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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews


The Official Bootleg Box Set Volume 1 1976-1980

Review by Gary Hill

In terms of sheer quantity you really can't beat this set. It's a six CD set of live Riot shows. These all started as bootlegs, and as such the sound quality leaves a bit to be desired. In fact, only one disc has a sound quality that I would consider good. None of them are so bad as to be unlistenable by any means, though. As the time goes by you can really hear the band developing and maturing. I remember these guys essentially being part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, but the funny thing is, they are from the US. Still, they got caught up in that wave of metal. I had one of their albums in the past. It's cool to have all these live shows. This is well worth having as a chronicle of a cool heavy metal band.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 6 at

Track by Track Review
Disc 1
Red Foxx, New Jersey 1976 (first set)

They waste no time, firing out into a raw rocker that's part metal, part punk and furious. This is rough around the edges, but also strong.

Teenage Love Affair
This is a rough and tumble live take on a classic Rick Derringer piece.
Now, this is more of a pure metal song. Mind you, it's the metal of the time, not anything later. It's a driving, raw stomper.
Rock Candy
Here they tackle the old Montrose classic. The recording quality is particularly rough on this number.
Sweet Felicia
A driving, raw stomper, this works quite well.
Rock City
Early metal and hard rock merge on this number. In some ways it reminds me of early Rush merged with NWOBHM. The guitar solo section is definitely noteworthy.
Sweet Jane/Fox on the Run/Department of Youth (Medley)
This medley is over eleven minutes long, but part of that is taken up by stage banter and such at the end. It starts in Lou Reed territory. They bring a bit more of a crunch edge to the tune. They work it into the classic Sweet tune after a time, by first going through Alice Cooper's "Be My Lover." From there they make their way into Alice Cooper. All of that is visited within the length of an average song. The bass guitar gets a chance to show off with a solo from there. The bass solo takes it past the five and a half minute mark, and a drum solo takes over from there. Around the eight and a half minute mark they bring it back out into the Sweet tune from the drum solo section. They use that song to end it.
Counting on You
A mellower number, this is more of a ballad. It feels a bit rough around the edges. It does get crunched up on the chorus, like all good power ballads do.
Twenty Flight Rock
This is a screaming hot rendition of an Elvis Presley tune.
I Got the Fire
More of a traditional old school metal sound permeates this screamer.
Another raw fast paced stomper, this is solid.
Disc 2
Red Foxx, New Jersey 1976 (second set)
Keep Playin' That Rock 'N' Roll

Raw rock and roll with a heavy metal edge is the order of business here.

Teenage Love Affair
Here's a repeat of the Derringer tune from the first set. This is fierce here, too.
Sweet Felicia
This rocker is another repeat. It's another competent tune
Good Rockin' Tonight
A cool old school rock and roller, this is an interesting fast paced rendition.
Shoot Shoot
Here they turn to UFO for some material. This is a screaming hot performance of the classic tune.
Counting on You
Here we get another rendition of the cut from the first set. I think the sound quality is a bit better on this recording.
Another rendition of the cut that opened the first disc, I think the recording is better here. This works better than that performance, too, I think.
Rock City
This time it makes me think of early Rush even more than it did in the other performance. There is some serious guitar soloing at the end.
Sweet Jane/Be My Lover/Fox on the Run/Department of Youth/Bass Solo/Drum Solo (Medley)
I think the Lou Reed cut works better here than it did on the other disc. The same transition from Reed to Cooper and then Sweet is on the menu here. The bass solo is on fire here. I'm not a big fan of drum solos, but this one is solid. The sound quality on this recording is definitely better than the recording on the first disc. They make good use of "Fox on the Run" to take this cut out in style.
I Got the Fire (Excerpt)
A screaming hot raw metal tune, this is a good cut. This ends with a fade down.
Disc 3
The Agora Ballroom, Painesville, Ohio 1978

While this performance is purely on fire, the sound quality really hampers the experience.

Open Fire
A heavy metal version of Cheap Trick might sound a bit like this instrumental stomper.
White Rock
Coming out the previous cut, this is more straight-ahead metal. It's a solid number for sure.
Another that seems to be a killer performance, this one is a bit hard to hear because of the muddy recording. There are some artifacts of a damaged tape here, too. That makes this one of the worst songs in terms of recording quality here. The guitar solo manages to shine, though. I'm reminded of Ace Frehley in some of the phrasings.
Kick Down the Wall

While this isn't a lot different, it is another smoking hot metal stomper. The recording has some drop out, though.

