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Lightning Bolt: ‘We Want Riff Raff’s Head On a Pike’



Left to right: Bob Christgau, Greil Marcus, Bob Christgau again

Riff Raff 47th Post Spectacular

This isn’t celebration so much as reflection. Put out your sparklers, take off your party hats, and light your hair on fire–Riff Raff is having an existential crisis.

Track 4 on Lightning Bolt‘s forthcoming Hypermagic Mountain LP, in case you haven’t heard, is called “Riffwraith.” Bass and drums writhe two-tone, and as the title suggests, some spook’s stuck in the mix, screaming to get out, blowing on neckhairs in the ghostly meantime.

That’s all fine, but did you know Riff Raff is afraid of ghosts? The Providence duo clearly meant the song as a taunt. Worse, maybe the song was meant as a rhetorical question: Who’s the boss? Who’s the real Dean of American Riff Criticism?

(This is not so much a rhetorical question as it is a question about the rhetoric.)

So let’s size things up. Today Riff Raff asks itself: “Is Riff Raff better than the following things that are also called Riff Raff?” Here’s the riff-counter-riff:

Riff Raff vs. Lightning Bolt’s “Riffwraith”


  • Uses bass guitar and drums to make loud rock music
  • Translates to “Riff Ghost”
  • Has non-stop screaming
  • Riff Raff:

  • Uses members of the funk band 311 to write blog entries
  • Translates to “Riff Riff”
  • Only screams when riffing

  • Riff Raff vs. J Walter Ruben’s 1936 crime flick Riffraff


  • Lead character is a fisherman named Dutch who gets kicked out of the union and fired from his job.
  • Dutch proves he’s not “riffraff” when he foils a plot to dynamite a ship
  • One user comment on the IMDB movie page reads, “Not very good.”
  • Riff Raff:

  • Not counting today, lead character has been fired from his job over ten times.
  • Proved he’s not riffraff by writing “NOT RIFFRAFF” across his face
  • One user comment on the last post reads, “Once again, a column that is both condescending and almost completely incoherent. Please stop.”

  • Riff Raff vs. Ken Loach’s 1990 comedy Riff-Raff


  • Won the European Film Award for ‘Best Film’ in 1991
  • Applauded for its accurate depiction of the British poor class
  • Character names include Kojo, Shem, Wilf, and Man Buying Kango
  • Riff Raff:

  • Won a copyright infringement case for leaking white label LCD Soundsystem remix
  • Applauded for its accurate depiction of riffs
  • Every character’s name is Kojo.

  • Riff Raff vs. Riff/Raff, the Official Italian Tribute Band to AC/DC


  • Download “Riff Raff” (AC/DC Cover)
  • Download “Highway To Hell” (AC/DC Cover)
  • Download “What Do U Do 4 Money Honey” (AC/DC Cover)
  • Riff Raff:

  • Concedes victory to Riff/Raff
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