REVIEW: Quiet Riot – Metal Health (1983)

You lucky, lucky readers! Guess what? It’s….

THE BEST FUCKING COLLABORATION WEEK EVER!

All week, Aaron over at the KeepsMeAlive and I will be colluding. Monday to Friday, we will be talking about the same CDs. He hasn’t read my reviews, and I haven’t read his. Today, we’re both discussing Quiet Riot‘s landmark Metal Health. Be sure to check both reviews each day this week!

Aaron’s installment: QUIET RIOT – Metal Health

QUIET RIOT – Metal Health (1983, 2001 Sony remastered edition)

While my first rock album ever was Kilroy Was Here, by Styx, my first metal album ever was this one: Metal Health, by Quiet Riot. Although I was really into Styx, Quiet Riot were the first band that I “loved”.  Some music that people liked when they were in grade school embarrasses them today that they ever owned it. Not me, not this album. Since buying it in ’84, I’ve owned this album on cassette, LP and twice on CD. And I’ll probably buy it again; I understand there is a more recent reissue out with more bonus tracks. Metal Health was the crucial cornerstone in my musical development, and always will be one of my all-time favourites. Read on!

The opening drum crash to “Metal Health”, sometimes also referred to as “Bang Your Head (Metal Health)”, instantly transports me back in time.  Chuck Wright played bass on this one, extra slinky and funky (although Rudy Sarzo plays on most of the album).  Suddenly I’m in the basement at my parents’ house, listening to this cassette on my old Sanyo ghetto blaster.  I still recall, the cassette shell was white.  I played the crap out of it, annoying everyone.

“I got a mouth like an alligator” sings lead howler Kevin DuBrow, and how accurate he was.  I had no idea that Kevin’s mouth would cause the band to oust him only a few years down the road.  I liked the attitude of the lyrics, and the aggression of the guitars.  Impossible to ignore was new drummer Frankie Banali, who to this day is an absolute ballcrusher of a hard rock drummer.  His metronomic groove on Metal Health gave it the drive.  I wouldn’t have been able to break it down and articulate it like that when I was a kid, but these are the factors that attracted me to the song.

“Cum On Feel The Noize”, the Slade cover, is now more famous than the Slade original or Oasis’ version for that matter. It’s a great tune, but Quiet Riot and producer Spencer Proffer nailed the sound and the vibe.  The gang vocals are irresistible.  The cover was a huge hit, but it painted them into a corner.

Much like my first rock purchase Kilroy Was Here, there were songs I liked and songs I hated.  I don’t think I was the only 12 year old kid who didn’t have the patience for ballads.  Girls?  Who cares!  So I also hated “Don’t Wanna Let You Go”.  I wasn’t obsessive about listening to whole albums back then, since I was brought up in the LP age where we just dropped the needle.  So I often fast-forwarded through “Don’t Wanna Let You Go”.  Or we would play side one of the cassette, rewind, and play it again. (“Don’t Wanna Let You Go” was on side two of the cassette version).  Shortly after I suddenly noticed girls were EVERYWHERE, the song started to click with me.  Its sparse arrangement driven by Frankie’s drums make it a really special song.  Carlos Cavazo’s guitar solo had melody and composition to it, and drew my attention to the fact that a guitar solo wasn’t just a 30 second bore, but a micro-structure within the song, like a song all its own.

“Slick Black Cadillac” is a remake of a song from the second Quiet Riot album (cleverly titled Quiet Riot II) although we didn’t know that at the time.  “Slick Black Cadillac” is simply a classic today, and even though there isn’t a Randy Rhoads writing credit on it, you can hear the echo of his influence in Carlos’ guitar fills.  The lyrics to this song are so catchy, and soon you too will be singin’ about those solid gold hubcaps.  I was attracted to songs that told a story, and the rudimentary story here is a guy in a Caddy runnin’ from the “coppers on his trail”.  There’s no Dylanesque poetry, and DuBrow was never a crooner. This is about loud guitars and drums, a singer who is screaming his face off, and songs about cars and rocking!

