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Articles Home » 1977 Articles » Riot - 1977 Rock City
Riot - 1977 Rock City

ALBUM: Rock City
LABEL: Ariola
YEAR: 1977
CD REISSUE: 1993, Metal Blade, 3984-14009-2


LINEUP: Guy Speranza - vocals * Mark Reale - guitars * L.A. Kouvaris - guitars * Jimmy Iommi - bass * Peter Bitelli - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Desperation * 02 Warrior * 03 Rock City * 04 Overdrive * 05 Angel * 06 Tokyo Rose * 07 Heart Of Fire * 08 Gypsy Queen * 09 This Is What I Get


Information on Riot's exact origins are sparse to say the least. The band was formed in Reale's basement in 1976, the group signing to the independent Firesign Records. Recorded in late 1976 through mid 1977 the album took off in Europe upon its release. Ariola seized upon the band and signed them, allowing the album to be widely marketed, although Capitol Records would be their label for 1979's 'Narita'. For the period it was released in, 'Rock City' can be seen as a sophisticated set of hard rock, with shades of metal and boogie. It contained more clout than the likes of Starz and Kiss, more in keeping with the spirit of Montrose's 1973 debut, unabashed US rock and roll.

The Songs
There's a hefty gallop to 'Desperation' with rolling boogie riffing, an eye-catching opener. 'Warrior' is an early slice of North American metal genius, vintage dual riff attack and inspired lyrics like' shield at his side, cloak across his breast.' Extremely heavy and almost obliterating what Judas Priest were doing at the time, 'Sin After Sin'. Future generations of metal acts lived on this epic style, Iron Maiden, Saxon.. you name it. In total contrast 'Rock City' is boogie in the finest tradition of AC/DC, with an unstoppable riff that Krokus would later use a few times. The hand clap breakdown with someone screaming 'yeah'! is magic. Amazing this was before Molly Hatchet, and superior to Lynyrd Skynyrd and other Southern rebels. A more common hard rock sound is employed for 'Overdrive', but the end effect is punishing via Reale's attack. 'Angel' is able to stand with Rose Tattoo as bad boy rock is concerned, a bracing wall of noise in the instrumental sections up there with 'Astra Wally'. 'Heart Of Fire' is close to Priest's 'Rocka Rolla' period, but more updated given the few years in between. The most melodic choice is 'This Is What I Get', veering towards the Boston harmonies found on their debut.

In Summary
After 25 years, seventeen members and twelve studio albums, Riot are still here, with Reale at the helm as the sole original, although the lineup found on 2002's 'Through The Storm' has existed for almost a decade, with a few drumming changes in that time. Of Riot's four vocalists Speranza is still considered the definitive by Riot purists, although the late Rhett Forrester (1982-83) and Tony Moore (1988-92) had their moments, notably 1984's 'Born In America' and the power metal of 1988's 'Thundersteel' respectively. Sadly the debut has been forgotten over time, a closer inspection reveals it to be not as clean as Van Halen's debut production wise, but significantly more dirty and heavier. And if given a chance, more influential.

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#1 | sabace on March 22 2006 13:47:16
mark reale is one of the greatest hard rock guitarists! great lp!
#2 | vinyldinosaurus on February 11 2008 21:03:36
Riot were so far ahead of their time, they beat the Brits to their own NWOBHM by a good two or three years! RIP Guy.
#3 | Nick C on July 09 2008 00:39:05
Riot were great but I lost intrest after the Rhett Forrester line up. Bizarrly my dad turned up with a promo of this album for me back in 77 or 78 along with some disco stuff that his mate who worked in the music industry had given him. At the time I hated it, but I was so into Aerosmith, Starz and the Godz (my holy trinity in those days), that it seemed too watered down...hahaha what a buffoon, I even sold it and it wasn't until Restless Breed that I got back into the band, even after seeing them do an awesome set at Manchester Apollo with Speranza on vocals, can't remember who they were supporting. I absolutely love this though, in fact I'm gonna give the olde vinyl a spin when I get back home!
#4 | sabace on March 29 2009 15:09:33
better late than never Nick C!
#5 | gdazegod on June 26 2010 14:47:16
The Bird head thing also amused me. Were they copying BUDGIE perhaps? helpless
#6 | rkbluez on October 12 2011 23:37:00
Nick Riot seemed watered down compared to the Godz...come on...Riot was way heavier than either the Godz, Starz or Aerosmith...all great classic bands but they didn't rock as hard as Riot or have a tune any where near as heavy as Overdrive...this was the start of a great but highly underated band that always delivered the goods.
#7 | david on December 05 2011 05:08:41
Nick, riot supported Sammy Hager, then came back and did the Saxon tour. In between that they did the Heavy Metal Holocust at Port Vale. Like you i lost interest when Guy left the band.
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