Quiet Riot I

#747.5: Girls With Guns and Friends With Records

GETTING MORE TALE #747.5: Girls With Guns and Friends With Records

If you’re keeping up on things, you know I’ve been downsizing.  When it’s stuff that I care about, I like to make sure it goes to a good home.  I gave Iron Tom his signed Iron Maiden poster back.  Some of my Lego made its way to a friend at work who has four kids.  The rest of my junk just went to Goodwill.

What to do with my rock magazines?  Ages ago, when I first got married, I gave my rock mags to an old buddy named Len.  I decided to do the same again.  Len is a massive Kiss fan, and most of my remaining magazines were Kiss.  I had some Kiss comics from the 90s in there too.  I knew he’d appreciate them.  I also had a stack of CDs to give to him; CDs that I replaced with updated versions, like Shaw-Blades.

Len popped over to pick up the magazines, bearing gifts in return!  Records, in fact.  Not just any run of the mill records either.  Rare ones.  Two of these records were on my “Holy Grail” list, once upon a time.  Wanna see what he brought?

“I know you’ve been really into Styx,” said Len.  He presented me with Tommy Shaw’s first solo album Girls With Guns!  Seven months ago, I got my first CD copy.  Now I have the LP, too.  When it rains it pours!  I’m looking forward to spinning it on vinyl, as it was originally intended.

Next:  something I’ve never even seen before.  An LP copy of 1977’s Quiet Riot I!  This is a somewhat puzzling record.  It’s definitely not an original Japanese LP, or the cover would be in colour and there wouldn’t be the notation “featuring Randy Rhoads”.  On the inner label, you’ll find the 1983 Quiet Riot logo used from Metal Health on.  Most likely, this is a bootleg LP.  The back cover has the song lyrics laid out the same as my bootleg CD.  There’s no CBS/Sony logo anywhere on the package.  Therefore, this has to be a bootleg.  Does that bother me?  No way!  This is just as interesting to me.  It will be fun to spin this one on vinyl for a change.  The first two Quiet Riot albums were the very definition of “Holy Grail” items for me, for many years!

Lastly, something I’ve never seen before:  a Judas Priest 12″ maxi-single from 1981!  This record is an official release on CBS, from Holland.  The song choices are perplexing:  older tracks from 1978 and 1979, nothing from British Steel.  “Rock Forever” and “Hell Bent for Leather” occupy side one, while the epic “Beyond the Realms of Death” takes up all of side two.

According to Discogs, this record was originally included as a bonus single with early copies of Unleashed in the East, but my copy is not one of those.  On the back it says 1981 CBS, so there is no way it was packed with Unleashed when it came out in 1979.  This copy is a later version re-released in the Netherlands, but it’s unclear why.  Anybody know?

Some cool stuff and head-scratchers here for sure!  These will be well loved in my collection.  Thanks Len!

 

Advertisements

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