“Randy is still a part of my life, I never feel like he is gone unless I see a photo from his gravesite. Otherwise to me he is on another extended tour” Ron Sobol says in his new book and dvd set “Randy Rhoads, The Quiet Riot Years”. There have been many books written about Randy over the years and this past year marking the 30th anniversary of his passing is no exception. Headlines were recently made over the Rhoads family’s opposition to the beautiful (but unauthorized) coffee table book by Andrew Klein and Peter Margolis and the second pressing of Rhoads’ best friend and Quiet Riot bandmate Kelly Garni’s book (including more photos and stories of growing up with Randy) is currently underway. Lots of the books focus on the short but glorious time Randy spent with Ozzy Osbourne (as those albums are rightfully viewed as the masterpieces they are) but now we are finally starting to hear and see more about the mid to late 70s genesis of Quiet Riot.
If any book deserves to be viewed as a bonafide work of art it is longtime band associate, photographer and friend Ron Sobol’s. It is fair to say it is on par with “The Doors”, Ben Fong Torres gorgeous coffee table book except that book did not come with a sensational 90 minute DVD to justify it’s price tag like Sobol’s does. To be perfectly honest with you, the 69.95 price tag is more than justified to the hardcore Rhoads fan simply for the DVD but I will start with the book. It is almost identical to the aforementioned Doors book in size, shape and quality and upon opening it you are immediately treated to a nice timeline list of early Quiet Riot gigs as well as a suitable for framing poster. There’s actually an even better tear out black and white print in the back which is even more perfect for framing. If Garni’s book is a bird’s eye view of the personal relationships of “The Riot” during this era than Sobol’s book serves as a fine visual and print document, the musical rise of a guitar legend.
However, that’s not why I love this set. Randy Rhoads does indeed have a “James Dean of rock and roll legacy” as Sobol states, but it has always bothered me that so little attention was paid to the tremendous loss of the late, great Kevin Dubrow. Understandably, some of the tarnish is a result of how he treated people early in his career as well as how he passed but it is ridiculous to minimize his importance to Quiet Riot or the Sunset Strip metal scene. To me, Kevin Dubrow was the scream of our generation. To Ron Sobol, he was a lifelong friend dating back to the days they bonded over classic British rock in their parent’s homes. This book and DVD is exceptional for many reasons but truly special because it finally pays homage to the complicated legacy of Mr. Dubrow. We are treated to heartfelt interviews with his mother Laura and throughout the duration it is repeated by many that Kevin was the driving force of Quiet Riot. Randy had undeniable talent and charisma but even after Randy’s exit from the band Kevin was still determined to be a star (we will no doubt see more about that in Frankie Banali’s long awaited movie about the MTV years of the band).
There are so many great old photos and stories in this book that you will no doubt pull it out or better yet, leave it out to be displayed but what will thrill the Randy (and Kevin) fans the most is the DVD. There are some great special features, including a guitar lesson from Randy, but the meat of the disc is the 90 minute documentary. Some of the information in the book is repeated in the DVD but some information is presented from a different point of view. For example the oft-repeated story that Kelly Garni was fired from the band after firing a gun at Randy’s head is worded that way in the text but on the DVD longtime associate Kim McNair (who was there during the infamous episode) states that Kelly in fact fired a couple shots up at the ceiling. To the casual observer this is of little consequence but how many “casual” fans of Randy Rhoads do you know?
Fans will no doubt appreciate the nice personal glimpses into the band from Randy’s longtime girlfriend and costume designer Jodi Raskin Vigier and fan club president Lori Hollen. There are priceless and hilarious on and offstage stories from Randy’s guitar tech and Sobol involving teasing and torturing Rhoads about Eddie Van Halen and loads of other interviews (including some particularly good ones with bassist Rudy Sarzo and original drummer Drew Forsyth). The audio interviews with Randy and Delores Rhoads are really cool to hear but the crown jewel is of course the concert footage. Some of this has never before seen the light of day and what has been seen over the years in other formats was never this nicely restored. Prepare to wear out your rewind button because the jaw dropping audio and video of Randy performing his solo spot “Laughing Gas” is top notch. If you are a fan of Rhoads, Quiet Riot or the Sunset Strip you need “Randy Rhoads, The Quiet Riot Years”.
Five Stars * * * * *
To purchase Ron Sobol’s book/DVD please go to www.redmatchproductions.com