This is a mean metal stomper. It's a classy tune that manages to rise above the recording quality.
Rock City
That early Rush vibe is still here on this rendition.
Screaming hot, this is fast paced and rocking.
The guitar soloing on this is really fiery. It manages to stand tall despite the recording quality. That says a lot.
This sounds almost like The Cult to me in a lot of ways. It has some scorching guitar soloing. There is some melodic guitar that again calls to mind Ace Frehley, too. This is a dynamic powerhouse that's fairly extensive.
Highway Star
They deliver a meaty metal version of the Deep Purple classic. This has some fiery guitar soloing. The closing bit is a classic live style dramatic ending.
Disc 4
Atlanta & Boston 1980
Atlanta Georgia 1980
Angel (Excerpt)

This comes in right in the middle of the screaming hot jamming. It's part heavy metal and part fast paced hard rock that leans toward prog. The sound quality here is better than on any of the stuff to this point. In fact, this is pretty darned good in comparison.

White Rock
This metal number has a catchy chorus. It makes me think of a metal version of April Wine. The bass is definitely too far up in the mix, though. It overshadows everything else.
Waiting for the Taking
Not a big change, this is another cool metal cut. It's hard-edged and furious. The guitar soloing is on fire.
I love the guitar interplay on this thing. The cut is fast paced metal that reminds me a lot of Iron Maiden. This instrumental rocks.
A cool hard rocking groove is the idea of this cut. It's riff driven and classy. This is some strong old school heavy metal. A drum solo takes control around the three and a half minute mark. The bass starts soloing about a  minute later and guitar joins shortly after that while the bass still screams in fast paced fury. The jamming that ensues is just so tasty.
Rock City
Another screaming hot rocker, this works so well. I don't really hear that Rush thing in this rendition as much. It's has a catchy chorus and is very effective.
Road Racin' (Excerpt)
They bring this one into being from the previous cut. It's a fast paced, crunch driven metal stomper.
Boston 20th September 1980
Waiting for the Taking

The sound quality on this is the best we've heard. This is a killer fast paced metal rocker. I love the furious jam later. The bass work on it is so cool.

Classic rock merges with metal on this killer rocker. There's an extensive drum solo, and the band fire out with a vengeance from there. This is a killer jam.
Disc 5
Colston Hall, Bristol 1980

Starting with the band being introduced, this screams out of the gate on fire. The recording quality is not as good as the previous disc, but not the worst here, either.

Do It Up
This screamer feels like UFO turned heavy metal.
Road Racin'
Not a big change, this is another smoking metal stomper. The instrumental section is on fire. The banter at the end of this earns a parental advisory.
This instrumental gets a killer live telling, feeling a bit like Iron Maiden meets Thin Lizzy here.
Tokyo Rose
More of a mainstream rock sound merges with the metal concepts on this high energy number. The chorus is rather catchy, and the guitar fills are tasty.
White Rock
Given a raw rock treatment here, this almost feels punk rock on this disc.
Coming in with a killer hard rock vibe, the recording seems better on this one, at least a bit. The guitar solo is purely on fire. The drums take over a bit before the three and a half minute mark. When we're taken into the full band instrumental section, they really scream out, but it gets quite noisy (to the point of abrasiveness) most likely from the recording quality. Still, they pull it back out to the hooks with style.
Rock City
This is another powerhouse metal stomper. It works really well here, and the sound quality isn't bad.
Intricate mellow guitar brings this into being. It gradually grows upward from there. There is some killer instrumental work as this evolves. It's almost two and a half minutes in before it fires out into fast paced, driving heavy metal. It becomes another screamer. The guitar solo section later in the track is particularly effective.
Disc 6
Castle Donington England 1980
Angel (Excerpt)

This comes in feeling like "we now join the program already in progress." The sound quality is among the better of the set. This is a fiery hard rocking number here.

White Rock
A bit on the raw side, this is furious and heavy. The crunch is all over the cut.
Waiting for the Taking

A cool metal stomper with some catchy hooks, this also features some particularly potent guitar soloing.

The crunch rock stylings of this work really well in this live telling. The recording quality leaves a bit to be desired, though, clipping at times. The backing vocals are too far up in the mix, too. There is some great stuff here. As with the other versions of this cut, it drops down to a drum solo. Then the bass gets to shine for a bit before the whole band returns to scream out in a killer jam.
Rock City
This riff-driven rocker works quite well here. This is the kind of thing we expect on this number.
Road Racin'
Here is another powerful live take of this cut. There is a crowd interaction section here.
We get another screaming hot live rendition of this cut. I think this might be even stronger than the previous one. There is some screaming guitar soloing here.
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