You know I got a fully equipped rock ‘n’ roll machine,
At speeds that take me high, high, high,
At dead man’s curve,
I only hear one word, drive, drive, drive!

Love’s A Bitch” is less successful but it has a mournful quality that isn’t bad.  “Breathless” is better, a fast rocker featuring Frankie’s breakneck but steady pounding of the skins.  Following at the same pace, “Run for Cover” is just as furious, but lacking in melody.  Carlos Cavazo’s guitar showcase “Battle Axe” used to precede “Slick Black Cadillac” on my cassette version, which it was perfectly suited for.  On the original LP and the CD, it opens “Let’s Get Crazy”.  Because the running order of the cassette is permanently branded into my memory, it’s hard to get used to.  “Let’s Get Crazy” is goofy, seemingly an attempt to have another song like “Metal Health” on the same album.  As such it’s filler.

Finally there is “Thunderbird”, the piano-based ballad that Kevin wrote for the late Randy Rhoads. Didn’t like it then, love it today.*  It’s a beautiful song and maybe the best thing DuBrow’s ever written.  It’s cheesy as hell, but who cares?  The heart is there.

CD bonus tracks include a fun live take of “Slick Black Cadillac” (complete with DuBrow’s “vrroooom, vrrrrroooom!”) taken from a radio promo release. Also present is “Danger Zone”, an outtake that is not quite up to the album standards, but certainly close. Remastering is loud and clear, and liner notes are informative enough.

Enjoy. Doesn’t matter if it’s 1984 or 2015, this is a great album.

4.5/5 stars

* When we were kids, my sister and I used to play ‘air bands’ to this album.  I’d always make her sing “Thunderbird” while I would get the ‘better’ songs!

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42 comments

        1. I had the live version at least… but yeah, that’s annoying that I missed out. I always felt the album was a tad short too… now I know why ha ha

          I like the production on this studio version… more umph in the guitars than the live one :)

          Liked by 1 person

  1. Hooray! Great one, man. And you’re right, girls really ARE everywhere!

    You and I are on the same page with first albums on white-shell cassettes from 1984. Mine was Eliminator…

    Also I did not know Oasis did that song. I will not be looking it up. I am currently trying to erase the very thought of it from my brain. Not a fan.

    Also, I didn’t know Thunderbird was for Rhoads. Of course, two seconds on Wiki would have told me that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wait until you see tomorrow’s collaboration. Woah nelly! Pushing the envelope.

      I’m surprised you don’t own this. This is way better than Greatest Hits, just so you know.

      Like

  2. The first time I ever heard (and heard of) Quiet Riot was when Swedish Television viewed the big metal festival from Wesfallenhalle in Germany back in 1983. We only got to watch 3 songs / band and the bands featured was Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Def Leppard, Ozzy, Quiet Riot, Krokus and MSG.
    I remember being completely blown away by this little troll that sang who hade this funny looking head and a big mouth. I also found it cool that Rudy Sarzo was in that band as I knew him from Ozzy’s Diary Of A Madman and Speak of The Devil albums.
    They played Metal Health, Cum On Feel The Noize and Slick Black Cadilliac and the following Monday, Quiet Riot was the talk of my school and I bought this album the same day. I loved that album then and if I had reviewed it as a 15 year old, I would have given it 20/10 or something like that.
    I still like the record today, but there are songs that hasn’t aged all that well and to be honest, when I listen to it now, I don’t really get what the fuss was about. I would probably give it 6/10 today. I also dug Condition Critical back then, but that record is really nothing but a failed attempt to write Metal Health again. Every song on CC has a brother on MH. They even did another Slade cover. How unimaginative. Still, I think that CC has some good songs on it as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. CC is the only “classic” QR album I’ve yet to review. Actually might be the only QR studio album I’ve yet to review. I think I may have covered them all? No, no, I haven’t done Guilty Pleasures either.

      Like

      1. Guilty Pleasures really could have been the perfect title for that album. Only it isn’t a pleasure, I’m afraid. But guilty sums it up pretty well… ;)

        Liked by 1 person

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