Tag Archives: Guy Speranza

Riot/Born In America(1983)



1983 was a great year in Metal as all the bIg shots had records out and in my world some of the  biggest were Def Leppard with Pyromania/Iron Maiden with Piece Of Mind along with AC/DC with Flick Of The Switch!

Bubbling under were many and Riot man put out a great record here but no one noticed except myself and my buddy Muc!

Riot though suffered for some reason and never cranked it to the next level. So many sap acts did but the money/fame and success alluded these guys and well….

It was good to see Great Rock Writer Martin Popoff write a definitive history on Riot in his  awesome book Swords and Tequila. I reviewed the book last year as a great read as Martin had a ton of info that I could never find as a teen on these guys yet Popoff did his homework and 3 Decade’s later I finally got to read the Riot Story!

The sad thing is that Lead Guitarist Mark Reale passed away about 5 years ago from Crohn’s. Guy Speranza as well passed away back in 2003 and Rhett Forrester was murdered in an apparent car jacking back in 1994.

Though they are no longer with us. These three cats have left us with the Gift of Hard Rock…..

Riot though delivers on all fronts with this record. Speaking of which the other three members of Riot are Guitarist Rick Ventura/ Bassist Kip Lemming and Drummer Sandy Slavin.

Opener Born In America opens the album and the band has a big rock sound for this album and Rhett is laying down the vocal law right off the bat. I posted the video at the top and yup that was the lame-o album cover that was used(a different cover was reissued at the back-end of the 80’s) That is the only negative thing about this album and that’s the cover.

You Burn In Me would have been  great single back in 84 and even though it’s has single written all over it. Riot though especially with Slavin’s drums kick it in the ass and keeps the song from lagging. Pretty cool axe work as well.

Now this is where the album ramps up and that’s Wings Of Fire that once again feature Slavin’s drums and Forrester’s singing. Popoff’s explains in his book that Rhett is rock n roll and lived the style so if that is the case (I believe Martin) than I guess you could say that Wings Of Fire is Rhett N Roll! Real slick hard rock chorus as well!

Running From The Law is a straight ahead no frills rock track but for some reason this works as it’s ok for Riot to chill out and have a little Quiet of a Riot (ok that was pathetic) but you can’t be going balls out all the time or can you?

Devil Woman is the tune made famous by HMO’s Uncle, Cliff Richard. Not a bad cover actually but lot’s of acts  in 83/84 were covering tunes.

Vigilante Killer is just that. Riot mixed up with some bad apples and this is just straight ahead street rock. No frills  here folks.

Rhett hollers on Heavy Metal Machine. Slavin drives this song with his drums. Reale and Ventrua play some hot rod rocking riff’s! This tune makes you wanna break things…hahaha!

Gunfighter is one of my fav’s off of this album…just watch and listen below…Great catchy chorus!

Promised Land is one of those end of albums jam tunes built by the riffs of Reale and Ventura. Good end of the album send off…

Riot under go the Lead Singer change and kept slugging away even opening for KISS on the Lick It Up Tour.  Due to losing record company deals and some bad deals that ended this band and  Riot just called it a day.

In 1988 Reale resurrected Riot got a record deal and recorded a new album called ThunderSteel. I bought it of course on name alone but this was a different Riot. No original dudes and I just couldn’t get into it! No Rhett/No Guy/No Deke…

Having said this if you come across any Riot albums pre 83 check em out!

Riot/Restless Breed (1982)


Riot’s Restless Breed back in 1982 was my first Riot purchase.  I had seen the ad for this album in Circus or Hit Parader and outside of the goofy looking seal cover inside this album packed a bunch of NYC street rock filled with riff’s and vocals delivered like a punch to your throat.

Riot I dug and when I reviewed their classic 1981 album Fire Down Under you get the sense that they were real close to breaking it big but singer Guy Speranza(RIP) abruptly quit  and In Through The OutDoor kicking it off its hinges is new lead throat Rhett Forrester(RIP)

Restless Breed gets under way with Hard Lovin Man with a straight kick to your gut like rock track. Rhett sings it like he lived it. The guitars of Rick Ventura and Mark Reale(RIP) are real good with each guy trading off a barrage of solo’s while Rhett just wails away.

CIA features a slick melodic chorus. CIA is a take no prisoners tune. Don’t muck around with the CIA as they will come hunting with their magnum!

The title track Restless Breed is an absolute beast of a track. It starts off simple enough and then ramps up come chorus time. Restless Breed I cannot emphasize how awesome of a track it is. Check out the vid below….it’s live…

When I Was Young kinda has rock radio written all over it as Rhett takes a chill pill and sings the tune and has a galloping like beat to it. Very autobiographical like song.(original version was done by The Animals I believe) Nice guitar work by the boy’s.

Drummer Sandy Slavin  and Bassist Kip Lemming rock the shit of their instruments to start off Loanshark. Rhett is jacked up and collecting payments over due! Tons of ride cymbal..

Hey man the first 18 seconds of Loved By You sounds like Dokken’s Into The Fire but played in a different key mind you. Than again maybe it’s me. Another great rock track. Hey man is Rhett dabbling on a harmonica on this track. Yes siree some one is…sounds like a party going on int he background.  Great track.

