Riot Act - Maniacal Disastrophe Tour

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Neurosis Records
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 57:07:00

Rick Ray has performed and/or recorded under various guises besides his self-named Rick Ray Band. One of these is Riot Act, which features cohorts Jack Ambrose (bass, vocals) and John Cek (drums, vocals). Ray mainstay Rick Shultz makes a guest appearance on clarinet, as well. Despite being entitled Maniacal Disastrophe Tour (an obvious take off of a well-known Beatles release), this is not a live recording. The sleeve notes indicate that it was recorded at Techniquip Studio during January, February and March of 2000.

Many of the trademark Ray-isms are here, including the socio-political lyrics that Ray is known for. But it is those that break out of the mould that make this album more interesting. Not that a Rick Ray/Riot Act release isn't interesting, but as mentioned elsewhere, Ray composes his lyrics with a uniform style and pattern. With that pattern mixed up with others, or least delivered with different emphases, this a much more satisfying release. Whereas on other Ray releases, the variation is in the music only, here it touches on all aspects of the music and lyrics. Although Ray resorts to a familiar lyric-writing style, he rarely resorts throwaway lyrics just to add "commercial appeal" -- his political leanings and opinions might preclude a "commercial appeal" anyway (though there are bands who still "get away" with it). There is a strong undercurrent of the late 60s psychedelic movement here, and yet nothing very overt to suggest anyone artist, style, or feel.

The spirit of Eddie Van Halen infuses the intro to "Bonnie The Clyde," as "Mean Street"-era Van Halen comes to mind (in fact, it's that very song that comes to mind). Ray doesn't have the over-the-top styling of David Lee Roth, but his own voice and delivery on this track (co-penned with Ambrose) is just right for it anyway. Interestingly, this whole rhythm and energy reappears in "State of Decay," and this is one of the best rockers that Ray has penned. This track is a synthesis of everything Ray has done -- here the familiar rhyme pattern is given new life by different emphases. It is the most solidly consistent track here, and the highlight of the highlights.

Other tracks that stood out for me include "She Could Win An Award," a song that could best be described as what might result if Rush took their 80s sound and applied it to 60s psychedelic, Cream-like rock. Co-penned with Ambrose, the latter seems to be on lead vocals. Ray's guitar chimes, eschewing the oft-used fuzz that characterizes his playing. "Giver Of Life" is another that diverges from the Ray formula, with Ambrose on vocals. This is another with a classic feel, those it isn't Rush this time. The pace is leisurely, though certainly it still rocks; Ambrose's vocals are heavily echoed ... there are artists that flit through my mind, but I'm not sure any one is really that accurate -- early Deep Purple is the strongest, but there's no real bluesy feel here. Experimental 60s sound is another thought that comes to mind.

The harmony vocals of "Good To Be Here" bring in a new texture, the easy, loping rhythm give this a breezy, summertime feel to it. This is the kind of song made for the outdoor arena, open enough to allow for extended solos if desired. "They're Only Words" begins with an arpeggio guitar phrase that reminds me of the slow, chiming intros of many a balladic metal song. But, this track most reminds me a bit of early Pink Floyd. A jazzy interlude takes this track in to different, slightly bluesy direction, underscoring the fact that as a guitarist/music composer Ray excels. The intro to "One More Line," reminds me strongly of the Yardbirds' "I'm A Man" (which the band covered on Approach With Extreme Caution), but the track otherwise is nothing like it. That "line" is, as you might have surmised, a white, powdery one. Interestingly, as I'm thinking of that and the Yardbirds... that band's guitarist Eric Clapton is known for a song called "Cocaine" ... is this all coincidence?

Another highlight, especially musically, is "A Time In Space" (co-penned with John Cek). The crystal sharp guitar playing from Ray is simply beautiful...and reminiscent of Steve Howe. At the outset, I was reminded of the classic "Can't Find My Way Home" -- there's same gentle, warm flow to it. Both electric and acoustic guitars are used here, and the solo here is just perfect. There is an instrumental reprise (as a bonus) that takes these elements and adds what sounds like a few quotes from Rush's "Closer To The Heart."

As noted above, this is a solid and more rounded release from Riot Act, and from Rick Ray and worth checking out.

Red Tape (3:08) / She Could Win An Award (3:38) / Bonnie The Clyde (3:14) / Thinking About You (5:50) / The K.G.B. Is After Me (3:17) / Just A Boy (4:31) / Giver Of Life (5:33) / Good To Be Here (3:22) / They're Only Words (5:17) / One More Line (3:53) / Dial Nine (3:37) / A Time In Space (4:26) / State Of Decay (5:21) / Bonus Track (untitled) (2:00)

Rick Ray - guitar, guitar synth, vocals
Jack Ambrose - bass, vocals
John Cek - drums, vocals

Live At Suma (1996/2000)
Maniacal Disastrophe Tour (2000)
Approach With Extreme Caution (2000)

Genre: Rock

Origin US

Added: February 8th 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 488
Language: english


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