If you’re into 80s glam metal, you probably think you know the band Quiet Riot. After all, this name has been around since the 70s and is still going today. However, this band has changed members so many times there’s nothing left of the original band, except for the songs and the legacy.
From the days of guitar legend Randy Rhoads to a new current line-up, this band still manages to keep rocking. The name has been on 14 studio albums, two live albums, and dozens of singles.
But what are the top 10 Quiet Riot songs ever?
Well, here are the tracks I believe really stand out from the past 45 years.
Quiet Riot Explained
A full history of Quiet Riot would be way too long to include or even impossible. So, I’ll try to stick to the highlights. A total of no less than 33 musicians have been considered members of Quiet Riot at one point or another.
The band was started by bassist Kelly Garni and the immortal guitarist Randy Rhoads in L.A. way back in 1973. They picked up drummer Drew Forsyth and singer Kevin DuBrow, but things weren’t very happy in the band. They couldn’t get recognition and only put out two Japan-only releases in the 70s.
As the legend goes…
Garni hated Dubrow so much that he had a fistfight with Rhoads to try to kick him out of the band, then went out to kill DuBrow in a drunken rage. On the way, he was picked up by police for drunk driving. He was the one who lost his place in the band, while DuBrow went on and stayed with the group for decades.
Rhoads quit Quiet Riot after auditioning for Ozzy Osborne in 1979, and then-bassist Rudy Sarzo joined him, so the band broke up shortly afterward. But, in 1982, DuBrow started up the project again, recruiting Frank Banali on drums, Carlos Cavazo on guitar, and eventually Sarzo back on bass.
In 1982, this line-up put out their landmark album Metal Health and hit the top 10 with a cover of “Cum On Feel the Noize” by Slade. But, by 1985, Sarzo was tired of the band and quit, and in 1987 DuBrow was fired by the band he put together.
The band broke up again in 1989…
But then, in 1991, the project started up again with DuBrow singing. Sarzo returned in 1997. Then they broke up again in 2003 and re-united in 2004. Then DuBrow died in 2007.
After that, ex-drummer Frank Banali started the band again in 2010 and kept changing members until he died in 2020. Sarzo returned to the band to join guitarist Alex Grossi, drummer Johnny Kelly, and singer Jizzy Pearl.
You can’t make this stuff up!
So, that band has been a revolving door of new and past members stopping by whenever they could tolerate each other. Still, the band’s output has stayed pretty consistent. They play Hard Rock in a Glam Metal style. So, let’s look at Quiet Riot’s Top 10 songs.
Top 10 Quiet Riot Songs
“Slick Black Cadillac” (1978)[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9TAqNPktyw[/yt]
There are only two songs on this list that feature the late, great guitarist Randy Rhoads. These were both recorded in the 70s; however, only “Slick Black Cadilac” was released. It came out on the adventurously-titled album Quiet Riot II. But, it was only released in Japan and has still never been released officially in the US.
“Slick Black Cadillac” is by far the coolest song from this record. It’s fast and fun, with a great Rock beat and chugging guitar driving it along. The vocals are bright and full of energy, with backing vocals helping out DuBrow.
But, of course, it’s Rhoads’ guitar work that sets this track apart. He fills the song up with flourishes and fat chords but also plays a stinging solo full of distortion and tapping, which at the time was groundbreaking.
“Cum On Feel the Noize” (1982)[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kjettm41LU[/yt]
Metal Health was Quiet Riot’s breakthrough album when it came out in 1982. The album was full of great songs, had a great name, and had a wicked cover, too. It went to #5 in the charts, and one song hit the #1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100, which was a first for any Metal band.
That song was “Cum on Feel the Noize”…
It’s a cover of the song the British band Slade sent to #1 in 1973. Quiet Riot’s version of this great Rock song was bolder and heavier than the original and just had a bigger Rock sound to it. At the same time, DuBrow’s voice sounded almost like Slade singer Noddy Holder’s here.
“Metal Health (Bang Your Head)” (1982)[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMEz4cFMlZE[/yt]
While the Slade cover was the biggest hit from Metal Health, it wasn’t the only song to get people’s attention. The title track, “Metal Health (Bang Your Head),” has great energy and is built around a really cool guitar riff.
This is a song about Heavy Metal Music and head-banging culture. It’s got strong lyrics performed powerfully by DuBrow, and a short but exciting guitar solo to back it up. This song has gone on to be one of the best-loved Quiet Riot songs ever.
Metal Health wasn’t all heavy rocking, rip-roaring Metal songs. One of the band’s best tracks from this album is “Thunderbird,” a passionate power ballad. This song shows the diversity that Quiet Riot was capable of. DuBrow’s vocals are excellent here, and the chorus is one of those amazing sing-along group vocals that really get your spine-tingling.
