ONE NIGHT IN MILAN
Released on January 25, 2019 (Frontiers Music Srl)
Review by Olivier:
Let’s get this out of the way. Kevin DuBrow sadly passed away more than 11 years ago. There is no doubt that when you think of Quiet Riot, you think of their “controversial” singer Kevin DuBrow. Unfortunately, he’s not with us anymore. Should Quiet Riot have disbanded after his death? Clearly, this is something that drummer Frankie Banali wrestled with but after a couple of years of Quiet Riot on the sidelines following DuBrow‘s death, Banali decided that perhaps the best way to pay tribute to his deceased bandmate and best friend was to continue the band. While there definitely have been a few “underwhelming” or poor fitting lead vocalists fronting the band since that time, I have always felt that I’d rather see a band continue even with only one classic era member — like Quiet Riot have done with Banali or even drummer Bobby Blotzer did with Ratt (while the rest of his classic era bandmates weren’t seemingly interested in touring) than have the group call it a day. Just think how much great extra music that we could have gotten had Led Zeppelin continued after drummer John Bonham‘s passing. For Sleaze Roxx, it’s a lot more fun and interesting to follow and report on bands that are still continuing, albeit with depleted line-ups (Ratt, L.A. Guns, Quiet Riot, Dokken), than ones that have decided to retire (Mötley Crüe, Sister Sin).
Of course it’s more difficult to continue a band when you lose the most identifiable face of the band like Quiet Riot did when DuBrow passed away. That being said, you really can’t blame Banali for wanting to continue under the Quiet Riot banner rather than start a new band from scratch so that Quiet Riot‘s “legacy” is somehow not tarnished in a post-DuBrow era. Although Bobby Blotzer‘s move to play under the Ratt banner may have been ill-advised from a legal standpoint, you can’t blame him for doing so as the audience numbers definitely ballooned and revenue poured in when he toured as Ratt rather than the Bobby Blotzer’s Ratt Experience. Interestingly enough, while many of these bands that only have one classic era member in the line-up continue to tour, they do not bother releasing new music or even a live album for that matter. Quiet Riot were really in that category from 2010 on until they hooked up with American Idol finalist James Durbin. Yes, Quiet Riot did release the album 10 back in 2014 with Jizzy Pearl handling the lead vocals on the six studio tracks along with four live tracks featuring DuBrow. However, it appears that this album was quickly shelved and good luck finding it anywhere to purchase. I am not sure exactly what happened with that release but suspect that Banali wasn’t happy with that record.
After seven years of hits and mostly misses with their lead vocalists since 2010, Quiet Riot mainstays — Banali, bassist Chuck Wright and guitarist Alex Grossi — finally found their man. They found someone who could carry the Quiet Riot legacy and actually do justice to the DuBrow material. James Durbin is that man and One Night In Milan cements that in a concrete and positive way. One Night In Milan confirms the emergence of Durbin as a bona fide successor to DuBrow in the Quiet Riot line-up. The singer simply sounds fantastic and has a sense of humour to boot with comments such as (paraphrasing) “This is the best Quiet Riot album… that I ever sang on” when he has only handled the lead vocals on one album (2017’s Road Rage). Durbin handles all of the DuBrow material with ease and while he doesn’t sound like a carbon copy of the deceased singer. He sounds close enough to DuBrow that you clearly know which classics that he is singing without cringing or hoping that the deceased singer would somehow reappear to sing those songs.
Sure, Durbin‘s introduction of Banali to the crowd prior to “Mama Weer All Crazee Now” was completely over the top (he referred to Banali as the “eight wonder of the world”) and insinuates that Banali is the “star” of the band but hey, it’s entertaining to hear Durbin introduce Quiet Riot‘s leader and it’s a rock n’ roll show! You want it to be fun, entertaining and over the top. Not only does Durbin sound great but his bandmates are tight, tight, tight on stage as there were reportedly no overdubs of any kind for this live release. How many bands can truly say that? Probably not many. I do find that the drums are a little louder than I would have expected but let’s not forget who runs the Quiet Riot ship these days!
