REVIEW: Skid Row – Skid Row (1989)


Scan_20160812 (3)SKID ROW – Skid Row (1989 Atlantic)

You can’t argue with five million copies sold.

Skid Row had the songs, but most importantly, they had the frontman.  Only once in a blue moon does a congenital entertainer like Sebastian Back happen upon the scene.  Born in the U.S. but raised in Canada, Bach had it all:  the looks, the youth, the charisma, and most importantly the voice.  He was a bull-headed bastard in those days too, but that is often a part of the frontman package.  Bach was a dynamo, always “on”, and with that voice on his side, people paid attention.

Without Bach, would Skid Row ever have made the impact they did?  Not to that degree, no.  Sure they had Jon Bon Jovi in their corner (and to take them out on tour) but without Bach, Skid Row would have been just another hard rock band in 1989, the peak year for the genre.  It can’t be understated how important the voice was.  Bach had the power, range and unique style required, but he had it right out of the gate!  The band was good too:  Dave “Snake” Sabo, Rachel Bolan and Scotti Hill wrote some great, bone-shaking cock rocking tunes.  Rob Affuso (today in Four by Fate with members of Frehley’s Comet) has long been an underrated drummer capable of some serious steppin’.  With Michael Wagener in the producer’s chair, everything aligned and came up platinum.

Three major hit singles made the album a must-have.  They were, of course, “Youth Gone Wild”, “18 and Life” and “I Remember You”.  These have become their career-defining songs, particularly the ballad.  “I Remember You” may have misled more than a few listeners when it first came out.  This is not a ballad album, but a very hard rockin’ record.  This wasn’t Bon Jovi.  It was heavier than everybody else on the radio that summer:  Motley, Warrant, Aerosmith, Van Halen, Def Leppard.  Though it rocks hard, it’s still memorable.

With the benefit of hindsight, we know Skid Row were capable of so much more, and they delivered on the next album Slave to the Grind.  Once they let the thrash metal and punk influences come out, the real Skid Row sound was conceived.  Their debut is good, but the next two were even better.

3.5/5 stars

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29 comments

  1. I’m with Scott as well on this one Mike. Haven’t listened to it in so long. Your right though they had a ton of muscle and push behind them as this will once again amuse Aaron but they got on all the big tour’s as support that I was witness to…..
    Shall we recap…
    Bon Jovi -August 1989..
    Aerosmith-January 1990 and March 1990
    Guns N Roses- May 1991
    Of course they played and headlined good ol Tbay ….June 1992….
    How could they not succeed on these tours but yeah your right they needed a guy like Bierk too push em over the top and I guess that Rolling Stone cover along with the Bottle Toss into the crowd did not help matters but they knew with out him they’re done look at the Shit Show Singer Carousel they have become…
    Sorry rambling there but fair scoring awarded as well….

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  2. I still live this one unreservedly. I saw them open for Bon Jovi and then saw them on their own and they were just incredible live back then. Bach was just a great front man too.

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  3. Good album. It has its ups and downs, mostly ups. I remember when it came out, man I thought it was some heavy piece of music. Skid Row were always harder and rougher than the other bands that came around in 1989, even when they did ballads and pop-metal stuff.
    I think Slave To The Grind is superior to this one, but I also think this one is a lot better than Subhuman Race, a record that wasn’t bad but it had a some fillers too many.

    Speaking of Bon Jovi, didn’t JBJ screw Skid Row on shitloads of royalties back in the day? The word is that JBJ somehow managed to make Skid Row sign over all their publishing rights to him or something evil like that.

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    1. I’m wondering Jon if you agree with my theory that this album never would have gone this far if they had any other singer?

      And yeah I’ve read that JBJ got their publishing, and I’ve read him say that Skid Row got an industry standard deal. But considering him and Snake were friends since childhood, I think that probably stung Skid Row, that their buddy would treat them like an industry product.

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      1. No doubt about that. I mean, Bach was and is an amazing frontman with a great voice. Without Bach, I’m pretty sure Skid Row would have been just another pretty good hard rock band trying to break out of the club circuit. maybe they would have opened for some pretty big band but there would never had been any platinum records.

        Yeah, kind of shows what kind of person JBJ is and have always been. He doesn’t seem like a very likable person.

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        1. I used to think he was really cool. Seemed like a nice guy, wasn’t a party guy, did a lot for many charities. But he didn’t seem to treat his friends in the band as well. When I saw the DVD from the album The Circle, I thought “They don’t really look like they like being in Bon Jovi.”

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