There are songs that function as time machines for each of us, transporting us back to certain formative places and times in our lives. Quiet Riot’s “Cum On Feel The Noize” never fails to wayback me to 1984, as a freshly-hatched 10-year-old music fanatic. Obsessed with Def Leppard’s “Pyromania” cassette (one of 12 tapes I’d gotten from Columbia House for just a penny!), I was eager to find more stuff like this to bang my head to. The monster single from Quiet Riot’s “Metal Health” album fit the bill perfectly. It’s upbeat and lively, but also a loud, ferocious, aggressive, neighbor-waking fist-pumper.
The song apparently filled a need for everyone else too, peaking at #5 on the US Billboard chart in late 1983, a summit few Heavy Metal bands have ever climbed, even to this day. The song was playing on every Pop and Rock radio station, and even getting decent rotation on Metal-shy MTV. Everything about “COFTN” was larger-than-life, from its ubiquity to Frankie Banali’s drum stomp, Rudy Sarzo’s icon-in-the-making bass behind Carlos Cavazo’s guitar swagger, to the Rock n’ Roll nonsense lyrics, sung so powerfully by Kevin DuBrow. Goddamn, this is one of the great singular Metal vocal performances of all time. The over-the-top fire and bluster and obnoxious charisma that he blasts into the mic is extreme. He cannot, will-not be ignored. For the next 4:50 (or 3:20, if you catch the edited single), he has your full attention.
It wasn’t originally a Quiet Riot song, of course. UK Glam-Rockers Slade had had a big European hit and a minor US splash with it in 1973. As lore and unverified gossip would have it, Slade had mixed feelings about QR’s huge success with their song, enjoying its extended life and the paychecks, but harboring some resentment for it eclipsing their original in popularity. Apparently, even Kevin Dubrow and the boys were not interested, only recording it at the request of producer Spencer Proffer. Frankie Banali reportedly said that they’d tried to make it an “intentional train wreck.” This attitude is undoubtedly what led to so much of the live feel and defiant spark that went on tape for the final recording.
Ten-year-old me was just unabashedly taken with “Cum On Feel The Noize.” I had no idea that it was a Slade cover, even while Slade’s 1984 hit, “Run Runaway,” was also capturing my attention – – albeit to a lesser extent. I didn’t know of Randy Rhoads history with QR. To be blunt, as much as I also loved the title track on their “Metal Health” album, along with passing affection for “Battle Axe,” “Slick Black Cadillac,” and “Run For Cover,” this cultural moment was truly all about “The Noize” for me.
Quiet Riot would continue for decades after this with shifting personnel, even on beyond Kevin DuBrow’s tragic passing in 2007, but they’d never come near this level of success again, not even with another (fucking killer) Slade cover of “Mama Weer All Crazee Now” on their followup, “Condition Critical.” I’ve heard them called one-hit-wonders, but that’s just not true. They not only had a bevy of other quality songs, they also scored respectable hits with “Metal Health,” “The Wild and the Young,” “Party All Night,” and that Slade cover 2.0.
But with the towering success of “Cum on Feel The Noize,” Quiet Riot – – along with Def Leppard, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, Twisted Sister, Ozzy Osbourne, and a host of others – – helped to forge and define the look of popular mainstream Heavy Metal that would rule the rest of the 80s.
I don’t know why. No, I don’t know why. Just pop the cassette into the boombox and we’ll get wild, wild, wild.
Rudy Sarzo, Frankie Banali, Quiet Riot, and Randy Rhoads are inductees in the Metal Hall of Fame.
Bonus Tracks: I prefer Quiet Riot’s version to Slade’s, although I do think the “Mama Weer All Crazee Now” original is superior (Slade were in desperate need of a spellchecker). Don’t bother with Oasis’s anemic version from the 90s, but do check out Devin Townsend Project’s little tune, “Quiet Riot,” from the “Ki” album, that playfully riffs on the motif.
Jack Mangan is best known in the Metal world as the co-host of the popular Metal Hall of Fame and MetalAsylum.net livestreams with Rich Catino, but in this space, he’s also the lead author/project runner for the “Am I Evil?” graphic novel and a journalist with MetalAsylum.net and the official Metal Hall of Fame. In an adjacent life, he was a podcast pioneer, with numerous appearances on Dragon Page, Escape Pod/Pseudopod, and many others, including his own productions: Jack Mangan’s Deadpan, and the Podcast novel, “Spherical Tomi.” Friend him on Facebook if you can find him, but be warned: he’s not great about checking Facebook Messenger.