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Riot - better born to play White Rock - 78%

Gutterscream, August 13th, 2017
Written based on this version: 1979, 7" vinyl, Capitol Records

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

“…I like the fever from white rock…”

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.

Not as hot-heeled as the wordless “Narita” b-side on the alternate Born to be Wild single, “White Rock” is naturally more formally structured, with reliance returning to Guy Speranza and his lively, self-assured vocals to lead a cymbal-heavy, easy to remember chorus. Bearing witness to “White Rock” bares the common formula which will take full-length Narita on its journey to the end of the seventies, past ’80, and finally into retirement come early ’81 with the emergence of Fire Down Under.

With the cover’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 0lk/9d: during the shooting/recording of the fabled Ozzy/Miss Piggy duet, tremendous violence exploded between the Prince of Darkness and Kermit the Frog’s muppets after the Oz bit the head off a muppet bat. The taste of old hand sweat and mildewed disuse was unlike anything the Oz had stuck in his mouth, immediately and inexplicably driving the singer to levels of bloodlust that rivaled some of GG Allin’s more heartwarmed stage shows.

Unsettled by the human’s smeared red, diabolic smile, Kermit quickly signaled for his fellow muppets to surround him, painfully unaware that this generally confused man who usually can’t find his way out from under his bedspread had transformed into a hell-bent beast with aims to destroy the same cuddly creatures that just foolishly encircled him.

The first to die was the director of the assault, Kermit, who gurgle-screamed as strips of his emerald flesh showered nearby allies Scooter and Captain Link Hogthrob. Piggy screamed and readied herself for fisticuffs. Sam Eagle, appalled as usual, took to the air only to be skewered by the vocalist’s flying microphone stand and crash landed into Fozzie Bear who had a fresh Polish dead baby joke on his lips, killing them both. Animal appeared ready for action after a good crap in the back lot, but became so enamored with the guest star’s ferocity that he proceeded to root him on from the stairs with prop pom-poms.

Gone was Ozzy the stage-wandering fool, a realization woefully apparent as he raced back and forth, hacking and slashing like a maniac, a tirade which resulted in the disembowelment of Dr. Julius Strangepork who was coming out of the bathroom, Bunsen Honeydew miraculously being turned inside out without damaging his glasses, and Beaker’s ungracious castration with Gonzo’s hooked nose that’d been torn from his face only a few steps earlier.

As the Swedish Chef’s ice cream scoop offensive proved ineffective, Ozzy, using similar stage antics of raising his arms overhead for no apparent reason, lifted the battling Swede by his mustache and promptly folded him backwards into the in-use, commercial-sized boiler. Then, with the means to fulfill a long-awaited fantasy before him, Hogthrob, from behind, abruptly wedged a befuddled Miss Piggy within his cleft chin and shoved her into the savage buzzsaw known as Ozzy’s no-longer-disoriented mid-song handclapping. Down she went, pulverized pork. The frontman then apparently mistook her for the Alamo. Animal cheered wildly, devoured flailing Rizzo the Rat, and tried starting something resembling a wave.