Carlos Cavaso

REVIEW: Quiet Riot – Down To The Bone (1995)

Bought at an HMV store in Guelph Ontario, spring 1996.

DTTB_0001QUIET RIOT – Down To The Bone (1995 Kamikaze)

After the fairly impressive Terrified in 1993, I had my hopes up for Down to the Bone. I shouldn’t have. Even though this album represents the reunion of the seasoned QRIII lineup (Kevin DuBrow, Carlos Cavazo, Frankie Banali, Chuck Wright), this is one of the worst albums that Quiet Riot have ever released, and that’s saying something.

The songs on Down to the Bone fall into two categories: filler, and covers. The album is bogged down by boring production and mixing. Cavazo’s guitar tone is harsh, and makes the overly long album difficult to listen to in one sitting.  The snare drum sound is obtrusive and not very good.  Down to the Bone has a cold sounding mix, dry and irritating. This isn’t helped by the filler music contained herein. “Dig” for example contains a pathetic excuse for a chorus, making you wonder how anybody could have thought this was a good song. It’s a shame because Cavazo’s solo is melodic and cool, but it’s a great guitar solo is not enough to save the song.  There are moments here and there, melodies and riffs that are memorable, but no actual songs that you’d say, “Yeah, that’s a good song.” Only the cover of The Kinks’ “All Day and All of the Night” made my Quiet Riot road tape.

Down to the Bone overstays its welcome at almost 70 yawn-inducing minutes.  I have very rarely played this album. The last time I can distinctly remember listening to the whole thing — until now — was over a decade years ago.  Go ahead and ask me how any of the songs (besides the cover) go.  I won’t be able to tell you.

0.5/5 stars

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REVIEW: Quiet Riot – QRIII (1986)

For Aaron’s KMA review of this CD, click here!

QUIET RIOT – QRIII (1986 CBS)

A short while ago, longtime LeBrain reader Deke and Jon from E-tainment Reviews brought up QRIII as a contender for Worst Quiet Riot of All Time.  Digging into the discussion, I mentioned 1995’s Down to the Bone as another possible contender.  Jon also mitigated QRIII by reminding us of the teriffic single “The Wild and the Young”; the only reason to own it.  So the jury is technically still out….

QRIII  certainly sucks.  I knew that I could do one of two things for its review:  Take a shit on the album cover and post a picture of that as the review, or lambaste it verbally and harshly.  Unable to decide between the two approaches, I instead decided on a first for mikeladano.com:  the very first Choose Your Own Review!(™)  Choose A) The Short One, or B) The Long One!

REVIEW A: The Short One

QRSHIIIT

REVIEW B:  The Verbose One

QRIII (actually Quiet Riot’s fifth album) did nothing to revitalize their career. DuBrow was fired shortly after, leaving no original members. Quiet Riot soldiered on for one more album and tour anyway (with Paul Shortino on the creatively titled album but redeeming QR), before breaking up.  In ’93 they finally reunited with Dubrow intact, on the decently heavy Terrified CD.

QRIII, released in 1986, was a sign of desperation closing in.  Rudy Sarzo was out, and in was Chuck Wright. The band had flatlined commercially, so what did they do? They copied everybody else’s formula for success. That means they incorporated an overabundance of keyboards, buried the guitar way down in the mix, sampled everything, recorded sappy and faceless ballads, glossed it all up, and basically snuffed out any spark that this band once had. I felt that they also copied Kiss somewhat in image, with bouffant hairdos and sequined gowns that looked like hand-me-downs from Paul Stanley’s Asylum wardrobe. DuBrow’s new wig didn’t help things.

There is the one song that rises above the stinky, putrid toxic morass that is QRIII. “The Wild and the Young”, despite its reliance on samples, is actually a really strong hard rock rebellion.  On this track, the studio techno-wizardry did its trick.  The song is irresistible, and remains a personal favourite.  The drums kill it, and the gang vocal chorus is catchy as hell.  The song was accompanied by a creative video, so I was suckered into buying the tape.   If I had only known there was just one good song, I wouldn’t have spent my hard earned allowance on QRIII.  More to the point, if I had known just how bad the rest of the album actually was, I would have steered way clear.  Everything is choked down in a mechanical slop of keys and samples.   These songs are so nauseating, so tepid, so embarrassing, that I really can’t say it with enough vigor.

