Riot – Rockworld (Rare & Unreleased 87-95)
Metal Blade Records
Release Date: 27/03/2020
Running Time: 1:16:13
Review by Dawn “The Metal Priestess” King
If you know me, and have read reviews by me in the past, you will know that I am a big, no humungous, fan of Riot (in all its connotations). The band were resurrected in 2015, after the death of founding member Mark Reale, under the name Riot V. Ever since I first heard ‘Flight of The Warrior’ blasting out through my laptop’s speakers (far too many years after its original release unfortunately) they have maintained their place in my top ten of bands…EVER!
Founded in New York in 1975 by guitarist, Mark Reale, they have undergone various line-up changes, suffered tragedy after tragedy and, in my opinion, really should have been bigger than they were/are. The deaths of vocalist Rhett Forrester in 1994 and Guy Speranza in 2003, were followed by the death of Mark, himself, in 2015 after complications with Crohn’s disease, and even as late as 2020, Lou Kouvaris, former guitarist with the band from 1975 – 1978, passed away after contracting the deadly Coronavirus which, as we know, has caused a worldwide pandemic.
But still they pressed on and 45 years and sixteen studio albums later (the last “Armor of Light” being released on April 27th, 2018) thankfully they are still with us and still making music.
This album was by no means just quickly thrown together as the following statement from Giles Lavery on Jan 8th, 2020 from Los Angeles testifies:
“In mid-March 2016, I was asked to organise and catalogue the considerable archives of the late Mark Reale. As a lifelong Riot fan this was an exciting prospect. Little did I know this would turn into almost a year of working through cassette tapes (mostly unlabelled), VHS cassettes and ancient reel to reel formats…from this many never heard before songs and pieces of music were unearthed.”
Released on March 27th, 2020, this album is a compilation of rarities, from alternatives to album versions of tracks, demo tracks and outtakes that never made it to final albums. All tracks have been remastered by Patrick W Engel and the cover artwork has been provided by Jan Meininghaus.
The album kicks off with the track ‘Rockworld Theme’. Rockworld was a music TV show from the late 1970’s and Riot were approached to compose and record a track for the main theme. How many of you knew that, eh? And what better track to name the album after.
The second track ‘Bloodstreets’ is one of my favourites on the album. It is a Thundersteel era track (no wonder it’s one of my favourites coming from a time when this masterpiece was recorded) but this has a different ending to the album version. Instead of the guitar solo playing out at the end, this version has the chorus repeat itself on a loop.
‘Medicine Man’, ‘Magic Maker’ and ‘Faded Hero’ (another of my favs from the album) were demos recorded for the follow up to “Privilege of Power” prior to Tony Moore leaving the band. They give us just a glimpse of “what could have been” if Moore hadn’t left.
‘Sylvia’, ‘Good Lovin’ and the instrumental ‘Creep’ were all demo tracks from the “Nightbreaker” sessions, but none made it to the final release, although, in my opinion ‘Sylvia’ is a fantastic track.
The last two tracks on the album, ‘Medicine Man’ and ‘Magic Maker’ (different versions to the ones mentioned above) feature Jag Panzer vocalist, Harry ‘Tyrant’ Conklin, and were recorded when the band were looking for a replacement for Moore, a job that eventually went to Mike Dimeo who sang the tracks on the “Nightbreaker” album.
I tend to find rarities albums a bit hit and miss. Either the quality is very poor as the recordings are years old or, and I have seen this, there are three or four versions of the SAME song. Ok, they might be rare recordings, but do we really need that many versions? This album doesn’t do that.
I loved this album and felt like it was taking me on a journey through time (well…1987-1995 anyway!) It shows the what if’s and but’s that could have taken this band onto a completely different path, leading them to who knows where! But, I, as a Riot fan, am glad they are where they are!
This really is a must have for any die-hard Riot fan and I am so incredibly grateful to Rick for passing it over to me for review. I wait with bated breath for anything new this fantastic band release and I really do hope that I get to see them at a gig sometime soon.
Go check it out and see if you agree with me, you know you want to!!
01. Rockworld Theme
02. Bloodstreets (Alternative Version)
03. Buried Alive (Tell Tale Heart) (Alternative Version)
04. Runaway (Instrumental Early Idea Demo)
05. Killer (Tony Moore Vocals)
06. Maryanne (Rough Mix)
07. Medicine Man (Tony Moore Vocals)
08. Magic Maker (Tony Moore Vocals)
09. Faded Hero (Tony Moore Vocals)
10. Sylvia (Outtake)
11. Good Lovin (Outtake)
12. Creep (Instrumental Outtake)
13. Instrumental 1994 (Brethren Outtake)
14. Medicine Man (Tyrant Sessions)
15. Magic Maker (Tyrant Sessions)
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Dawn King and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.