REVIEW: Quiet Riot – QR (1988)

QUIET RIOT – QR (1988)

History lesson time!

QUIET RIOT 1978
Randy Rhoads – lead guitar (founder)
Kevin DuBrow – lead vocals
Kelli Garni – bass
Drew Forsythe – drums

QUIET RIOT 1988
Carlos Cavazo – lead guitar
Paul Shortino – lead vocals
Sean McNabb – bass
Frankie Banali – drums

Quiet Riot are a rare bird in rock history;  they actually released this album with no original members intact. Quiet Riot suffered numerous lineup changes until finally singer Kevin DuBrow was fired in ’87 after the disastrous QRIII. Bassist Chuck Wright also left the sinking ship (he joined House of Lords).

Banali and Cavazo made the questionable decision to carry on with a new singer, and that singer was Paul Shortino of Ruff Cutt. My only exposure to Shortino at that time was his excellent contribution to the song “Stars” by Hear N’ Aid. I loved his raspy voice and I was intrigued.  Replacing Chuck Wright was bassist Sean McNabb…who, a few years later, again replaced Chuck Wright, this time in House of Lords.  Since then he’s also been in Great White.

The album itself was a bit of a letdown at first, and only through many determined listens did it finally grow on me. The problem was that Quiet Riot are (or were) primarily a party band. I mean, this is the band who had songs called “Party All Night” and “Stomp Your Hands, Clap Your Feet”. Now, they had changed to a moodier blues-based glam rock band. The first single “Stay With Me Tonight” was darker, slower, bluesy and anchored by a howling Hammond B3 organ. Nothing like anything Quiet Riot had ever done before. Obviously, Banali and Cavazo had decided to trade party hooks in for integrity and possible critical acclaim. Unfortunately that never happened, but the result is that QR remains a hidden hard rock semi-gem.  The lack of success led to Quiet Riot disbanding in 1989 after a short tour.  Sounding very little like Quiet Riot, and playing unrecognizable renditions of the hits, the band clearly should have changed their name to something else.  Clamorous Calm, perhaps?

The album did finally grow on me. Perhaps similarly to a band like House of Lords (who debuted at the same time), the tracks here were a bit darker.  The ballads a bit more sad.  The rockers a tad more threatening.  The fact that this sounds absolutely nothing like Quiet Riot (except for the musicianship of Banali and Cavazo) doesn’t make it a bad album.

My favourite songs:

  • “Stay With Me Tonight”, the afformentioned first single.
  • “Run To You”, a guitar-based ballad with a touch of keyboards and great melodies from Shortino.
  • “I’m Fallin'”, one of the few party rock songs included.
  • “Don’t Wanna Be Your Fool”, another great darker ballad.
  • “Callin’ The Shots” which has a pretty solid, bluesy riff.

The sound, by long-time QR producer Spencer Proffer was not up to par. I didn’t expect Quiet Riot to go so bluesy either. These were sounds I was somewhat unfamiliar with at the time.  Carlos did have a chance to shine on guitar more than ever before, and Frankie’s drums are loud and powerful as always. As a testament to the man’s talents, he ended up in W.A.S.P. after this on the brilliant Headless Children CD.

In 1993 DuBrow called Cavazo up, made amends, and formed a band called Heat. With the addition of Banali and bassist Kenny Hilary (R.I.P.), Heat morphed back into Quiet Riot. They released the pretty good Terrified CD which was a welcome return to vintage form.

This CD may not be a very good “Quiet Riot album”, but it is actually a pretty good album.  If you give it time, you may find something to enjoy herein.

3.25/5 stars

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36 comments

  1. This release proves how hot hair metal was during the 80’s. I can’t imagine pitching this to the label without DuBrow and a change in sound to boot. I guess Rock Candy figured they were big sellers once and nobody cared if its the same band or not as long as they looked the part.

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  2. As the 80s were headed to the 90s QR self destructed…hence I still bought QR3 hahaha…so when I read that QR ditched Dubrow in Hawaii and flew home with out home and replaced him with Shortino I was pumped.
    For anyone out there check out Rough Cutts debut (1985)this is a good solid debut which I think went nowhere but the tracks Take Her,Cutt Your Heart Out and the cover of Joplins Piece Of My Heart feature Shortino(Rough Cutts sophomore was ok not as a good as the debut but it had a couple of solid tracks..ie…Bad Reputation and Let Em Talk)
    They had a good puns from Warner’s with two big producers one was Werman and I think Jack Douglas did the second so yeah I guess u could say I was a fanboy!
    Hahaha….. Sorry to drift….
    For me this one misses the mark for some reason it never grabbed my listening senses like I thought it would..dunno why but it never did…
    Liked a few tracks like Stay With Me Tonight and Callin The Shots……but I can’t recall the rest of it….
    Oh well it was a singer change I thought would be a improvement but in the long run for me it wasn’t….

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    1. I think I need me some Ruff Cutt!

      I thought the singer change would do them a lot of good. I knew Shortino from Hear N’ Aid and he was one of the best things about that song. I wished for the best…

      Alas it wasn’t to be.

      Did you know Shortino was in Spinal Tap? He played Duke Fame.

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      1. Yeah man that’s right ..I forgot about the Tap cameo!
        Rough Cutt was also on Warner Brothers for there 2 albums than dropped ,never understood why they never hit and a band like Autograph made more of a dent??!