It’s a slower song, but there’s still a lot of Rock here. Frankie Banali plays a powerful beat, and Carlos Cavazo, while no Rhoads (but who was?), provides some excellent and perfectly fitting guitar work to make this track amazing.
“Mama Weer All Crazee Now” (1984)[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gStvjANqoqs[/yt]
Metal Health was such a success after so many years of hard work that the band had to come back with another album to back it up. Their next album, Condition Critical, wasn’t as successful but still managed to excite fans and sell over one million copies.
The band went back to what worked – they did another cover of a Slade song. This time, it was “Mama Weer All Crazee Now.” While the Slade version had a bit of swing to it and a whole lot of Glam, Quiet Riot turned up the drums and bass, added in chanted group lyrics, and turned this song into a stadium-style anthem.
“Condition Critical” (1984)[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gQF7w_QbhU[/yt]
The title track from Condition Critical is another one of the top 10 Quiet Riot Songs ever. This is a slow, powerful Rock song that’s got an early Black Sabbath feel to it.
Frankie Banali lays down some heavy, pounding drums here. Some of his best work, in my opinion. Cavazo is great on the guitar. He laid down multiple tracks on the recording to make the band’s sound big and thick. And Rudy Sarzo plays one of his coolest basslines ever.
The vocal work by DuBrow is very different. He focuses on pronunciation and power here rather than soaring to screeching high notes. The whole thing is a big success.
“Party All Night” (1984)[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ECE_w61Em_A[/yt]
Condition Critical had one more trick up its sleeve. This was the fun and kind of funny rocker “Party All Night.” This song has a mid-tempo Rock beat and is driven by a solid bass riff. Over the top, Cavazo plays chunky chords and a fiery solo. DuBrow’s vocals are joined by backing vocals and big fat hand claps in the chorus, creating huge energy and making this a great song to sing along with.
The Beastie Boys’ “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party)” is a Rock/Rap imitation of the Quiet Riot song, and their video obviously spoofs the rock band’s video. Check them out back to back.
“The Wild and the Young” (1986)[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TP2KhfQ8Pm8[/yt]
The band’s fifth album, QR III (or Quiet Riot III), came out in 1986 when big hair and wild costumes were the defining look for rockers. Quiet Riot adjusted their sound to this new version of American “Hair Metal” – sort of.
In “The Wild and the Young,” they kept their group vocal choruses and blazing guitar solos. But they also added in fat synth chords and even samples to fit in with the new mid-80s sound. This song is a passionate Rock song that promotes reckless youth and decries censorship. This is easily one of the band’s most fun songs.
“Stay With Me Tonight” (1988)[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYGMWT3O4SY[/yt]
The next album, QR, came out in 1988 and sounded a bit like a whole new band. After all, Sean McNabb was the new bass player. And, while Banali was still on drums and Cavazo on guitar, DuBrow had been fired by his own band. He was replaced by Paul Shortino (of Rough Cutt fame), who sounded totally different.
On the mid-tempo “Stay With Me Tonight,” Shortino shows off his vocal range, singing low and quiet in the verses but hitting some gritty high notes in the chorus. This song has a great, slow groove to it. It’s sexy, smooth, and very different from the band’s other work.
“Picking Up the Pieces” (1993)[yt]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lgrgZLT_kA[/yt]
The last song on my list of the Top 10 songs by Quiet Riot is “Picking Up the Pieces.” This song was actually recorded back in 1978. However, it was not released until the band put out a compilation album, The Randy Rhoads Years, in 1993.
At this point, DuBrow was back in the band, and he was asked by Rhoads’ family to remix his earlier songs. DuBrow did this and also re-did his vocal tracks for all the songs, including “Picking Up the Pieces.” This song has a huge beat and the energy and sound of the band’s earliest work. DuBrow’s vocals are peppy and powerful here.
But, the real focus is Rhoads’ guitar work. He plays an incredible and very distinctive solo in the middle of this song. Just classic Randy Rhoads.
Need More Rock Music in Life?
Well, check out our thoughts on the Best Classic Rock Songs, the Best 70s Rock Songs, the Best 80s Rock Songs, the Best 90s Rock Songs, the Best 70s Rock Bands, or the Best 80s Rock Bands for more incredible song selections.
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The Top 10 Quiet Riot Songs of All Time – Final Thoughts
So, that’s my list of this legendary rock band’s greatest songs. I know you might have your favorites, and that’s no surprise. The band has been around, in one form or another, for 50 years. They’ve changed line-ups, including singers and lead guitarists, several times but still manage to keep a distinctive sound.
This is a band that plays big and loud and in your face. With rock legend Randy Rhoads starting its guitar history and the late, great Kevin DuBrow on vocals, they had one heck of an ancestry. So, I’m excited to hear what great songs they’ll put out in the future, too.
Until next time, happy listening.