Roman Pitt is a rather earnest hippie, and the songs are tranquil, delicate and very serious in mood. This can make the LP feel one-dimensional after a while, but her songs and delivery are very beautiful, and there’s plenty of haunting, spacy flute. It’s notable, however, how much the mood is lifted by the one relatively uptempo and rock-tinged track ‘Good Morning World’. GRADE: C+.

Romantic Warrior (West Germany): Planet (Blue Flame 577/4013-2, CD, 1988)
Jazz/Rock/Progressive
Christine Sattler (keyboards)
This was jazz-fusion outfit Romantic Warrior’s third and final album, but their only release with a female member. Catchy, trendy (including a few pseudo-ethnic samples), high-tech and slick, its all-instrumental music is pretty slight, particularly as it’s served up in 16 slices of between three and six minutes, but it’s undeniably well done and pretty enjoyable. GRADE: C+.

Romany (UK): The Romany (MJB BEV SLP, 1971)
Folk
Mags Deighton
Only two copies are known of this privately pressed folk album, which comes in a virtually handmade gatefold sleeve with a striking purple front cover. Mixing traditional and contemporary material, the LP is very similar to Tickawinda or Vulcan’s Hammer, with simple acoustic backing and three-part male and female harmonies. Overall, there’s nothing very distinctive here, but this is a nice album with some wistful moods. All but two tracks were recorded live at the Turville Folk Club, which issued its own collectable compilation album (duplicating one cut from this set). GRADE: C+.

Romanza-Bekkan (Japan): The Grand Romance In Far East (Roman-Za ROMAN-101, CD, 2005)
Progressive
Hina (principal vocals)
The band name, album title and sumptuous front cover say it all: this is lush, romantic Nippon sympho-prog comparable to innumerable female-fronted bands of the eighties. The end result is a pleasant enough album, but one utterly lacking in any kind of individual personality. GRADE: C+.

Lotte Rømer (Denmark): Lotte Rømer (Metronome MLP 15648, with inner, 1979)
Rock
Lotte Rømer (lead vocals, bass, keyboards)
This odd record covers most strands of rock, from mellow singer/songwriter stuff to blues, jazz, funk and beyond. However, whilst competent throughout, only once does it really take flight: the powerful hard rocker ‘Tidsfordriv’, with its duelling lead guitars. GRADE: C.
See also CV Jørgensen, Hos Anna

Ron & Shirley (USA): Rock And Scroll (C&C RRRS-101277, with insert, 1977)
Rock
Shirley Bristle (occasional vocals, guitar)
Housed in a striking red metallic paste-on sleeve, this is an enjoyable album of guitar-led Christian rock. Although recorded in New Jersey, it has some slight Southern tinges hinting in the direction of Emmaus Road Band. For the most part, this is a good rather than great LP, but the two long closing tracks (‘Love Is Real’ and ‘Bad Love Is A Demon’) are outstanding, especially the latter with its weird synthesiser effects. GRADE: C+.