Randy Rhoads, Quiet Riot come into focus

Photographer releases new book, DVD on the original Quiet Riot

By Peter Lindblad

Randy Rhoads - The Quiet Riot Years
Red Match Productions
Kevin DuBrow took a liking to Ron Sobol right from the start. The Quiet Riot front man, now deceased, was a Humble Pie fan, and so was Sobol.

They were both budding photographers, although DuBrow would give up the camera for a chance at rock ‘n’ roll glory. Sobol, on the other hand, stuck with it, even going so far as to study film at the University of Southern California.

Before going to USC, though, Sobol was having the time of his life hanging out with Quiet Riot in the 1970s, taking behind-the-scenes photos and live video of the band whenever he had the chance. Randy Rhoads was in the band then, and he was already developing a reputation around Hollywood and Southern California as an unparalleled guitar slinger, an axe man of incredible dexterity, expression and imagination. His only competition: Eddie Van Halen. Yes, that Eddie Van Halen.

Unfortunately for Quiet Riot, it was Van Halen that scored the American record deal they coveted – though they did sign a Japanese deal for CBS/Sony. It wasn’t for lack of trying that Quiet Riot – at least the version featuring Rhoads, DuBrow, Kelly Garni and Drew Forsyth – failed to get that contract. Everyone around Quiet Riot tried to get the labels to notice them. Their management company, the Toby Organization, had connections. Warren Entner, one of the partners, had been in the Grass Roots, who had a number of hits in the 1960s. And the Toby Organization already had Angel, a band on the Casablanca label.

Despite their frustrations, that edition of Quiet Riot had a good time. And Sobol was part of it, serving as the band’s photographer, its lighting director and their friend. Now, Sobol has released a coffee table book that is packed to the rafters with tons of amazing images of the group and its wunderkind guitarist, who resembled Snoopy from the “Peanuts” cartoon. Titled “Randy Rhoads – The Quiet Riot Years,” it takes readers on an incredible journey back in time, providing a colorful pictorial history of that era of Quiet Riot’s existence.

From the early rehearsals to the backstage parties, the electrifying concert performances at clubs like The Starwood, the Troubadour and other Sunset Strips institutions and the photo shoot for Quiet Riot II, Sobol captured it all. The boys liked to have fun. Mischievous and delightfully devious, they enjoyed playing pranks on each other. They were young and energetic, having the time of their lives in Southern California, and they had no idea what life had in store for them. Sobol reveals that side of the band, as well as their more serious issues – such as recollections from those closest to Rhoads and DuBrow, talking about how they felt about those two shooting stars and what it was like when they found out both had die – in this extravagant biography.

Relying less on words than he does on pictures, Sobol presents a fully realized portrait of four ambitious young men who wanted to make it all the way to the top. Real life would get in the way, however, as Rhoads left to join forces with Ozzy Osbourne in one of heavy metal’s most incredible reclamation projects. Hurt by Rhoads’s decision, DuBrow nevertheless carried on, and eventually, he experienced success beyond his wildest dreams when Quiet Riot’s Metal Health hit No. 1. Sobol stuck around for that, too.

In addition to the book – which also includes sketches for the band’s flamboyant stage clothing, various business documents, concert ephemera and newspaper articles – Sobol has also crafted an insightful and revealing documentary film that features more still images as well as his super 8mm films of Quiet Riot tearing it up in concert. Interviews with the likes of Forsyth, fan club president Lori Hollen, Rhoads’s guitar tech Brian Reason, Rhoads’s guitar tech, and the one-time Jodi Raskin, the girlfriend of both Rhoads and DuBrow who also functioned as their stylist, along with clothing designer/artist Laurie MacAdam.

Together, the two releases offer the most exhaustive and lively history of the original Quiet Riot that’s ever been packaged. Sobol talked about the book and the DVD, as well as his experiences with Quiet Riot, in a recent interview.

The amount of photos in the book is unbelievable. Do you have anything left?
Ron Sobol: I’ve probably got a few left, but not much.

Maybe you’ve got another book in mind?
RS: Well, originally, it was going to be a book with all of my rock pictures, and just a little bit of Quiet Riot. But then there was so much Quiet Riot it looked like it would be more interesting as a book about Randy Rhoads, the Quiet Riot years, and so it became that. I used to shoot for Japanese magazines, so I shot Led Zeppelin, I shot Queen, I shot Journey, Aerosmith … a lot of bands. And they ended up in magazines in Japan. So we were going to use a lot of those pictures, but, like I said, we decided to concentrate on Quiet Riot, or Randy with Quiet Riot.

It seems like that’s the story that’s closest to your heart, being so involved with Quiet Riot.
RS: Yeah, it is. I did their lights, and I took their photographs. I took their first promo picture … I did everything. I designed the logo that was on the drum set. It was like the most fun … those 10 years from ’75 to 1985 were the most fun years of my life. And I think I said this in the movie, but I’ll say it to you for the interview: After Randy passed away, that’s when Quiet Riot pretty much broke up, because he left, [and then] Kevin resurrected Quiet Riot, and I was still working with him so I got to go on tour, doing lights for the “Metal Health” tour, and the tour after that, “Condition Critical.”  

What struck me about the book and the movie is that it seemed like there was such a family atmosphere around Quiet Riot and how everybody around Quiet Riot was pulling for this version of the band to make it big. Was that the case?
RS: Yeah, it was exactly what you said. It was all for one and one for all. The record deal was always just around the corner and it never quite happened. They did get to put out two records in Japan, but that was all that happened.

What do you recall about meeting Kevin DuBrow for the first time? You had that shared interest in photography. What did you think of him?
RS: (laughs) He was a character. My brother [Stan Lee, guitarist for the punk band The Dickies] introduced us, because of our mutual interest in Humble Pie. So Kevin said, “Why don’t you come over and bring your stuff, and I’ll show you what I’ve got.” And I went over to his house and he was living – he was 17, I think – with his parents. And he’s living in this tiny little bedroom with his brother. I don’t know how many people might be interested in this, but his brother [Terry] became a plastic surgeon and did this TV show called “The Swan.” And his wife is on the “Real Housewives of Orange County” – sometimes he’s on the show. So anyway, he’s living in this little room with his brother, but basically, it was Kevin’s room, because Kevin’s drum set was in there, the wall was plastered with rock pictures – clippings from magazines. Kevin was really tall. He was 6-foot-4, and so he could be a little intimidating to little ol’ me at 5-foot-7. But he was just a great guy. And actually, after I left his house that day, I never thought I’d necessarily see him again, but he'd called me up and said, “Hey, what are you doing? Let’s hang out.” And we became best friends.

And he was a really good photographer, too. Did he carry on with that at all, or was it something he abandoned when the rock thing took off?
RS: Yeah, once he started with Quiet Riot, he was done taking pictures. He was my biggest critic (laughs). If there was anything slightly out of focus, he’d say, “What’s wrong with you?”

He was like that, too, with Randy I suppose. He really pushed and prodded him to greatness.
RS: He wasn’t going to let anything stand in his way … not that Randy stood in his way. You know, if it wasn’t for Kevin, Randy might still be playing in a garage. Randy needed somebody to push him along. It was his mother that pushed him to go to the Ozzy interview.

