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.