QUIET RIOT – Alive and Well (1999 Deadline Music)
When Rudy Sarzo rejoined Quiet Riot, re-completing the classic Metal Health lineup, there wasn’t much fanfare. There also wasn’t much fanfare for this album which came and went without so much as a whisper. The reason is pretty simple. Like most of Quiet Riot’s post-1983 output, it’s not that great.
It’s better than I feared though. Some of these new songs are darnright good. “Against The Wall” is the best of the new songs, a rocker that would have fit on Condition Critical as one of the best tunes. It’s a peppy, upbeat motivational rocker. “Angry” is also not bad, being pretty heavy with a great vocal delivery from DuBrow. It is incredible that right up until his death, Kevin DuBrow’s voice was as strong as ever. “The Ritual” is a groover, something previously unknown for Quiet Riot. It’s mean and nasty and it works really well.
The rest of the new material isn’t all that hot. Quiet Riot’s problem has always been poor songwriting. Much of their best material were either covers or co-writes. There are awkward choruses that just don’t hit the spot; bridges and verses that jar with the riffs. These songs don’t sound like completed songs, they sound like a bunch of parts stuck together. Witness “Too Much Information” (which I actually like the lyrics to quite a bit), “Don’t Know What I Want”, “Alive and Well”, and “Overworked and Underpaid”. These are not great songs. They have neat parts and nice bits buried within them, but as a whole…sorry, no. There is also one truly awful song, the funk-crap of “Slam Dunk (Way To Go)”. What an awful song. Truly a terrible, terrible song that never should have made it past the demo stage.
There’s one previously released track, the AC/DC cover “Highway To Hell” (previously released on the AC/DC tribute album, Thunderstruck). It’s OK, but let’s face it, very few bands can cover AC/DC. Carlos Cavazo can’t play that rhythm part and make it sound right. Sarzo’s bass is a little too bouncy. Otherwise, it’s an OK cover, but once again Quiet Riot are padding out albums with covers…
The record company made them re-record six of the old classic tracks, and here they are tacked onto the end. Some are OK. “Don’t Wanna Let You Go” (one of my personal favourite Quiet Riot songs) has been rearranged acoustically. Carlos’ acoustic guitar is beautiful, and because this song presents a new arrangement, I think it’s worthy of inclusion. The rest offer very little of interest. Why re-record old classics? There’s no real artistic reason, only financial reasons. I guarantee you that you will not replace your old copy of “Metal Health” with this re-recorded version. And the new version of “The Wild and the Young” is just bad, bad, bad. All the techy-uniqueness of the original has been replaced by pseudo-heaviness and funk. Yes, funk, there’s a funky break right in the middle that should have been excized. It’s just awful.
As an album, Alive and Well has enough good going on to make it listenable, but this is no comeback. This is treading water, zero growth. Amazon is loaded with positive reviews, fanboy-ish as they are. Well, I am the biggest Quiet Riot fan around. And I’m just being objective here when I say this: Unless you’re die-hard like me, you don’t need this album.