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RIOT Rock World (Rare & Unreleased 87-95)

By Rob McNees, Vinyl Aficionado
Wednesday, May 13, 2020 @ 10:50 AM

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Rock World (Rare & Unreleased 87-95)

Metal Blade Records

When the 80's hit there was a musical changing of the guard that transformed Heavy music as we knew it. Over here in The Colonies a band from SoCal called VAN HALEN started the ball rolling, and in Mother England the NWOBHM was shaking the 70s classic era down to it's core. I can remember vividly seeing all those early albums from IRON MAIDEN, SAXON, TYGERS OF PAN TANG, HOLOCAUST, VENOM and others and being blown away by the unreal heaviness that was on display. Cassettes were replacing 8-tracks and immediately I learned how to make mix tapes and start out making my own little radio shows. This was before the interweb or anything the kiddies enjoy today, and I distinctly recall having trouble finding American bands that could hang with the English or Euro bands. But slowly bands started to emerge. THE RODS from Rochester NY, TTWISTED SISTER from NYC, and Y&T from NoCal who shortened their name (from YESTERDAY & TODAY) and also their songs and added a much heavier flair to the mix. And there was also RIOT. RIOT had put 2 albums out previously, 1977's Rock City and the asskicking '79 release Narita. RIOT were the one band that could hang with anyone, and with the release of 1981's Fire Down Under, they staked claim to the heaviest band in the USA.

Unfortunately RIOT never got to mega-star status, which is nothing short of a travesty, but at least their legacy of brilliant music lives on. There have been several compilation albums put out in the last couple of years, all focusing on unheard, unreleased or alternate versions of their beloved catalog. Metal Blade Records (the earliest independent label to start showcasing the burgeoning underground US Metal scene) has just released a great collection of rarities called Rock World (Rare & Unreleased 87-95).

Starting off with the title track, its a short little ditty from a music show from the late 70's featuring OG singer Guy Speranza. Pretty much anything from the Guy era is a real treat! Next is "Bloodstreets", from the Thundersteel album, which has an alternate ending that differs from the album. "Buried Alive (Tell Tale Heart)", also from Thundersteel, has a different arrangement than the version on the LP. "Runaway" from the Privilege of Power album on here is a rough draft instrumental. It's cool to see how Mark Reale tinkered with song ideas and ultimately turned them into something different than the early incarnation.

"Killer", also from the P.O.P. album differs here with Tony Moore singing all vocals instead of the tradeoff with Joe Lynn Turner (of RAINBOW fame) on the OG version. "Maryanne" here (also from P.O.P.) is a rough mix of the track and really shows the huge voice of Tony Moore. Why he doesn't get named dropped when talk of great voices in Metal comes up is a mystery to me. "Medicine Man", "Magic Man" and "Faded Hero" are next, and all feature Tony's vocals. They ended up on the Nightbreaker album which had Mike Dimeo as the new lead singer as Tony had departed after the P.O.P. album. Very cool to hear how they sounded with Tony, but not the last time you'll hear different versions of a couple of these tracks. More on that later!

Continuing on with 1994's Nightbreaker era, there's three songs that were destined for that album but for whatever reason didn't make the cut. "Sylvia" is a classic 90's era RIOT track including harmony backing vocals and a hook you will be singing later, trust me! "Good Lovin'" sees RIOT going back to the horn section like they used on the Privilege of Powe album. Some loved it, others did not. Your call on that. Tasty solo too. "Creep" is an instrumental track that has nothing to do with the RADIOHEAD song. Sounds like a little Joe Satriani-type action to these ears. Another instrumental follows called, surprisingly enough, "Instrumental 1994", and it was from the Brethren of The Long Houses sessions and like it's predecessor just didn't make the final cut.

The next two songs will be a real treat of any fans of early American Metal. Remember earlier I had mentioned that you hadn't heard the last of a couple of tracks, namely "Medicine Man" and "Magic Maker"? Well these versions here feature the legendary vocals of Harry "The Tyrant' Conklin, he of the mighty JAG PANZER and also TITAN FORCE for those truly into the underground bands! My favorite versions of all ever released, these were recorded after Tony Moore had left and RIOT was in search of a new vocalist. That job ultimately went to Mike Dimeo but I've always wondered what 'The Tyrant' and RIOT could've produced had he stuck around. I'll admit to owning a bootleg 7" version of these 2 songs for many years now, so it's satisfying to now have an "official" version. Magnificent! And I'll say now that there is not only a Vinyl version (of which I own the E.U. version, #170 of #200 copies)! but for my Vinyl familia there's a Vinyl ONLY bonus track on this 2 record set, a live version of the title track "Thundersteel" from 1988!

So there you have it RIOT Seals. A worthy addition to the RIOT archives if you're a RIOT completest, a fan of this era, or a fan of quality Power Metal. Giles Lavery did a brilliant job of putting this collection together and Patrick W. Engel lent his magic touch as usual to mastering and partially restoring this slab of US Metal history. Buy it! Crank it! Enjoy!

4.5 Out Of 5.0 Skulls

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