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        1. I couldn’t answer that. My best guess is that the world only has room for a certain amount of “big” rock bands and Dokken was luckier by having George Lynch!

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    1. Not only that, Shortino also had a fling with Wendy. He lived in her and Ronnie’s house for years. Apparently, Ronnie didn’t mind as they were divorced by then, but still living in the same house.

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  3. There should really be a limit on how many line up changes a band can go through and still retain the same name. I thought it was only local bands that did this (One in my area has only the original drummer!), but obviously some national acts are doing it too.
    I’m calling my congressman!

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    1. I think it depends on the band. Fairport Convention have had a huge number of lineup changes, for a time even with no original members. Perhaps because it is a folk band with much material coming from outside, it isn’t a mark against them. On the other hand, Rush could not stay Rush if any of the current members left. Ditto for the Beatles after Ringo joined. (Apparently, though, John wanted Yoko to actually be a member of the group, and Klaus Voormann was considered as a replacement for Paul!) Somewhere in between are bands like Yes, Asia etc. (I will leave out bands where there is a clear leader, such as Fripp in King Crimson and Anderson in Jethro Tull.) With Yes, it was something which sort of just happened, so I think this is OK, at least while they were still evolving as a band, rather than re-uniting. With Asia it is a bit more dubious, since the whole idea was a supergroup.

      Floyd without Waters? This is really on the border. The Stones wtihout Wyman? Saw them last night. I think this is OK, as Wyman was neither a big organizer nor a big writer in the Stones.

      Ian Anderson said once that the line has been crossed when there is more than one incarnation of the band at the same time!

      Again, it depends on the band. If a long-time member leaves, for whatever reason, can he be replaced? Queen probably could have replaced John Deacon, maybe Roger Taylor, but not Brian May and certainly not Freddie Mercury.

      Take the Scorpions or Uriah Heep. They are no longer in their “classic” lineup, but some of the current members have been there much longer than some of the classic ones. They are still making music. We all know that popularity and quality are not that highly related, so we shouldn’t underrate less famous musicians in the same band. The deciding thing is whether the band spirit continues.

      What about Wishbone Ash? Only one original member, but a very good live band and their latest CD has received mostly good reviews.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Well, I dunno. Deep Purple has only one original member (the drummer) and they definitely have every right to use the name. I think it varies from band to band. Certainly Kiss are a great example of a band that can survive as many lineup changes as they desire as long as Gene and Paul stay in the band. But even so, they have been quite candid in saying that Kiss will most likely continue with new members long after they are gone.

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      1. When it comes to Purple, the first line up that featured Rod Evans (voc) and Nic Simper (bass) never made an impact at all and to most people, Mk II with Gillan and Glover is the real Purple line-up and both Gillan, Glover and Paice are still in the band.

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        1. True — but just as important is Steve Morse. He saved that band, I believe. When they got in Tommy Bolin, it was a disaster. Steve Morse though is a truly great artist in every sense of the word. He changed Purple (which had to happen anyway, you can’t replace Blackmore with a clone), but in a good way. He’s been in the band 20 years now. Longer than Blackmore was.

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        2. I agree about Morse. Fantastic player and gave Purple a new start. Purpendicular is a modern Purple classic in my opinion.
          But I rate Bolin as the greatest guitarist Purple ever had. Love his sound, tone, everything and I don’t know if I’ll ever find a better guitar sound than on Come Taste The Band. Man, Bolin owns that record so hard.

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        3. Come Taste is a better record than either Burn, or Stormbringer, in my opinion. It’s a shame about Tommy, dying so young. I’m not sure he was the right guy for Purple though. Maybe they should have changed the name.

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  4. I liked this write up. The history of that band is fascinating. Also confusing. Also a bit tiring.

    Hey, do you think that lady who got mad about Wiki will find this review and take issue with any of it?

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  5. I love this album. Just like you, I discovered Shortino with the Hear N’ Aid single and he has been one of my favourite singers since then. But they should have called the band something else, because not only are there any original members, this doesn’t have any musical common components what so ever.
    That said, the two first QR albums were only released in Japan and when they made it big in 1983 with Metal Health, hardly anybody knew about those albums, so I guess there are lots of fans who consider that line-up their original one. I guess that that was what Cavazo and Banali was thinking as well.
    Still, they’re using the QR moniker and as a QR album, this album is superior to everything they have ever done since – and before it as well. Stay With me Tonight, The Joker, King Of The Hill, Callin’ The Shots and Coppin’ A Feel are all awesome songs, in my opinion and I can’t really find any baad songs at all here.
    What dazzles me a bit, though, is why the record company thought that it was a good idea for them to use the QR name. I mean, QR had lost all of their popularity by then and nobody was interested anymore. I think that name did them more harm than good, to be honest.

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    1. I don’t think I like this album as much as you do, but it sure ain’t bad. It’s better than all of the albums that followed (except Terrified which I like, but I know you do not.)

      A name change could have been the best thing. Frankie should consider changing the name of his current band, too, since they sound nothing like QR.

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        1. Hey, strangely enough your professional critic buddy never showed up again. It’s pretty easy to throw stones at another person anonymously I guess,

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        2. I know. What a douche. I can guarantee that he was just another one of those pissed off Maiden die-hards who can’t take any critism against any Maiden member.

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