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Thirty Years Later: Quiet Riot – Quiet Riot II

Wow! Can you believe that it’s been thirty years since Quiet Riot II came out? It’s pretty- wait, what? You didn’t know that this album existed? What do you mean you didn’t know that Quiet Riot released not one, but two albums before Metal Health? Man and some of you claim to love Randy Rhoads! Well, for those that are not aware, Quiet Riot had two records in the ‘70s titled Quiet Riot and Quiet Riot II. Or for the few like myself that absolutely love these records and knew that they existed, cheers to all four of you!

It would make sense to start this a little differently than my normal style. With this, we’re gonna jump right into how well it holds up today since it should be fairly obvious that this record made basically no impact. The fact that it, along with the debut, was strictly a Japan release probably had something to do with it. You’d be surprised though; despite this record not doing a lot for heavy metal’s evolution, Quiet Riot did have a small crowd of followers back in their primitive days. It’s also rumored that Van Halen played a lot with them before they blew up all over the radio. What this also means is that due to the small number of records in circulation, vinyl copies of this album are extremely valuable, worth close to $100. There are also CD copies available, which are pretty expensive on their own. So the biggest thing that these first two releases did for today is give something special for collectors to seek out.

Picture of a young Quiet Riot, prior to Metal Health

A few things to know historically before talking about the actual music. This was also before Franki Benali would join the band. Some know him as “the only original member left in 2018.” That’s wrong, and what people mean is “the only member from the Metal Health lineup.” Nothing against Benali, as he was a great drummer for the band, and did some stellar work on some W.A.S.P. records (The Crimson Idol and Still Not Black Enough, two of my favorites). He is not, however, the only remaining original member of the band. As a matter of fact, nobody that actually played on this record would make it to the Metal Health lineup besides vocalist Kevin DuBrow. Rudy Sarzo is credited on this release as the bassist, but nothing was recorded with him. Lastly, the legendary Randy Rhoads would handle all guitar duties on the first two releases before departing to play with Ozzy Osbourne, as many of you know. Hopefully, this giant sum of words was clear enough to make all of the many misconceptions about Quiet Riot perish.

Musically, this is a pretty great release, although I personally think that the debut was far better. Still, I recommend checking both records out. This one is a little tamer than the debut, mostly focusing on strong harmonies and accessible songs rather sticking to an all-out heavy metal record. Something noteworthy is Kevin DuBrow’s vocals. You know that energetic, powerful voice he displays on the ‘80s albums? That’s toned way down on Quiet Riot II. The higher notes with that familiar ring are still there, but they’re less powerful. The best way to hear this is to listen to the album’s first song “Slick Black Cadillac,” as that one also appeared as a re-recording on Metal Health, and the two versions are very different. Yeah, there’s another piece of trivia for you; that track was not originally written for their 1983 effort. Other songs almost hint at AOR stylistics such as “Eye For An Eye” and “We’ve Got The Magic,” focusing on very charismatic playing with a reassuring tone and gang vocals at the forefront of each track.

Instrumentally, it is an odd release seeing that this kind of thing isn’t what you expect when you hear “Randy Rhoads.” There are some killer solos here, but I honestly think some of his finest were on the first record (getting the hint that I like that one better yet?), and obviously, he turned the heavy on for the Ozzy records. “Face To Face” has some solid doodling, and “Inside You” is another harder one, despite the intro riff sounding almost identical to The Trogg’s “Wild Thing.” Before Slade covers were the cool thing for the band to do, they seemed to have a taste for Small Faces, as they covered one of theirs on the previous record, plus one on here titled “Afterglow (Of Your Love).” Not too shabby of an output.

For those (most) of you who haven’t heard this (or the debut), I strongly recommend checking both out. Quiet Riot II is far from what I call an essential, but the history and significant difference in sound are really neat, and I think the music is still pretty well crafted. There’s enough variation to hear from this to be worthwhile, and there isn’t anything overwhelming about it. Five years later the band would return with a whole new lineup save for DuBrow, and create the first heavy metal record to ever hit number one on the charts. That’s what I call the ultimate breakthrough!

RIP Kevin DuBrow and Randy Rhoads.

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