Steve Marriott

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

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REVIEW: The Rolling Stones – Their Satanic Majesties Request (1967)

Thanks Aaron for hooking me up with this CD.

STONES 1

THE ROLLING STONES – Their Satanic Majesties Request (1967 London/Decca)

It would be lazy for me to compare this album to contemporaries of the band. It would also be lazy to use the old outdated “psychedelic” adjective to describe this music. I can think of numerous other adjectives: challenging, rewarding, inventive, chaotic, grimy, majestic.

Andrew Loog Oldham had quit his post as the band’s producer and manager, leaving the Stones to their own devices.  It sounds as if they explored every possible indulgence (musically and otherwise).

Their Satanic Majesties Request takes some of the musical expeditions that The Rolling Stones had completed on Between The Buttons (think “Ruby Tuesday”), and turns that on its head. Mix in ample supplies of chemicals and a total fearlessness, and a belief that what they were doing was total brilliance, and what you get is Their Satanic Majesties Request. This album surely must have convinced parents that Satan himself was possessing the hi-fi.

Light on guitar, rhythm and blues, Their Satanic Majesties Request is still among the best Stones albums if you can penetrate its purple smokey haze. Doing so will reveal an album constructed in layers, and peeling back these layers will release melodies and instrumentation that will keep you enthralled for years, as you keep coming back to this album. Is that Mick asking, “Where’s that joint?”

I’m fond of the opening track, “Sing This All Together”, which sounds (at times) like a cross between the Beatles and a James Bond theme.  I’m sure some fans were wondering, “Where’s the guitars?”  They’re on there, used sparingly but effectively.  “Citadel” has guitars; grimy, dirty guitars, chugging out distorted chords under Mick’s dreamy melodies.  This one reminds me of early Alice Cooper, who I am sure was influenced by this album.

Bill Wyman sings lead on “In Another Land”, the watery vocal track sounding like it was recorded in another land.   “2000 Man” is as catchy as anything else the Stones produced, with neat lyrics that must have seemed so forward-thinking in 1967.  I love the guitar melody, and how it sounds like a completely different song on the choruses.  “She’s A Rainbow” is a perfect pop song, as brilliant as “Ruby Tuesday” if not moreso due to Charlie Watts’ relentlessness.  Meanwhile, “The Lantern” happily meanders along, amidst what sounds like out-of-tune guitars and horns.  Likewise “Gomper” wanders about, loads of sitar invading the eardrums, and lots of other stuff I can barely identify.

“2000 Light Years From Home” is a good one, loaded with Brian’s mellotron, again sounding perpetually out of tune.  Fortunately Charlie keeps the song moving forward, his timing always perfect.  Then, “On With the Show” brings us back in time to a simpler age, Mick affecting an accent for this fun retro piece.

While every song has melodies and instrumentation coming out the wazoo, it surely is “Sing This All Together (See What Happens)” (not to be confused with “Sing This All Together”) that is the centrepiece of this bizarre journey into the unknown. 8 1/2 minutes long, and never really going anywhere, some might consider this a waste of vinyl. On the other hand, those that have studied free improvisation will get inspiration out of this bizarre arrangement.

Brian Jones continued to experiment with multiple instruments including sitar (hey, it was the 60’s). Guests include Lennon and McCartney, Steve Marriot and Ronnie Lane, Nicky Hopkins, and future Led Zeppelin bassist / keyboardist / string arranger John Paul Jones.

The original LP featured a lenticular cover gimmick, as well as a maze inside that can never be solved.  How quaint!

Next time somebody comes up to you and says, “Yeah, this new band that I like, they sound really Stones-y,” then respond by playing “Sing This All Together (See What Happens)” and ask if this is what they meant. Watch the looks on their faces.

In the end, the Stones decided to return to their blues rock sound on Beggars Banquet, which was probably the best way to continue to have a viable career.

4/5 stars