1/10/12

Skid Row - SKID ROW


When I was little (I'm talking single digits), I listened to hair metal out of convenience. I watched MTV, and MTV played hair metal videos. Therefore, I dug hair metal. Like most people, I grew up, leaving my childhood obsessions behind. My modest collection of "cock rock" cassette tapes was consigned to be unloaded at yard sales. I can't say that I missed them. However, there is one band from that quondam era of spandex and hairspray that I still consider to be a cut above the rest. Say it with me...Firehouse! Just kidding. Skid Row may have been lobbed in the same dustbin as Poison and Winger, but in my accurate opinion, they had more in common with Guns 'n' Roses (especially on 1991's Slave to the Grind).

Granted, their eponymous debut is rather polished. You could get away with calling it a pop/rock affair, but hey, if I'm going to plug my ears with housebroken candy floss, this is what I want it to sound like. That's not to say that Skid Row is lacking in the balls department. At its core, this is sleazy, rebellious rock and roll. I know what you're thinking. "Sleazy rock songs about teen rebellion? FROM THE 80's???" While it's not exactly a novel concept, there is something to this album, something earnest. The lyrics feel genuine. When Sebastian Bach screams the story of Ricky in "18 & Life," you believe every word of it. Wouldn't it be cool if "18 & Life" actually dealt with Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky? Just a thought.

Speaking of Bach, he is one of the best rock/metal vocalists on the planet. Some of the notes he hits don't even exist. From a technical standpoint, his vocals on Slave to the Grind are more impressive, but I dare you to sing "I Remember You" without reaching for an oxygen tank. The heavier tracks are a mixed bag. "Can't Stand the Heartache" is perfunctory fluff. "Big Guns" and "Rattlesnake Shake" are high-octane strip club staples. "Piece of Me" is badass, and you know it. "Youth Gone Wild" is the anthem to end all anthems. If you ask me, it shits all over Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It."

My favorite song that wasn't chosen to be a single has got to be "Midnight/Tornado." The dueling guitar leads bring Iron Maiden to mind, and the melodies are catchier than Hepatitis C. Between you and me, I always skip "Here I Am." I'm not sure how it became a live fixture, but what do I know? Skid Row needs to be remastered. There are aspects of the production that work (I love how the solos pop out of the mix), but man, you have to blow your speakers to hear everything. Chalk it up to dated technology...wait, no. That's a cop out. I own older CD's that sound better than this. At any rate, Skid Row is worth buying, even if Skid Row (the band) didn't click on all cylinders until the 90's.

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