You have a favorite picture of Randy in the book that’s kind of a portrait of him. How did that shot come about and why do you like it so much?
RS: Well, there’s a couple … I’m not sure if you’re talking about the one on the inside where I think he’s got a white jacket, and then there’s one on the back of the book. Okay, the one with the white jacket was taken in my parents’ backyard, and if you look closely behind it, there’s the swimming pool.

I think that’s the one …
RS: Okay. And why do I like it? It’s just Randy … here’s the thing about when I took pictures of these guys. Since I’d been taking photos of these guys, just about from the very first rehearsal, they were used to me being around, so their guard was always down and you’d see the real them in the pictures. They weren’t posing for me.

That’s what definitely comes across. They’re all very natural, as if they’re not aware of you at all.
RS: Right, because they were so used to me being there.

Along those lines, behind the scenes, it seemed that Quiet Riot was always cutting up and having a good time. Was that really the way it was?
RS: They were complete practical jokers always looking to get a rise out of someone. I was frequently the butt of their jokes.

Oh, is that right?
RS: However, one time, I was living with Kevin … he actually got me to move out of my parents’ house. He was roommates with – if you remember in the movie – Kim McNair, Randy’s friend. Kim was living with Kevin, and then Kim moved out, and Kevin said, “Why don’t you move in with me?” And I go, “Oh, I’m going to school. Living with my parents is a lot easier when you’re in school. I don’t have to think about paying rent and stuff.” He was relentless in saying, “You’ve got to move out. We’re going to have fun. There’ll be girls,” and as soon as he said that, I go, “All right. Okay.” So Quiet Riot was trying to get signed, and Van Halen was on the scene and they got signed first. And their record came out, and then their second record came out, and Quiet Riot still didn’t have an American record deal. Well, you’ve heard of Tower Records?

RS: Tower Records would have all this promo stuff they’d always be giving away. And there was a postcard they were giving away, like the little pictures on the back of the second Van Halen album. You can actually see in the book this picture of David Lee Roth jumping with his legs spread, and I cut it out and stuck it on the head of Kevin’s … well, it was our cat, Larry the Cat. And I stuck it on the cat’s head and took a picture. And so then, I forget who actually started this running little practical joke, but one of us took the David Lee Roth thing and stuck it in the butter tub, underneath the lid so when the person opened the tub of butter, there it was. And it just kept escalating, where if it was my turn, ‘cause I found it, I would take it and … for instance, like I took the toilet paper roll and unrolled it part way, and then stuck it on the toilet paper roll so that when he was going to the bathroom, he’d see it while he was going to the bathroom … stuff like that. But that actually escalated to the shows at the Starwood, and I would tape the picture of Roth to the microphone, and Randy’s roadie, Brian [Reason], would do the same thing with pictures of Eddie Van Halen. Finally, they had enough and they just screamed at us, bloody murder, that “if you ever do that again, you’re fired.” And we stopped (laughed).

What were those early days like as they were gearing up to play clubs? Did they rehearse all the time? I know Randy was so dedicated to his craft, but were they really intent on honing their sound before getting out there?
RS: Well, Randy would teach guitar lessons in the daytime, and then at night, they’d rehearse. And they rehearsed probably four nights a week. They had a place where they could keep their equipment. First, they were rehearsing in the garage of their first manager, Dennis [Wageman], and he actually turned the garage into a rehearsal/recording studio. And after they left him, they got a place in Hollywood, and that was like, you know … that was the place to go. When they played, there were always people watching them rehearse – almost like a total party atmosphere. They could get a lot of work done because people were respectful that they had to rehearse, but afterwards, there would be this big row where people would be drinking and smoking and doing whatever. I think there are actually some pictures in the book of Kevin and some girls, where they’d take their tops off and … you know, more than that went on, but that’s the only documentation you could really put in the book without getting in trouble. And you know, it was total fun, camaraderie. You could just see how Randy was at rehearsal. The producers of [Quiet Riot's first two] records really didn’t capture him, because the difference between what we saw live and in rehearsal was incredible.

And Drew [Forsyth, Quiet Riot’s first drummer] talks about that in the movie, too. He was really disappointed that the producers couldn’t capture their live sound.
RS: I guess they probably needed more money behind the band to hire a producer that could really do the trick, but it just never happened.

Take me back to those days at the Starwood and set the scene for me. What were those shows like? I know [Quiet Riot fan club president] Lori Hollen would bus in fans she knew. The shows must have been electric.
RS: They were pretty much selling the Starwood out, or the Whisky or wherever they were playing. They would get great crowds. One thing we were trying to do was they were trying to bring an arena atmosphere into a club, where we brought our own lights in and our own fog. We brought in strobe lights. There was an intro tape, which in the movie you can hear a little of the intro tape, and I believe there’s a special feature where you hear the whole thing – I haven’t really played the [DVD]. I worked on the thing for two years, so it’s not like I can keep watching it (laughs). But there’s an intro tape with a lot of police lights and then we had police lights, strobe lights, fog … it was a whole big deal to make it a special experience, not just jumping on a stage and start playing. We wanted to create an atmosphere of fun.

It sounds like the crowds really took to the band, too. What was the band like onstage? I know from watching some of the live footage in the movie you get a sense of it, but they just had great charisma and personality.
RS: Yeah, they were all class clowns, and they knew how to put on a good show. If you watch the movie, like during Randy’s solo, you can see on his face how much fun he’s having. And I haven’t seen too many people who could play as well as he did while moving around like he did at the same time.

Going back to how good a time Quiet Riot liked to have, some of the funniest shots in the book – I think it’s in the movie, too – had to do with one particular show when they went backstage after they were done and put on all those dresses.
RS: That was at a show they did … actually, they opened for Van Halen. I believe it was Glendale College … yeah it was the college, because I remember it was backstage of the auditorium, where they store all the clothes for school plays. There were a bunch of dresses. They decided to put them on, and I took pictures of it, and it was one of those fun things they did, and I had great pictures. I took movies of them wearing the clothes; that’s in the movie. Anything that was around that they could use as a prop, they would do.

Talk about shooting the cover for Quiet Riot II.
RS: Okay, well, somehow the concept was thought of – I can’t remember it exactly. Kevin wanted to call the record – it was their second record – 2nd and 10 – 10 songs on their second record. It was a football term. And I said, “Can I shoot it?” Here’s what we’ll do: We’ll have you guys in a locker room, with these football players, and the juxtaposition of you skinny guys with these huge football players might make an interesting picture. Kevin said, “Okay, let’s do it, but it’s on spec. You’ve got to pay for it. If we can’t use it, I’m sorry.” To me, it was worth the expense to try to get it done. So I rented all this equipment, and I paid the football players … I went to this school. I was going to Valley College at the time. It’s a junior college in Van Nuys, Calif. And first, I got permission to use the locker room, and then I asked the football coach if I could use the players. And he said, “Yep, that’s fine with me.” So I offered them $50 to be models. Four of them jumped on it right away. They said, “Okay, I’ll do it. I’ll do it. I’ll do it.” And they were great. They did everything I wanted. And the band was great, too. So, we went to the locker room, and we spent about four hours in there that day shooting pictures. It came out great. And our concept was like the back cover has the baseball cards … football cards or baseball cards. That was our concept, too. Sent a mock-up of the thing to Japan, and it came back where they said, “Yeah, great.” The record comes back, like the finished copy, and it’s called Quiet Riot II. And we were going, “Why did they call it Quiet Riot II?” Well, because they don’t play football in Japan. So, 2nd and 10 meant nothing to them. It’s just one of those things that people don’t think about.

