Quiet Riot: ‘Metal Health’
Released on March 11, 1983 (Pasha); reissued in 2001 (Sony/Legacy)
Billboard Chart Position #1
Review by Deke (March 2018):
1983… hmm “Beat it, just beat it!” said Mikey Jackson and then comes four Californians who call themselves Quiet Riot and dump into our sonic senses Metal Health! Faith is restored ’cause if Deke‘s gonna sit through a Jacko video, you better slap me outside of the head with some hard rock and Quiet Riot did somewhat deliver….
Alright, alright — stop your giggling. This week of Quiet Riot reviews had to be done but back in ’83, if you were my age (16), you weren’t laughing! You wanted Metal Health! You’re getting Metal Health and we’re all gonna be committed together into the QR nuthouse!
Well since it was 1983 … the biggie releases for me were the immortal Flick Of The Switch by AC/DC, the great classic metalmaster of epics (ask T-bone) Iron Maiden with Piece Of Mind, Def Leppard was kicking ass with Pyromania and gulp… Quiet Riot with Metal Health!
QR‘s Metal Health was the first so-called metal album to go number one back in ’83. Yeah man, give these guys some credit…. Kevin DuBrow, Carlos Cavazo, Rudy Sarzo and Frankie Banali sold a ton of albums and if you’re still laughing at me, yeah well, you were right behind me buying it back than so I will laugh back. Hey cuz that’s how I roll!
“Metal Health (Bang Your Head)” — Banali on the drums rolls over and starts off Metal Health and DuBrow drops a “Blaaaaaaaaah….” and we’re off and running. Here’s Carlos laying down the solo and Chuck Wright dropping the bass groove (Rudy Sarzo would be back for the photo shoot and be on part of Metal Health but he was just getting off the “Crazy Train” with its conducter Ozzy Osbourne) and by golly, we got ourselves the metal anthem of 1983. Well, DuBrow said that from what I recall in Circus Magazine so his ego was already off a running….
“Cum On Feel The Noize” — A Slade cover… I never heard the original but man, Quiet Riot make it their own and it’s everywhere on video and radio! Is it just me or does DuBrow look like Ra McGuire‘s (lead singer for Canadian band Trooper) brother… Ha, ha, ha…. Carlos rips down the solo and Rudy licks his bass and we got a hit…. a real big hit!
“Don’t Wanna Let You Go” — Geez, three songs in, the boys slam on the breaks and slow down the action with this tune. It’s not a bad song and it gives a good tempo throughout the song. Carlos shows on guitar that he can let it rip and slow ‘er down when you have too.
“Slick Black Cadillac” — Wowzers! Quiet Riot give it gas right off the hop with “Slick Black Cadillac”! And Carlos punches the gas on guitar, while Frankie slams the drums and Kev tells us the cops have an APB on him! Thats good. This is a little cooker of a track! I have seen these guys live about four times now and this is always the second track of the show! Carlos pulls off some neat little wanky guitar bar action at the end….
“Love’s A Bitch” — Baaaaaaabeeeee…. Dubrow must have been scorned man and well, he would really be scorned once the fan base wisened up! Boom. Big power chorus! Quiet Riot are rockin’ and ending side one on a high! Good tune.
“Breathless” — Another good studio track. This one as well could have been a single as well. Quiet Riot defintely had their own sound for this record and they actually stood apart sound wise from all others, albeit for a brief time!
“Run For Cover” — Banali lays some waste on his kit and it’s a double bass meal deal all the way through. It’s one of — I think — the best songs in their repitore if you asked me! Cavazo lays down the solo and Sarzo keeps in all on the down low with his bass. DuBrow even makes it sound cool, you know…. “Run for cover. I’m a hit and run lover!” Ha, ha, ha, ha…. It didn’t get any better than that back in ’83!
“Battle Axe” — Carlos gets his $1.38 (minutes) of guitar solo action and man, what a cool title! Not an easy task when the guitar player before you in Quiet Riot was Randy Rhoads but give Cavazo credit, he just did what he did on this record.
