QUIET RIOT – Hollywood Cowboys (2020 King Record Co. Japanese import)
We all wanted Frankie Banali go out on a high note. He fought hard. His battle with cancer was inspiring. Unfortunately, his last Quiet Riot album Hollywood Cowboys is not memorable except as the drummer’s finale. The shame of it is, they previous album Road Rage was pretty decent so it wasn’t unreasonable to get hopes up for the sequel.
The songs just aren’t memorable enough. It’s bad when you can’t remember which track was the single (“In the Blood”). The opener “Don’t Call It Love” is better; singer James Durbin was able to infuse the chorus with some passion. The problem is none of the songs stick. Can you remember how “Change Or Die” or “Wild Horses” goes without a listen? “In the Blood” isn’t terrible by any stretch but there are no real singles on this album.
The musicianship is fantastic, with Frankie drumming like only he could. There’s some tasty organ on “The Devil You Know”, but no hooks. You can hear that they worked hard on Hollywood Cowboys, adorning songs with “woo oo ooo” backing vocals and lickity-split solos by Alex Grossi.
Some highlights include an AC/DC-like blues called “Roll On”, and the ballad “Holding On” which nails the vintage Quiet Riot vibe. There’s also a blast of Priest-like metal called “Insanity” that has plenty of power if lacking in melodies.
The album sounds as if rushed, which would be understandable given the circumstances, but that’s the impression it gives. Even the cover looks rushed. The mix is really saturated and could have used some more loving care. To its credit, it is probably the heaviest Quiet Riot album ever, from drums to riffs.
Here’s the mindblowing part. Only one guy on this album is still in Quiet Riot, and that’s guitarist Alex Grossi. James Durbin left before it was released, and he was replaced by former QR singer Jizzy Pearl (from the 10 album). Legendary bassist Rudy Sarzo is returning in 2022, replacing Chuck Wright. Lastly and most regrettably, Frankie’s stool was filled by former Type O Negative drummer Johnny Kelly. None of that is relevant a Hollywood Cowboys review, it’s just recent history. One does wish for more stability in the lineup, and perhaps Sarzo will bring that.
The Japanese import bonus track this time out is a lacklustre acoustic version of “Roll On”. Frankie plays with brushes, so it’s interesting from a drummer’s point of view. Sadly it’s the kind of bonus track that’s just not worth the price paid for the import.
Hollywood Cowboys is a scattershot collection of parts that never coalesces into songs. Everybody wanted Frankie Banali to succeed, in every way possible. But one must also be honest in a review, and can take no pleasure in shitting all over Frankie’s last record.
There was a time when I’d buy any “supergroup” with members that I knew. Impellitteri had three: Graham Bonnet (Rainbow – vocals), Chuck Wright (Quiet Riot – bass) and Pat Torpey (Mr. Big – drums). This release on Relativity records is basically a showcase for guitarist Chris Impellitteri, and unfortunately that’s exactly what it sounds like. In the credits, Chris states “I promise that my guitar solos will only get faster”. That should tell you everything you need to know about Stand in Line.
Sounding indistinguishable from an Yngwie album, the title track goes first. It boasts some pretty mean Graham Bonnet vocals, but the song sounds exactly like Malmsteen to a “tee”. And it’s one of the best songs. The star is actually Pat Torpey (rest in peace, rock soldier) who rarely got to drum so heavy.
A couple misguided covers don’t do this album any favours. The new version of “Since You Been Gone” metalizes the Rainbow original, and it can’t stand up under the weight. (Interesting note: this track features Randy Rand from Autograph on bass.) It’s too stiff, too schooled, too…supergroup-y. Same with “Over the Rainbow”, which has some beautiful runs, but is otherwise overplayed. Squealing solos don’t compensate for Ritchie Blackmore, or a tight band.
Highlights: “Stand In Line”, “Tonight I Fly”. Turds: “White and Perfect”, a song about colonialism!
