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1983 was a big year for Quiet Riot. Metal Health, their major label debut, sold over 5 million copies. It became the first metal record to top the Billboard 200 chart. Upon it's release, Quiet Riot played the legendary "Metal Day" of the US Festival and dominated MTV and arenas. They became a household name over night.
Now it was 1984. It was another year, another record, and another Slade cover for Quiet Riot. Condition Critical couldn't be a more accurate title for this record and Quiet Riot's career at that time. While it sold 3 million copies, it peaked at #15 on the Billboard chart and was considered a commercial and creative flop. After this record, Quiet Riot would go on a slow and steady decline playing half full arenas and minimal airplay on radio and MTV. Having Kevin DuBrow slam the new metal groups of the time (Metallica, Ratt, Exodus, etc,) didn't help either.
So why was Condition Critical such a disappointment? It lacked emotion and creativity. After the pop metal masterpiece that was Metal Health, the record industry head honchos got greedy (as usual) and pressured Quiet Riot to release a record that was "bigger" and "better" than Metal Health. This pressure resulted in Quiet Riot having a drug fueled breakdown which would eventually lead to the departure of Rudy Sarzo.
On Metal Health, we were given pop metal anthems such as “Slick Black Cadillac” and “Let's Get Crazy”, heartfelt tributes to fallen former guitarist Randy Rhoads such as “Thunderbird” and “Don't Wanna Let You Go”, and of course, the hits “Metal Health (Bang Your Head)” and Slade cover “Cum on Feel the Noize”. On Condition Critical, we are given another Slade cover, “Mama Weer All Crazee Now”, which was released as the main single. The rest are pretty much half assed pop metal tunes that were churned out for the businessmen to try to make a buck. Songs such as “Party All Night” and “Red Alert” bring out the worst in 80s metal and serve, if anything, as a template for the horrible groups to come in the next few years including Nitro, Winger, Steelheart, and BulletBoys.
The best songs on this record are the title track and “Scream and Shout”. While “Scream and Shout” carries on the album's theme of partying and rock n roll, it's fast tempo and heaviness may as well make it a speed metal or power metal song. It gets your head banging (Quiet Riot's mission in the first place) and possibly even start up a mosh pit for the heck of it. Meanwhile, the title track stands out because it is the most creative song on the record. It's catchy and creepy. Hearing Kevin DuBrow's unique and ferocious screechy vocals intensify the song that much more.
Musically, the record sticks to the same formula: flanged up guitars, booming arena drums, inaudible bass, and loud/echoing vocals. Judging from Metal Health, this seems to have been Quiet Riot's formula from the get-go, but unlike bands like AC/DC, Motörhead, and Slayer who all have a signature sound and stick to it, the Quiet Riot sound got tiring by Condition Critical mainly due to the lazy songwriting. It really is a shame because Quiet Riot could have been the biggest group of the 80s if they played their cards right. On the other hand, we may have never heard of Mötley Crüe if that was the case. In conclusion, Condition Critical was for the better because Quiet Riot learned a valuable lesson or 2. The first being that nothing lasts forever. The second being to quit covering Slade.
When Quiet Riot released "Metal Health" in 1983, they felt that they were destined for success. And they were right. With the help of the album's title track and the cover of the Slade song "Cum On Feel the Noize", the album would eventually go multiplatinum and they lived the rock 'n' roll dream (for a little while), even playing at the US Festival '83. So excited by the success of the album, Quiet Riot, and its record label, thought of the most logical answer to the question of what to do after selling so many copies of a super-famous album; record another album that sounds exactly like said album, of course! And Quiet Riot did just that, but the results would one reason for why the band's career went south.
As it turns out, what Quiet Riot and its label thought would lead the album to be even more successful than "Metal Health" would lead the album to be one of the worst in rock and metal history. "Clearly if we made another 'Metal Health', we'd be even more famous, cos the kids would dig another 'Metal Health'! Pure genius!" Well, it didn't turn out that way at all. Want proof? Just listen to the opening track "Sign of the Times". Think about it, it's at the start of the album, just like the title track of "Metal Health", it's got the same time signature as the title track of "Metal Health", and it gets softer after the solo and has a brief moment where the bass is highlighted, just like the title track of "Metal Health"! What's more is that after the bass solo in the soft part of the song, Kevin DuBrow starts singing. Essentially, the song "Sign of the Times" pretty much has the EXACT same song structure as the title track of "Metal Health", making it very difficult to tell the difference between the two songs, let alone, the two albums.