“Let’s Get Crazy” — Smash, crash, bang…. Holy shit! Banali mashes the beginning of the song with the splash of a gong! Cool and Quiet Riot are off to the races and DuBrow tells us all to get “Crazeeeeee”! The party is going strong….
“Thunderbird” — Quiet Riot do the tribute tune to their fallen comrade (Rhoads) and end the record with a good track. DuBrow missed his pal and so did many rock fans. Give the Quiet Riot guys credit. They delivered a solid ball of rock!
Review by John Stoney Cannon (March 2018):
I would be surprised if there was even one regular visitor to Sleaze Roxx who isn’t aware of the massive year 1983 was in the sleazy history of heavy metal and hard rock. Surrounded by years filled with explosive returns by rock legends and the eventual takeover by scenes long bubbling under in the UK/Europe and both US coasts, 1983 was geared and primed to be perhaps the greatest year in heavy metal history.
From Europe came monumental albums by Def Leppard (Pyromania), Thin Lizzy (Thunder And Lightning), Krokus (Headhunter), Hanoi Rocks (Back to Mystery City), Girlschool (Play Dirty), Rainbow (Bent Out Of Shape), Ozzy Osbourne’s first official post Randy Rhoads studio album Bark At The Moon and more including four by ex-Thin Lizzy guitarist Gary Moore. But don’t think that this was merely another invasion from the other side of the pond. American bands were rocking just as hard and long-running music meccas Los Angeles and New York finally managed to unleash albums by the likes of Mötley Crüe (Shout At The Devil), Y&T (Mean Streak), Night Ranger (Midnight Madness), Twister Sister (You Can’t Stop Rock and Roll), the independent debut EP releases by Ratt and Great White as well as the now legendary solo debut (Holy Diver) by Ozzy’s American Sabbath vocal counterpart Ronnie James Dio. One of my favorite memories from that year (mentioned in a previous retro review for Pyromania) was the Def Leppard / Krokus / Gary Moore tour landing in Augusta, Georgia, USA but easily the second major moment of that year for me involved skipping school and stopping by the long since closed School Kids Records.
Now despite being the second largest city in the state, Augusta has always been a bit behind and one of the things that had yet enveloped we kids in the Garden City was MTV so we were stuck catching videos after school on Radio 1990 and various other cable shows. Needless to say, we missed the whole KISS unmasking thing on MTV and without the internet, news was slow to hit our ears. When we walked in to School Kids one afternoon after a visit to the arcade next door, we were kinda startled to find a KISS album with the band minus make-up and right next to it on display, the cool cover of Quiet Riot’s Metal Health. The other cool thing that I also happened to find was an open pack of smokes on the ground with a fifty dollar bill and an extra odd looking smoke… but that’s a whole other chapter of this story. In expected fashion, we bought both KISS and Quiet Riot albums as well as some other cool slabs of hard rock wax and if memory serves me correctly, a copy of Billy Joel’s Piano Man. I can only assume that back then, the idea was to have some mood music on hand for that other mentioned chapter.
As a life-long KISS fan, I was well versed in the history of the band and their place in my own history was well cemented but Quiet Riot? That was a newer, lesser known story outside of Los Angeles and really only brought to life by the unexpected passing of Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Randy Rhoads, a founding member of Quiet Riot along with frontman Kevin DuBrow. At the time, the original band’s first two Japan releases were pretty tough to come by but in 1983, a rejuvenated reborn Quiet Riot would unleash a fury of rock anthem goodness that would launch them (and in part heavy metal) into the stratosphere before DuBrow’s mouth would ultimately help send them back to the bottom of the pile just a few years later.
But in 1983, Quiet Riot were just one of a handful of L.A. bands waiting to finally reap the benefits of playing the same rock and roll grounds as Van Halen. Oddly enough, Quiet Riot and Van Halen at one time fought for the same stages on the strip until Diamond Dave and the boys took off leaving DuBrow and his boys wondering why record labels were going after bands like The Knack instead of other rocking acts like Quiet Riot and early bands featuring musicians that would finally find fame with other bands in the ’80s. Sure, there’s no denying the greatness of the first four to five Van Halen albums and the first couple have always held a special place in my rock and roll heart. However, in its own right, Quiet Riot’s Metal Health stamped a huge boot mark in the middle of music history by doing something that by 1983, Van Halen had never done — hit the top spot on the Billboard 200. Matter of fact, until that moment, no other heavy metal album had EVER grabbed the top spot.
