Rudy Sarzo on How Quiet Riot’s ‘Condition Critical’ Went Wrong
Former Quiet Riot bassist Rudy Sarzo looked back on the failure of the band’s fourth album, Condition Critical, saying they were put under pressure to top 1983’s Metal Health – one of the most important heavy albums of all time – without being given enough time to do so.
The 1984 LP was famously panned in the two-word review “Condition Terminal,” which made Sarzo laugh loud and long during a recent interview with Rolling Stone.
“We had climbed so many hills by that point,” he said. “It was like, ‘Okay, now we’re going to headline, so that’s another hill to climb because we are no headliners.’” But instead of having them learn how to top concert bills, the band's bosses “literally dragged us off the road. The record company said, ‘Metal Health was released over a year ago. We need new product.’ It was the music industry talking. ‘We need to release new product by the third quarter, so we can get those late-summer, Christmas sales.’”
Sarzo regretted that opening band the Headpins were caught in the crossfire. “They just joined the tour and committed whatever financial resources to that, but the record company told us we had to go in the studio," he recalled. "We had to cancel, and they were not happy campers, but we had no control.”
Meanwhile, Quiet Riot felt like they were “looking at this mammoth of a record” to top, while dealing with the problem that “the worst time you can be creative is when you’re in survival mode.” As a result, they were forced to rely on material that was written earlier.
“It’s not that I would consider them ‘rejects’ from Metal Health … they were songs that were around during Metal Health, but they weren’t picked for the album,” Sarzo explained. “Also, there’s a song called ‘Winners Take All’ … for some business reason beyond my control, Randy Rhoads wasn’t allowed to be credited on the album as the cowriter of the song. It was originally called ‘Teenage Anthem,’ and [singer] Kevin [DuBrow] rewrote and updated it so it could be on Condition Critical.”
After the success of covering the Slade classic “Cum on Feel the Noize” on Metal Health, Quiet Riot were persuaded to tackle the British band’s “Mama Weer All Crazee Now” for the follow-up. “Every single day when we were in a city … DJs told us we should record ‘Mama,’” Sarzo said. “When it came to make that record, we were pretty much under the gun. And so doing another Slade song wasn’t such a bad idea at the time. And we thought the stations would play it because they told us to record it.”