Another song that demonstrates Quiet Riot's lack of creativity is the ballad, "Winners Take All". It's eerily similar to a track on "Metal Health" entitled, "Thunderbird". The two songs are similar in the case that they're also at the same time signature as each other, and that they have a solemn (and by "solemn", I mean "weepy") tone with a sing-along chorus. While "Thunderbird" is so cheesy that it would cover at least a million pizzas, it would be "Winners Take All" that would be more likely to make listeners rush to the bathroom to vomit. After the final chorus of the song, that same chorus is sung in "Na-na-na-na..." How asinine. Those "Na-na's" totally defeat the purpose of the song being serious, and to me, they sound like "Duh-duh's". Quiet Riot only added "Na-na's" just to say "Hey! It's a completely different song!" No it isn't. It's the same song, only with stupid "Na-na's" at the end! And besides, "Na-na's" do NOT make a good song, musical creativity does. Try again!
Hey, wait a minute! Is that another Slade cover? It is! They've added ANOTHER Slade cover ("Mama Weer All Crazee Now") to their album, as the second track on the album like the Slade cover on "Metal Health", no less! And you know what else? The Slade cover on "Condition Critical" also begins with a drumbeat followed by Kevin DuBrow singing the song's title, just like in "Cum On Feel the Noize"! Oh no, it doesn't end there at all! Both of the Slade covers have kind of an upbeat tone, and on top of that, they both have the same tempo. Have you ever stopped to wonder if you were listening to a different album or the exact same one? Cos with a Slade cover similar to the more recognized "Cum On Feel the Noize" that comes after a song that sounds exactly like the title track to "Metal Health", you'd be wondering if you put the right record on the turntable! Quiet Riot must've been so excited by the success of "Metal Health", that they didn't even think of anything new, so they just slipped in a cover to another upbeat Slade song. This is probably what went through their minds at the time; "If the kids loved 'Cum On Feel the Noize', they MUST enjoy another Slade song!"
Sure there are some songs that are kind of highlights of this album ("Scream and Shout"), but those don't really add up, cos the songs that were made into singles and expected to be hits were the ones mentioned above. There is also the fact that there's the song "Stomp Your Hands, Clap Your Feet". While the song's title is insipid on it's own, listening to the song itself would be absolutely painful. It's got a kind of a 70's hard rock shuffle-type sound combined with an absolutely horrifying chorus that only consists of the song's title (again, very stupid) with the lyrics "stomp your hands to the beat!". Wow. Just wow. This is what the mighty Quiet Riot came up with only a year after they released a great album. Look, with Quiet Riot, there's bound to be goofy songs meant for radio airplay, but this song is just so horrendous, it should've stayed on the cutting room floor where it belongs.
Quiet Riot thought that "Condition Critical" would be the album that would push them from superstardom to megastardom, but in reality, it knocked them off the top and into a deep downward spiral that would eventually result in the band splitting up. One of the albums that would be released after "Condition Critical" would be "QRIII", which would only sell only half a million copies. The reason for their decline is clear, they made the wrong decision to put out an album that sounds like "Metal Health"'s evil twin brother and that would be what the band was most guilty for. "Condition Critical" is proof of a band who's drunk with power and hungry for glory. It's not what "the kids" wanted, they wanted something more than just another "Metal Health". Instead, they got this trainwreck of an album. It's an unimaginative follow-up to the much better predecessor and is pretty much dead on arrival.
In 1983 Quiet Riot probably became heavy metal's most successful band in the world when both their cover of Slade's "Cum on Feel the Noize" and the "Metal Health" album reached Billboard #1 (the first heavy metal band to do it ever!). One year later, they tried to gain the same amount of success with an almost identical album, "Condition Critical", but unfortunately for them it was a commercial disappointment "only" selling 3 million copies ("Metal Health" sold over 6 million).
