(All Album Reviews by pgmayfair)
This full career-spanning sampler gets off on the right foot with it's tongue-in-cheek title, not to mention the subtitle "A collection of dance tunes to whistle.." It's admittedly not quite in the league of peak period releases like the sleek and spooky 'View From Here' album, once commented on by it's producer Peter Hammill, a man not given to hyperbole, "Take it from me, the record's really good". That said, it does contain points of illumination for the aficionado and also does a reasonable job of introducing the new listener to the Random Hold sound.
Such is the convoluted history of this group that 'View With Suspicion' actually anthologizes from other anthologies(!), namely 'Overview', 'The View From Here' and 'Differing Views', which cover early, mid and late periods respectively. It's an intriguing sound, perched between the worlds of post-punk/new wave, progressive and chart pop and zigzagging over the stylistic map a bit; inevitable when so much ground is being covered on one CD. Obvious highlights include tracks recorded with Hammill such as panicky relationship metaphor 'Avalanche' and the relatively lengthy 'View From Here' which first hypnotizes, then stumbles into calculated disarray before refocusing with a vengeance for the final push. Also included are rare gems like the driving 'Camouflage' and the pre-record deal 'Ballad' featuring original vocalist Simon Ainley (an erstwhile contributor to Manzanera's 'Listen Now' and 'K-Scope' LPs).
The original band fell apart in the early 80s amidst acrimony and guitarist David Rhodes leaving to join Peter Gabriel (with whom RH had previously toured). Keyboardist David Ferguson rebuilt the band and this later material has a more radio-friendly sheen, losing some of the previous anxious, edgy feel, though it's still mostly of a decent standard and has grown on me over the course of several listens. The sudden and permanent switch to female vocals (reminding me variously of Toyah, Siouxsie and even Jerney Kaagman of Earth & Fire) was quite stark, and gives the CD a slightly schizoid feel, especially as it runs non-chronologically. This compilation covers right up to the present day, with two current tracks and one teaser from a forthcoming album, so it appears the Random Hold saga ain't over yet! Watch this space..