The lyrics:  mostly pathetic nonsense.  “The Pump”:

Well let’s pump pump pump pump,
Strike it rich what you’re dreamin’ of,
Let’s pump pump pump pump,
We’re gonna hunt for gold, Gonna dig for love.

Then, throw in a Plant-esque moan of “Push, push, push, oh! oh! oh!.”  Serious.

Lastly there are the sadly misguided attempts at a “soulful” direction, which crash and burn gloriously. I’m sure in the studio, producer Spencer Proffer assured Quiet Riot that he was producing a hit album.  This would get them on radio and MTV, he might have guaranteed.  Meanwhile, the real situation was more like, “Let’s throw anything and everything to the wall and see what sticks, because this band’s asses are on the line this time.”  But it was the band who wrote this slop with Proffer, so they bear equal responsibility for the calamity.  I’m sure there were so many drugs in the air that “The Pump” actually seemed clever at the time.

QRIII will be remembered not as the album that knocked Quiet Riot down, (that honor goes to Condition Critical) but as the album that flat-out buried them. They would never be a serious commercial property again.

Do you enjoy the crash and burn of an astonishing train wreck? QRIII is for you.

0.5/5 stars

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REVIEW: Quiet Riot – Alive and Well (1999)

 

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.

2.5/5 stars

REVIEW: Quiet Riot – “Slick Black Cadillac Live” Kerrang Flexidisc

There’s not much music on this one, it’s more a photo review this time.  Enjoy!

FLEXI

QUIET RIOT – “Slick Black Cadillac Live” 1983 Kerrang Flexidisc

The reason I have this (scored from Discogs!), aside from it just looking cool, is that it’s hilarious!  The version of “Slick Black Cadillac” is the same great version that was later released on the remastered edition of Metal Health.  However…it has recorded messages from the band members as well!  These messages are directed to the UK readers of Kerrang! (who gave away this flexi-disc), and are dubbed directly over the song.

After Kevin DuBrow mentions the upcoming December gigs they’ll be playing, each member gets to say a word.  Rudy in particular strikes my funny bone.  “Hi, this is Rudy Sarzo, and I play the bass!”  He’s just so…excited!  As for Kevin?  “When I see you I wanna hear you scream ’til your throats bleed!”

Flexi-discs are obviously fragile and are only good to play a handful of times.  They have a bit more background noise than normal 45’s, but have the bonus of looking cooler than the average 45!  This one is single sided, and came taped inside an issue of Kerrang!  Not all flexi’s are clear like this one, so I consider this a fun conversation piece.

3/5 stars

REVIEW: Ratt – Infestation (2010 Japanese and iTunes editions)

RATT – Infestation (2010 Roadrunner Japanese and iTunes editions)

Ratt needed a comeback. Lineup changes galore, deaths, poorly-received changes in sound — forget all that stuff.  The band has since stabilized.  Pearcy’s back on lead vocals, and Carlos Cavazo (ex-Quiet Riot) has taken over guitar duties from John Corabi. Corabi’s a rhythm player, not a soloist (and that’s not a knock on Corabi).  Cavazo rocks out quite a few solos on this album. The difference is noticeable, and it’s a welcome return to something like the Ratt sound of yore. Do you like twin leads? Cavazo and Warren DeMartini rip out a few, each with his own distinct sound, but meshing well like they’ve been doing this forever. Cavazo also contributes strong co-writes to about half the album. Surely, you can’t imagine a better match than this for Ratt.

INFESTATION_0003

[Note:  Since this release, original bassist Juan Crocier has also come back, replacing Robbie Crane.]

Pearcy’s in great voice, the passages of time disguise-able. But be forwarned, if you never liked Pearcy’s style before, this album is not going to change your mind. His vocals are augmented by some nice, but not overdone, backing vocals from the band. Longtime bassist Robbie Crane supplies backing vocals while holding down the bottom end.