Clocking in at just under 41 minutes, Metal Health is one of those albums that delivers maximum punch with minimum space. Just in the album’s first two songs, you have a pair of the biggest rock and roll anthems of all time — the title track “Metal Health (Bang Your Head)” and the band’s rousing cover of ’70s Slade hit “Cum On Feel the Noize.” Quiet Riot may not have been the coolest looking ’80s hair band but they sure were one of the coolest when it came to putting out contagiously catchy hard rock anthems tailor made for loud, rowdy stadium crowds. Funny to think back now about the band’s claim that they tried to sabotage the recording of “Cum On Feel the Noize” because if the version we all know and love is merely a sleep walk version, I’d hate to see what the band would have come up with had they been motivated to make an actual effort. But as much as the double dose of opening tracks kick legendary heavy metal ass, for my tastes, it’s the rest of Metal Health that truly rocks.
“Don’t Wanna Let You Go” is Metal Health’s version of a power love ballad and as the formula went in the ’80s, hair bands had to kick off hard with a rock anthem or two and follow up with a power ballad. Quiet Riot tweaked the formula a bit making their “ballad” more of a middle of the road rocker than traditional power ballad. Along with “Breathless”, it may be the only thing close to a “weak” track but only in comparison to stellar tracks like speedy rocker “Slick Black Cadillac” — a tune co-written and originally recorded with Rhoads for the 1978 album Quiet Riot II — and “Run For Cover” which is also a quick-paced tune complete with air guitar inducing solo.
“Let’s Get Crazy” adds yet another fist pumping — lose your mind — anthem to Metal Health leaving just enough room for a crazy guitar solo track (“Battle Axe”) and Bic lighter moment in “Thunderbird” — the band’s tribute to Rhoads. All in all, Quiet Riot tossed out every required piece of the tried and true hair metal formula but in their own oddly unique manner gave a nod to the one band they tried not to be connected to — 1970s UK glam band Slade. For each claim Quiet Riot have against it, you can hear a song on Metal Health with Slade written all over it. Not really sure who they might have thought they were fooling but it’s no wonder someone thought it was a great idea for Quiet Riot to cover Slade. Heck, it must have been the right idea. Quiet Riot scored twice covering Slade songs.
The band would follow up with a second consecutive successful album Condition Critical and the even lesser successful QR III before DuBrow would get sacked by the band leading to the most un-Quiet Riot sounding album ever — 1988’s QR featuring former Rough Cutt singer Paul Shortino. Eventually, DuBrow would return to take part in five more Quiet Riot releases including Alive And Well (1989) and Guilty Pleasures (2001), which both featured the Metal Health line-up of DuBrow, drummer Frankie Banali, guitarist Carlos Cavazo and bassist Rudy Sarzo. Sadly, DuBrow would pass away in November of 2007 bringing an end to any future of a Quiet Riot featuring any original founding members.
In most recent years, Banali has continued with a rotating door of musicians performing as Quiet Riot despite earlier claims stating that there would never be a Quiet Riot without DuBrow while Cavazo has become a constant member of the band Ratt since 2009 including participating in the band’s return album Infestation in 2010. Despite continually trucking along though, Quiet Riot will always be known mainly for that time in the ’80s when they ruled the hair metal roost and helped rock and roll have a pulse again with a healthy dose of Metal Health.
Review by Hairspray Hero (November 2007):
If you were alive and aware of popular music in 1983, chances are you remember the first time you heard “Cum On Feel The Noize” and the band, Quiet Riot, who was responsible for the incredibly infectious and impossible to resist Slade cover song.
How important was this song, and more importantly the album it came from, Metal Health? It was the first debut album (purists might argue that this was not QR‘s debut album as, if I am correct, they had released an album or two over seas prior to Metal Health) to reach #1 on The Billboard Charts. If I am correct, it was the first heavy metal album to reach #1, period. In order to do so, it knocked The Police album Synchronicity from the #1 spot. Not bad. Not bad at all.
