Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2020
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Underrated Gem from an Underrated Band - 90%

ArchfiendNocturnal, December 30th, 2013

In most cases, a live album will never quite match up to the ideal performance of any band, be it from a technical standpoint (production, mixing, sound capture quality, etc.), or a performance standpoint (face it, some bands need that mixing board in the studio to cover up their warts). Riot Live, however, is an example of an album that, for a moment in time, was able to capture the essence of great musicians performing at a great level, a rare example of a live album outperforming its studio predecessors. To place this album amongst other live metal performances of the era, such as Motorhead's "No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith", Ozzy's "Tribute", or Saxon's "The Eagle Has Landed", does no disservice to these titles, and is in no way an exaggeration of Riot's effort. One listen, and you realize this band had chops, and could hold their own with any metal act of the 80's.

Recorded at London's Hammersmith Odeon in 1980, the album contains basically the group's debut (Rock City) and sophomore effort (Narita) over two ear pounding performances (4-19, 4-20), with the obligatory cover ("Train Kept a 'Rollin'") to satisfy the live "feel" of the release. That said, it is not the quantity, but the quality of these recordings, both technically and on a performance level, that makes this album so special.

Vocalist Guy Speranza and lead guitarist Mark Reale are in superb form on these tracks, from the opening chords of "Angel", through the final drum roll on "Road Racin'", their collaborative effort shines through every cut on this album. It is a wild ride, as complete a performance as could be captured, with all the band members in perfect time, no flubs or voice cracks to show a lack of precision or endurance amongst them, as is usually inevitable during live shows. No studio overdubs here, no polishing solos or vocals, just pure musicianship, something rare, almost trancendental in live performances. Add to that, the sound capture is clear, crisp and full, no one drowns out or steps over another, the rhythm section of Kip Lemming and drummer Sandy Slavin are not lost in the mix, nor do they muffle or wash out the high end of Speranza's vocals, Rick Ventura's riffs, or Reale's solos.

With all that said, it is still the steak, not the sizzle, that makes the meal gratifying, and the songs on this release have all the flavor and juciness of a Delmonico pulled from the flame at the precise moment. Since the performance was from 1980, the group's best overall effort (IMO) hadn't been released, or maybe even written yet, "Fire Down Under". Even so, tracks like "Warrior", "Overdrive", "Tokyo Rose", "Kick Down the Walls" and the title cuts "Narita" and "Rock City" are primary examples of the group's early sound, NWoBHM to the core, with some late era 70's rock riffage to carry the melody. With the departure of Speranza in the early 80's, the group's sound did move into new directions, as fans of the release "Thundersteel" will attest to. This album, although released in 1989, was the last to feature Guy Speranza on vocals, even though he hadn't been in the band for nearly 5 years by then.

Fans of early Riot will no doubt claim this is by far an essential addition to their collecton, due to the live performances of the group's first two albums. Fans of live albums will claim it is one of the best sounding live albums recorded in the 80's. Both are correct. Despite the lack of commercial success, this album should not be dismissed.

Awesome, energetic live album - 82%

UltraBoris, August 13th, 2002

I've said this a million times: all good metal bands sound better live. Riot is the latest to prove that principle, taking stuff off the first two albums (Rock City and Narita) and cranking them out at full blast, live at Hammersmith.

Pretty much everything worth hearing off the first 2 albums is here, with the exception, in my opinion, of "Here We Come Again" off Narita. How can we do without the flying tigers and whatever else the lyrics are about? Oh well.

What's really remarkable is how some pretty ordinary late-70s rockish songs are turned into total screaming metal masterpieces here. Songs like "Do it Up" and "Kick Down the Walls" are kinda silly on the studio releases, but here they have a power of their own. Furthermore, "Overdrive" and "Road Racin'" are pretty much speed metal.

The best song on here, though, has to be "Warrior". That's been Riot's theme song since the dawn of time, and they totally shred on this version. Guy Speranza sings his ass off, and Mark Reale's guitar is totally killer. A must-have live album.