Carlos Cavazo

REVIEW: Quiet Riot – Cum On Feel the Noize (1989 CBS cassette)

QUIET RIOT – Cum On Feel the Noize (1989 CBS cassette)

From the same line as the previously reviewed Trouble Shooters by Judas Priest, here’s a tape-only Quiet Riot compilation.  Like the Priest tape, Cum On Feel the Noize has nothing more recent than five years.  For Quiet Riot, that unfortunately means you’re only hearing songs from two albums!  (Nothing from the first two which were only released in Japan.)

The title track (and Slade cover) “Cum On Feel the Noize” goes first, muddy tape hiss and all:  this cassette has seen better days!  It’s an edited version (roughly 3:10), so perhaps something you don’t have in your collection.  The speedy album track “Run For Cover” then delivers the scalding hot metal.  Two more big hit singles follow:  “Mama Weer All Crazee Now (another Slade cover) and “Metal Health” (sometimes subtitled “Bang Your Head” in case you didn’t know the name).  These two hits will keep the party flowing, and that’s it for side one.

Proving they had more than just a passing interest in mental health, “Let’s Go Crazy” kicks off side two with a bang.  Frankie Banali is the man — his drums really sell this one.  “(We Were) Born to Rock” is another solid number, all rock no schlock.  “Slick Black Cadillac” is a shrewd inclusion.  Gotta have a car song for the road.  Then “Party All Night” finishes it off with a pretty clear message.

As a party tape, Cum On Feel the Noize would have done the trick.  You should probably just own Metal Health and Conditional Critical instead, but this is a fun tape and would have been enough Quiet Riot for most folks.

3/5 stars

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REVIEW: QUIET RIOT – Live at the US Festival (2012 CD/DVD)

QUIET RIOT – Live at the US Festival (2012 Shout! CD/DVD set)

This was a long awaited release, since the US Festival was way back in 1983!  The Holy Grail would be an official Van Halen release of their legendary performance, but I digress.  There aren’t a lot of really great live Quiet Riot albums out there, with one called Extended Versions being the best package.  Live at the US Festival is brief at just seven songs (plus a 4:38 guitar solo that also includes a sneak preview of a song called “Scream and Shout”).  It does capture Quiet Riot at their peak, at a critical gig, and includes a DVD of the whole thing for the complete package.  (Come on, Van Halen…)

Let’s have a look at the DVD first.  The crowd is vast, the costumes ridiculous, but there’s some kind of fire in the air.  The atmosphere is electric and the band are absolutely great visually, particularly Rudy Sarzo.   DuBrow is the consummate glam frontman, and an underrated one at that. Have a giggle at the old style giant screens displaying the band logo.

The CD itself sounds good, no complaints there, and the recording sounds untampered (evidenced by a messy Carlos Cavazo guitar solo in “Cum On Feel the Noize”).  Sarzo’s bass is mixed nice and audibly.  It would have been better if more of a booklet was included, but it’s just a simple fold-out with no liner notes.  This set is sparse and just over 40 minutes long.  A lot of that time is taken up by talking.  You get the big hits though, and the non-album track “Danger Zone”.

Live at the US Festival is a pretty easy Quiet Riot purchase to justify because of the included DVD.

3.5/5 stars

REVIEW: Quiet Riot – Terrified (1993)

scan_20170102QUIET RIOT – Terrified (1993 Moonstone)

Quiet Riot took the unusual step of firing their only original member, lead singer Kevin DuBrow, in 1987.  They soldiered on with new singer Paul Shortino and did a brief tour of Japan before calling it a day for the band.  Meanwhile, Kevin DuBrow was supposed to working on a new band called Little Women.

In 1991, various media were reporting that Kevin DuBrow and Carlos Cavazo had gotten back together in 1991 as a new band called Heat.  It was a quiet reunion for the singer and guitarist who had been estranged since DuBrow’s firing in 1987.  Within two years of forming Heat, the band had morphed into a new version of Quiet Riot, now featuring former drummer Frankie Banali and newcomer Kenny Hillary (RIP).

Terrified features 3/4 of the classic Metal Health lineup with only Rudy Sarzo being absent. (He’d join again later on Alive and Well). Like a mighty ship changing course in heavy waters, Terrified is a monstrous Quiet Riot CD, anchored by Cavazo’s newly heavy guitar playing and Banali’s inimitable thunder. The drum production on this album could be the best on any Quiet Riot disc, and up there with Banali’s sound with bands such as W.A.S.P.

Lots of winners on the Terrified: “Cold Day In Hell” boasts an angry 90s groove, but with the melodic sensibilities of Metal Health-era QR. “Loaded Gun” almost sounds like a Metal Health outtake, because it has a throwback vibe. Their cover of “Itchycoo Park” is the only acoustic song, a much needed respite before re-entering the fray on the storming title track.  Only a few filler tracks (in a row) almost derail the album, but soon we’re back on track with “Rude, Crude Mood”. It may be one of the worst lyrics that DuBrow’s ever written but the music sure rocks. “Little Angel” is fast but forgettable, and before long you’re into “Resurrection”, a six-minute instrumental tour-de-force. Banali and Cavazo take the helm on it with a shuddering riff, and they don’t let go until it’s fade out. An awesome track.