In 1983, there were several bands helping to lead the heavy metal/hair band charge including Twisted Sister, Mötley Crüe, Dokken and Ratt. In music timing is often everything and it was only a matter of time before one of these bands broke through to the mainstream with a smash hit. That hit was “Cum On Feel The Noize”. To this day if you utter those words in a social setting someone is bound to respond, “Girls rock your boys!” I can’t think of any other song more perfectly suited to ignite the sensation that would become hair metal.
More impressive than “Cum On Feel The Noize” is the album from which it came. Metal Health is truly one of a handful of metal albums that people who weren’t fans of the genre owned. This album was bigger than the genre and the band itself. This was one of those “must have” albums. Fueled by an interesting album cover that fed into the album title’s play on words and one of MTV’s first truly memorable videos, Metal Health went on to sell more than 6 million albums.
The reason for all of this? It’s a fucking awesome album from start to finish. Solid song writing and great musicianship coupled with slick production make this one of the genre’s top albums.
The album opens with a battle cry, “Metal Health”, that truly foreshadowed a music phenomenon. “Metal Health”, the song, instructed a generation of kids hungry for something to sink their teeth in to BANG YOUR HEAD! Headbangers had finally been justified. The album doesn’t stop there. Metal Health was not a two hit wonder. It was solid from start to finish with help from songs such as “Slick Black Cadillac”, “Breathless”, “Run For Cover” and “Let’s Get Crazy”.
Quiet Riot never again achieved the success they enjoyed with Metal Health. The band suffered the same fate that many of the hair bands did, including frequent line-up changes and misguided musical directions. I know that some of you may contend that they had several worthy albums, but this is without a doubt the bands best.
Metal Health aside, there is no doubt that Quiet Riot is often remembered for the band’s mouthpiece, Kevin DuBrow. DuBrow was both a mouthpiece on and off stage. In the early years, Kevin was known for being difficult to get along with and unruly in his dealings with the press. In later years a more humbled DuBrow became a mouthpiece for an entire genre of music. Frequently featured on VH1’s hair metal documentaries, Kevin DuBrow always appeared with an infectious smile and memorable insight to a genre of music many wanted to ignore, yet was impossible to forget. In telling his stories, Kevin adopted a surprisingly self deprecating sense of humor. He’d done something few musicians or celebrities had done before or since. He was truly humbled having lost his celebrity status and seemed to have a sincere appreciation for the fans of his music. In his later years he was prouder than ever, yet more importantly, respectful of the legacy he helped to create. Kevin DuBrow helped ignite the hair metal flame and continued carrying its torch until his untimely death. Some may label Quite Riot a one-hit wonder, yet how many of us can claim to having a #1 album? While it may be hard to call him a hero in light of many of the worlds sobering events, those of us who are passionate about music know how important people like Kevin DuBrow are. May he Rest In Peace.
01. Metal Health (Bang Your Head)
02. Cum On Feel The Noize
03. Don’t Wanna Let You Go
04. Slick Black Cadillac
05. Love’s A Bitch
07. Run For Cover
08. Battle Axe
09. Let’s Get Crazy
2001 Bonus remastered tracks:
11. Danger Zone
12. Slick Black Cadillac (live)
2012 Bonus remastered tracks:
11. Danger Zone
12. Metal Health (Bang Your Head) (live ’83)
13. Let’s Get Crazy (live ’83)
14. Slick Black Cadillac (live ’83)
15. Love’s A Bitch (live ’83)
Kevin DuBrow – vocals
Carlos Cavazo – guitar and vocals
Rudy Sarzo – bass and sythesizer
Frankie Banali – drums, percussion and vocals
Chuck Wright – bass and vocals
Pat Regan – keyboards
Riot Squad – background vocals
Tuesday Knight – background vocals
Spencer Proffer – background vocals
Donna Slattery – background vocals
Produced by Spencer Proffer.
Reviewed by Hairspray Hero for Sleaze Roxx, in November 2007 and by Deke and John Stoney Cannon in March 2018.
Quiet Riot‘s “Metal Health (Bang Your Head)” video: