In today’s lesson on Rock & Roll Evolution 101, we find Quiet Riot, the once quasi-notorious, eighties glam-metal band re-imagined for 2017 as a swaggering, super-tight, blues-based rock outfit in the style of, say, The Black Crowes, Blackstone Cherry, and other bands that may or may not have the word ‘Black’ in their name. It’s been ten years since the tragic death of Quiet Riot’s original, inimitable front man, Kevin Dubrow, and in that time the Sunset Strip legends have also parted ways with guitarist Carlos Cavazo and bassist-hunk Rudy Szarzo, leaving powerhouse drummer Frankie Banali as sole survivor of the band’s classic line-up. They aren’t very sentimental in Hollywood.
But if anyone has earned the right to reinvent this band, it’s Banali, who is playing better than ever, and looking ten years younger today than he did when I met him in person in 2001. Amazing. Banali’s fellow Riot-eers are veteran bassist Chuck Wright, guitarist Alex Grossi, and new vocalist James Durbin, who might look familiar to you because he wailed his way to a fourth-place finish in the 2011 season of…wait for it…American Idol! See, Adam Lambert isn’t the only AI alum with the nads to front a classic rock band, I tells ya.
Aurally, “Can’t Get Enough” gains momentum right out of the gate, with Durbin delivering a familiar vocal hook borrowed from Foo Fighters “Learn to Fly,“ and rapid-fire lyrics about the irresistible appeal of life on the road, rocking our for the fans — because Quiet Riot sings about what it knows. Bang Your Head, again! Visually, this is a classic performance piece which keeps you entertained with a few changes in scenario; from a pleasingly pink-lit studio to everyone’s’ favorite outdoor venue: under a freeway overpass somewhere in LA. Certain things should never change. “Can’t Get Enough” can be found on Quiet Riot’s new album, Road Rage, due out later this week on August 4th, 2017, via Frontiers Music SRL. Enjoy!
Quiet Riot, Metal Health
Original Release Date: March 1983
Remastered and Re-Released: August 2001
Quiet Riot’s multi-platinum debut brought the empowering declaration “Bang Your Head” into the vernacular of metal fans everywhere. While famous for its venerated, chest-thumping cover of Slade’s “Cum On Feel the Noize,” the glam classic “Slick Black Cadillac” and inspired ballad “Don’t Wanna Let You Go” revealed Quiet Riot to be about much more than just big guitar noise and epic macho posturing. Metal Health is a hard driving but relentlessly joyous collection of songs recalling a time when metal music was actually fun – and it rocks hard enough to crack a skull. Successfully connecting the attributes of commercial rock with the sonic muscle of heavy metal, its history as the first metal album to reach #1 on the Billboard charts says it all.
1. Metal Health
2. Cum On Feel The Noize
3. Don’t Wanna Let You Go
4. Slick Black Cadillac
5. Love’s A Bitch
7. Run For Cover
8. Battle Axe
9. Let’s Get Crazy
11. Danger Zone
12. Slick Black Cadillac (live)
Despite my busy and very ass-kicking social life, it’s not unusual for me to spend full weekends holed up in the Chick Pad working on my book or writing an article for Modern Drummer magazine. Because that’s just the kind of dedication to The Rock that I possess. Today I spent most of the afternoon listening to Quiet Riot’s Metal Health and Warrant’s Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Richover and over (at a volume that I can only hope completely annoyed the shit out of my upstairs neighbors) while composing 100-word reviews of each album for an upcoming issue of Metal Edge magazine featuring a section on “The 25 Essential Hair Metal Albums.” Honestly, I’m all over it.
And what I realized once the reviews were written and submitted to my editor is that I’d much rather indulge in a full afternoon spent listening to all my ’80s metal records than spend fifteen minutes weeding through the stacks of newly-released CDs that are gathering dust on my floor. Because, for the most part, modern pop and rock music sucks ass.
And then I started thinking about one of my favorite songs by Jethro Tull, though I’m not sure that what the lyrics meant to me at that moment is what Ian Anderson had in mind when he wrote the song:
“Once I used to join in
Every boy and girl was my friend.
Now there’s revolution, but they don’t know
What they’re fighting.
