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Riot – Rock World (Rare & Unreleased '87 - '90)

Rock World (Rare & Unreleased '87 - '90)
by Alan Stevens at 08 April 2020, 5:40 PM

Mark Reale passed away in 2012, he was the founder and only consistent original member of the 80's hard rock band RIOT. This album, “Rock World,” is a collection of unreleased songs and alternative versions that fans may have never heard before. After Mark passed away, Giles Lavery was asked to go through old recordings of the band and put together this collection of unheard tracks. The audio quality jumps around like an agitated frog, but this is to be expected as some of these came from cassettes and even reel-to-reel tapes which are at least 30 to 40 years old. An Album for anyone who is a fan of RIOT, or even of 80's metal in general, there are some hidden gems that really reflect the period of time in which these songs were conceived, and there's nothing better than getting a behind the scenes look at what didn't make it onto an album. But, despite this album clearly stating these tracks are from the years between 1987 and 1995, the first track, Rock World, doesn't come from an album, but from a TV show of the same name which aired in 1979. Features the line up of the late 70's, and I believe is the only song in this collection to feature original vocalist Guy Speranza. The quality is as bad as you expect. Upon loading the album up for the first time I thought my headphones had packed in… If you can get past the obvious rough edges of these recordings, and that some of these are outtakes or demos that didn't make it to release the first time, and the fact that they are from different sessions across many years, featuring a changing line-up. The quality and musicality of each piece varies wildly, yet feature some rare performances out of some fantastic musicians.

To describe this collection in one; A Fantasy rock Album, oversaturated with the self imposed 80's vibe, wither that comes through the Pop Hook Lyrics, or crowd pleasing distortion-lite riffs, all of which got killed off in popularity during the Grunge era. These tracks are really a treasure of their time. “Bloodsteet” has some very cool, old MAIDEN riffs, whereas “Burried Alive” has a darker, more WASP like edge, and borrows well from the subject matter the lyrics are taken from. “Runaway” is one of a few instrumental pieces on here, and despite the lack of vocals, these tracks really shine to show off the skills and dedication Mark had to the art of guitar. When you get to “Killer” you discover this band liked to dabble with keyboards and horn sections. The track is funky with Tony Moore exercising his vocal skills, if with somewhat, cringe-worthy lyrics. Then there's the three tracks; “Medicine Man,” “Magic Maker” & “Faded Hero.” All of which still feature Tony Moore but these came from one of the last sessions he did with the band before departing, and were for their next album “Nightbreaker.” As such these track never saw the light of day as Mike Dimeo had stepped in to replace him. These feature some funky guitar work, and some nice harmonies. “Medicine Man” and “Magic Maker” feature twice in this collection, at the end of the album there are two versions that were recorded with Harry Conklin, when he auditioned for the band as their new vocalist but sadly never made the cut, so these tracks are all that remain of a line-up which could have been. The next three tracks are outtakes from the “Nightbreed” sessions; Sylvia is a notable improvement on recording quality and songwriting, there's some of the strongest guitar work on the album here with some catchy lyrics for good measure. The next track, “Good Lovin',” and… oh boy… those horns have returned in force, now accompanied with an all girl backing choir. A cross of swing and 80's hair metal. Then there's “Creep,” An excellent instrumental, especially for the time it was done in, there is some fantastic play between Mark Reale and new bassist; Pete Perez, harder and funkier that most of the other tracks, and there are times when the groove reminded me strongly of RAGE's “Know Your Enemy.”

The album is a hodgepodge of different influence and genres, of changing line ups, and studios. It has not been put together for criticism nor is it trying to achieve commercial success, this is an exploration into the past musical life of one who is no longer with us. There is nothing really new here to indulge in for most fans of metal, but anyone interested in hearing alternative versions of RIOT songs or want to hear what the never released line-ups sounded like then there may be something within these artefacts which you may enjoy. An excellent way to honour one who is no longer with us, and a great way to experience a wide range of his influences and skills over many years of his working life.

RIP Mark Reale

Songwriting: 7

3 Star Rating

1. Rock World Theme
2. Bloodstreets (Alt. Version)
3. Buried Alive (Tell Tale Heart) (Alt.Version)
4. Runaway (Instrumental Demo)
5. Killer (Tony Moore Vocals)
6. Maryanne (Rough Mix)
7. Medicine Man (Tony Moore Vocals)
8. Magic Maker (Tony Moore Vocals)
9. Faded Hero (Tony Moore Vocals))
10. Syllvia (Outtake)
11. Good Lovin' (Outtake)
12. Creep (Instrumental Outtake)
13. Instrumental 1994 (Brethren Outtake)
14. Medicine Man (Tyrant Sessions)
15. Magic Maker (Tyrant Sessions)
Guy Speranza – Vocals
Tony Moore – Vocals
Harry Conklin – Vocals
Mark Reale – Guitars, Producer, Back Vocals
Lou A. Kouvaris – Guitars
Mike Flyntz – Guitar
Peter Bitelli – Drums
John Macaluso – Drums,
Bobby Jarzombek – Drums
Phil Feit – Bass
Don Van Stravern – Bass
Pete Perez – Bass
Record Label: Metal Blade Records


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Edited 05 October 2022

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