Here in the heart of the Midlands, we’re of the stoic belief that our American cousins are entitled to say what they like about our royal family, constant rainy weather, and how crooked our teeth might be. However, badmouthing Slade is tantamount to an act of war from which there is little respite.
Quiet Riot’s Kevin DuBrow made the mistake of knocking ‘Cum On Feel The Noize’. This despite their cover of the song helping launch their career. Latterly, he’d make the claim the song was foisted on them via their record label and he’d presumed Noddy Holder was trying to impersonate Humble Pie’s Steve Marriott, of whom he was a big fan. Whatever, the damage was done and the chances of them coming over and playing the Wolverhampton Civic back would have seen them burnt at the stake. Like they cared, eh.
Their Metal Health album was the first heavy metal album to top the US Billboard charts, and despite a shifting line-up and never quite reaching such lofty heights again they continued to have a career, and against the odds a version of the band in existence to this day.
Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Randy Rhodes had been with the band for their first two Japanese-only albums. Likewise, bass player Rudy Sarzo has been with them on and off through the years, and plays live with them now. Lead vocalist DuBrow and drummer Frankie Banali stood the test of time more than most, though both have now passed onto rock ‘n roll’s Valhalla.
Having split at least three times already, the band regrouped again around 2015, intending to make their eleventh studio album; only for the line-up to shift before, during and after recording. A messy situation, and the resulting record wasn’t the brash party rock anthem fest their fanbase went for, which is probably the reason that I now find this remastered edition of Rehab a pretty decent listen.
With DuBrow and Banali in the producers’ chairs, Grammy award-winning Neil Citron played guitar and engineered; outgoing guitarist Alex Grossi is featured on two tracks, plus a new one for this collection alongside Sarzo (both now back in the current line-up), while Tony Franklin played bass on all other tracks save a cover of Spooky Tooth classic ‘Evil Woman’ – That one finds Glenn Hughes on four string and additional vocals, and he also contributes lyrics throughout, and being from the same neck of the woods as Slade it helps pacify outstanding blood feuds a little.
For the most part, we get songs featuring Led Zeppelin II templated riffs with a gruffer/sharper Guns ‘N Roses-go-Queen heavy metal attack, rhythms that shift nicely with a hefty Humble Pie rumble, some keen dynamics and hooks, and DuBrow demonstrating admirable vocal versatility.
Ironically, it begins with a track not featured on the original 2006 release but rediscovered on Alex Grossi’s iPod in 2021. ‘I Can’t Hold On’ had been co-written and demoed back in 2003 by him and Dubrow, with Banali and Rudy Sarzo as rhythm section making it a semi-posthumous reunion. It’s this track that made me intrigued enough to give the whole album a listen – DuBrow gives an impassioned haunting vocal delivery throughout over cascading electric 12 string guitars, as he ruminates on his life thus far with a belated sense of maturity that has you shaking your head knowing a cocaine overdose would relief him of his life but a year after the release of the too aptly named Rehab. The band build the sound around this core, in what for the most part is a ballad with balls, the brief classical Spanish guitar solo a classy touch.
Mind you, having heard the whole album a couple of time, I thought I should also check out the video to the ‘I Can’t Hold On’ single release, and that’s where you go “Wow!” It starts casually enough with stock photos and old live footage with lyrics displayed across the screen, then it shifts to what you perceive as a quite lovely park on a fine summer’s day only for it to pan in and be revealed a Jewish cemetery featuring DuBrown’s inscribed headstone. Some might think that either crass or a tad too sentimental. Screw that, the screen then reads: “2019” and you see Banali on a hospital bed, the next three minutes then play out a horribly sad scenario, with brief by-lines denoting the date of his terminal cancer diagnosis, the moment he told Sarzo, and so on, the photos and video footage show a man working up until the time he could no longer, it expresses friendships and love, then returns to guitar footage and heyday appearances, ending as it began; living the dream. Overall, it demonstrates that indescribable catharsis that music can give us. The footage is sincere and touching, do yourself a favour and check it out, any Midlands fatwa residue gets laid to rest here on.