I particularly like the shot of that big lineman carrying Randy around.
RS: Yeah, everybody had a great time that day. It’s just like, hey, I never imagined when I was taking those pictures just for fun that they’d end up in a book. Kevin actually wanted to do a book with me, and he said, “Get your stuff together, we’ll write a book about the Quiet Riot years.” And then he called me back, and he goes, “You know, I found out it’s going to cost X amount of money to make these. I don’t know what we could sell them for. Plus, I have to go out on tour again with Quiet Riot …” You know, they were playing clubs. And so that idea got put by the wayside. And I got all the stuff together, and now it’s almost like Kevin was there with me doing this.

I was going to ask what it was that made you put out the book at this time.
RS: Well, you probably know about that other book [“Randy Rhoads,” by Andrew Klein and Steven Rosen]. I gave those guys pictures, and I called up Andrew Klein one day and asked, “What’s up with that book?” He said, “Oh, it’s done. Do you want to see it?” I said, “Yeah, okay.” So I meet him, and he has it on a computer disc. And I couldn’t believe it. I told him, “This is the best rock book I’ve ever seen.” Have you seen it?

Yeah, yeah. It’s great.
RS: Oh, you have it?

RS: Is it one of the best rock books you’ve ever seen?

It was my rock book of 2012.
RS: Okay (laughs). I said, “Can you do that for my stuff? We’ll do ‘Randy Rhoads – The Quiet Riot Years.’” Because I still have more pictures. They thought I gave them all my pictures, but I didn’t. And they said, “Let’s do it.” And I think I already said this to you, we were originally going to do all my stuff. I mentioned that, right?

RS: We were just going to do this, because there was so much stuff.

One of the really fun parts of the book and the movie has to do with the protests, where Quiet Riot supporters took to streets and picketed various record companies in an attempt to get them to sign the band. Talk about how that came about and what it was like to shoot that.
RS: The band was really frustrated about not getting a record deal, and they were sitting around saying, “What can we do? What can we do?” And Rudy [Sarzo, who had replaced Garni in Quiet Riot after Garni was kicked out for allegedly pulling a gun on Rhoads during an argument] says, “Well, maybe we can go protest at the record companies and picket the record companies. (laughs)” And Kevin goes, “That’s a great idea.” So we got the fan club president to rally the fans and we made t-shirts. Everybody got a t-shirt, so you can see this in the movie, where there are pictures from Kevin’s apartment where we were … well, it was mine and Kevin’s apartment. We silk-screened Quiet Riot t-shirts, gave ‘em out to all the kids, rented a flat-bed truck – which now we wouldn’t have gotten 10 feet on the street without getting arrested – piled all the kids in the truck, made a schedule to hit all the record companies, called local news to come out. But we kept missing the news, because when we went to Burbank to picket Warner Bros. Records, they said, “You can’t do this without a permit.” So, we had to leave and our whole schedule was off because of that. So, I decided, “Well, look. I’ve been taking pictures of everything else, why don’t I take pictures of this?” So I got those pictures.

Were you ever along for any of the [record label] showcases Quiet Riot played?
RS: Yeah, in the book there are pictures from those showcases. They would do a set, and then the guy would come in, so they would rehearse before they played for the record executive. So I think I had to leave the room. The pictures are from them doing it before the record executive came in, because they wouldn’t need me sitting there taking pictures and being distracting. I would take them before and then leave and find out later whether they got the deal or not. It was like a full dress rehearsal, where they would wear their stage clothes and do the whole show.

The DVD has such great live footage. What was your favorite live segment in the movie and was it difficult to edit that all together?
RS: Was it difficult to edit it all together? I think it was just like we started chronologically from the beginning. I guess it was difficult putting the music to the story – where to put which songs, but there was so much material that it just kind of organically … I kept giving the editor more stuff. Like, we had the interviews and we had the live footage, the Super 8 mm footage, and I had all this other footage. Like, there’s a part in there where Kevin was in a band with my brother, Stan Lee from The Dickies, before The Dickies started. The bass player in that little segment, if you remember in the movie, he was a member of The Dickies, and the drummer, his name was Danny Benair. He was in a band called The Three O’Clock. So, I shot that, and there are actually two movies, but for some reason, I’ve only got one. They were doing “Can’t Explain” [The Who] and then we had the tape of them doing it, and we’d sync it up, because back then there was no videotape – at least affordable videotape. And then they also did “Moonage Daydream,” but I don’t know where that is. So I had that, and I had all my films from when I went to USC film school, so you see a little bit of that. And then I have my “just joking around” films.

RS: For something like this, you need a really good editor, and we had a really good editor. His name is Matt McUsic. And he did a great job.

One of the really cool things I thought from the DVD was when Brian Reason [Randy’s guitar tech] was talking about Randy’s trademark solo. Was that planned or did he just start talking about it and it seemed like that would be a perfect thing for the movie?
RS: No, we wanted him to talk about the solo for the movie. That was definitely planned. We didn’t tell him what to say. We just asked him to describe being the guitar tech during Randy’s solo, and that’s my favorite part of the movie.

I think it’s mine, too. It’s amazing how meticulously thought out it was. Maybe sometimes we as rock fans don’t think about that when we're hearing a guitarist do a solo.
RS: Yeah, I mean he was obviously an improviser in the solo, and it was very night to night. But, you know, that was pretty much what he did – depending on the crowd, as it is with any other artist or musician, they feed off the crowd, but that was just an unbelievably great solo he did. I think it was better than the solo he did … he kind of took parts of it for the Ozzy solo he did, but I think this is way better and I’m pretty sure it’s longer.

I wanted to ask you, too, about Kelly Garni and the incident that happened where the two were arguing and he's alleged to have pulled a gun on Rhoads. Were people pretty willing to talk about that?
RS: Yeah, yeah. Even he talked about it. Kelly is not shy about talking about it.

It’s such a rough part of the movie seeing two childhood friends grow apart. It’s a really tragic part of the movie.
RS: Yeah, well, Kelly … you know, has that little problem, drinking. I would say that as far as Quiet Riot goes, that was his undoing. Stuff happens and people live and learn, and I’m sure he probably somewhere regrets it.

As far as the end of that stage of Quiet Riot’s existence, when Randy left, did you have any inkling that he was going to leave at some point?
RS: We had no clue. I didn’t think he was going to go do that. We couldn’t believe that he left. We couldn’t believe he took the gig because he wasn’t like a Black Sabbath fan or anything. And obviously, at that point, having been kicked out of Black Sabbath, somebody was probably considering him washed up and somebody believed in him, and it worked out great for Randy for him to go play in that band.