Apparently is quite difficult to mimic a huge success as it ended being, probably by surprise, "Metal Health" but, although they tried to repeat the formula of easy listening sing along party metal anthems, the album failed to be so addictive as its predecessor. In fact, even when "Metal Health" is much more interesting than "Condition Critical" and sounds really fresh and catchy, I can't help but considering it one of the most overrated big albums of the 80's. Ok, it's undeniably an album worthy of owning and the title track is an absolute hymn, but the album fails to be brilliant in its entirety.
Well, with that said, now think in a watered down "Metal Health" and you'll be quite close to what "Condition Critical" is. The catchy hooks are still there, the band plays really well, the production is very good, but something's not working. I don't know exactly what, but the album ends up being quite boring and you'll sometimes find that you've forgotten what you were listening to and just paying attention to other things.
What I also think is that nobody can understand metalheads. We always criticize bands when they evolve and change their music style, but sometimes, as with Quiet Riot, we also complain about the fact that an album sounds exactly as the previous one. But that's probably the main problem. They were so focused in recreating a past success, that they lost all freshness and sense of spontaneity, and that's maybe what made "Metal Health" a good album. Fuck! They even placed another Slade cover as the second song! Isn't it sad?
Well, if you're a big fan of "Metal Health", you'll still enjoy "Condition Critical", specially the B side of the LP, which sounds slightly more interesting to my ears with songs as the title track, "Scream and Shout" or the closing "(We Were) Born to Rock". But if you're one of those who think that the aforementioned album didn't deserve the big response that it got, stay away from this album as it's another dose of the same medicine, but with a worse taste.
Originally written for Ample Destruction 'zine.
Aftre their success on Metal Health, Quite Riot attempt to recreate the album all over again. This is where Condiiton Critical comes in. It definently sounds like an attempt at doing Metal Health all over again. The first track on this album sounds similar to the first track on Metal Health, etc. Hell, they even do another Slade cover which happens to be the second song on this album, just like the last album.
The songs on this album sound like watered down versions of their Metal Health counterparts. Some of the songs on here also sound pretty damn horrid. Add to that, Keivn sounds even more stupid and silly than he did last album. That doesn't sound good, does it? The songs on here range from decent to mediocre to even atrocious.
Let's get the good songs out of the way first. Sign of the Times, Party All Night, (We Were) Born to Rock, and Scream and Shout are the album highlights. They're not nearly as good as the songs on Metal Health, but thye're good for what they are. The formal three are nice 80s rockers that are fun to listen to. The latter is pretty good speed metal, but sounds like a watered down Run For Cover. The riffs are too weak to be a true classic, but it's still pretty good.
The rest of the album, though is pretty mediocre. Stomp Your Hands, Clap Your Feet has to be the worst song Quiet Riot has ever done. It's even worse than Thunderbird, and that's pretty damn sad. There's hardly anything good more to less decent about this song. From the slightly rock 'n' rollish riffs, to the retarded and incoherent chorus, to Kevin's silly singing, this is one abomination of a song. If I have to listen to this song again, I swear I'll start punching babies! It should've never seen the light of day!
The album gets slightly better after that. The ballad, Winners Take All, is better than Thunderbird, not by much though. It's boring and mediocre. Once again, Kevin ruins this song, and that "no no no no!" is completely unnessecary. It's a fucking ballad, it's not suppose to sound silly, god damnit! I'll say it again, this band was never meant to play ballads, and this is a clear example of what I'm talking about. The Slade cover Mama Weer All Crazy Now is nowhere near as good as Cum On Feel the Noize. This song just sounds very silly, perhaps too silly for my taste. Especially that damn chorus. It's fun I guess, but that doesn't mean it's good. There are other songs that sound mediocre, paticulary the title track, but I'll just be repeating myself by describing how boring and stupid they sound.
This album was an attempt at doing Metal Health again. For the most part, it failed completely. It has good songs, but the bad moments override the few good moments the album had. I really wouldn't recommend this album to anyone. I downloaded this album, and I'm sure as hell glad I did. This album isn't bad, but it's not really good either. Just get Metal Health and ignore this album. nuff said.
Quiet Riot's 4th album albeit uninspired and rushed is actually fairly decent 80's metal and it's ashame that it takes so much shit from critics. While basically nothing more then an almost direct copy of Metal Health, they even went so far as to include another Slade cover, but honestly let's face it, Quiet Riot were never that strong writing songs anyway, they had maybe 4 good songs on each album, and the rest is filler (yes even Metal Health and their RR era albums). However, it's still some great party rock with some pretty memorable tracks.
