Skid Row did a pretty good job of replacing the irreplaceable Sebastian Bach on their fourth LP, Thick Skin. It earned a more than healthy 4.25/5 stars, in part due to the charismatic vocals of Johnny Solinger. For their second album with Johnny, they re-teamed with producer Michael Wagener, but had mixed results in repeating the magic.
Revolutions Per Minute is heavy enough; there was no issue of the band going soft. There was a dip in quality from the songwriting department, strongly dominated by bassist/leader Rachel Bolan. Strangely, they chose to pad out the album with a cover (The Alarm’s “Strength”) and a remix. It’s worrisome when the best song is a cover. There’s a distinct pop-punk vibe on many songs, which one has to trace back to Bolan. Dave “Snake” Sabo has two co-writes, and Scotti Hill a mere one.
“Disease” is very Skid Row, nothing outstanding, but a strong enough way to open the album. The punk-like “Another Dick in the System” is better. With Solinger scraping the ceiling with his screamy high notes, it’s reminiscent of old Skid Row circa Slave to the Grind. “Pulling My Heart Out from Under Me” follows with an 80’s Elvis Costello vibe to the guitars. This one is quite a departure from Bach-era Skid Row, and a decade later I’m still not sure if I like it. You can’t fault a band for experimenting, but if the results aren’t good enough, that’s a tough call. I’m not sure if “Pulling My Heart Out from Under Me” is good enough. The worst of the punk influenced songs is “White Trash”, which is so indescribably bad that I won’t even try. It’s not funny and not good. Back to something that sounds like Skid Row, “Nothing” is one of those tunes that you could imagine was written in 1988 for the debut album.
Influences collide on “When God Can’t Wait”. Johnny Solinger is a country guy, and Rachel Bolan is a punk guy. It seems 1+1 does indeed =2, and the sum total of punk and country is rockabilly. I have to admit to liking this one, even though I’m still not sure if it’s any good. I definitely prefer it to the next tune, “Shut Up Baby, I Love You” which doesn’t have much going for it aside from the full-metal tempo.
Strangely, the best original song is “You Lie” which begins as nothing but pure country. Only after the twangy guitar solo does it accelerate into rock territory, but it’s the country part that rules. The final track is a “Corn Fed” remix, which adds slides, harmonica and accoutrements. At least that ends the album on a good notes. The CD does start to drag a bit with two lacklustre songs, “Love is Dead” and “Let it Ride”, so the remix of “You Lie” is a smart way to end it.
You get the feeling that Skid Row had potential for a great album, but only came up with enough good songs for an EP.