Riff Raff – “Give The Dead Man Some Water” (1983)

Riff Raff!  Let’s dig deep into the vault, shall we?  Here’s one from Finland; a little-known nugget called Give The Dead Man Some Water.

Give The Dead Man Some Water, Riff Raff’s third full-length, was released in 1983 on the Finnish label, Amulet (LP: WISH 1, cassette: WISHC 1).  Amulet was a sub-label of a record company called Polarvox Oy.

2003 saw the release of Give The Dead Man Some Water on CD.  This re-issue was put out by the Finnish label Mastervox Records (catalog number: MVXCD 21).




Info Nuggets:

  • The Polarvox Oy record company was founded in 1976.  The Amulet sub-label was started around 1982-1983.  Amulet was the rock branch of Polarvox Oy (a label mostly associated with schlager music).  Give The Dead Man Some Water was quite possibly the very first Amulet full-length release; this based on the fact that it has the catalog number WISH 1.
  • The track Baba O’Riley is, of course, a cover of The Who’s classic from their 1971 album Who’s Next.  The song was written by Pete Townsend and originally intended for his ambitious (but failed) “Lifehouse” concept.  The title of the song pays tribute to two of Townsend’s influences, the Indian spiritualist Meher Baba and minimalist composer Terry Riley.
  • For Give The Dead Man Some Water, Riff Raff consisted of Kari “Immu” Ilmarinen on vocals, Jouko “Mookeri” Salonkari on guitar, Riku “Korsberg” Kukkonen on guitar, Esa “El Pasaderia” Palosaari on drums, and Kessler Raatikainen on bass.
  • Female vocalist Kaija Kokkola provided backing vocals on Give The Dead Man Some Water.  She later went on to a successful solo career as a pop singer in Finland under the name Kaija Koo.
  • T.T. Oksala co-produced, and also played keyboards on Give The Dead Man Some Water.
  • Writing credits for the tracks on Give The Dead Man Some Water were spread out between band members.  Vocalist Kari “Immu” Ilmarinen was credited with one track, guitarist Jouko “Mookeri” Salonkari was credited with one track, bassist Kessler Raatikainen was credited with two tracks, drummer Esa “El Pasaderia” Palosaari was credited with one track, guitarist Riku “Korsberg” Kukkonen was credited with one track, and Mourning Veil was credited to Riff Raff.  It is rare to see such an even distribution of writing credits among band members.  Interestingly, all lyrics were written by “A. Mount”, which is not the name of any Riff Raff band member.
  • The song Give The Dead Man Some Water was based on a poem by Mauri Ilmarinen (likely a relative of vocalist Immu Ilmarinen).

(click to enlarge):

My Worthless Opinion:  The album opens up with the speed baggin’ title track which I think is the best cut on the album.  The riff assault of the intro and verse gives way to a melodic chorus with a much slower beat; a song writing maneuver that always seems to work.  Up next is Hangman At Dawn, a fine rocker, but one with the vocal track inexplicably mixed way back.  I guess I shouldn’t get two upset since the lyrics are pretty unintelligible throughout the album thanks to Ilmarinen’s thick accent and frog throat.  Riff Raff’s Baba O’Riley cover is not very good.  The band rushes through it and in the process negate any of the drama of The Who’s version.  Without the iconic synthesizer track of the original the song just doesn’t seem the same, and since Ilmarinen sounds like he lives under a bridge, he doesn’t exactly make one forget Roger Daltrey.  Apart from this misstep, Give The Dead Man Some Water is a gritty record that is befitting of the chain beat down depicted on the cover.  This ol’ curio may be worthy of a spin or three, but not necessarily worthy of worship.  My score: C+


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