Collaboration Week #1: Quiet Riot – Metal Health
Quiet Riot – Metal Health
or, THE BEST FUCKING COLLABORATION WEEK EVER!
Welcome to an exciting week of collaboration with Mike! Yes, you read that correctly: A WHOLE WEEK! You lucky Readers, we’ll be bringing you tons of goodness! We haven’t read each other’s reviews in advance, so let’s see what happens!
LET’S GIVE ‘ER!!
I remember this stuff from when I was a kid. I lived in a very, very small town (about 300 people) which was miles from anywhere, and when there was a kid about your age that lived across the street, you sort of became friends out of necessity and by default (whether you liked that kid very much or not). Who else was there to play with, right? Anyway, he had this album on cassette, and that was likely my first time hearing it. Either that, or I certainly heard the hits at roller skating or free ice skating at the local rink (they used to let us kids choose the music). Anyway.
Metal Health. Who doesn’t know this album inside and out? Or at least the hits? It seemed to be everywhere. Hell, Kevin Bacon was even playing the title track (briefly) for one scene in Footloose. This means it was so ubiquitous that even your Mom heard it.
And I begin my thoughts on this record with a quibble. How dare I? Hahaha I DARE. You see, I would have led with the Slade cover, Cum On Feel The Noize. The band sounds stronger, more together here, somehow (probably because the song was all laid out for them already). Metal Health is a good track, don’t get me wrong, but they sounded more confident on …Noize, to me.
Interestingly, on the Quiet Riot Greatest Hits CD, it’s clear that someone agrees with me because the running order of the two songs is reversed from the album order at the top of that CD. I have to say I think it works better that way. Ah well. These are still (probably) their two biggest songs, so likely no one cares but me (and whomever put together the Hits set).
Don’t Wanna Let You Go was probably a pretty solid mid-tempo rocker ballad at the time, but I wouldn’t say that’s it has aged all that well. Over 4 minutes is waaay too long for that one idea, but I did enjoy the funk-sounding guitar part.
Slick Black Cadillac is fun garage metal. It has great energy and, at high volume (who would listen to this record quietly?), it sounds fairly timeless. If a band released this track today, it’d still be fun times.
Now we shift gears into the clunky, slow intro of Love’s A Bitch, which sucks the air out of the energy from …Cadillac. Yes, the song picks up again, and actually it chugs along yummily and the guitar solo (actually the whole guitar part, here) is excellent, I just might have left off that intro to maintain flow.
And now we ramp back up into the Maiden-esque gallop of Breathless, an aptly named track (especially as the band aged, likely, haha). This sounds to me like it would have been perfect on a soundtrack for an 80s movie that involved military fighter jets, like Iron Eagle or even a knock-off that. It has that right mix of speed, energy and inspirational feel.
Run For Cover keeps that Maiden pace and is very, very satisfying. I was listening to this as I was driving my car and actually had to check my speed and slow down… it even has that 80s drum breakdown… How did this one not end up on the Hits disc? Weird. I liked these last two tracks a lot.
Battle Axe is a guitar wankers dream, noodling and crunchy chords, a fun 1:39 show-off piece for the guitarist. Pretty cool, actually, that they included this on the album.
Let’s Get Crazy is another cool fist-pumper that was probably a whole lot of fun in concert. It works well on the album too, and would sound good parked next to Metal Health.
Thunderbird rounds out the album proper, with piano! This is where we take it down, we’ve had our fun rocking out and now all those piano lessons Mom made me take are gonna come back out to show how sensitive we can be too. Oh sure, this being Quiet Riot, the song eventually lifts up into a big guitar group-yell/sing rawk ballad with those big snare slaps. Perfect for sweaty slow dances as the last song just before the high school dance ends, one last chance to awkwardly sway back and forth in the sweat-sock-smelling gym with your (equally-nervous) crush. There’s even a huge wailing guitar solo to really set the mood! And man, his vocals around the 3:00 mark start to sound like Freddie Mercury (not quite, but a little). Anyway, it’s a soaring track to go out on.
In Sum For The Album Proper:
I had great fun playing this through. It’s a lot stronger than my memory would have given it credit.
Now, my copy is the 2001 remaster job, so I got two bonus tracks. Apparently the 2012 remaster has three other bonus (live) tracks on top of these two, for a total of 5, so if you’re into it, that might be the one for you!
Danger Zone is another QR rocker, as only they can sound. Put this one in with Metal Health and Let’s Get Crazy. Also, and this is just me in 2015, I couldn’t help hearing the backing vocals saying “in the Danger Zone” (with that bit of an accent, almost) and think of the TV show Archer. Haha Archer, so fun (“Lanaaaaaaaaa!!!!). But this is a great track, high energy rocker metal with a cool half-tempo synth and guitar solo breakdown in the middle. I’d forgotten how much guitar soloing there was, with this band. Cool!
Slick Black Cadillac (live) could have done without his silly little audience-taunt intro, but it’s a really solid live version of the song. Was that crowd noize (ahem) added in later? Whatever, it’s a cool way to end the disc.
In Sum For This Entire CD:
A great flashback. I think the record has some really strong songs, and a couple of clunker/lesser tracks, but that’s forgiveable when it’s so fun to listen to overall. The bonus tracks were also cool. My minor quibbles with track ordering are just that, minor. Thumbs up!