Thursday, November 29, 2007

DuBrow du monde

Look at me now it must be hard to tell
That I'm alive and well

- Kevin DuBrow (1955-2007), Quiet Riot, "Alive and Well"

In 1999, bassist Rudy Sarzo rejoined Quiet Riot, reuniting the four members to perform on the first #1 heavy metal album, 1983's "Metal Health." This union produced nine new tracks and some miscellaneous covers (mostly new versions of old songs), released as "Alive and Well" on Deadline Music.

They toured in support of the album, opening up for Ted Nugent along with Slaughter and Night Ranger. Quiet Riot and Slaughter were given half hour slots, and Night Ranger had about 45 minutes to an hour to play. Quiet Riot really deserved more time, really only getting about 25 minutes and running out of time to play "Metal Health," although they did close out with "Cum on Feel the Noize."

After their performance, they signed autographs for anyone in the crowd. I walked down the table, getting signatures from Sarzo, Frankie Banali, Carlos Cavazo and finally DuBrow. It was at that point, dressed in an Iron Maiden t-shirt, fingerless leather biker gloves, and studded wrist bands, that I told DuBrow that the new album was "really, really good," and I (lightly) banged the table with both hands for emphasis. He had a mixture of shock and appreciation, and he told me thank you.

To be perfectly honest, "Alive and Well" was Quiet Riot's best album (although I've never heard their Randy Rhoads stuff). To be further honest, Quiet Riot really wasn't that great of a band. They had a few good songs, some hits, but most of their output is mediocre to downright bad. They tried to do the glam thing later in the 80s, but I really don't think they were a good fit for that. They would have been better off doing party anthems and miscellaneous rock songs, more like a mix of Krokus and Manowar, than trying to be Poison or Ratt.

"Alive and Well" really showed what Quiet Riot could be. The lyrics were surprisingly clever, or at least well-written, on most of the tracks, and Cavazo laid down some nice, meaty riffs. Sarzo has always been a competent and flashy bass player, having toured with Whitesnake in his post-Riot years, and Banali is a true metal musician, having provided drums on some of W.A.S.P.'s most interesting and expressive albums. As always, DuBrow, one of the more unique sounding singers in metal, topped it all off with his throaty, earthy vocals.

The only song I really don't care for is "Slam Dunk (Way to Go)," which I remember reading about as being made to become the first (and probably only) single for the record. I don't know if it eventually became the single or not, but just the fact that they would pick the worst song to announce the new release is kind of indictative of how often the band got it wrong. In some sense, Quiet Riot reminds me of Twisted Sister, as both bands worked hard during the 70s, found success in the early-to-mid 80s, and then completely went in the wrong direction and ruined it.

You may remember a VH1 special, perhaps "Where Are They Now?," showing Quiet Riot playing in front of a nudist festival. Not hot people either, but flabby, middle aged folks. Of course we can chuckle about that, but it does show Quiet Riot's work ethic. DuBrow may have had a huge ego and feuded with some rock stars in the 80s, but at the end of the day he was a rocker through and through, making songs and playing live for over 30 years.

Quiet Riot is probably nobody's favorite band, but they did make a lasting mark on the genre of metal, and Kevin DuBrow made it happen. So a tip of the hat to him.

Here's "The Wild and the Young," which features a somewhat typical 80s anti-authority, party theme video, but I like it because the song has a good sound and the lyrics stand up. A song doesn't have to make a social or political statement, but if it says something worth hearing, then you have a tune for the ages.

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