Reviews Zone

Riot: The Official Bootleg Box Set Volume 2: 1980 – 1990 (HNE Recordings) 24th November 2017


4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)




A fabulous seven-disc collection which offers a total of 75 tracks. Six of the CDs captures gigs in the UK, USA and Japan, and the final CD delivers some live rehearsal audio and some demo writing stuff.

The UK recordings come from gigs at Manchester Apollo on 13th October 1981 and Ipswich Gaumont on 14th October 1981. The US stuff was captured at the Agora Ballroom, Ohio on 8th November 1981, Long Island, New York on 1st July 1982 and the Paramount Theater, Staten Island 1983. Osaka was the location for the gig recoded in Japan in 1990. The final disc gives us some “Fire Down Under-era” live rehearsal and demo writing audio, from 1980.

Riot could not have kicked off the 1980s in better fashion than with their prime slot at the inaugural Monsters Of Rock Festival at the Castle Donington racetrack in Leicestershire, UK in August 1980, performing alongside the cream of hard rock and heavy metal from that era. This was followed by a highly successful tour supporting Sammy Hagar, both of which are documented on HNE’s “The Official Bootleg Box Set Vol 1: 1976 – 1980”.

Riot formed in 1975 in New York City, when Kon-Tiki guitarist Mark Reale and drummer Peter Bitelli teamed up with bassist Phil Feit and vocalist Guy Speranza. They were subsequently picked up by New York producers Billy Arnell and Steve Loeb, who owned the independent label Fire-Sign Records.

Adding second guitarist Louie Kouvaris, whilst replacing Feit with Jimmy Iommi, they released their debut “Rock City” in 1977. But by 1979, they were on the verge of splitting up, when they were thrown a lifeline by highly influential NWOBHM DJ, Neal Kay, who set about promoting Riot in the UK.

Renergised, the band issued second LP, “Narita” in 1979, at which point Kouvaris was replaced by Rick Ventura. Signing to Capitol Records, this subsequently led to the UK tour supporting Sammy Hagar, and a slot at the legendary Monsters of Rock, on a bill featuring Saxon, Judas Priest, Scorpions and Rainbow.

Officially licensed from the archives of the Mark Reale estate, c/o Anthony Reale, “The Official Bootleg Box Set Volume 2” captures the band at their creative and commercial peak, kicking off with shows from their 1981 UK tour.

Riot had already developed a solid live reputation and cult fan-base in the UK when they played the Manchester Apollo on 13th October 1981, and the Ipswich Gaumont the following day, on a bill featuring The Rods and headlined by Saxon. Both sets include live favourites “Outlaw”, “Road Racin’’, “Rock City” & “Warrior”.

Cleveland, Ohio’s Agora Ballroom was a regular stop-off for rock and metal bands in the 70s and 80s, and their 8th November 1981 show captured the band performing “Fire Down Under”, “Overdrive”, “Road Racin’” & “Rock City”.

By the time Riot played Long Island on 1st July 1982, Guy Speranza had been replaced by Rhett Forrester on vocals, joining Mark Reale & Rick Ventura on guitar, Kip Leming on bass and drummer Sandy Slavin.

Having moved from Capitol Records to Elektra, Riot were keen to promote the new “Restless Breed” record, performing the title track, a cover of Eric Burdon & the Animals’ “When I Was Young”, “Loanshark”, “Showdown”, “Dream Away”, “Over To You” & “Loved By You”.

The fifth CD was recorded at Paramount Theater, Staten Island in 1983, with the band supporting the new indie release, “Born In America”. Songs from that album include “Where Soldier’s Rule”, “Born In America”, “Vigilante Killer” & “Wings Of Fire”, included among the Riot classics “Altar Of The King” and “Restless Breed”.

Jumping forward seven years to their 1990 Osaka show in Japan, they rattled off “Storming The Gates Of Hell”, “Maryanne” & “Dance Of Death” from the then latest “The Privilege of Power”, plus “Bloodstreets”, “Thundersteel” & “Flight Of The Warrior” from 1988’s “Thundersteel” record; by which time founder Mark Reale was the sole remaining original member.

As an extra bonus, this collection is completed by a disc of 1980 writing and rehearsal sessions for what would be their breakthrough album, “Fire Down Under”, the last with original vocalist Guy Speranza.

As well as a number of previously unreleased compositions, it includes early working versions of “Swords And Tequila” and “Altar Of The King”, giving a unique insight into the genesis of some classic Riot numbers.

The audio quality across this bootleg set is as you would expect, not an even listen; some stuff much better in clarity than some of the other recordings. But overall, it is a “must have” if you are a fan of this band or of NWOBHM.


By Christopher Weston





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