Credit where it’s due: Chuck Wright plays some unison lines in sync with Chris Impellitteri, showing off abilities that he doesn’t often exploit. Likewise with Pat Torpey. Unfortunately Stand in Line is too generic (if you can call “Yngwie” an actual genre), and there’s already one neo-classical shredder on the top of the pile. Impellitteri spices his playing up with some Van Halen-esque tricks, but all I can hear is Yngwie, and you will too, right down to the production. Most of the pleasure derived from this album is courtesy of Graham Bonnet, but chances are you already own this if you’re a Bonnet obsessive-compulsive!
Side note: This CD was salvaged by me, as it had been close to ruined by a house fire! Somebody sold me his stinky CD collection, many of which were scorched. The smell (burned paper and plastic) was unholy. This was one of the lesser-destroyed albums, but you can still see some browning on the top edge of the inside cover, where the smoke and heat got to it. With a lot of effort and gentle cleaning products, I eliminated of the smell and most of the stains.
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.
QUIET RIOT – One Night in Milan (2019 Frontiers Deluxe Edition CD/DVD)
James Durbin made me a believer.
On paper, the current Quiet Riot shouldn’t be my thing. A band with no original members and a frontman from one of those singing contest shows? No thanks. Except it’s actually good. After years of flailing around with different replacement singers, Frankie Banali finally hit gold when he got James Durbin. Wisely, Frankie chose to do a live album with him.
One Night in Milan is a terrific live CD/DVD set, aided and abetted by a singer who is 100% into it. Durbin has charisma and the frontman chops, but importantly, he’s not trying to be Kevin DuBrow. He still uses the striped mike stand, but otherwise Durbin is his own person. His range is out of this world, and though his voice may grate on some ears, he sounds terrific to this listener. The whole lineup, including Alex Grossi on guitar and veteran Chuck Wright on bass, has gelled.
Quiet Riot get points for doing the opposite of what most bands do. They didn’t ignore their 1990’s albums! “Whatever It Takes” (from Down to the Bone) and “Terrified” (from “reunion” album Terrified) sound awesome live. “Terrified” in particular has been a long time coming, a true hidden classic from a forgotten era. On the other hand, there are only two songs (“Freak Flag” and “Can’t Get Enough”) from their newest album Road Rage. There’s only so much room on a live CD, and it’s otherwise stuffed with stone cold Quiet Riot classics. It’s cool to hear deeper cuts like “Condition Critical”, “Thunderbird” and “Let’s Get Crazy” live.
The DVD, featuring all the songs from the CD, is even more convincing. Banali continues to thunder like no other drummer, a true phenomenon. There’s more stage talk included, and Banali introduces “Thunderbird” performed live for the first time ever with piano. Durbin is always the focus on stage, although Wright and Grossi are both mobile, entertaining performers.
If you’re just not into Quiet Riot without Kevin DuBrow, that’s fine and you should stick to what you like. However it’s safe to say that James Durbin has saved Quiet Riot from becoming a pointless parody of itself. With James center stage, this band has a future again.
QUIET RIOT – Road Rage (2017 Frontiers Japanese version)
We’ve always been honest but truthful Quiet Riot fans here at LeBrain HQ. We’ve been banging our heads for almost 35 years now, and they included some ups and some downs. The death of Kevin DuBrow was heartbreaking. Some of our Quiet Riot reviews haven’t been the most popular, but we have always maintained an open mind. Frankie Banali’s resurrected Quiet Riot with no original members left a bad taste in the mouth, especially after management attempted to re-write the band’s history on Wikipedia. Pages were edited to indicate that the Metal Health album was Quiet Riot’s debut, seemingly in order to qualify Banali as an original member. Ugly and undignified; but music talks and bullshit walks. Quiet Riot’s first post-DuBrow always was 2014’s 10, with Love/Hate singer Jizzy Pearl taking over as the band’s sixth lead singer. It wasn’t that good and it’s conceivable that the band know it. No physical edition was ever released, and you can’t even buy a download anymore.
So, it’s delightful to be able to say that the new 2017 Quiet Riot album called Road Rage is…not bad at all! Actually quite good!
