As iconic singers go for time and place and distinctiveness you can’t go past names like Kevin DuBrow who once fronted this revered band famous for being the first Metal act to have a US number 1 album. These days of course the band is more known for sporting not a single original member and running through half a dozen singers in as many years, faster indeed than their Wikipedia page can keep up with…
Does that matter? Well it does for some obviously, but at the end of the day surely it’s all about the music?
‘Can’t Get Enough’ is a nice enough opener and newest vocalist James Durbin does manage to take a little from DuBrow’s phrasing without ever attempting to rip off or appropriate his style. It’s a song that sounds like it was written early 80’s and it’s all the better for it. Second track ‘Getaway’ starts with an intro that has the feel of Aerosmith’s ‘Living on the Edge’ and a swing to the groove that please without blowing you away, its a nice song of a little overlong. So far so good if nor earthshattering it’s certainly looking good.
It’s the freshness of the bluesy almost-Badlands-like ‘Roll This Joint’ though that takes you by surprise, it’s good, very good and even though you may have heard that stuttering riff before, it works and Durbin sounds like he’s found his stride. ‘Freak Flag’ the single after that comes as a slight disappointment even if it does sport a great hook and it’s sort of the same for ‘Wasted’ another decent song, another that nails that QR ‘feel’ but another that seems a little overlong and one that seems to look back rather than forward. Now don’t get me wrong here I’m not dismissing these songs just pointing out there’s better here.
‘Still Wild’ opens with Banali’s drums and a Zep-like sway and again Durbin proves that it’s that Bluesy sound where he excels. For me it’s the best here, but in good company with the likes of ‘Roll This Joint’.
The second half of the album fares similarly and almost as well. ‘Make a Way’ features some nice harp and a has a cool driving bluesy momentum and ‘Renegades’ comes with a nice stomp and catchy refrain. ‘The Road’ that follows takes the pace off and delivers a nice well-constructed world weary tale of life on the road; whilst ‘Shame’ has a nice feel but seems like its running out of steam and just going through the motions. The last word goes to the ‘Knock ‘Em Down’ which closes proceedings with an unexpected cheesy funk-fuelled party tune. Depending on your mood its either horrible or genius and either the best way to end or the worst. That one I’ll leave to you.
I must admit I barely glanced at Quiet Riot since the glory days and the last album I remember buying was the Paul Shortino fronted ‘QR’. That I guess takes me out of the whole modern debate on the pros and cons of the present day line-up and the attendant ‘should they be using the name’ debate. Well whatever your thoughts on that are I’m pleased to say that the latest offering is damned fine and a rather pleasant surprise.