Quiet Riot – QR (1988)

QuietRiot_QR4.5 out of 5 Stars!

Despite this band releasing a cover version of the Slade classic “Mama Weer All Crazee Now,” I admit to never being “crazee” about Quiet Riot myself. I originally thought of them as simply the former group of guitar legend Randy Rhodes (R.I.P.). Then, years later, once they snagged a new guitarist (Carlos Cavazo) and released their best-selling Metal Health album, I (like many people, I’m sure) barely suffered through their horrible overexposure (thanks—NOT—to MTV, where the band’s videos aired continuously, or so it seemed). Needless to say, I quickly grew sick of Quiet Riot and (especially) the obnoxious antics of lead vocalist Kevin DeBrow. I wrote off the group as being one of the most annoying “hair bands” and never gave them too much thought afterward.

Until…

In 1988, I learned that Kevin DeBrow left the group, to be replaced by the mighty Paul Shortino (he of Spinal Tap movie fame and formerly of the band Rough Cutt). Please know, I was a fan of Rough Cutt’s, and was saddened when that band broke up after only two albums. To me, Paul Shortino was a special, under-appreciated vocalist, like a merging of David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes in one set of pipes, so I was quite eager to hear any album on which he appeared, even if it was a new album by Quiet Riot. Then I learned that the talented keyboardist Jimmy Waldo (New England/Alcatrazz) was also included on this platter as an “unofficial” member, which only added to my curiosity. Would Quiet Riot alter its sound and style with the new members, or will it be the same annoying “hair band” playing mindless metal?

Thankfully, the former proved accurate; the band did indeed alter its style for this release (although some could argue that the “mindless” word still applied, but that’s another fun issue). Anyway, gone were the Slade-like and often repetitive party anthems of the past, and instead, this revamped version of Quiet Riot (with Shortino’s powerful and magnificent pipes and Waldo’s organ tones) sounded almost like an Americanized Deep Purple or Whitesnake. Although many long-time Quiet Riot fans (or Kevin DuBrow lovers) deemed this album a complete failure, I loved it. Shortino shows off his spectacular vocal gymnastics, belting out each track like a seasoned pro. The gruffness of his voice, the way he easily dances through his wide range to offer up appropriate growls, the occasional ear-piercing scream, and just about everything “blues-related” in between—the style he delivered in Rough Cutt—is here on full display.

The album’s opening track, “Stay With Me Tonight,” starts with a Jon Lord-like Hammond organ, which obviously brings Deep Purple to mind. And Shortino uses his full range here, ending the track with his best “David Coverdale sounding both seductive and lecherous while singing about ‘satin sheets and a satin dress'” impersonation. Silly “crotch-rock,” certainly, but on this track Shortino’s style, range, and performance immediately proves just how much better he was in the lead-singer role than his predecessor. Carlos Cavazo shows his full talent with some great guitar licks, while the rhythm section of longtime drummer Frankie Banali and new bassist Sean McNabb prove themselves a solid force.

Hard-rocking tracks such as “Callin’ the Shots,” “Coppin’ a Feel,” “Empty Promises,” and “King of the Hill” (many of them in the Deep Purple/Whitesnake mode) seem perfectly balanced among several ballads (“Run to You” and “Don’t Wanna Be Your Fool”—both pure Whitesnake) or the more melodic “I’m Fallin’.” Another band, Legs Diamond, also springs to mind during the driving rocker “In a Rush” and during a few of the other songs. I find this entire collection of tracks quite enjoyable overall and still listen to this album on a regular basis.

So despite what some other critics may claim, this is far from being a bad record. Indeed, it’s (in my eyes) the best platter Quiet Riot ever produced (although I’m not sure if that says a whole lot). Anyway, I would have loved for this version of the band to have lasted much longer to issue additional material. Instead, Quiet Riot fell apart after this album and eventually reappeared half a decade later with Kevin DuBrow once again at the helm (at which time I promptly lost all interest again). So to me, this single album with Paul Shortino is Quiet Riot’s forgotten gem. Fans of Deep Purple, Legs Diamond, Whitesnake, and Rough Cutt will likely discover much to enjoy here.

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