It’s even been rocky since 10. Jizzy Pearl left amicably, to be replaced by ex-Steven Adler singer Seann Nichols. They recorded a new album, even released one full song online…and then suddenly Nichols was out! American Idol alumnus James Durbin was hired in short order, and re-wrote and re-recorded the entire album.
Skeptics, be silent. Our fair and balanced take on Quiet Riot in the past should speak volumes for the review you are about to read. It would be far easier to mock Quiet Riot for their choice of a TV show contestant as a frontman, but it would be grossly inaccurate.
Durbin’s youthful enthusiasm will either win you over, or leave you complaining that he’s “not enough like DuBrow” and it “doesn’t sound like Quiet Riot”. Here’s the truth — that’s good. We’ve endured one soundalike singer after another. Durbin has a fresh spin, and there’s little question the guy is just pleased as hell to be fronting this band! he gives it all on “Can’t Get Enough”, a new uptempo Quiet Riot party tune. Co-writer Neil Citron must have written the riff with a classic Quiet Riot vibe in mind.
Then it’s down weird street a little bit with the Indian-flavoured intro to “Get Away”. It takes a moment, but once you realize “Hey, this isn’t the same old Quiet Riot”, you will be able to realize that “Get Away” is a damn good song. It’s actually quite melodic rock, but with a Zeppelin groove. Then it’s the pro-weed “Roll This Joint”, which has a seriously decent Zep vibe too. The lyrics are pretty cheesey (“I’m with Cheech and Chong and Willie and Marley!”) but you gotta cut Durbin some slack. He’s young and it’ll connect with some of that crowd.
The thing is, you just can’t dislike Durbin. He wins you over, especially on the lead single “Freak Flag”. This is the most Quiet Riot sounding track of the disc, but with Durbin it’s no carbon copy. “Freak Flag” kicks ass and you can imagine it working great live. Same with “Wasted”. That chorus (“Take a shot!”) grows fast. Even the ballad “The Road” doesn’t suck. Through the 11 tracks, it’s clear who the star on this album is. The new frontman rose to the challenge. In the back, Frankie Banali’s providing the Quiet Riot backbeat; the linkage between past and present. Guitarist Alex Grossi also turns in a worthy performance, and Chuck Wright (bass) has a co-write on the slippy-slidey “Still Wild”. Despite the circumstances in the making of the album, Quiet Riot sound more focused than they have in decades.
Frankie’s revival of Quiet Riot has been going seven years straight, through five singers before getting James Durbin on board. Only the singer has changed; Grossi and Wright have stood by through thick and thin. No matter what, Quiet Riot will continue. Fans should be advise that the first album with Durbin has turned out great, and let’s hope this is a long-term lineup. He’s got the necessary range to sing vintage DuBrow, but in his own voice. And that voice is growing quite compelling. Not every song is killer, but the majority of the album gets the job done. Enough to justify putting your money down.
The Japanese version of Road Rage has an exclusive bonus track. It is an acoustic version of “Make A Way”, one of the heavy album tracks. This isn’t a crappy remix, but an entirely new recording of the song in acoustic arrangement. It’s different enough that it actually seems like a new song. Bonus track: win!*
As Durbin sings, “Take a shot!” Give Road Rage a road test. Just don’t “Knock ‘Em Down”, or you will have to “Get Away”. The quality of this album in terms of sound and songs gives the new Quiet Riot a level of credibility they didn’t have before. Easily their best album since 1993’s Terrified or even before. Let your “Freak Flag” fly, James Durbin!
* Former singer Seann Nichols made a comment in an interview that implied the version of Road Rage with his vocals was released in Japan; this is unfortunately not the case. If you have any Seann Nichols versions of the Road Rage songs, please contact us here. We are dying to review them in contrast to the final album!
House of Lords put out an impressive debut but didn’t sell a lot of copies. When the second album rolled out in 1990, their guitarist Lanny Cordola was gone and in was new guy Michael Guy. Although Guy is credited on guitar, in reality the album was recorded with Doug Aldrich and a number of guests. Weirdly, thanked in the credits for “additional inspiration” is Nick Simmons, who was one year old at the time. Sahara was of course on Simmons Records.