What about the day that Randy died? What do you remember about talking to Kevin about it and how he dealt with it?
RS: Well, I was driving in my car listening to the radio, and they played two Ozzy songs in a row, or Blizzard of Ozz songs in a row. Usually when they do that, at least back then, it meant something bad had happened. Nobody played two songs in a row and they said, “That’s dedicated to the late, great Randy Rhoads, who died in a plane crash today.” Well, I hadn’t heard of any airliner going down, so I called Kevin and I said, “What is this?” He goes, “There was a small plane crash. Randy’s dead.” I went over to his house and we were crying and hugging each other and tried to deal with it. I mean, who could believe something like that would happen? I’ve actually been up in a small plane. Now, I would never do it again, but when you’re young, you just do stuff and you don’t think about it. There’s no explanation for it. It’s just one of those crazy, weird life things.

Did you go to the funeral, too?
RS: Yes.

That must have been, as any funeral would be, an unbelievable scene.
RS: There were a lot of people there, and it was just tragic. I still can’t believe that happened.

What is your favorite memory of Randy? You talked about what a generous guy he was in the book, especially with his time in helping young guitarists.
RS: Well, I can give you a couple. One, like you were talking about, has to do with him teaching guitar. He was actually teaching me stuff on the guitar. He taught me my favorite Quiet Riot song, which was “It’s Not So Funny.” He taught me how to play that. And then when he came back from Ozzy, he taught me how to play “Crazy Train.” He was always teaching, like, “Yeah, sure. Here’s how to play that.” I would have to say a special memory was … it was pretty much a few months after I met him and the band had started, I got pneumonia. And I was in the hospital for a week and him and Kevin came to the hospital to cheer me up. I thought that was really special because who wants to go visit somebody in the hospital. So that was kind of a special thing, where it was like, “Yeah, we’re friends.”

During Quiet Riot’s Metal Health days, what was your favorite memory of that time? You got to see that band finally get the exposure that they deserved.
RS: Um, I would say the US Festival was pretty special. When John Cougar Mellencamp dropped out, and Quiet Riot got to fill his spot, they had to fly out special. I think we were in Minnesota or somewhere when they got the call to do it. I can’t remember exactly, but it was somewhere [around] the Mississippi, and they were going to play in the daytime, so they didn’t need me to do lights, ‘cause I was out on tour with them doing lights. But they took me anyways, so I got to go. And what was there – four hundred thousand, five hundred thousand people there watching that show?

One of the cool things about Quiet Riot was their look, too, with their clothes made by I believe Laurie MacAdam?
RS: Lori was designing the clothes, and then Jodi [Raskin, the one-time girlfriend of both DuBrow and Rhoads] would sew clothes.

How was that to work as their lighting director? I mean, they must been such a visually cool band anyway.
RS: Yeah, well, I got to bring in extra spotlights, and we brought in strobe lights and fog, so they let me do whatever I wanted, which was great. I knew the songs … here’s how I started doing the lights for them. What happened was, the lights would always be so dim or poor for photographs. I’m looking at my pictures and I didn’t like to shoot with a flash. I wanted to capture what they really looked like, but the lights were so poor for photographs that I said, “You know what? Let me start doing the lights. I know the songs.” And they said, “Go for it.” So that’s how I started doing the lights, because I knew all the songs anyways, so it was just natural.

What do you want people to glean from this book and the DVD?
RS: You can see what it was like to be an up-and-coming band in the late ‘70s and what it took to either make it or not. And you see the trials and tragedies and then eventual worldwide domination – two guys that had a dream who went their separate ways and got big in two separate ways. They had this one-for-all and all-for-one theme of everybody working together.

You can really get a sense of what it was like being young and living in California at that time.
RS: Yeah, it was great. I mean, that 10 years – I think I said it – were the best 10 years of my life and everything you’ve ever heard, when I got to tour with Quiet Riot during the Metal Health tour, everything you’ve heard about stuff that happens in a rock band happened. 

That’ll be in the next book, huh?
RS: Yeah. That’d be a good one: “Quiet Riot – the Metal Health Years.”

Click Here for Additional Information: Red Match Productions

Lost in Translation: Shooting the cover of 'Quiet Riot II'

How a good idea went wrong

By Peter Lindblad

Randy Rhoads - The Quiet Riot Years Red Match Productions
Chasing an American record deal was ultimately a dispiriting experience for the first version of Quiet Riot, featuring the late, great Randy Rhoads on guitar.

Time after time, Quiet Riot, through its management company the Toby Organization, had opportunities to perform showcases for various record label executives, and they got a few nibbles, but they just could not land that big fish.

This despite having Warren Entner of The Grass Roots in their corner, pushing them to create a flamboyant, pre-glam look that would surely attract a great deal of attention. He was a part owner of the Toby Organization and he had connections. They represented Angel, who was on Casablanca Records. Still, he could not get anybody interested in Quiet Riot, despite the fact that they were playing to crowded houses at famed Sunset Strip rock and roll haunts like the Whisky-A-Go-Go and, their home away from home, The Starwood – that is except for label called Buddha. But, Buddha had financial problems, and so, even though they’d signed with them, when Buddha went under, their deal was null and void.

Being the resourceful types, the Toby Organization did secure a deal for Quiet Riot in Japan with CBS/Sony, and the band put out its first record there – basically on the strength of its cover, it did well, although the band was not thrilled with the production, as is explained by original drummer Drew Forsyth in the engrossing new documentary “Randy Rhoads – The Quiet Riot Years,” directed by longtime Quiet Riot photographer Ron Sobol, who has also authored an accompanying coffee table book of the same title.

Though they still dreamed of getting that elusive American record deal, Quiet Riot had obligations in Japan – namely, they had a second record to make. And they did it, and when the time came to do the artwork for it, Sobol, the band’s photographer, lighting director and good friend, had an idea for the cover.

Quiet Riot II 1978
“Somehow the concept was thought of – I can’t remember it exactly. Kevin [DuBrow] wanted to call the record – it was their second record – 2nd and 10 – 10 songs on their second record,” remembers Sobol. “It was a football term. And I said, ‘Can I shoot it? Here’s what we’ll do: We’ll have you guys in a locker room, with these football players, and the juxtaposition of you skinny guys with these huge football players might make an interesting picture.’ Kevin said, ‘Okay, let’s do it, but it’s on spec. You’ve got to pay for it. If we can’t use it, I’m sorry.’”

Undeterred, Sobol set the whole thing up.

“To me, it was worth the expense to try to get it done,” says Sobol. “So I rented all this equipment, and I paid the football players … I went to this school. I was going to Valley College at the time. It’s a junior college in Van Nuys, Calif. And first, I got permission to use the locker room, and then I asked the football coach if I could use the players. And he said, ‘Yep, that’s fine with me.’ So I offered them $50 to be models. Four of them jumped on it right away. They said, ‘Okay, I’ll do it. I’ll do it. I’ll do it.’ And they were great. They did everything I wanted. And the band was great, too. So, we went to the locker room, and we spent about four hours in there that day shooting pictures. It came out great. And our concept was like the back cover has the baseball cards … football cards or baseball cards. That was our concept, too.”