Let us close our eyes;
Outside their lives go on much fa-a-aster.
Oh, we won’t give in,
We’ll keep living in the past.”
Another One Bites The Dust: Me with Kevin Dubrow, Frankie Banali and Donnie Vie, Summer 2001
Okay, seriously, I’m wondering if it is some kind of cosmic ’80s Metal joke that both Ricky Parent of ENuff Z’Nuff and Kevin Dubrow of Quiet Riot have passed away within one month of each other. As a tribute to Kevin, who died on November 25th, 2007 of a drug overdose, I’ve decided to re-run my review of the re-release of Quiet Riot’s immortal, genre-defining 1983 album, Metal Health. Read on and be enlightened.
(Originally published on Ink19.com, Fall 2001)
Quiet Riot Metal Health (Portrait/Epic/Legacy)
I’ve got a story for you about Quiet Riot.
On a gorgeous summer day this past July, I spent about eight hours hanging out at this big outdoor 80’s metal revival arena rock concert where Poison, Warrant, Quiet Riot and Enuff Z’Nuff were the featured bands. Now, everybody knows I’m a total idiot for that kind of music and, being a journalist, I’ve become pretty good pals with Poison’s drummer Rikki Rockett, and Warrant’s drummer, Mike Fasano. Thus I found myself, Ms. Headbanger’s Ball of 2001, back stage with an All Access Pass. There was no question that having the run of an arena’s back stage area would prove to be a curious thing, but I digress. When I was walking around unsupervised, I met Quiet Riot’s front man, the infamous Kevin Dubrow, when he accidentally caught me checking out his ass. Kevin is amazing-looking up close and has transformed himself from the scrawny, balding speed freak you remember from those 80s Quiet Riot videos into this full-on rock Adonis with a killer six pack and arms to die for. He smells really good too. I felt a little giddy meeting him because – I mean, I’m a fan and everything – but I didn’t expect him to be so handsome. Hair weave or no hair weave, the guy looks 100% better than he did when he was in his 20’s. I’d do it.
Anyway, Portrait Records re-released Quiet Riot’s best album, the multi-platinum selling Metal Health, last fall, but it took me awhile to get around to reviewing it. Sorry.
When I think of Quiet Riot, their venerated cover of Slade’s “Cum On Feel the Noize” leaps to mind immediately. I just can’t help but sing along.
“Cum on feel the noize/Girls rock your boys/We’ll get wild wild wild/Wild wild wild…” lather, rinse, repeat.
Talk about inspired lyrics! How can anyone who was ever young and in love not worship that song? Carlos Cavazo’s guitar solo on the bridge has got to be right up there with anything Eddie Van Halen ever laid down on tape and I’d even put it up against the solo from “Wait” by White Lion!
But Quiet Riot was always about so much more than just big guitar noise and epic macho posturing. I mean, Metal Health, was the first metal album to reach #1 on the Billboard charts! And this was back in the 80’s when the charts were actually an indication of music being any good. Quiet Riot rocked, and they still do.
My favorite Quiet Riot song is “Slick Black Cadillac,” which is from way back when Randy Rhodes (RIP) was in the band. This song was originally recorded for an album that was only released in Japan, but the band loved it so much that they re-recorded it for Metal Health – and thank God for that, because the song just rocks hard enough to crack skulls wide open. I love the lyrics, which are so simple, but paint such a rich picture: “Driving in a slick, black Cadillac/It’s got solid gold hubcaps/It makes me feel like a King/I only need one thing/and that’s a Slick Black Cadillac.” It’s great use of language, where Kevin is as involved in the physical sound of the words as he is in telling the story. No shit — here’s a song about a big black car that sticks with you. A live version of “Slick Black Cadillac” is included here as a bonus track. I could listen to it again and again.
Hearing Quiet Riot’s hard-driving, melodic, anthemic, life-affirming, joyous, crazy party rock amid all the shitty false metal and mind-numbing idiot rock that passes for pop music these days is like oxygen in a vacuum. Metal Health is a sentimental journey connecting the attributes of commercial rock with the sonic muscle of heavy metal, which is what catapulted LA Sunset Strip glam metal to the top of the charts in the first place. This album is perfect. Go out and buy a copy right now.