As many know, this was written and recorded fast to capitalize on the overnight success of their previous album. Despite being rushed, the production is actually alright and the album sounds quite good. While the cover of "Mama Weer All Crazee Now" is ok to listen to, it's overall pretty irritating and I could do without it on this album. The more competent well written songs on here would have to be the excellent title track, "Sign Of The Times", "Party All Night", and even though it's a ballad, "Winners Take All" comes off quite nicely. The band appears to be pretty top notch on these songs, and it makes it an enjoyable album. The remaining 6 tracks are more or less filler, with the exception of "Stomp Your Hands, Clap Your Feet" despite having one of the worst fucking titles I've ever heard in my life, and a stupid chorus is actually musically pretty well written with some nice riffs. "Scream And Shout" is also pretty upbeat and still slightly musically competent, but "Red Alert", "Bad Boy", and "(We Were) Born To Rock" are just there, they don't contain many memorable parts, and easily get boring, they have potential, but suffer from the rushing and lack of involvement from all band members. Essentially, this is the LAST good Quiet Riot album, if your a fan of Metal Health I suggest getting it, but don't expect anything to knock you on your ass.
Goddamn what a bummer. Not that the previous album was the most spectacular thing ever or anything, but certainly the potential was there...in having a fucking MONSTER anthem of a title track and an extremely solid, sing-along and fun (if fluffy) Slade cover, of which the latter song was the one that single-handedly rocketed the band to super stardom, eventually making the album go platinum five times over. No one could ever have expected this kind of success; including of course the band itself, and out of all the confusion was this real disaster of a follow-up created. Check out the short bio on allmusic.com for more information, it will all make sense if you read it.
Understand that prior to this album, Quiet Riot were already a flawed band struggling with inconsistency, churning out about four songs of filler crap for every memorable song they ever managed to write. Now, imagine a pressured and rushed version of that band, pursued to capitalize on the enormous and unexpected success of the previous album; being not given much time to do anything in the way of progression and therefore opting to play it safe by simply releasing the same album all over again. Except now with fewer and worse ideas due to said nervosity and label pressure. Basically, this whole thing just reeks of "out of ideas". Recording yet another Slade cover in "Mama Weer All Crazee Now" and releasing it as the lead single ought to speak for itself. As one can expect, it is quite similar to "Cum On Feel the Noize", except more grating; not quite as catchy, not quite as memorable and does not have anything resembling that incredible solo I'm sure that the Slade original did not have.
This very relativity is apparent throughout the rest of the album too. Same style of standard none too spectacular contemporary 80's metal (think the scene's heaviest components, such as W.A.S.P. and Twisted Sister, with a little AC/DC simplicity thrown in) heard the year before, but generally weaker, not as well constructed and, surprisingly, not even as well executed and/or performed either! Essentially it's the same raw and live-like sound as the year before, so I'm not sure why - but while this sound gave the previous album a positive vibe of raw youthful energy, on here it seems that only the negative qualities of it are accentuated, giving it a vibe of that of the trashiest of trashy garage rock bands and sheer incompetence more than anything else. Some could be due to the poorer quality of the songs themselves, but surely losing competence in your *playing* from one album to another is usually a very very bad sign. They haven't forgot how to play their instruments right or anything, but as a band they don't seem to gel as well together anymore. They still know how to rock and rock decently well, but the execution just doesn't seem as smooth and flowing as that of 'Metal Health'. Even the mix appears a bit weaker, but that could be due to my copy of 'Metal Health' being remastered and this album being not (had it been better someone might actually have bothered with that).
The first time you pop this one into your music listening device, I swear to God you'll check just to be sure you didn't pop in the previous album instead...because for the first two tracks we get some of the most overt recycling ever heard on a rock album ever. The first song is a damn near carbon copy of the first song on 'Metal Health', namely the glorious title track...just replace that inhumanly awesome "BANG YOUR HEEEEEEAD!!!" chorus with that "hey hey hey" chanting bit near the end of "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love" (except this has one "hey" too many, but the general idea is just the same, even though the result here isn't nearly as powerful as in either of the two other songs), start it off with a little drum roll instead of the opening riff, add a pre-chorus, add a few extra licks here, some random messing around there, and hey check it out we got ourselves a new song. Well not actually, but no one will notice anyway, right?