Grossi sticks around for another co-write and the track that opened the original release in ‘Free’. Whether this is about addictions, women or record companies you can take your pick, the deep metal groove feels contemporary nearly a decade later, and has a great drum sound. ‘Blind Faith’ is next and is Hughes’ first co-write appearance, apparent both in the lyrical themes expressed and some of the hard hypnotic grooving arrangements. ‘South Of Heaven’ begins with the kind of Roy Harper/Jimmy Page folk guitar inversions Franklin would have known how to employ his fretless bass round blindfolded only it moves into a more empirical Zeppelin mode, not least in Citron’s slide guitar work before shift into more blues-based harmonica-blasting territory sees us out. ‘Black Reign’ comes next and here they rewrite Zep’s ‘Celebration Day’ with some fantastically rocked-up bass riffs, the music also moves into faster gear, something’s that much needed around this point as they’ve tended to be mid-paced thus far.
‘Old Habits Die Hard’ is a slow blues, DuBrow telling it like it and giving it a full-on Steve Marriott vocally, the added gospel backing vocals and weighty screaming guitar declaring it a worthy Humble Pie homage. Grossi’s back on guitar for ‘Strange Daze’ with squealing riffs over a taught keen-paced heavy rocker that takes several enigmatic musical side-routes. ‘In Harm’s Way’ is a semi-bluesy part-funk number that throws all the right shapes, but doesn’t really send a shiver down the spine. Whereas ‘Beggars And Thieves’ proves a slinky, sensual sliding melange of West Coast rock, a nod and a wink to The Cult, and some fine selections of sultry blues fretwork. This time round, ‘Don’t Think’ gets the heavy funk right, in a Van Halen/Extreme way while paying lip service to Quiet Riot’s own brand of shouty-anthemic rock, with ‘It Sucks To Be You’ while also giving it some glam rock touches.
The album ends with ‘Evil Woman’. First off, for those unaware, the song was written by Larry Weiss, who was also responsible for such oddball hits as ‘Rhinestone Cowboy’, ‘Hi-Ho Silver Lining’ and ‘Bend Me, Shape Me’. With ‘Evil Woman’ though, or at least as interpreted by Spooky Tooth on the second album back in 1969 it was a hard driving powerful mournful blues akin to Black Sabbath adding Hammond organ and featuring two strong and soulful singers. Quiet Riot do a good version, and both Hughes’ voice and effects-laden bass are much in evidence, but you also need to check out the original.
This Rehab/Relapsed & Remastered edition only adds to the diversity on offer. I’ve since gone back and checked out a random selection of previous Quiet Riot numbers, and it’s pretty transparent how sharply Rehab would have polarised hard-line followers of the band but it also demonstrates how artists can get pigeonholed. Personally, I admire the fact the Quiet Riot got to spread their wings creatively on this album, and the addition of ‘I Can’t Hold On’ is an unnecessary but appreciated cherry to a tasty cake.
Quiet Riot’s legacy would appear to be in good hands for those who are long-time fans – You’ll see Frankie Banali’s widow, Regina, holding his hands across a hospital bed on that video – And under her endorsement the current line-up of Sarzo, Grossi, former Love/Hate vocalist Jizzy Pearl and Type O Negative drummer Johnny Kelly will be touring in celebration of the 40th anniversary of Metal Health this year.
- Reviewed by Paul H Birch.
- Rehab, Relapsed & Remastered is released via Red Samurai music and is available now (from here).
- I Can’t Hold On
- Blind Faith
- South Of Heaven
- Black Reign
- Old Habits Die Hard
- Strange Daze
- In Harm’s Way
- Beggars And Thieves
- Don’t Think
- It Sucks To Be You
- Evil Woman