By JAY ROBERTS
The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.
QUIET RIOT – QRIII (1986)
Though this album is titled as if it were the third release from Quiet Riot, QRIII is actually the fifth album the band put out. Confusing I’m sure but I think fans have had plenty of time to figure things out considering this album was released just about 34 years ago.
QRIII is an album that I have never heard before now. I am vaguely familiar with the song “The Wild And The Young” though. It was released as the album’s single but I don’t really recall hearing the song at the time of the original release. I’m pretty sure that the reason I know the song is because I’ve heard it on various specialty heavy metal radio shows.
The first thing I noticed about the song when listening to it is that while I like the track, it does seem to go out of its way to ruin itself about midway through with some cutesy but ineffective studio tricks. It’s a bit heavier and obviously anthemic in nature. There’s a decent hook but the production on the song kind of echoes throughout each of the songs on the album.
By that I mean the sound of the album is very overproduced. It isn’t just that it has that “80’s sound” that is so identifiable to many records released in the decade. When I started playing the album, the first song “Main Attraction” made me think that the production stripped away a lot of the more metallic side of Quiet Riot’s sound. The weird sounding keyboard intro to the song didn’t help matters either.
Regular readers of this series will recall that I do seem retroactively down on a lot of ballads for the albums featured. Would it surprise you to learn that the two ballads on QRIII struck me as being surprisingly decent? Side One’s “Twilight Hotel” does pick up the pace during the song’s running time but it is definitely a ballad. The song “Still Of The Night” is on Side Two and I really enjoyed that one a lot.
The last two songs on Side One of the album are “Down And Dirty” and “Rise Or Fall”. Both tracks are straightforward rockers.
The second side of the album was interesting for a number of reasons. It opens strongly with another action-packed rocker in “Put Up Or Shut Up”. I thought it was one of the better songs on the album. That was followed by the “Still of the Night” ballad.
Following a brief instrumental called “Bass Case”, the song “The Pump” was an uptempo song that got ruined by what seemed to me a muffled sound. “Slave To Love” was pretty good and “Helping Hands” closed out the album on an anthemic high.
The “Helping Hands” song was also interesting for being the song playing when the tape slot in my stereo decided to crap the bed. It was about halfway through the song. Thankfully it is a double tape deck so I switched slots and finished the album. But it was still a bummer that another piece of equipment died on me.
The QRIII album kind of finished off Quiet Riot as a major force in the music world. Sales were bad and after listening to the album myself, I can see why it didn’t generate much buzz. I liked a bunch of the songs but the way the album was produced made it seem like the band was chasing trends instead of charting their own course, sonically speaking. It is by no means a bad album but things just felt “off” with it at times. Still, it is worth a listen if for no other reason than for you to make up your own mind about where QRIII stands in the band’s catalog.
NOTES OF INTEREST: The comings and goings for this band were particularly intriguing. This album was the last to feature singer Kevin Dubrow before he returned to the lineup for the Terrified album. Also, this was the first album where bassist Chuck Wright, whose previous contributions to the band came as more of a hired gun, was an official member of the group.
In the liner notes, Bobby Kimball (best known for singing with Toto) is credited with backing vocals on the song “Still Of The Night”. Meanwhile, “Weird Al” Yankovic is listed in the album’s Thank You section.