There was only one problem: It did not occur to them that in Japan, nobody knew what 2nd and 10 meant, being mostly unfamiliar with American football vernacular in the Land of the Rising Sun.

“We sent a mock-up of the thing to Japan, and it came back where they said, ‘Yeah, great,’” recalls Sobol. “The record comes back, like the finished copy, and it’s called Quiet Riot II. And we were going, ‘Why did they call it Quiet Riot II?’ Well, because they don’t play football in Japan. So, 2nd and 10 meant nothing to them. It’s just one of those things that people don’t think about.”

A bit deflated by the packaging of their second album, the men of Quiet Riot were not too upset, and neither was Sobol. After all, they’d had a blast at the photo session, and they could only laugh about the mix-up. Looking back on it now, Sobol has only fond memories of Quiet Riot’s pre-Metal Health days, although, having been good friends with DuBrow from the start, he was around for the band’s meteoric rise in the early-‘80s, when Metal Health became the first heavy metal record to shoot all the way to No. 1 in the States.

There are great candid shots from that photo session in Sobol’s book, including one of a huge lineman carrying Rhoads around as the guitarist, wearing a flashy, colorful bow tie, vest and flared pants, clutched a stuffed Snoopy toy – “Snoopy” being one of Rhoads’s nicknames. And at one time, there was talk of DuBrow doing a book on Quiet Riot with Sobol, but it never came to fruition.

Yeah, everybody had a great time that day. It’s just like, hey, I never imagined when I was taking those pictures just for fun that they’d end up in a book,” says Sobol. “Kevin actually wanted to do a book with me, and he said, ‘Get your stuff together, we’ll write a book about the Quiet Riot years.’ And then he called me back, and he goes, ‘You know, I found out it’s going to cost X amount of money to make these. I don’t know what we could sell them for. Plus, I have to go out on tour again with Quiet Riot.” You know, they were playing clubs. And so that idea got put by the wayside. But I got all the stuff together, and now it’s almost like Kevin was there with me doing this.”

Stay tuned for a more extensive Q&A with Sobol coming this week.

Click Here for Additional Information: Red Match Productions

CD Review: Deep Purple – Live in Paris 1975

CD Review: Deep Purple – Live in Paris 1975
earMusic/Eagle Rock Entertainment
All Access Review: A-

Deep Purple - Live in Paris 1975 2013
The balance of power had already shifted within Deep Purple, and Ritchie Blackmore could read the writing on the wall. With the arrival of singer David Coverdale and bassist/vocalist Glenn Hughes, Deep Purple was entering a new phase, one that would see the band incorporating more of the northern English soul and R&B sensibilities of its newest members, while veering away from the cyclonic mix of nitro-burning hard rock and swirling classical music that Blackmore and others within Purple favored.

He didn't want to stick around to watch the transformation take hold. On April 17, 1975, the guitar icon, and one of the true architects of Deep Purple’s progressive sound, would play his last note for Deep Purple – that is until the Mark II lineup reunited for 1984’s Perfect Strangers album. He went out in a blaze of glory, as Blackmore’s high-voltage fretwork sends electricity shooting through the digitally remixed – and re-mastered from the original multi-track recordings – two-disc Live in Paris 1975, which documents that final Blackmore performance, prior to forming Rainbow, with amazing clarity and expansive volume. Recorded for optimum impact, Live in Paris 1975 actually benefits from the tension between Deep Purple’s warring camps, as that artistic push and pull fuels what is a dynamic, thrilling, once-in-a-lifetime performance from a band on the verge of big, sweeping changes. 

Sparks fly from the start as Deep Purple, absolutely on fire this particular night at the Palais des Sports in Paris, launches into hot-wired, frenzied versions of “Burn” and “Lady Double Dealer” that leave their witnesses gasping for air – the vigorous riffing and scorching, yet tricky, leads of Blackmore’s playing off Jon Lord’s dizzying organ maneuvers and the precision of Ian Paice’s stampeding drums. Just as feverish, “Stormbringer” is a power surge of insistent, hammering riffs and wailing vocals, loaded with Coverdale’s hairy-chested machismo and illuminated by Hughes’s starry croon. Blending so perfectly, the two give a smoldering, smoky rendering of “The Gypsy” here that offers a vision of what Deep Purple, Mark IV, had in store melodically for the world.

Having dispensed with some of their tighter, more compact material early on, Deep Purple embarked on long, extended jams the rest of the way, including the 20:09 “You Fool No One,” with its Cream-like, bluesy combustibility, a spellbinding organ intro from Lord and stunning drum and guitar soloing from Paice and Blackmore, respectively. Even longer and more abstract, with a playful nod to the theme from “2001: A Space Odyssey,” the classic “Space Truckin’” clocks in at 22:12, and after going into overdrive around the four-minute mark and flying around its familiar routes with reckless abandon and exuberance, Deep Purple goes off in various directions, expanding the possibilities of a song that’s never been bound by limits or borders – the sinewy funk of Hughes’s bass and his improvised singing, so clear and commanding, compelling the band to drive harder and soar higher, even if his lovelorn scatting seems somewhat out of place.

But this is Blackmore’s stage, and his playing is not just technically sound on this auspicious occasion, but it’s also fiery and impassioned. Along with painting the anguished, bluesy expression of “Mistreated,” Blackmore propels “Smoke on the Water” and the closer “Highway Star” – Coverdale lending that track a little more sexual heat than it had previously – ahead with searing six-string savagery and the occasional crazed arpeggio as Purple, its improvisational instincts as keen as ever, plows ahead, gathering momentum and driving both songs straight off the cliff without any fear of what awaits them below. Perhaps the most interesting facet of Live in Paris 1975, however, is the 24 minutes of in-depth interview recordings tacked on as a bonus feature. Set against a backdrop of the music directly piped in from Live in Paris 1975, it’s utterly fascinating to hear members of Deep Purple offer their perspectives on what was happening within the band at the time, while also hashing over studio sessions that birthed some of Mark IIIs best work and offering great insight into their creative process. 

The transition was not an easy one for Deep Purple, and substance abuse would eventually tear the Mark IV edition apart, but not before Tommy Bolin arrived to let everyone get a glimpse of his prodigious talent on the vastly underrated Come Taste the Band. On the vital Live in Paris 1975, however, Blackmore made damn sure nobody forgot who made Deep Purple a household name. (www.eagle-rock.com)

– Peter Lindblad

Chuck D. brings the noise with Anthrax

Public Enemy's MC discusses groundbreaking thrash-rap collaboration

By Peter Lindblad

Public Enemy - It Takes a Nation of Millions
to Hold Us Back 1988
At first, doing a thrash-metal remake of his own group’s utterly explosive diatribe “Bring the Noise” with Anthrax made little sense to Public Enemy’s Chuck D.

Though he certainly appreciated Anthrax’s enthusiasm for the idea, as well as their feverish support for all that Public Enemy stood for, this political firebrand of an MC had no interest in doing it over again – especially since this wasn’t exactly virgin territory for Public Enemy. They’d already combined hip-hop and rock before in startlingly original fashion. Still, this collaboration with Anthrax was different.