Then we get to the Slade cover, described in the second paragraph - it was track two then, it is track two now. Finally at track three we get something decent and fairly inspired in "Party All Night", coming in as the second best song on here. The way that the chorus is pronounced a bit goofy ("Let's party *ALL* night!" - the word "all" is accentuated a bit too much for its own good), but otherwise the song is a solid fist-pumping balls-out rocker featuring solid, solid rhythm guitar work courtesy of Carlos Cavazo. He is really the (waste of) talent of the band; there are great little guitar bits and details in both lead and rhythm everywhere on the album that I won't bother pointing out (well the intro solo of "Bad Boy" for one). I think I dare to say he's a worthy replacement of, oh you know, that guy who left for Ozzy and tragically and untimely died in a plane crash only some two years later, what's his name again.
At this point, however, the album takes a complete fucking nosedive. "Stomp Your Hands, Clap Your Feet" - no matter how bad you are thinking it might be from just reading the damn title, this song is worse than that. Awful messy riffage, bad double-bass drumming, no sense of rhythm, horrible sound...this song is just a musical abortion. Seriously, I wonder if it's humanly possible to actually LIKE this song, it's that bad. After that we get to what has to be the absolute worst 80's power ballad ever recorded in "Winners Take All" - transcending "formulaic" and defying the traditional boundaries of the word "cheesy". It's slow, pointless, *happeningless*, completely devoid of emotion, very bad of course and also overlong at five and a half minutes. Had the whole album been like this, it would have been far and away the worst hair metal album of all time. But then, out of nowhere comes the album's shining moment at track six, namely the title track. This one is a fucking monster and also the best sounding and well-executed track on the album - imagine a far better version of Running Wild's "Roaring Thunder" (fantastic band, so-so song). Slow but powerful as hell - anthemic power at its finest, featuring an amazing blistering main riff played with perfect distortion and crunch and has a chorus with balls the size of CC DeVille's head that it just chopped off.
As for the remainder of tracks...nothing stands out in particular. "Scream and Shout" is total double-bass speed metal, but pretty mediocre when all is said and done. QR's guitar sound is much more fitting for the slow and/or simplistic; whenever they try to play fast (see also "Stomp Your Hands...") they end up tripping over themselves. I think another problem with this release is that most of the choruses range from uninspired to pretty fucking awful - aside from the title track, either they are recycled from the previous album ("Sign of the Times", "Mama Weer All Crazee Now" and no, the latter is not just Slade's fault), pedestrian ("Party All Night", "Bad Boy") or have terrible and flat-out anti-musical vocal layering ("Winners Take All", "Scream and Shout" "(We Were) Born to Rock") or simply all of the previous ("Stomp Your Hands, Clap Your Feet").
Man, it would be so easy to just scoff this band for having no songwriting talent whatsoever and having achieved all their success through a song written by someone else (also worthy of noting is that the idea of recording this cover in the first place wasn't even theirs, it was the producer's) - but fact is, that only the second half of that statement is true. While the two songs "Metal Health" and "Condition Critical" may not have had much to do with their commercial success, they both prove that somewhere deep down there was there actual talent, and huge potential of putting out a heavy metal classic. But alas, after the commercial flop that was this album, circumstances became more and more difficult and thus the band's fate was sealed forever. Two more albums would be released and flop even harder before the band split up, having already kicked out vocalist Kevin DuBrow for his shitty attitude towards press, other bands and their own label. He would later go on suing the band for going on without his permission, being the owner of the rights to the band's name...yeah we all know how that song goes.
I totally had imagined this album would rule complete ass, because it seemingly had everything going for it; such as the awesome cover art and title and this certain soundclip of the title song (again; by far the album's highlight) I found through a positive review of the album, posted on a site whose reviews I usually trust when it comes to 80's hair rock/metal stuff. But once I actually bought it I was crushed to find out that this album rules so minimally that it barely registers on the scale. Dang, oh well. *goes to listen to some Vinnie Vincent Invasion instead* *is successfully ruled over this time*