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Quiet Riot - 'Metal Health' / 'Condition Critical' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/fb/ac/a7/3224_quietriotmetalhealth_1359594455.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     January 31, 2013    
 
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Re-issues of two classic QR albums.

Whilst I detest the term ‘Hair Metal’ for its original use as a derogatory term by outsiders for some of the music I love, it’s somehow become acceptable now within the genre as a badge of honour. It's also a largely forgotten fact that L.A. rockers Quiet Riot were the main reason that ‘Hair Metal’ became a bona fide successful movement, major labels signing the likes of Ratt, Queensryche, Great White and many others in the hope of having the next Quiet Riot. Taken under the wing of producer, publisher and record label mogul Spencer Proffer, Quiet Riot started recording the seminal ‘Metal Health’ when all those other bands were in their formative stages and thinking of putting out independent EP's.

With the record already in the can, Proffer got them a deal with CBS/Epic on the proviso that they cover Slade’s ‘Cum On Feel The Noize’, a move that singer Kevin DuBrow was dead against. However, as Slade had never had a US hit with the song, radio stations embraced it and it got to #5 in the US charts, with constant touring soon bringing them an eye-opening #1 album, the first ever for a metal band. The combination of simple, catchy songs and Proffer’s bombastic production went against the grain of the US music industry, and in doing so, turned a lot of the labels around to their way of thinking. The title track may sound a bit dumb these days but the groove and power of it is still undeniable. Built upon Frankie Banali's phenomenal drums and Chuck Wrights thumping bass (he was replaced during the recording sessions by his predecessor Rudy Sarzo, who plays on most of the tracks), and with a massive guitar sound from Carlos Cavazo, it was Kevin DuBrow's loud warble that was QR's most distinctive feature. However, 'Metal Health' was far more than its anthemic title track and a Slade cover. 'Breathless', 'Run For Cover' and a re-recording of 'Quiet Riot II's 'Slick Black Cadillac' all rocked like proverbial bastards, 'Love's A Bitch' and 'Let's Get Crazy' were effective mid-paced stompers and 'Don't Wanna Let You Go' and 'Thunderbird' (written by DuBrow about former QR guitarist Randy Rhoads) were both heartfelt ballads that benefited from Proffer's skill as an arranger. As good as 'Metal Health' is, it just happened to be in the right place at the right time and sold six million copies. Quality-wise there were better records that followed from Quiet Riot's peers, but that doesn't detract from the fact that they kicked the doors open. Here it sounds a million dollars and is bolstered by the reasonable but inferior sounding bonus track 'Danger Zone' and four excellent live cuts from a Japanese EP; 'Metal Health', 'Slick Black Cadillac', 'Let's Get Crazy' and 'Love's A Bitch' all showing what a great live band they were.

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The old story of the difficult second album (or fourth if you count their Japan-only first brace), has never been more obvious than with Quiet Riot. The success of their major label debut meant they were constantly on the road and in demand, leaving little time to write the follow up. So when they were forced into the studio by their hungry record label, they had barely a handful of songs lying around, and despite the skills of Spencer Proffer and the band writing more in the studio, 'Condition Critical' was a much weaker effort. Yet again the band rocked hard and the record sounded great, but tracks like 'Party All Night', 'Stomp Your Hands, Clap Your Feet' and 'Scream And Shout' were just too dumb and couldn't compete with what a lot of their peers were releasing. On the plus side they had a good opener in 'Sign Of The Times' , a grinding title track, 'Winner Takes All' was a decent ballad and 'Bad Boy', 'Red Alert' and '(We Were) Born To Rock' had hooks aplenty, but in recording another Slade cover - DuBrow had wanted to do 'Mama Weer All Crazee Now' instead of 'Cum On..' on the previous album - and placing it as the second track and single yet again, the pacing of the album made it seem like an attempt to copy 'Metal Health'. After initial healthy sales it stalled at a mere three million (ha!) and the band's popularity rapidly waned from there, helped in no small part by DuBrow's inability to be diplomatic, burning bridges with bands, journalists and fans like there was no tomorrow. Again the remastering is good and Paul Suter's sleeve essays tell an interesting story, but despite the lack of bonus tracks 'Condition Critical' is actually better than I remembered. 'Metal Health' is the one that everyone should own, if only for history's sake.

Phil Ashcroft

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