Sunday, May 16, 2010
Having just watched the relatively entertaining Anvil: The Story Of Anvil DVD I got thinking about other 80's metal bands that never seemed to want to relinquish their fifteen minutes of fame. While heavy metal almost goes hand-in-hand with the idea of one-hit wonders, none really came out of the gates as huge as Quiet Riot did in 1983. Yeah, I know they'd been around since 1975 but for a heavy metal band to go from relative obscurity (outside of Japan) to holders of the #1 album in America in the blink of an eye is still to this day unheard of. And after that, how could they not be doomed to fail? For chrissakes, their biggest hit was a cover tune to boot! Like Queensryche, Extreme, Trixter, Kix, White Lion, Great White (etc...etc... ad nauseum) and other metal bands who went from zero to hero overnight (usually with a shitty ballad), QR hoped lightning would strike twice. But it didn't (even with another Slade cover tune) and they should have just wrapped it up as most others did when grunge destroyed the heavy metal genre. Unfortunately, much like the aforementioned Anvil (who were never nearly as big but chased the same fifteen-minutes-of-fame dragon), Quiet Riot ignored reality and kept at it (under various lineups but usually with mainstay vocalist Kevin DuBrow), releasing a seemingly unending string of forgettable albums. Seriously, can you name one???
Well, with all that being said, I now bring you to 1999's Alive And Well, the first Quiet Riot album since 1984's Condition Critical to feature the original lineup of DuBrow, Sarzo, Cavazo and Banali. Did they hit the lottery again? Well, I wouldn't say that. Alive And Well is pretty much a snapshot of what heavy metal sounded like in 1984 and if you are into that scene, you'll probably love it. Nothing original, cheesy guitar solos and godawful lyrics abound but you'll definitely get some smiles (and laughs, and heckles) at your next party if you play it loud enough. It does rock in that extinct 80's way and "Slam Dunk" has GOT to be the cheesiest song ever written - I mean, really, basketball metaphors for sex? Sheesh, c'mon guys. The equally forgettable Pretty Boy Floyd actually penned the retarded anthem but for Quiet Riot to cover it shames them just as much as their cornball co-conspirators. To welcome the new millennium, QR also re-recorded their biggest hits for Alive And Well. You'll get "Metal Health", "Cum On Feel The Noize" and other hit singles (even the not-really-a-hit "The Wild And The Young" from QRIII) in all their over-produced, played-too-many-times-live, passionless glory. None outdo the originals and it makes me think the band was just trying to secure song copyrights. What can ya do. The band kept on slogging through the sadly retro club circuit for most of the next decade (while still releasing albums (!)) until DuBrow's death in 2007 from an OD. His passing dealt the final blow to a band which had sadly became a caricature of itself over nearly twenty years. I've never heard any of their final stuff and probably never will... Alive And Well is a fitting send-off in my mind - it's awful but in that "kinda good" sort of way.