Ripple ‘Son of the Gods’ (BBR) 4/5

The 12″ underground anthem ‘The beat goes on and no’ by Ripple typifies all that is the very best in soulful disco and the heavy bass line punctuated by an overdose of percussion with strings and horns straight out of Philadelphia makes for an all-time great disco classic. The full length version is featured here, but as a whole the album is actually quite varied and encompasses classy soul ballads and mid-tempo groovers as well as jazz-funk infused numbers. Who were Ripple? They were essentially a five piece group headed by the brothers Carter, Walter taking lead vocals and percussion while Simon performed on bass and vocals. Along with three other band members, Ripple were initially a funk group who by the time they had signed for Salsoul had diversified into more soulful territory which is where producer Floyd Smith comes into the equation. He of course produced some fine southern soul singers, most notably Loleatta Holloway, who would also become his wife. If one had to look to an obvious follow up to the aforementioned disco monster (top ten US R & B charter in 1977), then it really should have been ‘Do what you wanna do’, which, with its use of rhythm guitar, vocal chants and subtle keyboards, is akin to the kind of material that Pleasure were releasing around the same time. Somewhat surprisingly, this was not chosen as the second single to follow up on ‘The beat goes on and on’. Rather ‘Today’ took its place which seems a misguided choice and, though an interesting dance floor oriented piece, it now sounds a trifle dated with wah-wah guitars and synths. A far more convincing uptempo number is the instrumental ‘Victorious’ with electric piano from Victor Burks that is right out of the late George Duke’s repertoire and with some fusion guitar for good measure. Deep soul fans, however, will marvel at the gentle sounding opener ‘Call me travelling man’ which is a fine vehicle for Walter Carter to shine on while ‘Here I stand’ is a soulful mid-tempo number with positive lyrics. For some leftfield interest, a Charles Earland composition on the album title track will appeal and is real burner of a piece that grows with each listen. It was an impossible task to repeat the dancefloor action that ‘The beat goes on and on’ generated, but Ripple chose an ultimately cleverer route bv simply focusing on what they are good at, a tasty selection of varied grooves. In that they succeeded handsomely.

Tim Stenhouse