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Riot

Live in America: The Official Bootleg Box Set Vol 3 - 1981-1988

Review by Gary Hill

Riot definitely deserved to be a bigger band than they were. While they have had a following all along, they got largely lost in terms of mainstream metal fans, largely because of the rise of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and hair metal. They were closer to the NWOBHM sound, often feeling like they could have been part of it, but they hail from New York City. This new six-CD collection gathers up five live bootleg albums along with a full disc of demo recordings. Since these are all boots, the sound quality varies quite a bit, and never rises quite to the professional level. As an archival document and cool release, though, this is well worth having. Each disc is enshrined in a cardboard sleeve, and a poster booklet is also included. Pack that all into a cardboard clamshell box, and the picture is complete. One note I'd like to make is that you'll notice "Swords and Tequila" alternately misspelled as "Swords and Tequilla" on some of the discs. That's how it's presented on the set, and I'm guessing it is because since these all started as bootlegs, the title was misspelled on some of them, and those errors preserved here.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2019  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc One
         
Live at My Father's Place, Roslyn, NY, USA - 15th September 1981
                    
Swords and Tequila

After a spoken introduction the band fires out with fierce metal fury. The recording quality on definitely takes something from the enjoyment, but this rocks out enough to make it work. The sound improves as it goes along, though. By the time they hit the fiery guitar solo section, it's working well.

Fire Down Under

Screaming hot metal is on display here. The recording quality, while not studio perfect, is better than on the first part of the opening number. This is fast-paced metal that is so effective.

Feel the Same

This is more of a melodic rocker with both a mellower movement and heavier one. Keep in mind, that doesn't mean that it is like a power ballad. Both sections rock. One is just more along the lines of melodic metal. The sound quality here suffers a bit.

Don't Bring Me Down

Another screaming hot fast rocker, the sound quality really hampers this one. This scorcher makes me think of early Rush quite a bit.

Don't Hold Back

This heavy and fierce metal number is a strong one, but the recording quality really holds it back a bit.

Overdrive

Hard rocking elements are on display here. This is possibly more fast paced hard rock than it is heavy metal, but it screams whatever you call it. The recording quality doesn't seem to be as much of an issue here. This includes a fierce drum solo.  That gives way to an instrumental section that really ramps up the intensity and power. They even throw a bit of Aerosmith in later down the line with a verse.

No Lies

The recording quality on this is a bit more of an issue, but this is still screaming hot no matter the sound quality. There are some hints of psychedelia along with the metal and some old-school Rush elements later in this tune.

Altar of the King

More screaming old-school metal is on display here. Again, the sound quality is bit less than one would hope, but it still works.

Outlaw

The opening part of this is a killer guitar solo that really rocks. The sound quality is not so much of an issue here. The tune eventually explodes out around the halfway mark (this cut is almost eight minutes long) into another screaming hot hard rocker. It has some definite metal leanings built into it.

Road Racin'

This screamer is so fierce and fiery. They work this cut into some smoking hot jamming where they interact with the crowd. This cut is almost ten-minutes long, but part of that is taken up with the crowd response after the song.

Rock City

The sound quality on this seems to be the best of the set. This is a fierce hard rocker that leans on the metal end of the equation. This is one of the strongest tunes of this performance, so it makes sense that they saved it for late in the set.

Warrior

Another screamer, this is more pure metal. The sound quality is better on this thing.

Rehearsal in Mark's Basement
                    
Warrior

Drums and keyboards start this thing in cool style. As it powers out into the metal zones, it resembles more of a metallic Deep Purple in a lot of ways. The vocals are too far down in the mix, but otherwise, this sounds great. The instrumental section on this is purely on fire.

I Got the Fire

This feels a bit muddied because of the sound quality of the recording. It's a cool hard rocker, though. The bass on this sounds great.

We'll Make It

More of a melodic piece, this works pretty well, despite the sound quality issues. The drums sure stand out in this arrangement. There is some audio drop out later, during the keyboard solo.

