The Risk – Invitation To The Blues

The latest reissue from longstanding mod-powerpop band The Risk shows them at the top of their game.

The Risk made it into the national papers at the end of 2011 as one of the groups put together on TV ‘talent’ show The X-Factor took on the same name and the original band decided to fight for the right to be identified as The Risk.

This may have got the band more recognition than they had received since their heyday in the 1980s (and possibly even more than they had back then) but listening to the well-timed reissue of their second full length album, Invitation To The Blues, (through Paisley Archive) it was clear to see why this band are so revered within the mod and powerpop scene.

It’s clear from the off that this is a much more developed and mature effort than the band’s debut Loud Shirts and Stripes as, while it starts off in the same powerpop vein as the previous record, by second track Little Miss Fortune The Risk have headed off into very much more traditional rock ‘n’ roll territory.

This shifting of styles remains present across the album as the band switch from classic mod style sounds, to powerpop, to rock ‘n’ roll (with, at times, an almost Stray Cats like rockabilly feel) to something reminiscent of an overdriven version of 80’s style indie but at the same retaining a strong sense of themselves with a vague punk like sneer present in the background.

This variety, both of sound and subject, demonstrates a band that have taken on board all the trials and tribulations they experienced between records and have distilled this (through their musical filter) into the songs which range from talking about life at home (Work), to the fame game (Carrie-Ann), to songs about songs (Only Cry The Lonely) all packed with personal feeling.

Though all the songs on the record are good in their own right, the real stand outs for me are the aforementioned Little Miss Fortune and Work, along with Just Like Norma Jean and the track that was released as a single to accompany the reissue Good Times, and it’s clear to see why many of these songs still find their way into the band’s live set today.

On top of the more mature songs, the production work is also clearly more developed, and while it still has something of its era to it, it makes for a much less dated record than their previous output.

As someone who had previously heard many of these songs live, but not on record, it was a pleasant surprise to find them sounding so immediate and fresh here and the little surprises of the new (to me) songs that the band no longer play live are an added bonus.

Invitation to the Blues comes across as a record packed with diversity which should appeal to anyone with a love of the many strands of rock ‘n’ roll music that have developed since the genre first began and at once has something to say but through a medium of great danceable tunes.

A Facebook group has been set up to support The Risk in their ongoing battle to retain rights to using the name and can be found here.

My feature on the history of The Risk from BBC Guernsey written in 2010.

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