“I should say the first time we went into a rock-rap was Vernon Reid [Living Color] playing on ‘Sophisticated Bitch’ on Yo, Bum Rush the Show, and then on the second album, we had that Slayer sample [‘Angel of Death’] on ‘She Watches Channel Zero,’” recalls Chuck D.

That got the attention of Anthrax’s Charlie Benante and Scott Ian, who were already fans of the band and Public Enemy’s biggest ambassadors among the thrash-metal community.

“This actually got across to the Anthrax guys, Charlie Benante and Scott Ian,” remembers Chuck D. “And Scottie Ian was a fan from the jump, man. Charlie and him thought it was cool to wear our t-shirts in front of a hundred thousand people at the Monsters of Rock gig. People were asking, ‘Ooooh, who’s Public Enemy?’ So, he was our first guy, man (laughs).”

With Ian in their corner, Public Enemy suddenly had crossover potential, as the heavy metal market was, however slowly, opening its collective mind to rap. To show how much he thought of Anthrax, Chuck D. invoked the name of New York City’s most aggressive thrash-metal street gang in the hard-hitting, fiery original version “Bring the Noise” that appeared on PE’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back.

Anthrax - Attack of the Killer B's 1991
“That was what made me name check them in the song, ‘Bring the Noise,’” says Chuck D. “I was telling ‘em that music is all the same – ‘Wax is for Anthrax.’ And so I’m name checking everybody from Eric B. to Sonny Bono and Yoko Ono and Anthrax – imagine (laughs)? So Charlie and Scott came back and said, ‘Look, we want to do a thrash version, Chuck. Let’s get on it.’ And I was like, at that time, ‘Well, I mean, I already did the song. You guys cover it.’ They said, “But we want you on it.” And they just went ahead and did it, and I got on and we did the video, and we did the tour and Charlie and Scott made history.”

This past fall, Chuck D. participated in another kind of tour, the first-ever HipHopGods.com Classic Tourfest Revue. The concerts featured Public Enemy and a revolving lineup of rap artists from the golden age of hip-hop. Among the participants: X Clan, Schoolly D, Leaders of the New School, Monie Love, Son of Bazerk, Wise Intelligent (of Poor Righteous Teachers), Awesome Dre and Davy DMX.

Working with HipHopGods.com is a labor of love for Chuck D., who feels it’s important for hip-hop fans to maintain a connection with those artists who fought to establish rap as a respected art form.

“Well, somebody has to do it,” says Chuck D. “I was really impressed with what they did, over the years, with classic rock, how they separated classic rock from the mainstream – I guess [I wanted to do the same for] the pioneering, golden era and spirit of rap and what was happening in the mainstream, contemporary, major record industry. And I looked at all of this and I wanted to make sure that this happens, and then after a while, you say, ‘Look, I guess we might as well do this … we wanted to be able to say, this is our old crew, this what we do and for Lynyrd Skynyrd and all the brothers who are still touring and doing their thing and still draw big crowds. We need to take care of it.’”

It’s a sure bet that nobody will ever forget about Public Enemy. Controversial, innovative and powerful – Public Enemy started a revolution, both sonically and lyrically. Not surprisingly, they were named as a 2013 inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an honor Chuck D. is sincerely awed by.

“I take all halls of fame seriously,” he says. “It’s respect from your peers.”

And for Chuck D. respect is serious business. Stay tuned for more from the Public Enemy MC in the coming weeks.

Eric Clapton pulls the plug on Player?

Well … not exactly
By Peter Lindblad

Player: Peter Beckett and Ronn Moss 2013
Others might have been intimidated by the prospect of opening up for guitar god Eric Clapton, but not Player.

After all, they had a No. 1 song to their credit in the blue-eyed soul ditty “Baby Come Back” – released in late 1977 – and in the grand tradition of giving audiences what they want to hear, Player decided to muscle up sonically for their 1978 album Danger Zone.

“We had to, because we were plucked from Boz Scaggs’s ‘Silk Degrees’ tour,” says Peter Beckett, one of the founding member of Player. “And we were still a young band. And they stuck us on Eric Clapton’s ‘Slowhand’ tour supporting Clapton for a month to [play to] like a 30,000 mainly male audience, so we couldn’t go on and be a little pop band. That’s when we started injecting more hard rock [into our sound], and it’s been that way ever since.”

In February, Player will release Too Many Reasons, its first album in 20 years. Around 35 years ago, Player was riding high, having been chosen as the support act for Clapton’s 1978 North American tour. Mixing tracks from Danger Zone into an eclectic set list that ran the gamut from pretty soft-rock ballads to melodic hard rock, Player did more than just win over Clapton’s audiences.

How were they received on that tour?

“Excellent … in fact, a little too good,” says Beckett, the lead guitarist and singer for Player.

While Beckett was being coy about what happened, Player bassist Ronn Moss – better known worldwide as the actor who’s played Ridge Forrester for 25 years on the massively successful soap opera “The Bold and The Beautiful” – expanded on Beckett’s statement.

“We had a wonderful little thing happen to us at the Aladdin Theatre in Las Vegas,” relates Moss. “Player had a No. 1 record, and in the middle of ‘Baby Come Back,’ there’s a silence before the last chorus starts. Well, right at that downbeat to that chorus, after the silence, we all came in … and, no power. The power had gone out. There was nothing but drums.”

The possibility of a citywide blackout was immediately dismissed, since the lights didn’t go out … “just the power to our amplifiers,” says Moss. “So we all looked around, and they finally got it up and rolling, running …”

Adds Beckett, “… but, we’d finished (laughs)."

So, what happened exactly? As Moss recalls, the guilty party, or parties, didn’t step forward right away.

“It took several days for somebody backstage to finally fess up,” says Moss. “And it turned out to be Eric Clapton’s crew who fessed up and said, ‘Yeah, we pulled the plug on you guys.’ We were going down too well, and initially, we were really pissed. [I said] ‘Why would you do that?’ and the guy said, ‘It’s because you were going over a little too well.’”   

Beckett cautions, “The truth of it was, Eric Clapton knew nothing about it. It was just an uppity roadie. You know how those roadies are (laughs).”

They can joke about it now, but at the time, they were apoplectic.

“We were just pissed about it, and then I thought, ‘Wait a minute. Eric Clapton pulled the plug on us?’” says Moss. “They fessed up. They fessed up. And [Clapton] came in the dressing room a couple of weeks later with a bottle of Jack Daniels, and he never really admitted anything, but he said, ‘Are you guys okay?’”
Clapton wasn’t the only massive ‘70s rock act that took Player out on the road. There was Heart, who was promoting 1978’s Dog and the Butterfly LP. And, of course, there was Boz Scaggs.

“Well, you know, the Boz Scaggs tour wasn’t chopped liver, either,” says Beckett. “So we’d already done about two months of 30,000-seat arenas, and then we went back and did the Danger Zone album. We knew we were going on the ‘Slowhand’ tour, so we made the Danger Zone album harder edged so that we were able to go out and support Eric Clapton and have the right kind of music under our belts. So, it all turned out great.”