Disc Two
                    
Live at Wolfgangs, San Francisco, CA, USA - 27th December 1983
               
Hard Lovin' Man

This is a screamer, but the recording quality really drags it down quite a bit. It's obvious that this is an audience recording by the way you can clearly hear the chatter of the audience while the band is playing.

Wings of Fire

Meaner metal is at the core of this cut. It's again hampered by the sound of the recording. If anything the crowd noise is more intrusive here, particularly when someone in the audience screams. That scream, though, almost adds to the ambience.

Vigilante Killer

The killer riff driving this is tasty. This cut is powerful metal. The sound is a bit better here than on the previous couple songs.

You Burn in Me

This is another powerhouse metal tune. The sound quality is not as bad as on the first couple songs, either, letting this shine a bit more.

Gunfighter

Built on some potent riffing, this thing rocks like crazy. The sound quality drops back down a bit, though.

Running from the Law

Fierce metal jamming brings this into being with a rather stripped down arrangement at first. The cut is mean and builds out in style.

Devil Woman

This is a metal version of a Cliff Richard song. Well, he didn't actually write it, but he made it famous. This is catchy and pretty darned mean in its delivery here.

Born in America

This recording seems to have some serious issues. The cut itself is a fiery sort of almost AC/DC does metal kind of vibe. It's very much in line with NWOBHM. The stage banter earns a definite parental advisory. This includes a short sing-along section.

Loan Shark

This is so furious that it almost feels like hardcore punk. Yet it still has plenty of metal edge to it.

Sandy Slavin Drum Solo

Truth in advertising, this is a drum solo that comes out of the song proper.

Loan Shark (Continued)

They fire back in with great energy to finish out this screaming hot tune.

Mark Reale Solo

This is an extensive guitar solo that's quite potent. The sound quality is pretty good on this thing.

Heavy Metal Machine
A hard rocking metal stomper, the sound issues rear their ugly head quite a bit on this number.
Swords and Tequilla

More fierce rocking metal, the sounds seems to recover a bit on this number. There is another parental advisory for the stage talk.

Warrior

Guitar brings this in with some serious style. The cut pounds in furious, but there are some issues with the recording. Still, it manages to stand tall despite that fact because the cut is so strong. Again the stage banter (at the end) gets a parental advisory.

Outlaw
The guitar that starts this has a real Eddie Van Halen meets Yngwie Malmsteen vibe. The tune works out into a pounding metal stomper from there. There are some real issues with the recording on this later along the road.
Altar of the King

The closer is another killer metal tune. This has some issues with the sound quality, but it manages to stand tall despite that.

Disc Three
            
Live in Albuquerque, New Mexico 2nd January 1984
                                
Hard Lovin' Man

The sound quality here is better than on the previous two CDs. It's still not professional live recording quality, but it's worlds better, really letting this thing shine.

Wings of Fire

Here we get another smoking hot performance of this tune. Again, the sound is better than on the recording from about a week earlier. There is a bit of a parental advisory for the stage banter after the song.

Vigilante Killer

The recording does drop out a bit on this. Otherwise, it's a smoking hot metal tune captured pretty well.

You Burn in Me

This stands pretty tall in this recording. It's a strong performance of the cut and a good recording.

Gunfighter

While this is a solid performance, the recording has some definite issues. Still, the killer guitar riffing still works well despite that. There is a bit of a parental advisory on the stage banter after the song.

Running from the Law

This metal stomper has a better sound quality here than on the previous version. It works particularly well here.

Devil Woman

Another version of the previous tune, the recording quality on this is better. This reminds me a bit of Kiss' "God of Thunder" with a more metal edge for some reason here. Between songs, the banter gets another parental advisory.

Born in America

Screaming hot as it powers in, the sound quality and performance are both solid. This makes me think of WASP just a bit here.

Loan Shark

Drums lead this out, and they fire out from there. The recording here gets a bit on the muddy side, hampering the enjoyment of this powerhouse a bit. The drum solo is encased within the track on this CD.

