Portrait / Epic / Legacy
I’ve got a story about Quiet Riot.
On a gorgeous summer day this past July, I spent about eight hours hanging out at this big outdoor ’80s 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, backstage with an All Access Pass. There was no question that having the run of an arena’s backstage 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 twenties. 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 number one on the Billboard charts! And this was back in the ’80s, 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.
Legacy Recordings: http://www.legacyrecordings.com