Quiet Riot - Metal Health
Hard Rock / Heavy Metal
10 songs (41' 9")
Release year: 1983
Reviewed by Andy

A couple of years ago, I went to see Quiet Riot, featuring two surviving members from its heyday. In the seat ahead of me was a sullen-looking girl in her teens or early 20s with a graying couple, probably her parents. I thought, "Those sure are a cool mom and dad, coming with this girl to see a metal band." Then, as I looked around and saw more middle-aged and elderly folks in the audience, I realized that someone in the trio probably was coming along out of loyalty -- but it wasn't the parents.

I will excuse my mistake by blaming the eternal youth of Metal Health as an album. It is one of those albums that probably everyone knows at least two songs from, and if you don't, you can always listen to any classic rock station and one of those two will come on sooner or later. The title track became an 80s headbanger anthem and, at #31 on the charts in 1984, introduced metal to millions of teenagers in a mainstream-friendly format, with a quiet buildup to a screamed prechorus and the shouted chorus of "Bang your head! Metal health will drive you mad!"

More surprisingly, the Slade cover Cum on Feel the Noize made it into the #5 spot on the Billboard Top 100 chart and #1 on the MTV music video chart, the first heavy metal song ever to get that high -- and it was a cover of a song that was already ten years old. Slade's version was a masterpiece of glam rock, done by talented, original songwriters; in contrast, Quiet Riot reputedly didn't even like the song, and only did it on the insistence of their record company. When they unwillingly complied, they performed it in a single take, with a purposely harsh delivery to make it as unappealing as possible, which backfired when it became their biggest hit. The energy in Carlos Cavazo's blazing, overdriven soloing, combined with vocalist Kevin DuBrow's grating singing, made their unwanted track a success that still feels new and energetic today.

Nor are the rest of the tracks filler. Sure, they didn't top charts like the first two. But they're powerful songs with the same undefinable air of youth about them, songs that have just as much emotion in them as the better known tracks. Don't Wanna Let You Go and Love's a Bitch focus on simple plunking and power chords, far from their founder's guitar pyrotechnics, but they also contain an air of teenage sulkiness that perfectly captures the vibe of being an early-80s headbanger, and Slick Back Cadillac has a feeling of utter delight in the speed not only of the eponymous vehicle, but also the headlong pace of the song. No wonder the band said once that they had so much fun recording the first song that they decided to do a whole album; every song, from the galloping Breathless to the party rock of Let's Get Crazy, drips enthusiasm.

Under normal circumstances, Metal Health shouldn't even have gotten made. Quiet Riot wasn't just any band; it was the original band of legendary Ozzy Osbourne guitarist Randy Rhoads in the 70s, who lost interest and joined Ozzy in 1979, then died in a plane crash in '82 after reportedly reusing a number of song riffs for Ozzy songs (assuming -- along with the rest of the band -- that Quiet Riot would never reform after his career change). Metal Health was the product of this tragedy. Rudy Sarzo, who had joined Osbourne with Rhoads, left Ozzy and started working on a tribute to Rhoads, which turned into Thunderbird, a ballad with a huge sound recalling Queen's larger-than-life presence. Without Sarzo and DuBrow's collaboration in the wake of Rhoads' death, there would have been no revival of Quiet Riot, and no Metal Health.

There were plenty of influential hard rock and heavy metal albums prior to Metal Health, but it was arguably the first one that regular kids who didn't consider themselves metalheads started blasting in their cars. And although Quiet Riot was anything but a hair band, Metal Health's mainstream popularity and its makers' coverage of Slade tunes made it a heavy influence on the later hair-metal scene of the decade. Metal Health's mainstream appeal put it on the map, but it continues to sound good long after the headstone was placed over glam metal's golden era.

Killing Songs :
All of them
Andy quoted classic
Other albums by Quiet Riot that we have reviewed:
Quiet Riot - Rehab reviewed by Mike and quoted 65 / 100
Quiet Riot - Guilty Pleasures reviewed by Mike and quoted 82 / 100
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