Quiet Riot’s career can be divided up into a number of phases.  In the 1970s, there was the Randy Rhoads era represented by two decent Japanese albums.  This was followed by the the so-called “classic era” of major label releases (Metal Health to QR) from 1983-1988.  Then there is the reunion era which runs from Terrified to Rehab (2006) and finally Kevin Dubrow’s death in 2007.  As a coda, Frankie Banali resurrected the name with a variety of lead singers and continues to tour and record.  Their last album was 2014’s 10 featuring lead singer Jizzy Pearl.  Terrified would stand as the best album of the reunion era, which they sadly struggled to equal on later releases like Down to the Bone.

Worth the investment.

4/5 stars

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REVIEW: Quiet Riot – Condition Critical (1984)


CONDITION CRITICAL_0002QUIET RIOT – Condition Critical (1984 CBS)

I’ve reviewed almost every single Quiet Riot album now.  Only Guilty Pleasures awaits of the studio albums I have left to cover.  Why did I leave 1984’s Condition Critical for so long?  As the follow-up to Metal Health, you’d think I would have tackled it already.  But I didn’t even have the album ripped to my computer.

As a half-arsed Metal Health clone, I’ve never felt like Condition Critical deserved a lot of time spent on it.   I received it in 1985, and it has never been an album I have particularly cared for.  I still think today that most of the songs are not very good.  At that, almost every song is an inferior clone of a prior one on Metal Health:

  • “Sign of the Times” =  “Metal Health (Bang Your Head)”
  • “Mama Weer all Crazee Now” (Slade cover) = “Cum On Feel the Noize” (Slade cover)
  • “Winners Take All” = “Thunderbird”

And so on and so forth.  Spencer Proffer returned to produce, so even sonically Conditional Critical is all but a clone of the previous record.  I’m sure the guys thought they were repeating the magic to take them back to the top of the charts.  How wrong they were!  Most of the new songs were written solely by Kevin DuBrow, and it feels rushed.

Condition Critical still retains some of the fun of Metal Health.  Although not as good, the dumb-titled “Stomp Your Hands, Clap Your Feet” is plenty fun just like Quiet Riot classics.  “Party all Night” is also a hoot, and you have to admit that the guys did make a pretty hilarious music video for it.  Quiet Riot broke with the help of MTV, and they at least retained their knack for making an amusing music video.

On side two of the album there was hidden a serious heavy tune, the title track “Condition Critical”.  This slow grinder is one of those great lost tracks that you can only get on the album.  Banali breaks the levee with some solid drums.  Songs like this make tracking down the record worthwhile for those willing to give it a shot.

On the other hand, I had a friend who said “Winners Take All” is probably the worst Quiet Riot song of all time.

Proceed with caution.

2.5/5 stars

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!

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

REVIEW: Quiet Riot – Extended Versions (2007 Sony)

QUIET RIOT – Extended Versions (2007 Sony BMG)

There are several Quiet Riot live albums available: this one, SetlistLive at the US Festival, and Live & Rare. All are vintage recordings from the early 1980’s.  Of the three, you might look at Extended Versions and pass on it.  It looks cheap and unofficial.  To overlook this CD would be a mistake, and this is why.

Sure, it lacks any sort of booklet or liner notes.  All I know is that the first eight tracks are from Pasadena in 1983, and the last two from Nashville the same year.  From the outside you wouldn’t know that.  The only information is the ominous “Recorded Live” which tells you very little indeed.  Being 1983, this is the “classic” lineup of Kevin DuBrow, Frankie Banali, Rudy Sarzo, and Carlos Cavazo, on the Metal Health tour.  Introducing “Love’s A Bitch,” DuBrow reveals that they only began their US tour a short while ago.

Perhaps because it’s early in the tour, or maybe because they’re home in California, Quiet Riot pulled out two rarities for the Pasadena show.  These are “Gonna Have A Riot” and “Anytime You Want Me”, neither of which are on Quiet Riot I or II.  Both are written solely by DuBrow, but “Gonna Have A Riot” is from the Randy Rhoads period.  “Anytime You Want Me” is of more recent vintage, and it’s actually quite an excellent pop rocker.  Also rare was the set opener, “Danger Zone”, unreleased until 2001 when the studio version was added to the Metal Health remastered CD.

In addition to the rarities, you get the hits:  “Metal Health”, “Cum On Feel The Noize”, “Slick Black Cadillac”, “Love’s A Bitch”.  There’s also a handful of well liked album cuts such as “Let’s Go Crazy” and the smoking “Breathless”.  That song knocked me out as an 11 year old and it still does today.  All performed by the band in their prime, before the downfall.

Live & Rare sounded awful, but this CD sounds pretty good.  I’m not sure if it’s a radio broadcast, but it’s perfectly listenable.  It’s too bad there’s no packaging, because if this had been packaged with more effort and care, it could have been sold as an “official” live album quite easily.  Bummer there’s no liner notes, all you’re going to get is the music. However, the music stands up for itself and it’s an enjoyable live album.

4/5 stars
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