Guitar Solo

Truth in advertising, you know what you get here. This is screaming hot. The sound quality is better here than on the previous CD.

Swords and Tequila

This rendition of the song is potent and the recording is better than the previous two. That said, there is still a bit of drop-out at times here. Obviously this song must have closed the main set as there is a lot of crowd noise after they leave the stage. The stage banter as they exit earns another parental advisory.

Warrior

This is a fierce rocker delivered with style. The recording quality here is not the best on this CD, but better than the other two discs. This calls to mind WASP here quite a bit. There is extended crowd response at the end of this song, as it seems the band left the stage again only to be brought back out for another encore.

Outlaw

They bring this in with style. It's another potent metal tune. There is a lot of NWOBHM sound built into it. The recording suffers a bit, but still works pretty well. They get pretty fierce and inspired on the later sections of this.

Altar of the King

Coming out of the previous piece, this is another scorching metal stomper. The closing section of this is positively incendiary. The after show banter gets another parental advisory.

Disc Four

              

Live at the Roxy, West Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA, USA - 16th April 1986
                
Hard Lovin' Man

This song suffers a lot from drop outs on the recording. I'd put the quality of the recording overall a bit below the previous disc, but perhaps higher than some of the other discs. This cut gets a more pure metal performance here in a lot of ways. The band just seems more mature on this recording.

Outlaw

Another straight-ahead rocker, this doesn't have as many recording issues as the opener of the disc did. It's an effective piece, a strong performance and a decent recording.

Vigilante Killer

With a parental advisory on the banter, they fire out into screaming hot metal as the song kicks into gear.

Restless Breed

There are some issues with the recording here, but this performance is solid. The song is a great metal number that has elements of both anthemic metal like WASP and NWOBHM.

Born in America

Another stomping hot rocker, this is a strong performance and good, but not great, recording of it. There is a bit of US patriotic music woven into the guitar soloing in the tune.

Loanshark

This is a screaming hot tune that really rocks here. This recording of it is among the best here. That said, the early parts of this recording are muffled, but mid-track it gets louder. The muffling returns before the guitar solo, though. The drum solo seems to get un-muffled at times.

Showdown

I dig this hard rocking metal stomper. The sound quality on it is pretty darned good, too.

Running from the Law

The guitar riffing that opens this is classic. The cut fires out into more potent metal from there. This is another strong performance and one of the better recordings.

Sign of the Crimson Storm
An anthemic metal stomper, this has a strong performance and good recording.
Heavy Metal Machine

We're in powerhouse zones here. This is one of the better recordings and a killer performance.

Guitar Solo

Again we see truth in advertising as this is a guitar solo. It's one of the best here in terms of recording quality. It's also on fire in terms of performance.

Swords and Tequilla

We get another recording of this classic. It's a solid performance a good recording. There is a bit of a parental advisory on the stage banter at the end. This was the closing song of the main concert because there is an extended audience section where they are trying to get them to return for an encore.

Altar of the King

They come back out for an inspired performance on this metal number.

Liar (1988 Demo)

I dig this killer anthemic tune. It has a great metal meets hard rock edge. This might be a demo, but it's one of the better recordings in terms of sound quality here.

Warrior (1988 Demo)

This demo is not as effective as the previous one. The tune doesn't work as well and the drum sound is pretty flat.

Disc Five
                  
Live in Hallettsville, Texas, USA - 21st August 1988

                 

Fight or Fall

They bring this show in with a fast-paced, rather thrashy jam. The sound on this recording is not as good as the last couple, but it's not terrible. The sound quality on this disc seems to improve as it works on from this song, though. This tune feels a bit like Iron Maiden in some ways.

Fire Down Under

Another scorching metal stomper, this is furious and suitably fiery. It has some hints of Iron Maiden in the mix, too.

Sign of the Crimson Storm

I really dig this metal stomper. It makes me think of Dio era Black Sabbath in some ways. It's a killer, and one of the best performances of the set.

