Skid Row - Skid Row
(6 reader votes, average 4.33 out of 5)

by Ben Perry

Skid Row
Band Name: Skid Row
Album Name: Skid Row
Release Date: January 24, 1989

Band on Record:

Sebastian Bach: Vocals
Dave Sabo: Guitars
Scotti Hill: Guitars
Rachel Bolan: Bass
Rob Affuso: Drums

Track 1: “Big Guns”
Very catchy chorus, with screeching guitars and amazing vocals from Mr. Bach making this one of many winner songs on this album both in the speed area as this one is as well as the slower tunes. The first of many great solos as well!
Song Rating: 9.5 out of 10

Track 2: “Sweet Little Sister”
More big guitar sound and amazing rhythm from Bolan and Affuso truly drive this song through the meter as Bach works his vocal magic to get the song stuck in your head both when he sings and when he barks out the lyrics at breakneck speeds, always maintaining his melody.
Song Rating: 9 out of 10


Track 3: “Can’t Stand the Heartache”
The first, well more pseudo-ballad on the album as the electricity is turned up quite a ways on here. Bach does a great job singing, adding even more emotion to the piece that the chorus of vocals isn’t needed quite as much as it’s used during the chorus. Another good ballad rounds off the shredding guitar riffs that make up the music.
Song Rating: 9 out of 10


Track 4: “Piece of Me”
Bach almost sneers out the lines of this song, and with menacing guitar and drums to create a hostile atmosphere you have one of the perfect songs to cause a fight. Not only is there an air of violence, but love is also mentioned lyrically giving a double show of love being war, delivered in one spectacular way.
Song Rating: 9 out of 10


Track 5: “18 and Life”
The first song I heard by Skid Row, this pseudo-ballad conveys the problems of living the fast life and essentially messing up every opportunity that could have been yours due to a boneheaded move such as shooting someone. Provoking music and emotional vocals make this track shine and proved, with the other ballad on here “I Remember You”, that Skid Row were kings of the power ballad, whether the subject was love or not.
Song Rating: 10 out of 10


Track 6: “Rattlesnake Shake”
Whenever I see the song title, I for some reason or another think of the Motley Crue song. That’s a shame too since the Skid Row one is superior in about every way. Great bass, guitars that ooze contempt and power, and a vocalist who can actually sing and seem to be joking and laughing at the plight of others make this an essential song. Another song just talking about the lack of expectations in society and how the downward spiral everyone is headed. A special mention to the pinch harmonics and blistering solo even though it’s only in one ear.
Song Rating: 9 out of 10


Track 7: “Youth Gone Wild”
The quintessential youth rebellion song, “Youth Gone Wild” has those same shred style guitar licks that have made this album both fast and catchy. The addition of choral vocal parts makes more sense on this song, as it is the youth v. the world. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this one.
Song Rating: 10 out of 10


Track 8: “Here I Am”
Vocally this song shines above every other aspect that makes up the song, the way Bach delivers his amazing vocal range as well as his articulation of words such as “German cigarettes” truly make the song unique and stand-out in a large way. Musically, the guitar solo by both Sabo and Hill playing off one another maintains a Southern rock edge to it somehow as the guitar duel plays out.
Song Rating: 9 out of 10


Track 9: “Makin’ a Mess”
Much in the way “Piece of Me” is a fight song, this is another come and get me type rocker that does not quite have the same effect as the previous number. It’s a good song, vocally and musically with a particularly juicy solo but the deliver is not the best to convey the overall feeling.
Song Rating: 8.5 out of 10


Track 10: “I Remember You”
One of my favorite and one of the best ballads to ever be recorded. The acoustic guitar and electric parts are absolutely perfect for the vocal style of Bach and his delivery further evokes the emotion of heartbreak, loss, and pain. This is one of the only songs that has ever been able to make me tear up, and for that it becomes an automatic winner.
Song Rating: 10 out of 10


Track 11: “Midnight/Tornado”
This song always seemed to be the oddball out for me on the album with a much darker tone and feel to it than the other songs. The double vocal tracking is interesting and sounds really good, and the music does not disappoint either. The “Tornado” part of the song is an instrumental section that continues from the song with some nasty bass playing and drum fills that play around a great shred riff.
Song Rating: 10 out of 10

Overall Review:
Skid Row has been a band falsely labeled as a hair metal band where this music on this record showcases a talent more diverse and complex in influence and delivery than the stereotype the bands that get lumped into the hair metal category have. The music is far more sinister at points, but maintain an accessibility of fun and glamour that can be confused for the glam of 80’s metal, but with the riffs and drumming there tends to be a tendency towards thrash elements in the ferocity of the guitar. All the songs on here, for a band releasing a first album are unique and great in their own way, whether it is the usual 80’s band power ballad or the quick rocker and that is what sets Skid Row apart from bands like Poison.

Sebastian Bach is a key component to the band’s sound on this record, and he is not even the original singer. Matt Fallon who has also worked with Anthrax was the original guy, and I wonder how his stamp would have morphed these songs as the vocals do play a big part in delivering and shaping the overall feel in addition to the musical influence. I, personally, can see no one else singing songs like “I Remember You” in order to evoke that emotional response, or someone sneering their way through a cut like “Piece of Me” with as much venom as Bach works into his voice. A collision of these type of vocal chords and the music was the recipe for such a hit album with the potential for the band to go even higher.

The main theme of this album is direct from the get –go, a straight rocking album with a heavy dose of what rock-and-roll was made for: sex and fights. “Big Guns” combines both with a woman aiming guns at a guy just to get him, not to mention the hedonistic tendencies of a sister’s life in “Sweet Little Sister” and whoever can forget “Tricky little Vicky” from “Rattlesnake Shake”? Each of these songs show the oversexed culture the 80’s youth was exposed too. As well, the violence and rugged lifestyle is shown first with the guns on “Big Guns” but the way life was is spelled out perfectly in “18 and Life” with the death of a child leading to the incarceration of “Ricky” and the destruction of his dreams, a probable reality for many kids who wanted to make it and never did, ending up poor, in jail, or just lacking what they wanted in life. In “Makin’ a Mess” the reality of a cheating wife is clear to “T-bone Billy” and in the light of the mess his life has ended up he leaves and ends up playing the fiddle, finding what he truly enjoys when before he was unable to do it because of the infidelity that ruined what he thought was his ideal living was not, but was able to find what he enjoyed after his fall.

Although most of the music is dark and dreary with the realities that life caused in the 80’s, particularly for those less off on the West Coast, the ballads bring into light that there is more to life than just living and love, and the loss of love, is a strong effect on how things move in your life. “Can’t Stand the Heartache” and “I Remember You” are both staple ballads, “I Remember You” more so in the line of a traditional ballad, that decry heartbreak and the pain that brings to the one heart, probably drawn from the personal experiences of Rachel Bolan who wrote or co-wrote both. This album is the crème-de-la-crème of 80’s metal in my book, coming at the end of the decade and featuring some of the greatest musicianship to come from that decade. Their stance on the culture only works with their music to show the bleak way society is and perhaps there is some change to come, maybe, or perhaps we are always going to be stuck on Skid Row.
Overall Rating: 9.25 out of 10

 

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