It’s a different sounding House, less regal but with more hooks per acre. The opening number “Shoot” draws liberally from the wells of both Led Zeppelin and Motley Crue. “Chains of Love” is Coverdale-lite, with singer James Christian pouring on as much sass as possible, but without Coverdale’s sly nods and winks. Whoever is playing the guitar solo on “Chains of Love” laid down a killer.
The acoustic cover “Can’t Find My Way Home” (Blind Faith) is pretty true to the original minus the falsetto, and would have to be one of the better power ballads from a rock band in 1990. House of Lords turn a serious corner on “Heart on the Line”, which sounds like a title for a ballad. This however is a speed racer, a chugging riff powering a rock-corker, which turns Cheap Trick on the chorus. Unsurprisingly, it was written by Rick Neilsen. Brilliant playing and soloing on this one. Then they rip off a song title from Coverdale himself, “Laydown Staydown”. Winger-esque sleeze rock is all this is, not even touching the brilliance of the Deep Purple song that inspired the title.
A much more impressive track opens side two, “Sahara”. This is progressive hard rock, with drummer Ken Mary layering a tribal drum effect that would have been very ahead of its time in 1990. This too degenerates into something more Winger-like as well, but it jumps from that back into more progressive sections, keeping things balanced and interesting. The second slot on side two is predictably another ballad, a good one called “It Ain’t Love”. Not just the title, but the gang chorus reminds of Dokken. Some fine soloing resides here to sink your fangs into.
The lead single was another power ballad, “Remember My Name”, which the band did not write. As an impressionable youth in 1990, I hated this single. “Never lead with a ballad,” was my thinking. I had been looking forward to new House of Lords since the debut slayed me in ’88. I didn’t want the first song to be a ballad they didn’t write. I still don’t think it’s a very good track. And surely a mistake to include it on the CD right before another ballad. “American Babylon” redeems it, coming back with a strong push. “Kiss of Fire” nails it with the knockout punch at the end, a blazing smoker with powerful keyboards that remind us of vintage Deep Purple. Finally it seems House of Lords nailed a song that lived up to their inspirations.
Perhaps it was the rotating cast of characters on guitar, but Sahara drifts further from the sound that made House of Lords unique in 1988. The danger of grasping for hits while taking their sound deeper in the mainstream was real. Though it is still an entertaining listen, Sahara is very uneven which makes it a bumpy ride.
HOUSE OF LORDS – House of Lords (1988 Simmons Records/BMG)
Yes you read that correctly. Simmons Records. Did they ever put out anything decent?
House of Lords actually made a hell of a debut with Simmons Records in 1988. Nobody was calling them a “supergroup”, but most of the members had been around the block more than once. House of Lords evolved out of Giuffria, a pretty good AOR rock band featuring the keyboard stylings of Greg Giuffria. In fact there are several songwriting credits by ex-Giuffria singer David Glen Isley, giving clues to the genesis of this CD.
Lanny Cordola played guitar on the prior Giuffria LP, and continued on to House of Lords. Bassist Chuck Wright had a stint in Quiet Riot (in fact he’s back with them today). Drummer Ken Mary kept time during Alice Cooper’s metal phase. All they needed was a singer, and they found a great one in James Christian, who today is the sole remaining original member of House of Lords. They signed to Gene Simmons’ imprint, and got legendary producer Andy Johns behind the mixing desk. All the ingredients were in place.
MuchMusic were promoting the shit out of these guys, and so I dutifully picked up the cassette at A&A Records and Tapes in the fall of 1988.
The self-titled debut, though classy, didn’t have enough identity. Good songs throughout, no clunkers, but also nothing that identified House of Lords as something unique. And so, this great CD has remained largely unknown over the years.