Too Many Reasons is due out Feb. 26 on Frontiers Records, and it was written and produced by Beckett. Look for a more expanded interview with Beckett and Moss in this blog in the coming weeks. In the meantime, visit www.player-theband.com and www.ronnmoss.com for more information and check out the track listing for Too Many Reasons:

* Photo by Devin DeVasquez-Moss

Too Many Reason track listing:
1. Man on Fire
2. Precious
3. I Will
4. Tell Me
5. The Sins of Yesterday
6. My Addiction
7. Too Many Reasons
8. To the Extreme
9. The Words You Say
10. Life in Color
11. A Part of Me
12. Nothin’ Like You
13. Baby Come Back

Book/DVD Review: Randy Rhoads - The Quiet Riot Years

Book/DVD Review: Randy Rhoads – The Quiet Riot Years
Red Match Productions
All Access Review: A-
Randy Rhoads - The Quiet Riot Years
Red Match Productions

Ron Sobol’s access was unlimited. Having befriended Kevin DuBrow, after the two bonded over a shared interest in photography and Humble Pie, Sobol eventually became part of the Quiet Riot family – as the band’s personal shutterbug, as its lighting director, and simply as somebody they would pal around with. Along for the ride, through all the ups and downs, Sobol watched the early version of Quiet Riot, featuring a young Randy Rhoads on guitar, tear up the Sunset Strip and garner a following rivaled locally only by Van Halen.
This was long before Metal Health made Quiet Riot a worldwide phenomenon, however. Back in the late 1970s, Rhoads and Quiet Riot – despite their colorful stage garb and charismatic live shows – couldn’t get any American record label to take a chance on them. The showcases they performed for label executives led to nothing but false promises. Even the well-publicized demonstrations they organized outside record companies in Los Angeles, where supporters pleaded for them to sign the band with well-meaning placards and chants even as the police tried to silence them, fell on deaf ears. Sobol had his camera trained on Quiet Riot, and the circus surrounding them, the whole time.
For years, Sobol, the ultimate band insider, has been sitting on a mountain of hundreds of behind-the-scenes still photos and mountains of super 8mm concert footage he compiled while running with DuBrow and the rest of the Quiet Riot pack. And it’s all here in “Randy Rhoads – The Quiet Riot Years,” undoubtedly the most comprehensive and candid biography of that period in Quiet Riot’s history that’s ever been compiled. Packaged together as a vividly illustrated coffee table book plus an illuminating DVD, Sobol’s collective work – he directed the DVD and authored the book – revisits the halcyon days when Quiet Riot ruled The Starwood and other Hollywood hot spots, such as the Whisky A-Go-Go and The Troubadour, while also performing before thousands of people who showed up to bask in their pre-glam metal glow at local colleges and festivals. And yet, that major American record label deal eluded them.
The frustration was palpable, as Sobol’s documentary illustrates in such heartbreaking fashion. Everybody associated with Quiet Riot were pulling their hair out trying to figure out how to break this band. Fan club president Lori Hollen did her part, hauling a boatload of friends to go see Quiet Riot, and Jodi “Raskin” Vigier, the one-time girlfriend of both Rhoads and DuBrow, and Laurie MacAdam worked on livening up the band’s image – MacAdam’s fashion sketches for the band’s dazzling, completely over-the-top stage clothes are shown in both the film and the book. Then, along came Ozzy Osbourne, and the party was over, as he took Rhoads to be his new guitarist and his musical salvation. Unfortunately, that meant the original Quiet Riot, fronted by the indomitable DuBrow and Rhoads, his very close friend, would never hit the big time together, as they’d hoped they would.
Watching and reading “Randy Rhoads – The Quiet Riot Years,” it’s impossible not to get a full sense of the abject disappointment everyone associated with this version of Quiet Riot felt when their career stalled. In a DVD full of wide-ranging, completely open interviews, drummer Drew Forsyth – with some bitterness – relates how a disinterested producer torpedoed the band’s first album, 1977’s Quiet Riot, and details how management failed them on numerous occasions. And there was drama within Quiet Riot, as DuBrow knocked heads with bassist Kelly Garni, which caused tension between DuBrow and Rhoads, who’d been friends with Garni since childhood. Garni’s time in the band ended rather abruptly, however, when in a drunken rage he pulled out a gun during an argument with Rhoads, an incident thoroughly hashed out in a film that captures the youthful joie de vivre and DIY spirit of Quiet Riot and its closest allies. At the same time, it deals with the crushing disillusionment that comes with seeing one’s dreams go unfulfilled, this despite scintillating footage of a swaggering Quiet Riot knocking them dead in exciting live performances. Big issues, such as Rhoads feeling stifled creatively by DuBrow, drive the story and make it a gripping yarn, but there are other individual moments of greatness, including a thorough dissection of the mind-blowing solo Rhoads used to play at Quiet Riot gigs from his guitar tech Brian Reason. And this is just half the story.
Edited and laid out skillfully, with particular attention paid to attaching bite-sized pieces of text with compelling graphics, the book is jam packed with beautifully shot color and black and white images, augmented by scraps of memorabilia as well as moving tributes from its senior editor – and one of Rhoads’ guitar students – Peter M. Margolis and DuBrow’s mother. Among the treasures from Sobol’s archives are mesmerizing portraits of Rhoads, leftover pictures of the band taken during a football locker room photo shoot for the Quiet Riot II cover, stolen scenes of backstage high jinks – including one section with the boys parading around in dresses – and an endless stream of highly visceral, electrifying close-ups of the band’s two lightning rods, Rhoads and DuBrow, giving it their all onstage. Accompanied by an informative, if somewhat skeletal narrative, the photography jumps off the page, and it’s not just because there is so damn much of it to sift through. The product of inspired intuition, fly-on-the-wall observations and a true cause – namely, the advancement of Quiet Riot – Sobol’s images catch members of the band and their entourage at their leisure, having a fantastic, carefree time in sunny Southern California before they lost their innocence.

Click Here for Additional Information: Red Match Productions
      –   Peter Lindblad

Anthrax Memorabilia

Anthrax Promo License Plate
Anthrax memorabilia will certainly continue to be sought after and continue to fetch big auction prices.

Along with Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth, New York City-based Anthrax is considered of the so-called "Big Four," the quartet of bands largely responsible for dragging thrash metal - or, as some call it, speed metal - out of the underground and into the mainstream in the late '80s and early '90s. Combining the blistering virtuosity and strong vocals of heavy metal with the fury of hardcore punk to create a whole new musical sub-genre, Anthrax was formed by Scott Ian and Dan Lilker in 1981.

Fistful of Metal, Anthrax's debut, was unleashed in 1984, even though the band hadn't settled on a lineup. After singer Joey Belladonna and bassist Frank Bello joined the band, and later, guitarist Dan Spitz was brought aboard, Anthrax enjoyed its greatest success, as fiery albums like 1985's Spreading the Disease and 1987's Among the Living - their most acclaimed records - cemented their reputation as sonic innovators. However, it was Anthrax's hard-hitting collaboration with Public Enemy on 1991's crossover remake of the hip-hop legends' classic "Bring the Noise" - and their subsequent joint tour - that put them on the map. The group dropped its last LP, the critically acclaimed Worship Music, in 2011.