As seems to be a tradition since DuBrow passed away and Quiet Riot reformed in 2010, Banali addressed the crowd before the song “Thunderbird” to pay tribute to DuBrow and guitarist Randy Rhoads who passed away back in 1982. I had previously and recently seen Banali do that during Quiet Riot‘s concert in North Tonawanda, New York, USA in December 2017 and at the time, I wasn’t impressed with Banali‘s speech given that I wanted Banali to share a story about DuBrow rather than have him speak about a guitarist that he had never played with in Quiet Riot. Rhoads played in Quiet Riot only from 1975 to 1979 while Banali joined the band in 1982. It just did not seem that genuine at that time. On One Night In Milan, Banali connects all the dots as he explains that DuBrow first wrote “Thunderbird” when Rhoads left Quiet Riot to play with Ozzy Osbourne. DuBrow then reworked the song when Rhoads passed away and it has been a staple in Quiet Riot‘s set ever since. All of a sudden, Banali‘s tribute to both DuBrow and Rhoads made a lot more sense. I am glad that Banali reworked his speech on DuBrow and Rhoads as it was truly a great way to introduce the song “Thunderbird” on One Night In Milan.
Speaking of “Thunderbird”, the song is played with piano in a live setting for the first time ever on One Night In Milan with renowned Italian keyboardist / producer Alessandro Del Vecchio handling the piano duties. I actually prefer the guitar led version live but it’s still very cool to have such a classic and unique performance on One Night In Milan. It simply makes the release that much more special. In terms of the rest of the setlist, it’s a good one and a tad different than the concert that I saw from Quiet Riot about four months earlier than the Milan show in question. Gone are “Sign Of The Times” and “Put Up Or Shut Up” and in are “Terrified” and “Freak Flag.” While I have always loved the song “Sign Of The Times”, I am actually happy with the switch as it’s great that the album Terrified gets recognized in this setlist and as I indicated in my concert review, I would have liked to have heard more than only one new song from Road Rage. On One Night In Milan, Quiet Riot offer up two songs from Road Rage — “Can’t Get Enough” and “Freak Flag” — and that’s actually one of my favourite parts from the new live release. The rest of the tracks on One Night In Milan are mostly what you would expect with a heavy emphasis on what put Quiet Riot on the map with seven tracks from Metal Health (1983), two from Condition Critical (1984) and one from The Wild And The Young (1986). The only track that I wish was not on One Night In Milan is “Whatever It Takes” from the Down To The Bone (1995) record. I have never liked that song and it doesn’t sound any better on One Night In Milan.
Overall, One Night In Milan is easily turning into one of my favourite live releases of the last couple of years. Quiet Riot sound fantastic and it is truly remarkable that there were no overdubs for their performance in Milan. One Night In Milan proves that Quiet Riot with the young and energetic James Durbin have a lot of life left in them and are definitely worth checking out in a live setting. I am looking forward to seeing them play at the Hair In The Fair rock festival in Welland, Ontario, Canada in July and if One Night In Milan is any indication, Quiet Riot may well be the band to watch at that festival.
Reviewed by wrestlingepicenter.com:
I have been working on a few ways to kick off this review. As I thought about it, the best way to describe the album probably sums up the review itself. “If you like and are accepting of this version of Quiet Riot, you will like this live CD/DVD. If you’re not, you won’t.” As mentioned last year when I finally saw the band live after many years of being a fan, I like Quiet Riot‘s current touring line-up. And, I would rather have it out there keeping the songs alive than simply having the two biggest hits played on classic rock radio and that be all anyone hears of this band’s catalog. That may ultimately be what happens someday. But, I don’t think I’m ready for that yet as a fan.
The line-up featured on this release is the same as that on Road Rage, the band’s studio album from last year. It features Frankie Banali, Chuck Wright, and Alex Grossi — the final touring line-up of Quiet Riot when Kevin DuBrow passed away in late 2007. They are joined by American Idol rocking stand out James Durbin on vocals. Durbin is considerably younger than the other members of the band, especially Banali and Wright, and yet appreciates the history of the band and the music so much that he does not come off as a cover artist when performing the tunes. And, in the band’s defence, they keep up energy wise with the youthful screamer. So, it all works out.