The keyboard heavy opening on “Pleasure Palace” has less to do with Bon Jovi and more to do with the progressive rock bands of the 70’s. The production is pure 80’s, with the echoey drums and the hard to hear bass. It is what it is, and Andy Johns did a better job than most producers could have done in ’88. James Christian comes across as a full-lunged, well rounded singer. He’s able to sing with a little of blue eyed soul, and he’s capable of the screams too. The feature that actually sets the song apart is the keyboards, very gothic and European sounding, but not wimpy.
“I Wanna Be Loved” was the first single/video, an easy choice being mid-tempo with a shout-along chorus. “Oh woah, oh woah, I just wanna be loved!” Sure, sounded good to 16 year old me. Heaps of backing vocals thicken up the mix, and Lanny Cordola plays a tasteful albeit standard guitar solo on top. “Edge of Your Life” serves as a keyboard power-ballad, and a dramatic one at that. The musicianship is stellar and the arrangement is expert, but the standout performer is James Christian.
Since you need a bar room blaster for the dudes, “Lookin’ For Strange” fits the bill. Instruments aflame, and with obvious inspiration from the Van Halen shuffle of old, “Lookin’ For Strange” is nonetheless a ton ‘o fun. Ending the first side of the tape was “Love Don’t Lie”, another power ballad, this one a bit on the soft side. It was also edited down and remixed by David Thoener for a single release. This mix was used for the music video and can be found on reissues of the CD. The album version is the better of the two, since edits often sound…awkward.
Rock and roll resumes with “Slip of the Tongue”, a title that David Coverdale would use a year later. High octane, full speed ahead, this is House of Lords doing the shred. The musicianship speaks for itself and you can hear clear Whitesnake and Thin Lizzy influences. The fast pace sets up “Hearts of the World” very well via contrast. From here, the album becomes more progressive, dramatic, and bombastic. “Hearts of the World” is AOR perfection, choppy with caverns of keyboards and waterfalls of gang vocals. It all sounds so serious, but it’s hard to deny the quality of this song. “Under Blue Skies” follow this with bagpipes (!) and ELP-like keyboard horns. It’s another dramatic, melodic winner with progressive qualities. The outro has those “na na na na na” vocals that all but guarantee you’ll be singing along. “Call My Name” makes it three in a row, though it changes the forecast to sunny. Bright and positive, “Call My Name” is still a big sounding song, with the gang vocals and guitar shreddery that you’ve come to expect.
Cordola gets the chance to show a lil’ bit (a minute) of classical guitar chops as an intro to “Jealous Heart”, the last of 10 tracks. This is your typical album-ending breakup ballad: weepy hearts, melodramatic lyrics, powerhouse vocals…it’s a dead ringer for Journey! Good Journey, though. Since Journey were defunct in 1988, let’s forgive House of Lords for a little hero worship.
House of Lords is a good debut album. Is it great? I would have said so back in ’88 or ’89, but the production has caused it to age, not so well. That’s unfortunate because what House of Lords put out here was pretty remarkable hard rock.
All week, Aaron over at theKeepsMeAliveand 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!
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.
* 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!
We’ve had a couple strong new releases in a row here of late: The newHelixandJudas Priest albums have been particularly great.
I guess two out of three ain’t bad.
QUIET RIOT – 10 (2014 iTunes or Amazon mp3 download)
I’ve made no secret of my dislike for the happenings in Quiet Riot recently. I find their current reunion, with no original members, to be tenuous at best. Singer after singer, Quiet Riot stumbled onwards before finally hiring Jizzy Pearl of Love/Hate and Ratt fame. With Pearl they’ve managed to record an album. 10 is the name of that album, another thing I find a little disrespectful. The name 10 seems to me to imply it’s their 10th album. It’s not; all fans know Metal Health was their third, not first, album. This seems to play into an earlier attempt to re-write the Quiet Riot related Wikipedia pages to state that Metal Health was the band’s first record. Why? I can only speculate that this is done to promote the current Quiet Riot as having “original members”, when in fact they have none.
However, I’m going to listen with open ears, because that’s what I’m here to do.
