To say that Riot endured bad breaks is akin to suggesting that Oliver Reed occasionally partook of a swift half. The band’s fortunes appeared to improve in 1981, with a slot on the inaugural Monsters Of Rock festival, a new record deal with Elektra and the consistently brilliant Fire Down Under album. But later that same year vocalist Guy Speranza bowed out, and despite strong releases from later line-ups something unique was lost.
The internet offers abundant fan testimonials to Fire Down Under’s enduring cult-classic appeal, founded on the quality of its songs and delivery rather than because of misty-eyed nostalgia; the breadth of material takes in proto-speed metallers (Swords And Tequila and the title track), a melodic slap round the chops (Outlaw), Lizzy-style swing (Altar Of The King) and hints of Aerosmith (in the riffs of Feel The Same and Don’t Bring Me Down), all rammed home with Riot’s singular combination of energy, melody and power.
Despite previous reissues, this one edges out in front, due to having been freshly mastered in high definition from original tapes and with the addition of superior bonus tracks.