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Riot: The Official Bootleg Box Set Volume 2 1980-1990 (7CD)

Following on from the six disc Volume 1, the second Official Bootleg Box Set that comes fully sanctioned from the much missed Riot main-man Mark Reale's estate, goes one better by being a seven disc collection, six bootleg recordings augmented by a 1980 demos set from the Fire Down Under album sessions. There's little doubt that the clue to what you can expect to find here is in the title, no one is pretending that these live shows are anything other than bootlegs, but for fans of the band and especially those, like me, who used to spend hours trawling through tables of bootleg cassettes at record fairs this is a treasure trove. The first two shows come from a 1981 UK tour where Riot appeared alongside The Rods in opening for Saxon. Featuring back to back shows from October 13th and 14th in Manchester and Ipswich respectively, these nine track sets are, as you'd expect, identical in their make up, with the same songs, running order and stage raps from singer Guy Speranza. With the rest of the band made up of Reale and Rick Ventura on guitars, Kip Leming on bass and Sandy Slavin on drums, that Riot were a slick and polished live act by this stage is undoubted. They may have already worked their way through two previous bassists, a guitarist and a drummer, but as early classic such as "Warrior", "Road Racin'" and "Swords And Tequila" are highlighted from the band's first three albums Rock City, Narita and Fire Down Under the pedigree on show is clear to hear, even if Speranza's crowd interaction can feel a little forced at times.

Disc three moves things on a month, the November 1981 show taken from a radio broadcast from The Agora Ballroom, Ohio, "Feel The Same", "Don't Bring Me Down" and "No Lies" added alongside a guitar solo from Reale to the same set performed in England not long before. In terms of sound things are improved somewhat, this probably the best aural experience in the box. The fact that this was also a headline show probably played a part in that, as well as allowing the band to deliver an even more assured performance; Speranza in particularly good form as he belts out "Outlaw" and "Rock City".

The background to this, as detailed in the Malcolm Dome penned liner notes, was a band constantly in conflict. Not with one another, but with Capitol, their record label. In the UK only fan power made the label release 1979's Narita in that territory, while a radio campaign in the US, organised by the band's management, stopped the label dropping them altogether before their third record Fire Down Under was unleashed. The change of heart didn't last however, the album and band left in limbo as Capitol refused to release it, or let the band go from their contract, before Elektra stepped in to put the album out after Capitol finally relented. For Speranza these constantly disheartening events were enough to cause him to not only leave Riot, but the music business, Rhett Forester in place for 1982's Restless Breed album. Hence for disc four, recorded in Long Island in 1982, it's Forrester who provided a Blackie Lawless meets Kevin Dubrow like vocal crunch that helped to beef up the Riot sound, as evidenced by storming versions of "Loanshark", "When I Was Young" and "Loved By You". Sound wise this is also one of the stronger discs, the harder rocking sound the band were now favouring coming across strongly. As it does on disc five, the 1983 show from Staten Island adding in a selection of cuts from the band's independent label released their relationship with Elektra already over Born In America album. Now adding a more topical flavour to their lyrics, "Vigilante Killer", "Born In America" and "Where Soldiers Rule" give a great representation of what Riot had become, an ever toughening sound backed up by their singer's confident delivery, even if his stage persona on this disc is a little forthright. However with him and his band mates also providing great accounts of some of their earlier cuts, the question of how Riot never quite made the breakthrough their music deserved remains to this day.

Disillusioned Reale dissolved the outfit and relocated to San Antonio where he started a new venture under the name Narita. The obvious link to his old band left no doubt where the guitarist's heart lay and it was no surprise that by the time 1989's Thundersteel album appeared his band were once more called Riot. Initially reforming with Slavin on drums, he would be replaced by Mark Edwards and subsequently Bobby Jarzombek, while new vocalist Harry Conklin's stay would prove very brief, the singer losing his voice after only his second show with the band due to a night's heavy drinking. Forrester returned, but with his 'erratic behaviour' on the road proving to be one of the reasons Reale had briefly ended the band in the first place, he too was replaced by the time Thundersteel was recorded, Tony Moore now the man behind the mic. Don Van Slavern was brought in on bass and with Reale the lone guitarist the band set about resurrecting their career. Second guitarist Mike Flyntz would be added by the time 1990's more experimental Privilege Of Power was released, while Pete Perez would take on bass duties for the subsequent tour. Hence for disc six the band's line-up comprised Reale, Moore, Flyntz, Perez and Jarzombek. What else had changed was the direction Riot were now headed, a sound we now describe as power metal favoured over the hard rock of before. Hence this show, recorded in Osaka, Japan in 1990, really feels like a different band altogether, Moore often augmenting his low end vocal rumble with a high register scream, as the likes of "Flight Of The Warrior", "Mary-Anne" and the imperious "Thundersteel" gloriously reveal.