The songs chosen on this live album are good ones for both the Quiet Riot faithful and the casual fans. Whereas some bands maybe don’t do the mainstream hits on live releases to cater to their hardcore fan base, Quiet Riot have no problem wrapping the set up with the two radio played songs even today mixed with a wide range of songs throughout their catalog. A few well known songs that stand out as particularly good live are “Love’s A Bitch”, “Condition Critical” and “Party All Night.” The energy among those three songs is very high and really translates to the youthful new frontman of the band. Conversely, the lesser known older songs have new life with Durbin, especially “Whatever It Takes” and “Terrified.” Quiet Riot reformed, with Frankie and Kevin, in 1993 and released a few really good albums that were not huge commercial hits but were musically on par with, if not superior, to the two major albums Metal Health and Condition Critical. I am happy that Frankie chose to revisit them and maybe make more people aware of those albums being out there. They are not easy to find but worth the effort if you can unearth them.
There are two songs off Road Rage featured on the One Night in Milan release. They were the two promoted songs by the label leading up to the release including one that had Quiet Riot‘s first music video in 30 years. I speak of the initial song put out called “Freak Flag” and the video featured “Can’t Get Enough.” This is one more off Road Rage than I saw them perform live last year. “Freak Flag” worked fairly well live and I feel is more in line with the classic sound of Quiet Riot. “Can’t Get Enough” is the better all around song and although different from the Quiet Riot sound in some ways, it didn’t work as well on this live release. I suggested last year that “Can’t Get Enough” was one of the highlights of the concert I went to but somehow it did not translate as well to this live disc.
A cool nugget on this release is “Thunderbird.” Frankie Banali dedicates the song to the memory of Randy Rhoads and Kevin DuBrow. He explains that Kevin wrote it about Randy leaving Quiet Riot and joining Ozzy Osbourne‘s band and later added a verse about Randy‘s passing. I think this is one of the gems of this album. Durbin does it great justice and with great respect. This is awesome. Of course, “Cum On Feel the Noize” and “Metal Health” round out the release. Both are done really well by the band. Overall, I’m glad I bought the release. The CD sounds pretty strong and the DVD has some pretty good production value on it. It is a different vibe from the L.A. Guns live CD/DVD from Milan. The L.A. Guns show seemed to have a more excited, loud audience with some production issues whereas the Quiet Riot one has a decent crowd and better production. So, you pick me a winner.
Kevin DuBrow had a gift, and probably never will get credit for it, of melodies. Much like Alice Cooper, he probably won’t be remembered for the best voice ever but he could “sell a song”, as Cooper has often described it. That is a difficult thing to duplicate. Durbin has one of the best pure voices in rock. I shudder to say this as it probably will then happen but he has a voice that would suit the high vocals of Boston which are almost not human notes to hit. He does have some raspy capabilities that better suit Quiet Riot and as a fan of his from American Idol, a show I don’t even watch but was drawn to because of Durbin’s pure rock presence, I am glad he is singing for one of my favorite bands of all time.
Look, if you like this line-up, you’ll like this release. If you don’t, you will probably not listen to it and just pan it without giving it a chance. So, my challenge to you is this. If you are not sure about this version of the band, buy this CD/DVD. Listen, watch and give it a chance. The worst thing that can happen is you have one thing less to be a troll online about and you find something you enjoy. If not, at least your negativity is coming from a place of knowledge and not just fear of the unknown.
01. Run For Cover
02. Slick Black Cadillac
03. Mama Weer All Crazee Now
04. Whatever It Takes
06. Love’s A Bitch
07. Condition Critical
09. Party All Night
10. Freak Flag
11. I Can’t Get Enough
12. Wild & The Young
13. Let’s Get Crazy
14. Cum On Feel The Noize
15. Metal Health (Bang Your Head)
Frankie Banali – drums
James Durbin – vocals
Chuck Wright – bass
Alex Grossi – guitar
Alessandro Del Vecchio – piano (8)
Produced, mixed and recorded by Alessandro Del Vecchio
Quiet Riot‘s “Mama Were All Crazy Now” live video (from One Night In Milan):
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Quiet Riot‘s “Condition Critical” video (from One Night In Milan):