Metal Health

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 older 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

#520: Musical Firsts

GETTING MORE TALE #520: Musical Firsts

What are your “musical firsts”?  Here are mine!  Let’s start with concerts.

  • First concert: Johnny Cash (1983)
  • First highschool concert:  Free Fare (1986)
  • First rock concert:  Helix (1987)

Who remembers Free Fare?  They billed themselves as “the band from Florida” (there was only one?) and toured highschools all over the US and Canada.  They played Grand River Collegiate in my grade nine year, performing popular covers and giving away Free Fare bandanas.

FREE FARE

 

How about your first musical instruments?

  • First instrument played – bass guitar
  • First instrument bought – electric guitar
  • First instrument smashed – the same electric guitar, smashed by my sister

 

Finally I’m sure you all remember your first albums.  Here are mine:

 

Leave a comment with some of your memorable musical firsts!

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 – 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
IMG_20140405_122011

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

Part 0: A Few Words for Days Gone By…

I decided to do something special for Part 250…by not doing Part 250 at all.

This isn’t one of those bullshit prequels, like when George Lucas says, “Oh, Episode I, I had that written for decades,” when it was pretty obvious he was making it up as he went along!  Nope, this isn’t like that.  I started writing the Record Store Tales over 10 years ago, and what you see below is the original first chapter.  It existed solely for the purpose of background and context, but I excised it in favour of starting things faster with the second chapter, “Run To The Hills”.  Since that became Part 1, it makes sense that this earlier introduction should be Part 0.  With hindight, I kind of wished I’d kept it in, so here it is!  And don’t forget to check out my new complete Table of Contents, should you wish to read  more!

KATHRYN GEOFF MIKEYeah…don’t ask. That’s me on the right.

A Few Words for Days Gone By…

What is childhood made of? In my mind, when you’re a kid, life consists of two things:

1. School
2. Summer Holidays

That was the cycle.  To break it down to the core, to an 11 year old life was 10 months of school followed by two months of glorious, warm sunny freedom.  Sure, you’d get to go home at the end of the day, but you were never truly free until the end of June. No more pencils, no more books, all that stuff.  It was way better than Christmas holidays.  The Canadian winters offered such fun treats as shoveling, besides snow pants, parka, boots (laced up too tight), and mittens which prevented you from using your fingers.

Our summers were boisterous. My sister Kathryn and I were like peas in a pod. We would play some kind of game every day, usually under my leadership. I would declare that today, we were going to play Star Wars. Other possible declarations included building fleets of Lego ships and cars, and having a giant war. Or inventing a new ball game.  Once GI Joe came along, we’d dig trenches in the yard, as well as forts and garages of twigs and leaves, and have an entire day (or week) dedicated to Cobra Commander’s new secret weapon. Aside from an occasional rebellion from my sister, our summers were mostly uninterrupted merriment.

STAR WARS

My sister and I both clearly remember one such rebellion, where she wanted to do things her way.  It involved our Star Wars figures.  We were already mid-battle.  I was setting up a perfect counter-offensive. The Millenium Falcon would sneak attack Vader’s base, take out his Tie Fighter early in the melee, while Luke would take out Boba Fett. Leia and Lando had to distract Jabba The Hutt, so that he couldn’t stop Luke when he eventually confronted the Emperor. Game over! The plan was perfect. Now I just needed my sister to coordinate the battle with me, under my command of course.

Much to my disappointment, she had moved around some of the figures and now had them seated.  Luke and Vader were next to each other. “Why are Luke and Vader sitting there? Luke is about to attack and Vader should be getting into his ship.”

My sister continued playing with the figures, and without looking up, replied, “Luke and Vader want to be friends now. They’re having tea.”

It didn’t matter that half the figures were hers, if she didn’t know how to play Star Wars right. So I’d yell a bit, act like a big brother usually does, and eventually she’d go along with the plan, or cry and leave.  The evil Empire would be defeated once and for all, thanks to my brilliant leadership and strategy.  We were definitely pals, growing up.

For years, this was the way of the summer holidays. We’d be doing something awesome at home, or at the cottage, but it would always be something cool. It didn’t matter where we were: games continued wherever we went.  We’d make a game out of anything.   You give us a pile of junk and we’ll make a game out of it.

STYX FRONTAll things do come to an end. The Star Wars trilogy ended in 1983 and something needed to fill the vacuum. While GI Joe and later Transformers would temporarily take its place, I was getting older.  My attention was drifting.  I was looking for something cool, new, and exciting.  Video games didn’t hold my attention and neither did sports.

Starting in 1983, several things happened in a short time frame.  Styx released a single called “Mr. Roboto” that some of my friends at school were obsessed with.   Then I heard a song called “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” by AC/DC, and it was pretty cool too.  Then, a newer band called Quiet Riot came out with an album called Metal Health that would go on to sell three million copies.  This was my first rock cassette purchase when I was in the 6th grade.  Something connected…

AC/DC.  Van Halen.  Ozzy Osbourne.  Black Sabbath.  Def Leppard.  Motley Crue.  Iron Maiden.  Who were these people? I had a lot to find out.

Continued in Record Store Tales Part 1:  Run to the Hills

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: 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

REVIEW: Quiet Riot – The Randy Rhoads Years (1993)

QR FRONT

QUIET RIOT – The Randy Rhoads Years (1993 Rhino)

Growing up in the 1980’s, Quiet Riot was the first “metal” band I liked.  Back then, we were aware that Quiet Riot had two albums prior to Metal Health.  These albums seemed unobtainable forever at best, mythical at worst!  The first two, Quiet Riot and Quiet Riot II, were released in Japan only.  Later on, I did manage to get both albums, so I have a unique perspective on this CD:  The Randy Rhoads Years, by Quiet Riot.

See, here’s a nutshell version of the story:  QR lead howler and co-founder Kevin DuBrow had wanted to re-release the Randy material for years.   Randy himself was never happy with those albums, nor his guitar sound on those albums.  In light of this, the late guitarist’s mother Delores was very guarded of Randy’s legacy.  She knew that Randy felt the albums consisted of sub-par songs with horrible production. DuBrow eventually won her blessing to re-release some of the old Quiet Riot material, but on one condition only: Get the quality of the songs up to snuff so it doesn’t tarnish Randy’s legacy.

So that’s what he did, using all the means available, and the result is a highly modified collection of Quiet Riot songs with Randy Rhoads.

I can tell people out there who haven’t heard the first two albums that they do sound awful. That’s not a myth. Randy’s guitar is but a shadow of what it would become, and the songs are mostly pretty bad, especially on the first album. The second is much better (particularly in the songwriting category) but it is still hampered by poor production. So what could DuBrow do to get permission to do a re-release?

He started by picking out six of the better songs from the first two records:  “Mama’s Little Angels”, “It’s Not So Funny”, and “Look in Any Window” from Quiet Riot, and  “Trouble”, “Killer Girls”, and “Afterglow (Of Your Love)” from Quiet Riot II.  All of these songs were heavily remixed, with completely re-recorded vocals, from scratch.  DuBrow felt, probably  correctly, that his original singing voice on those albums was too “boy-ish”.

DuBrow re-sampled all the drums, and re-recorded all of Randy’s guitar tracks through a Marshall stack.  Randy had confided with Kevin that he was happiest with the way his guitar sounded live with Ozzy, so Kevin recorded the original, sterile guitar tracks through Carlos Cavazo’s amps.  They used the Randy Rhoads Tribute CD as a guide.

On one guitar solo, Kevin knew that Randy wished he had used a wah-wah, but couldn’t afford the pedal at the time.  Kevin played the wah-wah pedal himself, using Randy’s guitar tracks, a unique form of collaboration between two friends.

With the Small Faces cover, “Afterglow”, Kevin came up with a cool idea.  “Unplugged” albums were on trend, so Kevin stripped all the drums and electric instruments off the track, leaving just Randy’s bare acoustic guitar.  It is like stripping a layer of paint off old beautiful old wood:  the bare guitar track reveals previously unheard warmth.  Kevin re-sang the vocal, kept the electric guitar solo intact, and used a triangle sample to cover up places where the original drums had leaked into Randy’s mike.  This painstaking work created from the ground up an incredible alternate version that Randy would hopefully have been very proud of.

None of these people are Frankie Banali.

None of these people are Frankie Banali.

One of Quiet Riot II‘s best songs is “Trouble”.  Kevin felt that it plodded too much, so he slightly sped it up which also raised its pitch.  He then re-sang it, and the result is a much better song.  Suddenly “Trouble” is a rich sounding hit-worthy rock track.

“Killer Girls” had some minor tampering, a blast of guitar where previously there was nothing.  It is “Last Call For Rock ‘n’ Roll” that is most changed.  Previously titled “Mama’s Little Angels” on Quiet Riot, Kevin re-wrote what he thought was a juvenile lyric.  (It was about trashing the house playing a game of “indoor baseball”.)  Bobby Rondinelli, who was working with Kevin on a Quiet Riot album called Terrified at the time, helped him re-write the tune.  Unfortunately, regardless of all this work, the song is still just a stock sounding track, nothing special, aside from Randy’s always classy if underplayed guitar work.

The rest of the album consists of unreleased songs.  One of the most exciting is a live take of “Laughing Gas” which Quiet Riot never cut in the studio.  It comprised an evolving, extended Randy Rhoads guitar solo.  Within it, you can hear the kernels of ideas that later became Ozzy Osbourne classics such as “Dee” and “Crazy Train”.  Even this “live” track is tampered with:  Kevin re-recorded his lead vocals (even the “Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Randy Rhoads!” part) and actually spliced two different guitar solos together into one.  You can hear the splice point between the two quite clearly.  Of course this makes the solo no less jaw-dropping.

“Picking Up the Pieces” and “Breaking Up is a Heartbreak” are two of a kind.  Kevin says these come from their “pop” period after the second album, just before Randy was off to work with Ozzy.  They were getting more desperate for hits, and wrote these two melodic, radio-ready tunes.  Both are excellent.  Much like “Trouble”, these two songs are world-class.  Kevin re-recorded the vocals and so on just as he did with the other tracks.  At this time, bassist Kelly Garni had left the band and Randy played bass himself.

Lastly, “Force of Habit” is the only bare, untampered song.  In the liner notes, Kevin says they lost the original master tapes, so he was unable to remix or re-record any of it.  I think it’s an excellent heavy song on its own.  In fact, Ozzy Osbourne must have thought so as well, since parts of this song later became “Suicide Solution”!

This work,  and “Laughing Gas” in particular were enough to convince the Rhoads family to go forward with this album. If Kevin hadn’t done this, undoubtedly we would never have seen this release. On the other hand, this isn’t the way Randy recorded it, and Randy obviously had no input to how the tracks were mixed.  This has polarized fans, some of whom thought Kevin was the great Satan, others just enjoying the album for what it is.

I enjoy the album for what it is.  I like it a lot, actually.  I do have misgivings about the tampering, but since I own the first two albums, that feeling has subsided.  I can back up the claims that the first two albums are pretty poor.

Kevin had planned on a second volume, including such treasures as Quiet Riot’s metallic cover of “The Mighty Quinn”.  He had also mentioned a home video, including the extended “Laughing Gas” guitar solo.  Sadly DuBrow, will never get to complete these Rhoads reissues.

4/5 stars