On Wings of Eagles

This is fierce metal that really rocks. There is some feedback at times on this number. I love the bass work on this thing.

Buried Alive

There is a rather psychotic vibe to this scorcher. There are some powerhouse moments built into this beast.

Flight of the Warrior

This is a real screamer, too. They show no signs of letting up with the intensity or tempo by this point in the show.

Outlaw

They jump into another metal stomper with this one. It's a bit less frantic, but no less heavy. It's a classy tune and a solid performance.

Bloodstreets

Now, here is where they slow it down. The opening section of this has an almost progressive rock aspect. The first verse is balladic. From there they power it up into the metal, though. It's another screamer once it kicks into gear.

Run for Your Life

High energy and up-tempo, this is another screaming hot metal number. It is also another that makes me think of Iron Maiden.

Drum Solo

I have to admit that I'm not a big fan of drum solos. To me, with very few exceptions, they are all pretty much the same. I'm sure drummers and drum fans feel differently. Here you know what you are getting.

Johnny's Back

Faster paced and heavy, this screamer works well.

Swords and Tequilla

This old school Riot tune is delivered with a bit of a modern edge. It's another killer tune. Mid-track (this thing runs nearly ten minutes), they shift it to a blues rock jam. It comes back out into an instrumental take of the song proper after a time, feeling more intense as it does. They take it out into a guitar solo movement from there. That eventually takes it to the end.

Thundersteel

Frantically fast and seriously heavy, this is a real powerhouse. It's a great tune to close the live part of the show as it's one of the most glorious examples of metal fury on the whole set.

Bonus Tracks:

                 

Anna (A Place Called Tomorrow) (Demo)

This thing is a mainstream metallic hard rock number. The recording is definitely of the demo variety. The song is sort of a bit restrained and generic, too. Still, this is a bonus track.

When the Lights Go Down (Demo)

More of a powerhouse metal number, this is a stronger piece from a music point of view. The recording and mix are of similar quality to the other version.

Disc Six
                        
Demos
          
Buried Alive (Intro) (1987 Demo Version)

This intricate introduction section is such a tasty and cool piece of music. There is some powerful guitar work built into this.

Buried Alive (Intro) (1987 Demo Version 2)

This version reaches heights not achieved in the other version. It really soars.

Faded Hero (Instrumental Demo)

Coming in on piano, this is a powerful and quite pretty piece of music. Other keyboards rise up around the 45-second mark, taking control. By around the two-minute mark it powers out into more of a straightforward rocking jam. The guitar solo is quite tasty.

Good Lovin' (Instrumental Demo)

Drums bring this into being and hold it until the guitar riffing joins, bringing the hard rocking edge to play. They make a bit of a twist toward funk later in the piece, but it's short-lived as they go back to the song proper from there.

Medicine Man (Instrumental Demo - 2 Versions)

A crunch-fest rocker, we get too different versions on this demo. I suppose you got that from the parenthetical, though, right? The second version seems more inspired and metallic somehow. I really dig the guitar soloing on that second take of the number.

Santa Maria (Instrumental Demo 1994)

Piano creates the opening section of this piece. As the arrangement starts to fill out, there is almost a jazz rock kind of vibe to it in some ways. It remains on the mellow end of the spectrum. It never rises up to the level of any kind of hard rocker.

Shenandoah (Instrumental Demo 1994)

An AOR styled sound opens this. Keyboards are a big part of this arrangement, lending an almost symphonic edge. In fact, other than percussive elements, this is essentially a symphonic keyboard solo.

Cover Me (Instrumental Rough Mix)

More of a mainstream hard rock tune, this demo is cool. It turns toward the metal end of the spectrum in style later.

Thundersteel Solo (Mark Reale Writing Demo)

This number, just over two-minutes long, is just what it says it is, a guitar solo writing session.

Brethren of the Long House (Mark Reale 4-Track Demo)

This thing is over half-an-hour long. It consists of all kinds of different demo pieces spread out along its duration. There is really some great music here.

 
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