Over To You pulls no punches another great song in the Riot catalogue and once again they shift gears into a melodic chorus mind you not losing their edge!

Showdown takes a step back and Rhett is taking a walk out the door on his woman. It’s official a Showdown while Dream Away keeps the Riot hard melodic train a rolling while the chorus has Rhett and the guitars trading off.

To end the album Violent Crimes kicks you square in the crotch. Ouch! No fooling around. Violent Crimes just flats out rocks as the Riot Train may come off the tracks. Great chorus and real cool Bass ripping by Kip!

So here’s the deal…

I purchased this deluxe edition of Restless Breed which includes a 6 song live Ep recorded in July 1982 that at the time  was sold separate and there weren’t many copies floating around. These live Rhett tracks are the clincher with a total ripping version of Swords And Tequila. The other 5 songs on the EP are from Restless Breed.(Hard Lovin Man/Showdown/Loved By You/Restless Breed/Loanshark)

The reissue itself is pretty slick as well on cd. A mini gatefold sleeve. Mini poster and lyrics on the back. The powers that be went all out on this one.

Better yet when I stumbled upon this on Amazon.ca it was listed for $9.98(purchased it right away) and a few days later it went up to $19.98??

This is a great hard rock album.

These Dudes in Riot were not Quiet!

Swords And Tequila/ RIOT’S Classic First Decade



Martin Popoff is a great writer who has written a ton of books about bands that normally would not have books written about them.(U.F.O/Accept & Max Webster) are three that come to mind)

Brooklyn’s  Riot would be one of these bands who came Oh so close but due to record company/management issues and a great Lead Singer Guy Speranza quitting(just as they were about to go mega) fell a little short in making it to the Big Time! Shame really as Riot had a real good run of about 4 Albums and a Ep! (1979s Narita 1981’s Fire Down Under, 1983’s Restless Breed thru 1984’s Born In America)

Say what ya want but that’s a better run of albums than many an act you do know about! Hello Poison……!

Martin always does  his due diligence on talking to pretty much members of Riot especially Riot guitarist Mark Reale  who provides all kinds of real cool stories about recording (each classic album is reviewed with track by track commentary) with other interviews with former members like Rick Ventura,Kip Lemming and Manager Steve Loeb. 

Some heat is put on Loeb in this book by the other Riot member’s for making them sign deals that were lopsided and by having missed opportunities. Loeb himself explain’s his side of the story to Martin. Even today Drummer Sandy Slavin has posted remarks about the dealings of Loeb and assistant manager Billy Arnell on  his Facebook page not necessarily by name mind you but by “Management”.

1981’s Fire Down Under should have made these guys superstars.

Riot had all the Big League Managers at the time salivating to work with them! Managers from bands like Sabbath and Q Prime(Metallica/Def Leppard) but for reasons it always fell apart for these guys amongst record label turnover and Riot themselves switching labels they just could not gather up any real momentum and when they did finally  get momentum Singer Guy Speranza got married/found God and packed it in with Rock N Roll! Also for all the accolades Riot received they were making no money this as well could wear and tear on you mentally  as well.

Riot were in a lurch but they scored in the singer search and hired Rhett Forrester and released 1983’s Restless Breed (which back than was my first Riot Purchase) but once again Riot were dropped by their record company but it didn’t deter these fella’s as by 1984 out came the Real Good Born In America and touring the arenas with KISS but the fact that Riot was on a  Canadian Disco Label didn’t do them any favours in the marketing regions of Hard Rock!

Eventually like all bands that struggle they break up and Riot did and kudos to them for struggling to survive for as long as  they did!

1988 Riot was reborn with just guitarist Reale remaining and he put out the Thundersteel album which I  had bought on Cassette tape but it did not catch on with me as I was looking for the Fire Down Under/Restless Breed/Born In America Riot and for me it wasn’t there! Full props though to Mark for never stopping…..

Riot to this day is still going and Martin does champion there cause.

I should also mention that Martin steps up with the book with pictures of the bands/record and tour adds. Stuff I have never seen before even back in the mid 80s when I was listening to these guys the first time around!  The Book also has the whole Discography of the band which is very detailed and there’s a section of submitted Riot Fan Email’s explaining the passion they have for these guy’s music! Martin even talks to the guy that played with Rhett in a band from Calgary back in the late 80s when Rhett relocated there.

Remember what I said earlier about Martin doing his due diligence in regards to this book….

Riot is one of the few bands that have had its share to tragedy as well. Rhett Forester was murdered in an attempted Car Jacking back in 1994(Atlanta) and the case was never really solved while original singer Guy Speranza passed away from cancer in 2003. Mark Reale passed away from complications from Crohns disease in 2012.

Riot though are one of those Gems of a band that may have never hit the big time but for many out there they did!

Props to Martin for writing this book! Thanks Man! Also Thanks Martin for securing and sending me a copy of this Book!

Folks do yourselves a favour and support our local Canadian Homeboy’s Martin Popoff and Brent Jensen as they are fantastic writers! Search em out and tell them Deke’s sent ya!

