Riot – The Official Bootleg Box Set Volume 1 1976-1980 (HNE Recordings/Cherry Red)

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Every metal-head and rocker knows Riot. They were destined to do big things, but somehow never quite made it. This six disc box set starts from the beginning and works its way up to their pinnacle with the legendary Monsters of Rock (MoR) show at Castle Donington in 1980. The quality of discs 1 and 2 (both recorded live at Red Foxx, New Jersey in 1976) can be rough, although listenable and features 21 tracks of old school classics and a couple of cover songs thrown in for good measure. Diehards will relish the contents. Disc 3 (live in Ohio 1978) sees the sound quality improve and presents the band firing on all cylinders sounding solid and stable, even belting out a rather classy version of Deep Purples Highway Star. 11 tracks of New York City hard rockin’. Disc 4 and 5 give us yet stronger still versions of some of the previous songs, all performed during 1980. This in itself shows Riot growing and really finding their feet. Of course there is a certain repetitiveness amongst the track listing, as certain songs will be set standards, but with 57 tracks in total that has to be expected. The real gem in this box is the superbly sounding 7 song set from the above mentioned MoR Festival in 1980. Exceptional versions of Angel, Rock City and Warrior make this alone well worth the purchase. Once again in true HNE style the accompanying 16-page booklet of time relevant photos and liner notes rounds off a superior package for an essential piece of classic history, and some great sounding tunes. It’s just a shame Mark Reale is no longer with us. The definitive Riot story as they graduated from playing small clubs in 1976 through to huge festivals. Mark Freebase

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