After releasing their first album in February of 1982, Orange Juice were struck with their usual batch of bad luck. First drummer Steven Daly and guitarist James Kirk, whose songwriting efforts were crucial to the band, left; then the label pressed them to follow up with a new album as soon as possible in order to cash in on their fading buzz. After adding ex-Josef K guitarist Malcolm Ross and drummer Zeke Manyika, they headed back to the studio and Rip It Up was released a mere ten months later. The album reflected the lineup change and quick turnaround quite a bit. In the search for material, Manyika contributed two songs with an Afro-pop influence ("A Million Pleading Faces" and "Hokoyo") and Ross brought a sprightly song he wrote while in Josef K ("Turn Away"), and while they are all good efforts, they don't measure up to Kirk's contributions. Edwyn Collins went back to a couple old songs and revamped them for the album, turning "Breakfast Time" into a weirdly reggae-influenced ballad and "Louise Louise" into a jaunty, jazz-influenced trifle. He also took a song from the very earliest incarnation of the band as the Nu-Sonics and stretched it out into the overly long "Tenterhook." So far not the makings of a great album, but the rest of the songs turn the tables almost completely. "Mud in Your Eye" is a sweet little soul crooner with heartfelt guest vocals from Paul Quinn, "Flesh of My Flesh" is a bouncy tropical pop song that shows Haircut 100 how it really should be done, and "I Can't Help Myself" gives the Four Tops a run for their money in the hooks department. Best of all is the title track, a timeless indie dance classic that rode an impossibly catchy synth bassline, infectious handclaps, and one of Collins' best lyric/melody combos right to the top of the charts. Despite these moments of genius, the album is an uneven and frustrating listen that proves you can't rush a band into making great art. And despite the frustrating nature of the album, Rip It Up is definitely still worth checking out for the moments of brilliance and the overall sound Orange Juice deliver even in their weakest moments.
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra