Saturday, November 30, 2019

QUIET RIOT "Hollywood Cowboys"

(c) 2019 Frontiers Records

  1. Don't Call It Love
  2. In The Blood
  3. Heartbreak City
  4. The Devil That You Know
  5. Change Or Die
  6. Roll On
  7. Insanity
  8. Hellbender
  9. Wild Horses
  10. Holding On
  11. Last Outcast
  12. Arrows And Angels
James Durbin--Lead Vocals
Alex Grossi--Guitars
Chuck Wright--Bass
Frankie Banali--Drums, Producer

Quiet Riot has returned with yet another new record, the last (most likely...who knows...) to feature former American Idol stand-out, James Durbin, on lead vocals.  In fact, Durbin had been dismissed/left the band before the record even came out this month, but rather than go to the extreme expense and delay of re-recording the lead vocals (ex-Love/Hate singer Jizzy Pearl is BACK in the band...again...), band leader Banali decided to release Hollywood Cowboys as is.  Returning to the fray are long-time members Grossi and Wright, both of whom have spent considerable time in the band, though neither was around for the music world-changing Metal Health album (although, Wright has been in-and-out of the band since '85; Grossi has been on board since 2004).

Musically, this new effort finds itself very much in the same vein as the previous effort, Road Rage, but with one exception: Durbin sounds far more at home here than on his QR debut.  Grossi remains, for my money, a seriously underrated talent that I enjoy hearing every time I run across something he has worked on.  His soloing throughout the record is top-notch, and his rhythm work is excellent.  Wright, who has never been an overly flashy bassist, is still a strong presence throughout the record, and Banali is rock solid, with that big arena sound that he has long brought to not only Quiet Riot, but also to the 90s-era WASP albums that I love so much.  And, as I mentioned, Durbin is a far more powerful performer here than he was on the last studio effort...or the live record the band released with this lineup.  

As far as standout cuts, there are a few, to be sure.  Personally, my favorite track would have to be "In The Blood", which has a killer Grossi solo, a big hook, and some of that early 80s magic to the songwriting.  Note that I did not say it was a return to Metal Health, because that is not the case.  But, between Durbin's strong vocals and the afore mentioned performance from Grossi, there is more than enough punch on this strong, mid-tempo rocker to warrant the video treatment Frontiers afforded it.  Check it out below.

Banali produced the record, and while the production is not terrible, it lacks something to my ear.  There isn't a ton of energy in the production here, and the record sounds like a lot of the mid-90s independent records that 80s metal Quiet Riot...were putting out.  Along the same lines, the cover art is atrociously bad, again reminiscent of the cheap looking stuff these bands were forced to work with when they had no major labels (or major label cash).  Ugh...the cover is just...BAD!

In the end, all in all, this is a decent record...not spectacular, not amazing, not earth-shattering...but most certainly not bad.  Probably 3 or 4 songs too long and nothing that fans of the Metal Health through QRIII trilogy (nor the criminally underrated, Paul Shortino-fronted Quiet Riot album) are going to accept as really being worthy of the legendary Quiet Riot name, but how many "retro" bands can actually meet the expectations of their past (well, except for Stryper, I suppose)?.  I, personally, have decided to set aside my own opinions about whether or not Banali should still be recording under the moniker and accept new recordings by this iteration of the band for what they are:  a means for Frankie to stay on tour, playing the songs he loves for the fans who still love him and the Quiet Riot aura.  If you go into this record expecting Durbin to sound like DuBrow, and for the songs to have that same 1983 Metal Health magic, you will be sorely disappointed.  But if you give Hollywood Cowboys a fair listen, you will likely hear a band that is musically solid and as relevant as pretty much any 40+ year old band can be in this day and age.

I would be remiss in not mentioning the rather dire circumstances facing Mr. Banali at the time of this writing, as he has made it publicly known he is fighting Stage IV cancer at this time.  Here is truly hoping and praying that Banali is able to recover in some way and continue to make music and interact with his fans, which he is currently out doing at this time.  The man is a metal legend, both with Quiet Riot and sitting at the kit for some of my favorite WASP albums ever.  G2G wishes only the best for Frankie Banali and his family.

Rating:  Rock this at a respectable 6.5 and enjoy it for what it is.

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