Riot/Fire Down Under(1981)

Brooklyn’s  Riot released in 1981 what many consider(myself included) a bonafide all time great piece of executed Hard Rock! Why this album did not catapult these guys to Fame at the time is beyond me.  At the time Riot(1981) was opening for Rush on there Moving Pictures Tour so Riot were getting the tours as well in England they were going over a storm opening for Sammy Hagar so who knows what  the problem was perhaps the Record Company politics did them in as well as management or perhaps Fire Down Under was ahead of its time.

I tend to think it was all three …. management,record company and an album ahead of its time…

The Riot dudes that created this Epic Piece Of Rock are…

Guy Speranza – vocals
Mark Reale – guitar
Rick Ventura – guitar
Kip Leming – bass
Sandy Slavin – drums

This album has all the trimmings of a Super Duper Classic around Stick It In Your Ear HQ’s! The lead singing  is superb,the music muscle shown by the Fella’s is superb as well! This album can do no wrong….Case in point just the song titles along Kick Ass!

Side one

“Swords and Tequila” (Guy Speranza, Mark Reale) – 3:15
“Fire Down Under” (Speranza, Kip Leming) – 2:34
“Feel the Same” (Rick Ventura) – 4:30
“Outlaw” (Speranza, Reale) – 4:50
“Don’t Bring Me Down” (Speranza, Reale, Leming, Ventura, Sandy Slavin) – 2:57

Side two
“Don’t Hold Back” (Speranza, Reale) – 3:15
“Altar of the King” (Speranza, Reale) – 4:46
“No Lies” (Ventura) – 4:10
“Run for Your Life” (Speranza, Reale) – 3:16
“Flashbacks” (Speranza, Reale, Leming, Ventura, Slavin) – 4:02

Swords and Tequila is a bonafide superstar opener. Swords sets the pace and features the guitar wizardy of Reale and Ventura while Speranza kicks in the doors of your local Mexican Watering Hole and lays down the law vocally  and tells us how to get through the night! Big Time Muscle is this tune! Crank the video posted!

After Guy and crew demolish the Mexican Tavern they take things even further and faster and unleash Fire Down Under that keeps the song racing and you would think the Riot train was going to come off the rails it doesn’t  though as the boy’s keep it all together. Riot ramp things up to 100 mph and guess what folks? It all makes sense!

Feel The Same just chills the vibe right out as the verses are relaxed but the chorus takes it a notch and no it’s not a power ballad but a power track that will hoof you square in your man junk regions! Slavin drums an awesome vibe here….

Ok Track four being Outlaw is soon friggin good! Guitars lead off the charge and the boys toss down another tune about another round trip to the Mexican town with more tequila being spilled and searching for missing Gold! Check out the clip of Outlaw posted!

Don’t Bring Me Down is Riot Boogie Rock that shifts gears at a quick pace. This song is classic rock with a Metal Twist. I’m breaking protocol here and dropping down a third video and for Aaron at the KMA site I posted the lyrics to  the second verse where Guy chirps the word Chump!….. watch the vid and follow the words below….

You took my car, for just one night,
Out to cruise the scene, that’s what you told me.
Now the engine’s gone, the tailpipe’s bent,
My 8-Track’s playin’, Spring-st-st-steen.
You call me a wimp, you say I’m a chump,
Well your face is bent,
And you smell like gorilla dump.
Ooooh, don’t bring me down.
Ooooh, don’t bring me down.
No, no, no.

Slavin and Kip drive this tune while the guitar bite of Reale and Ventura is so bang on its sick! It’s tunes like this that make me miss 1981! Ha! Well kinda…don’t miss my Math Mark from that year!

Side 2  opens with Don’t Hold Back and Alter OF The King which are kinda like reader HMO’S homeboys Saxon. Its two tracks of straight ahead Power Rock with a twist in the Blender of Saxon and Riot mashed up!

No Lies is another awesome track that has Drum Boy Slavin leading the charge while Guy delivers it all vocally and this tune like I have said many a time on previous reviews of albums its one of those end of album GEMS!

Run For Your Life rocks out as well and keeps the Riot Xpress going (HMO I hear old school Saxon here!)while end of the album Flashbacks is basically Riot sampling a bunch of shows with a guitar threading across the track while you hear some announcer welcoming Riot to the Hammersmith Odeon and chants from the crowd hollering Riot….Riot….Riot.. Kind of a weird end of the album Hodge Podge of sounds but whatever and give these dudes credit as they sampled there Shit back in 81! See I told you a band ahead of its time!

The first 5 songs on this album(Side 1) are pure genius and it’s just one Swift Sonic Kick to the Chin as these guys dug deep and just keep swinging with so much Piss N Vinegar that it’s a shame that this album never went mega….

Side 2 is no slouch in the material but man you cannot beat the fury of the first 5 tracks in regards to Bad Boy Boogie Power Rock…

What also must be mentioned is that Guy Speranza and Mark Reale are no longer here so R.I.P Fella’s …..

Coming up I will be reviewing Martin Popoff’s excellent book on Riot  tilted Swords And Tequlia (Riots Classic First Decade)

Watch For it….