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.