Scott Ian Signing Memorabilia
With '80s metal memorabilia drawing increased attention from collectors, Anthrax memorabilia will certainly continue to be sought after and continue to fetch big auction prices. In 2012 Scott Ian and Charlie Benante offered up for auction an amazing array of Anthrax relics direct from their own personal collections.

Stage worn clothing, concert and studio used gear, vinyl, posters, promotional items topped the list for collectors - demanding high prices and securing Anthrax's position on collectors lists of "have to have".

Collectors and fans should hold on to their metal memorabilia as the value will continue to rise as it's popularity soars.

Check out the Anthrax Relics available in the store:  Anthrax Memorabilia

Steve Howe steps away from Asia

Prog-rockers recruit new guitarist, plot new record

Asia - Sam Coulson, Geoff Downes, John Wetton
and Carl Palmer
Steve Howe is leaving Asia. The renowned guitarist announced his intentions to step away on Thursday, saying he needs to do so in order to focus more fully on other projects.

“Myself and the band wish to thank their fans for the enthusiasm shown during the original members’ reunion,” relates Howe. “I will continue with Yes, and with my trio and solo guitar work. I wish my friends continued success.”

Moving quickly, Asia has already found Howe’s replacement. They have hired newcomer Sam Coulson, recognized throughout the guitar community as a virtuoso performer. With Coulson in tow, Asia plans to perform at Sweden Rock 2013 and work on a new studio album, titled Valkyrie, for Frontiers Records.
“Asia is ready to take its next steps along this remarkable road,” says Asia’s lead vocalist and bassist John Wetton, known also for his work with King Crimson and U.K. “We cannot wait to perform again for the fans and also to unveil some of the new material, of which we are very proud.”

Keyboardist Geoff Downes, who has also played with Yes and the Buggles, added, “We look forward to writing another chapter in Asia’s history,” while drummer Carl Palmer, of Emerson, Lake and Palmer fame, chimed in, “We’re all looking forward to the next decade of great Asia music.”

The original members of Asia reunited in 2006 for a U.S. tour, several jaunts across the European continent and four the spanned the world, while also managing to release three new studio albums, three DVDs, and a number of live records. Asia’s exposure grew exponentially when their song “An Extraordinary Life,” off 2008’s Phoenix LP, was picked as the theme music for the TV show “America’s Got Talent.”

One of the biggest-selling super groups of all-time Asia began in the early ‘80s, when Howe, Wetton, Downes and Palmer agreed to join forces. Their self-titled debut album arrived in 1982 and spent nine weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard charts. It remains one of the three most successful albums, in terms of record sales, in the history of Geffen Records, along with the likes of Guns ‘N Roses and Whitesnake. Their song “Heat of the Moment” was a smash hit, and an MTV phenomenon. Their ability to make videos that combined storytelling with compelling messages resulted in heavy MTV rotation for tracks like “Wildest Dreams,” “Only Time Will Tell,” “The Smile Has Left Your Eyes,” and “Don’t Cry.” And “Heat of the Moment” has appeared in TV shows and movies including “40 Year Old Virgin,” “South Park,” “Cold Case” and “The Matador.”

Visit OriginalAsia.com for more information.

CD Review: Public Image Limited - Alife 2009: Live at Brixton Academy

CD Review: Public Image Limited – Alife 2009: Live at Brixton Academy
Four Worlds Media
All Access Rating: A-
Public Image Limited - Alife 2009: Live at Brixton Academy 2012
“Proper music for proper people” – that’s the public service Public Image Limited provides, according to John Lydon. It’s a mission statement, as much as anything, for John Lydon and the revived PiL, playing their first gigs since Lydon pulled the plug on the post-punk insurgents in 1993. And Lydon, making an entrance as only he can, reintroduced PiL to the Brixton Academy crowd with that statement as the industrial noise of “The Rabbit Song (Intro)” died down. Those “proper people” Lydon refers to were in for quite a night of it, as PiL, established by Lydon after the Sex Pistols imploded, had no intention of leaving them feeling they’d been cheated.
Superbly mixed audio, coupled with the vitality and edgy, adventurous spirit of PiL – who deliver a sonically mesmerizing and stylistically diverse performance, full of different moods and textures – recommend Alife 2009: Live at Brixton Academy, another in the line of immaculately recorded and extravagantly packaged concert records from Four Worlds Media. Like the most depraved grave robbers, they plunder the PiL back catalog, digging up the bodies of 23 strangely compelling tunes from such classic LPs as Second Edition, Metal Box and Flowers of Romance and giving them new life. Where their studio versions could be grim and sterile, here, they have more color in their cheeks, many of them extended well beyond their original borders. Against a backdrop of eerie, unsettling dub rhythms, dissonant squalls of razor-like guitar and alien keyboards, Lydon – joined in this PiL incarnation by former members Bruce Smith and Lu Edmonds, as well as Scott Firth – goes on enigmatically poetic rants in the vaguely menacing, hypnotic and austere “Albatross,” “Careering,” “The Suit” and “Four Enclosed Walls.” Sounding more predatory, as an insistent bass line creeps around the edges, the disturbing meditation on family dysfunction “Tie Me to the Length” becomes a particularly nightmarish vision of a psychological breakdown in Lydon’s emotionally scarred hands.
It’s not surprising then that after “Tie Me to the Length” takes its last breath, Lydon jolts the seemingly stunned audience awake by yelling, “You’re too quiet.” Somewhat brighter, if not entirely happy and shiny, dance-oriented numbers like “Flowers of Romance,” “Bags” and “This is Not a Love Song” bounce off a muscular, thumping trampoline of bass that makes bodies want to writhe in the doomed ecstasy of the damned, as tangled coils of guitar vainly attempt to unravel themselves in puzzling and interesting ways. As ringmaster, the howling, growling Lydon is enthusiastic, funny and defiant, making an impassioned plea for unity, racial harmony and (gasp!) love in the airy, melodic “Warrior” and demanding the exile of all politicians from Britain, before pleading for more bass from a sinister, smoldering take on “Religion” – Lydon’s scathing indictment of an institution he despises. 
The cynical “Disappointed,” one of PiL’s biggest hits, has neither the bite or the snarl of the original studio version, and that’s … well, disappointing. Weak and ineffectual as it is, however, that failed effort is the exception, not the rule, on Alife 2009: Live at Brixton Academy. Even the more atmospheric, starry numbers like “Usls 1,” are rapturous on this occasion, and the seething undercurrent of danger and anger running through “Chant” – cosmic, swirling guitar work hovering above the growing unrest like supernova – is decidedly palpable, while the angular “Memories” and the propulsive “Annalisa” move surreptitiously in the manner of assassins, springing with violence only when necessary.
Vicious and uncompromising at times, and removing some of the grey drone of their recordings, this pulsating set is also deliciously entertaining, although the melodies and subtle hooks of their music maintain their subversive character. As the lighthearted, Eastern European-flavored “Sun” dances to the beat of its own drummer in the most easygoing, uninhibited manner, another one of PiL’s most recognizable tunes, “Rise,” throws weary travelers along life’s sometimes rocky path a bouquet of well-wishes and offers a reminder that “anger is an energy.” Yes, it is, and so is Lydon, whose unique brand of populism still resonates with “proper people.”

-            Peter Lindblad