First track, “Rock in Peace” is one I like quite a lot. What I don’t like is the muddy, muddy sound. The drums sound like they’re in another room. It’s too bad because I think the song has potential. As for Jizzy, it’s easy to adjust to him as lead singer of Quiet Riot. Although he doesn’t sound like the late Kevin DuBrow too much, he does have certain screamy qualities in common with DuBrow. This enables him to adapt to the Quiet Riot sound. The lyrics quote the band’s biggest original hit, “Metal Health”, which is alright. Halford’s quoted himself before too. OK, so production aside, not bad.
“Bang For Your Buck” has some tasty guitar by the talented Alex Grossi, making his first Quiet Riot album appearance here. Unfortunately the otherwise fine song is held back by Jizzy, overreaching and straining. Grossi really does redeem the song especially with the solo…but damn this album sounds muddy. Congested. Like I have a head cold while listening to it.
Third in line is the weird titled “Backside of Water”. I don’t know what that title means, and since this is a digital release, there are no lyrics. It smokes along nicely, with more fantastic Grossi guitars, but it’s an unremarkable song that doesn’t sound like Quiet Riot, except in the sense that Quiet Riot has a lot of unremarkable songs. The Ratt-like “Back on You” is outtake quality. I’m sensing that the guys think they can just throw a shout-AC/DC-style chorus on something and call it catchy, but it doesn’t work that way.
“Band Down” is what you’d call a “down n’ dirty” rocker. I’d call it dull, and poor sounding. I think they’re trying to recapture that “Stay With Me Tonight” vibe, but without a memorable chorus. But “Dog Bone Alley” is worse, absolutely sunk by horrendous backing vocals. It has a slinky, heavy groove, and some smokin’ guitars, but that’s not enough to build a song with.
Alex Grossi, Jizzy Pearl, Frankie Banali, Chuck Wright
Quiet Riot’s biggest stumbling block has always been songwriting. That’s why some of their biggest hits are covers. Quiet Riot 10 continues that frustrating tradition. Just like albums such as Alive and Well had some good songs and solid moments, so is Quiet Riot 10. And that’s only six songs!
What Quiet Riot did to make a full album is include four live songs, kinda taking a page out of the ZZ Top book, a-la Fandango! These tracks are all obscurities, songs not available in live versions before. They all feature Kevin DuBrow, but could Frankie have not found better sounding recordings? From Quiet Riot III is a horrid sounding version of “Put Up or Shut Up”. This is bootleg quality, and not even good bootleg quality. Too bad; sounds like it was a good version. Then, from the stinky Rehab CD comes an unnecessary “Free”. So it’s heavy, whoop-de-do. It’s a shitty song, and the vocals are so damn distorted at times that it sounds as if Kevin’s under water. “South of Heaven” too suffers from these sonic defects. It seems like they were going for a Zeppelin “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” kind of vibe, but as if the mothership crashed into “The Ocean”. (See what I did there?) Kevin even yelps, “Push, push!” It’s a shame because Frankie really is a smokin’ drummer.
The final track is a nine minute rock n’ roll medley. This is a great jam. Humble Pie’s “Red Light Mama, Red Hot!” is a great little obscure choice. Kevin sounds like he’s having a blast. Actually the whole band sound like they’re having more fun here than they were playing their own originals. This seques into other more familiar hits, still harkening back to that old British blues rock sound.
Live many albums of Quiet Riots past, 10 stumbles and fails at times, while producing pleasing hard rock surprises at others. The sonic issues are a surprise to me. I hope a physical CD release, if there is to be one, would improve the sound.
1. “Rock in Peace” 4:00 2. “Bang For Your Buck” 3:52 3. “Backside of Water” 4:18 4. “Back on You” 3:24 5. “Band Down” 3:17 6. “Dogbone Alley” 4:29
Live 7. “Put Up or Shut Up” 4:18 8. “Free” 4:05 9. “South of Heaven” 5:25 10. “Rock ‘n’ Roll Medley” 9:22
For further reading, check out Jon Wilmenius’ review of Quiet Riot 10.
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
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 steeredway 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.