The one constant in Riot was always change and so it proved, numerous drummers coming and going as the band also changed singer on a regular basis in the oncoming years, always evolving their musical attack as they did so. With Reale's sad death in 2012, three of the key band members remembered here are no longer with us, Speranza passing in 2003, while Forrester was shot in a carjacking some nine years earlier and for Riot aficionados this is a fitting tribute to all three. However the Riot story didn't end here and neither does this box, the final disc delving back to 1980 for the writing and recording demos of their Fire Down Under album. Again these are hardly state of the art recordings, but with some previously unheard cuts (short and acoustic though some of them are), as with the rest of this set, true Riot fans will lap them up.

In truth this is a hard set to give a score to. If you are a dyed in the wool Riot nut then you'll undoubtedly love this imperfect look into their glory years, while less dedicated fans will maybe find the repetition across the first three discs a little tiresome. However if you're new to the band, being honest, this isn't where to start, although arguably the period of time this set covers in the Riot story probably is. Hence my own personal score would be 4/5, but the mark below is probably more representative of what a (slightly) wider audience might feel this set warrants.


Track Listing
DISC ONE: MANCHESTER APOLLO 13th OCTOBER 1981
1. SWORDS AND TEQUILA
2. FIRE DOWN UNDER
3. ALTAR OF THE KING
4. DON'T HOLD BACK
5. OVERDRIVE
6. OUTLAW
7. ROAD RACIN'
8. ROCK CITY
9. WARRIOR


DISC TWO: IPSWICH, GAUMONT 14th OCTOBER 1981
1. SWORDS AND TEQUILA
2. FIRE DOWN UNDER
3. ALTAR OF THE KING
4. DON'T HOLD BACK
5. OVERDRIVE
6. OUTLAW
7. ROAD RACIN'
8. ROCK CITY
9. WARRIOR


DISC THREE: AGORA BALLROOM, CLEVELAND, OHIO 8th NOVEMBER 1981
1. SWORDS AND TEQUILA
2. FIRE DOWN UNDER
3. ALTAR OF THE KING
4. FEEL THE SAME
5. DON'T BRING ME DOWN
6. DON'T HOLD BACK
7. OVERDRIVE
8. GUITAR SOLO
9. OUTLAW
10. NO LIES
11. ROAD RACIN
12. ROCK CITY
13. WARRIOR


DISC FOUR: NEW YORK, LONG ISLAND 1st JULY 1982
1. RESTLESS BREED
2. WHEN I WAS YOUNG
3. LOANSHARK
4. SHOWDOWN
5. SWORDS AND TEQUILA
6. DREAM AWAY
7. OVER TO YOU
8. GUITAR SOLO
9. OUTLAW
10. LOVED BY YOU
11. WARRIOR


DISC FIVE: STATEN ISLAND, PARAMOUNT THEATER 1983
1. HARD LOVIN' MAN
2. ALTAR OF THE KING
3. WHERE SOLDIERS RULE
4. BORN IN AMERICA
5. VIGILANTE KILLER
6. RESTLESS BREED
7. SHOWDOWN
8. WINGS OF FIRE
9. LOANSHARK


DISC SIX: OSAKA, JAPAN 1990
1. FLIGHT OF THE WARRIOR
2. TOKYO ROSE
3. STORMING THE GATES OF HELL
4. JAPAN CAKES
5. BLOODSTREETS
6. BOBBY SOLO
7. RACING WITH THE DEVIL
8. MARYANNE
9. DANCE OF DEATH
10. DANNY BOY
11. THUNDERSTEEL


DISC SEVEN: FIRE DOWN UNDER ERA: LIVE / REHEARSAL / ACOUSTIC WRITING DEMOS 1980
1. SWORDS AND TEQUILA (VERSION 1)
2. UNKNOWN (UNRELEASED TRACK)
3. UNKNOWN 2 (UNRELEASED TRACK)
4. MISTY MORNING RAIN (NON ALBUM TRACK)
5. SWORDS AND TEQUILA (VERSION 2)
6. NO LIES
7. OUTLAW (VERSION 1)
8. UNKNOWN 3 (UNRELEASED TRACK)
9. OUTLAW (VERSION 2)
10. ALTAR OF THE KING
11. UNKNOWN 4 (UNRELEASED TRACK)
12. SHAKIN' OFF THE ANGELS (UNRELEASED TRACK)

Added: January 6th 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Score:
Related Link: The Official Bootleg Box Set Volume 2 @ Cherry Red
Hits: 148
Language: english

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