Album Review: Riot- Live In America: The Official Bootleg Box Set Vol. 3

Aaron ConnAlbum Review, MusicLeave a Comment

Riot Official Bootleg Box Set Vol 3Almost a year and a half after the last release, Cherry Red Records and HNE Records have surprised Riot fans with a third entry in the Bootleg Box Set series. This third entry, titled Live in America, is a six disc box set of unreleased concerts and session recordings. This is yet another good release from Cherry Red and a nice addition to the Riot discography.

Unlike the previous two box sets, this one does not continue where the previous entry left off. Vol. 2 ended with a show from Japan during the band’s tour in support for The Privilege of Power in 1990. While there’s a near 30 year gap of Riot’s history after that show, none of it is in this box set in concert form. Instead, this third entry consists of concerts the band performed in the USA from 1981 to 1988 (hence the box set’s title)- plus a disc of demo recordings. As per usual with these box sets, the quality of the recording varies with each concert.

I will break this review down by giving an overview of each concert/disc in the box set.

Riot 80s

Riot circa 1980 with original singer Guy Speranza (second from left)

Disc 1- My Father’s Place- Roslyn, NY 9/15/1981
Coming from the band’s tour in promotion for Fire Down Under, this is the only Guy Speranza concert in the set. It’s fun to hear the band play in their home state of New York, with the band playing almost all of the songs from Fire Down Under. This show is a widely bootleged show. So much so, there’s a video that exists of this concert floating around YouTube. While a great show, the audio quality isn’t the best. In fact, the audio sounds a little too fast. Having listened to the show from other YouTube videos, I’ve discovered this isn’t playing at the correct speed. If one wanted to, they could easily fix this with an audio program such as Audacity.


Bonus tracks: Band rehearsals from Mark Reale’s basement- “Warrior,” the unreleased “We’ll Make It” and a cover of Montrose’s “I Got The Fire.”
Sound quality: 3/5 (with the speed corrected)
Overall concert: 4/5

Riot with Rhett Forrester

Riot with singer Rhett Forrester (center)

Disc 2- Wolfgangs- San Francisco, CA 12/27/1983
Taken from the band’s tour in support for Born In America, this is the first of three shows in the set that feature singer Rhett Forrester- who replaced Guy Sperenza in 1982. While the band’s setlist and performance are all good, the sound quality is still an issue here. Rhett’s vocals are often overpowered by the music being played. After listening to this, its possible that this concert was recorded by an audience member- considering you can hear people speak in between songs. Still, this is a solid show and the setlist has a nice flow to it. Similar to the previous show, the band plays nearly every song from their latest album.

Sound quality: 2.5/5
Overall concert: 3.5/5

Rhett Forrester Mark Reale

Singer Rhett Forrester and guitarist Mark Reale performing live c. 1983

Disc 3- Albuquerque, NM 1/2/1984
Recorded just a few days after the Wolfgangs show, this Born In America concert is an improvement over the previous show as the quality here is better. Looking at the list of songs, it’s almost the same exact setlist from the Wolfgangs show- sans “Heavy Metal Machine.” This show sounds clearer than the Wolfgangs show, which make this an easier show to listen to. All of the band members can be heard, including Rhett.

Sound quality: 3.5/5
Overall concert: 4/5

Disc 4- The Roxy- Los Angeles, CA 4/16/1986
After the Born In America tour ended in 1984, Mark Reale decided to leave the band on hiatus and focus on other projects. By 1986, Reale started using the Riot name again- which would end up leading to the release of 1988’s Thundersteel. At the time of this 1986, Rhett Forrester had rejoined the group. Among the shows in these three box sets, this is one of the most important ones: it shows proof that the band were performing prior to Thundersteel‘s release. For the setlist, most of the songs performed are from the two Rhett albums. The stand-out track performed here, however, is “Sign of the Crimson Storm”- which would later be released on Thundersteel. What makes this unique is due to the fact that Rhett is singing the song and not Tony Moore, who was the band’s singer by the time Thundersteel was released. Similar to the My Father’s Place show, the audio track of Rhett singing the song has been all over YouTube for years.

Bonus tracks: Two 1988 demos- “Liar” and a re-recorded version of “Warrior”
Sound quality: 3/5
Overall concert: 4/5

Riot Group 1988

Riot in 1988 during the Thundersteel era, with singer Tony Moore (second from right)

Disc 5- Hallettsville, TX 8/21/1988
Touring in support of Thundersteel, this show features Riot as a four piece band. For this show, the band plays every song from Thundersteel– albeit not in the album order. As far as the sound quality goes, this is okay. On a few tracks, you can barely here Tony sing but you can Donnie Van Stavern’s bass playing fairly clearly. This sounds like another audience recording, only this one sounds slightly better. I also enjoy hearing Tony’s stage banter in between songs. Prior to playing “Bloodstreets,” Tony mentions that the band just filmed the music video- which puts a date on when the video came out.

Bonus tracks: Demo recordings of “When The Lights Go Down” and “Anna (A Place Called Tomorrow)”- the latter of which would end up becoming “Maryanne” from The Privilege of Power 
Sound quality: 
Overall concert: 4/5

Disc 6- Demos
Similar to the second box set, the last disc here is devoted to demo recordings. While the disc in the second set consisted of demos from 1980, this disc of demos is more diverse- spanning from 1987 to around 1996. Unlike the previous demo disc, the recordings here have much better sound quality- making for an easier listening experience. However, all of the demos here are instrumentals- so it gets repetitive quickly. Still, the late Mark Reale’s guitar work shines here- which makes it worth a listen.

Sound quality: 4/5
Overall disc: 3/5

Overall thoughts
The third bootleg box set from Riot another solid release from Cherry Red. However comparing it to the previous two entries, I feel like this one wasn’t so necessary. Don’t get me wrong: this is not a bad release at all. I just didn’t get the feeling that I got from the first two. This might be because this set doesn’t pick up where the last one picked up from. In the release’s defense, there’s already three other live albums out that chronologically follow the second set: Live in Japan (1992), Shine On (1998) and the recently released Live in Japan 2018– the last of those coming from Riot V. If anything, this set adds more to Riot’s history- which is always nice to have. If you own and enjoy the other two sets, I recommend picking this up.

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Aaron ConnAlbum Review: Riot- Live In America: The Official Bootleg Box Set Vol. 3