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Swell facelift but Narita's the only wild one here - 80%

Gutterscream, August 12th, 2017
Written based on this version: 1979, 7" vinyl, Attic Records

(Note: the reviews for this and the Born to be Wild / White Rock single are the same EXCEPT for the paragraph covering the b-sides, which are alternate songs on each, and the Fun Facts).

“…fly so high, never gonna die…”

Okay, so Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild” at about eleven years old here wasn’t quite yet running for the title of Most Annoyingly Covered Song in the multiverse, but you wait. By the last gasp of the ‘80s only the deaf or dead could hide from it:
- in ’69 by a pre-Slade Ambrose Slade.
- in ’75 by a not yet classic Blue Oyster Cult.
- in ’83 by Raven with Udo Dirkschneider as well as Germany’s other Mass.
- in ’84 by all-black anomaly Sound Barrier.
- in ’85 by rough n’ tumble Aussie band Rose Tattoo.
- in ’87 by kill yerself The Cult.
- in ’88 by frizzy Lizzy Borden.
- in ’02 by a getting sickly Slayer
- in ’03 by so old Status Quo.
- in ’10 by kooky cover lovers Krokus.
- Kim Wilde, Springsteen, INXS, Hinder, Wilson Pickett, Etta James +++++
- and the iciest icing on this cover cake, the not lost in time deep enough and never to be missed duet between Ozzy and…Miss Piggy. Always hated Miss Piggy.

With horror equal to that of an outta control forest fire, this chronically misinterpreted song of biker feel-good moments not only smells up the joint and wipes out the a-side on one Riot single, but low and behold decimates an additional Riot single’s a-side during the same year, as if they grow on trees or something.

New York City’s Riot, a band evidently blessed with what was working out to be to-the-limit energy, an aura of optimistically punched-up aspiration, and unusually outspoken vibrancy charging their style of hard rock, takes this reasonable example of late ‘60s blues rock and injects it with a kind of spirit that’d be more vital of the ‘80s, a decade which Dick Clark’s New Year’s Eve countdown staff at this time was probably just starting to prepare for.

“BtbW” proves susceptible to the five-piece’s attempts at a custom rebirth, one that first starts spicing things up with a lightly bubbling, understated replacement bass rhythm that’s quickly overpowered by an obvious update in heaviness Riot has no choice but bring to the table. The chorus as well shows up a little more strategically electrified thanks to the band inflating parts of the original low on air. The tune’s now more hardened persona is reinforced by improved handling and suspension to keep its heavier self from bottoming out and on track, meanwhile the five new drivers responsible for its facelift take turns sniffing something wild off the dashboard in their successful quest for its higher-dial speedometer.

Now, if the cover thinks itself pretty impressive with its new lease on heftiness and agility, it’d sulk off into a corner after hearing how many more cast iron plates clang in b-side “Narita”, the title track of their upcoming sophomore album. Flying around this nearly four and a half minute instrumental adventure are large flocks of frantically flowing dual guitars, abundant shifts in flight pattern, and a power supply that’s generous in its unspoken pledge to relent barely any rpms for the so-called requisite breakdown that often forces songs into soft, unneeded glider landings.

With the thing’s respectful aural surgery, Steppenwolf’s ’68 popular and not the least bit heavy porterhouse becomes Riot’s ’79 minor powerhouse that even I can’t call a complete waste of time. In fact, I’ve wasted more time over the years explaining to idiots that the legendary line “…heavy metal thunder…” has as much to do with the metal genre as heavy metal compounds studied by alchemists, which is zilch. Any further arguments from these winners results in bloody beatings using lousy lp copies of Blue Cheer’s debut.



Fun Fact 8ijls’-: during the shooting/recording of the historical Ozzy/Miss Piggy duet, a titanic brawl erupted between the Prince of Darkness and Kermit the Frog after the Oz bit the head off a muppet bat. Aware of being woefully outclassed despite his opponent being unable to fight his way off a playground swing, Kermit quickly summoned the aid of fellow muppets nearby, who surrounded the bat assassin. Sam Eagle took to the sky with that appalled look across his beak, never to be seen or heard from again. Blinded by feminine fury, Piggy mistakenly karate chopped Dr. Teeth of Electric Mayhem, who was on his way to the bathroom, in the chops. He’s not called anything anymore. Beaker proved his predictable uselessness when his terribly uncoordinated assault attempt with a post hole digger was sidestepped by the singer and his tuft of orange hair wound up twisted in the blades of an old floor fan. Fozzy Bear successfully distracted the celebrity by peppering him with non-stop Helen Keller jokes, meanwhile, with his nose, Gonzo hooked Ozzy’s left arm partially behind him, which left him open to a catastrophic whisk attack by Swedish Chef, whose ridiculous battle cry chilled nearby food to the bone. Rizzo the Rat attempted mouth-to-mouth on the muppet bat’s head, contracted rabies, and eventually spread the disease to Rowlf the Dog, who at the height of the skirmish lurched to sample Ozzy’s crotch but was repelled by the stench; it’s rumored Oz’s stink after wearing red leather pants under hours of hot theater lights almost revived the decapitated bat head as smelling salts would. The muppets' highest card, Animal, was taking a crap in the back lot the whole time, and during a fit of rage for missing the fight, bludgeoned to death Bunsen Honeydew using Beaker’s ribcage.