INFESTATION_0005The sound of the album is pure Ratt, but modernly produced; surely the best sounding record they’ve done so far. Picture a heavier Out Of The Cellar. There are nods and winks to other eras of Ratt as well: I hear a little bit of “Way Cool” here and there, and damned if “Best Of Me” wouldn’t have fit right in on Detonator. Yet this is no retro-fest, as much as it does echo the 80’s. There are still sounds here that sound tougher and more modern, like the fast and heavy opener “Eat Me Up Alive” (my second favourite song).  There’s filler here, but even the filler is worth holding your finger off the skip button.  All except perhaps the dreadful “A Little Too Much”.

There Japanese bonus track is a cool slow groove rocker called “Scatter”, with a great memorable chorus. This is the best song to me.  Itunes got the track as well, but because I always prefer a physical edition, I bought the Japanese for my physical copy.  You will have to judge the value of that expenditure yourself, however I deemed it worthwhile.

There are also three live bonus tracks on the iTunes version, worth getting. These songs are “You Think You’re Tough”, “Tell The World”, and “Way Cool Jr.”, all previously unreleased and with Cavazo on guitar, “Live from the Rockline Studios”.  “You Think You’re Tough” is my favourite song from Ratt EP.

If you have ever liked Ratt, pick up Infestation if you’re curious what the band sounds like 25 years later. This is a solid Ratt album, not classic, but song for song among their better records.  They’ve retained their signature “Ratt N’ Roll” sound, but also what dignity and integrity a bunch of Ratts have. Well done.

3.333/5 stars

REVIEW: Quiet Riot – Live & Rare (2005)

Part 1 of my 2-part review of the Quiet Riot Twin Pack set.  Twin Pack bundled the band’s final two releases before DuBrow’s untimely death:  a retro live album, and the final studio album, Rehab.

QUIET RIOT – Live & Rare (2005 Demolition)

I will tell you right off the bat, the only reason to own Live & Rare by Quiet Riot is if you are like me (obsessive collector), and must own everything. That’s it. There are no other reasons. This is a terrible, terrible CD. Awful. It is so cheaply and carelessly put together that it truly is the definition of “cash grab”.

The original pressing of this CD had a major flaw, a 2 second gap between the songs.  This amateur mistake caused the audience noise to cut out and then start again in a way that was just jarring and unpleasant. They partially fixed the problem on my second printing…but only partially. The 2 second gap is gone, but it is replaced by a quick split-second pause — think about the way a live album sounds when you play it on an mp3 player. It’s not nearly as bad as the 2 second gaps, and it makes the album so much more listenable.   At the end, the live portion doesn’t even finish with a fade-out.  Just an amateur abrupt silence.  Lastly, the three demo tracks at the end aren’t even listed in the correct order on the CD sleeve.  I have a hard time imagining how these flaws made it past quality control — twice!!

I can remove the gaps using Audacity, and re-burn the thing using Nero, but really what’s the point?  If the album was decent, it might be worth the effort.  Unfortunately, Live & Rare is pretty poor.  You wouldn’t expect this to be the case upon reading the track list.  Live performances from the 1983 Metal Health and 1984 Condition Critical tours, the golden years with the classic lineup.  Throw on three bonus tracks from the 1981 DuBrow demo and it should be a pretty satisfying listen, gaps or no gaps.

Musically the songs are fine, but the recordings are terrible! Basically this sounds like a bootleg, and I have heard far better bootlegs.  I’ve heard audience bootlegs that were better quality than Live & Rare.  It’s nice that there are some rarely played tracks on here (“Gonna Have a Riot” and “Danger Zone”) plus a drum solo, but otherwise the CD is close to unlistenable. What’s the point of a drum solo if it sounds this terrible?  The only, and I mean only, saving grace on this CD are the three unreleased DuBrow demos. They date from a time when Quiet Riot was actually broken up, and Kevin was  recording under the name DuBrow. Banali was a part of the DuBrow lineup. They were eventually renamed Quiet Riot and they recorded Metal Health and made metal history. These demo tracks are historically significant to fans, and it’s nice to finally have them.

Buyer beware. I was not at all impressed with this CD, and I think Quiet Riot should have been embarrassed to release it. The liner notes state that it was “produced and mixed by Neil Citron and Frankie Banali”. I wonder exactly what they did to produce and mix it. I speculate that they adjusted some levels on a home PC and burned a copy to CD…without removing the 2 second gaps! Not very pro at all.

