Quiet Riot's sudden split in 2003 came as a surprise, especially given the excellence of their last two albums 1999's 'Alive And Well' and 2001's 'Guilty Pleasures'. Both records equalled the heydey of 1983's 'Metal Health' and 1984's 'Condition Critical' musically, if not in sales and suggested there was still life in the band. Apparently this was not the case and the band called it quits amicably, matters having run their course. Since the split drummer Frankie Banali has been working on various projects, while bassist Rudy Sarzo recently hooked up with Dio, becoming his 653'rd bass player. Vocalist Kevin DuBrow has succeeded in becoming the first member to release new music however, with his first solo album, a covers affair titled 'In For The Kill'.
Cover albums from my experience are usually dreadful and unoriginal, with few exceptions. It's impossible to capture the esscence of an original song and after one spin these albums find their way into a dusty cupboard. The last two victims were Ritchie Blackmore and Jimi Hendrix cover albums from Sweden's Lion Records, both bland and throwaway, managing a single spin on my cd player. When I was sent an e-mail containing a press release for Dubrow's upcoming covers attempt, my interest was heightened more than usual, simply because of the tracklisting. DuBrow has selcted tracks that influenced him as a youngster, all of them from the early to mid seventies, and with the exception of Montrose and The Easybeats, all of them British acts. Featured are classic bands like Deep Purple, Queen, Nazareth, Sweet, the Faces and Humble Pie with the odd rarity thrown in from the likes of Quartermass and Silverhead. That's a credible lineup by any true rocker's standards.
Realising that cover albums are rightfully treated with wariness from the public, DuBrow states in his press release that he understands their 'apprehension' as he is suspicious of cover albums himself. DuBrow states 'I think this CD has it's own unique sound, personality, and still kicks ass. I feel we stayed true to the original songs, while at the same time did our best to make them our own. This is not a 'Karaoke' Kevin album!' The man for once happens to be correct. With band members including ex Great White keyboardist Michael Lardie and ex Racer X vocalist/drummer (here on drums) Jeff Martin, DuBrow does make the songs his own because he contains such a readily identifiable vocal style. Things kick off with Sweet's 'Burn On The Flame' which was a B-side to 'Fox On The Run' in 1975. This was typical Sweet, obscuring their heavier songs behind the lighweight glam rock that made them so popular in the early 70's as b-sides which went unnoticed. In DuBrow's hands it turns very Quiet Riot like, with his new band sounding very like his ex- band mates. Up next is Montrose's 'Good Rocking Tonight', which is one of the landmark tracks in US hard rock history, and is unlikely to be bettered in any form. Here DuBrow sticks faithfully to the original with all the vitality and freshness that characterised the original. The mans natural enthusiasm shines through on every cover.
Quartermass' 'Black Sheep Of The Family' is an unlikely choice, the song made more well known by Rainbow some years after the original. DuBrow maintains the hammond organ based sound that was so huge in the 1970 period, a fine effort. Like Montrose, trying to emulate early Deep Purple is almost pointless, but again DuBrow and co deliver with a fiery rendetion of 'Speed King', but invariably all it does is make me want to hear the original, still a monster thirty four years later. 'Stay With Me' is the most obvious Faces track to attempt and that's what DuBrow does, giving it a perfunctory run through, perhaps realising it's impossible to capture the crude charm of Rod Stewart and his wasted cohorts. DuBrow's favourite artist is Steve Marriot, as he points out so often, so it was inevitable Humble Pie would be featured, here in the shape of 'Red Light Mama, Red Hot', from Pie's 1970 debut. Given an updated twist it's very contemporary, great raunch and handled exceptionally by Kevin. 60's Aussie rock greats The Easybeats are another unexpected choice, their hit 'Gonna Have A Good Time' given a run through, although not as memorably as the version by Jimmy Barnes and INXS in the mid 80's.
Queen's 'Modern Time Rock And Roll' burns things up at speed, demonstrating how heavy early Queen could sometimes be, DuBrow retaining the force, if not more. Things fall away slightly with the disinteresting trio of Mott The Hoople's 'Drivin' Mama', T Rex's '20th Century Boy' and Nazareth's 'Razmanaz', but that's because I've never been into any of those bands to much degree, sorry Kevin. The final selection is more inspired, a cover of Silverhead's 'Rolling With My Baby'. Silverhead were another early 70's British band, who recorded two albums in 1972 and 73 before splitting, the band a cult classic of the glam movement. This is heavyweight boogie on a Slade level and the band fronted by the legend that is Michael Des Barres, should have been bigger according to most observers. DuBrow pulls out everything at his disposal and this is the finest moment of the album for me, certainly an inspiration to seek out the original! A huge thumbs up for covering this.
This is the best covers album I've heard, and one I could recommend easily to fans of the genre DuBrow has opted to perform. Let's face it, it's only going to interest hardcore Kevin DuBrow and Quiet Riot fans and maybe those with a liking for classic 70's rock, but in that regard DuBrow had exceeded himself in adhering to a track selection that takes an often unexpected direction. Vocally the man has been underrated his whole career, but DuBrow gives one of his best efforts to date, ably supported by a fine backing band. 'In For the Kill' might not sell large amounts and might go unrecognised, but if you want credibility, Kevin DuBrow has yards of it. The next thing is to catch him live, where he should push the envelope even further.