RMS, the trio of guitarist Ray Russell, bassist Mo Foster, and drummer Simon Phillips, had no history behind it when the group stepped onto The Venue stage in London, back in 1982. However, the individual members certainly did, all three were musical veterans who'd played with some of the biggest names in the rock world. Which explains why Peter Van Hooke, drummer with Van Morrison, believed the trio would be perfect to help him celebrate the launch of his new MMC label, even though RMS had yet to play a single show. Two days of rehearsals later, the band, bolstered by the addition of a quartet of guest brass players, made their stage debut, and Van Hooke's faith proved well-founded. Across eight self-composed instrumental pieces, RMS's smooth sound and phenomenal soloing certainly impresses. While the numbers all have a decided improvisational feel, the tightness of the playing is equally extraordinary.
Not surprisingly, with their studio album Centennial Park on the way, RMS took the opportunity to showcase many of the set's numbers, but the live versions were on occasion significantly altered from their studio counterparts, with the inclusion of sensational solos to great effect. As a companion to the studio album, Live at the Venue 1982 is a must; as a permanent record of the evening's festivities, it's even better.