1/5 stars

REVIEW: Quiet Riot – Quiet Riot I & II (1977, 1978)

QUIET RIOT – Quiet Riot (1977), Quiet Riot  II (1978 CBS)

A while ago I talked about the rarities/remix compilation album, The Randy Rhoads Years.  I recommended that album, but I am also lucky enough to own CD copies of the first two Quiet Riot albums.  Over 13 months ago (!) I promised you that we would take a closer look at Quiet Riot I and Quiet Riot II.  That day has come!  LeBrain never breaks a promise to his readers.

In a 1993 Guitar for the Practicing Musician interview, Kevin DuBrow complained that producers Derek Lawrence and Warren Entner “didn’t know from guitars”.  Quiet Riot I is ample evidence for that.  Randy’s guitar is but a shadow of what it would later become under the wing of Ozzy Osbourne.  Where later on, Randy would fill songs out with catchy, intricate licks, on QRI he tends to stick to riff-solo-riff song structures.

And this is one awful sounding album.  The vocals of Kevin DuBrow are shaky, and the recording is muddy.  There are very few standouts among its 12 tracks.  Even the Small Faces cover “Tin Soldier” is rendered lackluster.  You can hear Randy doing some neat tricks on the guitar, but it’s buried in the mix.

Lyrically, “Mama’s Little Angels” is beyond awful:

“As soon as mommy’s at work,
Out come the paint cans,
We start to spray it on the wall.
That’s getting boring, 
Go get the bats!
Gonna have us some indoor ball!
…Well Randy’s up to bat, gonna hit me a home run!
Sorry ’bout that, outside! Ball one!”

Whooboy.

“Look In Any Window” is better on the Randy Rhoads Years CD.  Here, DuBrow is singing a completely different, annoying vocal melody.  Shame, because this is QR’s slant on Alice Cooper, very much up the alley of “I’m Eighteen”.  I’ll stick with the remixed/re-recorded version, thanks.

QRI CDThe best song on Quiet Riot I is easily the Dave Clark Five classic, “Glad All Over”.  I remember growing up, Bob had a Randy Rhoads guitar book.  It was loaded with transcriptions of his Ozzy classics, as well as “Glad All Over”.  We had never heard of “Glad All Over”.  To this day I don’t know why that seldom-heard song was included in a Randy Rhoads guitar book!  Kevin’s vocalizing here is hilariously screamy.  I love it.  Randy’s solo is Nuge-tastic, with a little intricate lick at the end.  Great stuff.

So that’s QRI.  Quiet Riot II is marginally better in the songwriting department.  The band wisely included only nine tracks on the second album.  A few of these are standouts:  “Slick Black Cadillac” would be re-recorded effectively by another lineup on the Metal Health album.  To hear that song played by Randy Rhoads, the guy who co-wrote it, is cool.  His take on the guitar is different from Carlos Cavaso’s, although Carlos obviously did copy some parts.  If only it were better recorded, this version could easily supplant the hit Metal Health version.

Another familiar song is “Afterglow (Of Your Love)”, also originally by Small Faces.  This song was rendered in an acoustic form on The Randy Rhoads Years.   On QRII, it is full-on electric.  I prefer the electric version, I just wish it sounded better.  There are other decent songs on QRII, such as the melodic “Eye For An Eye”, “Trouble”, and “We’ve Got the Magic”.   By the second album, Quiet Riot had gotten better at writing melodies.  They had work to do on stitching catchy melodies together into complete songs.  Most songs on Quiet Riot II have some really good parts, but are not necessarily great all the way through.  The dead production does not help the situation.

Even though Rudy Sarzo (Tateryche) is pictured on the sleeve and credited, he did not play bass on Quiet Riot II.  Kelly Garni played bass, as he did on the first LP.  To this day, I don’t know if the CD copies I have are promos or bootlegs.  While I don’t know of any promotional CD test pressings, these are definitely high quality for bootlegs.  They even have the hilarious mis-transcribed lyric sheets that usually accompany real Japanese CDs.  So, I really don’t know!

Quiet Riot I2/5 stars

Quiet Riot II3/5 stars