Rachel Bolan

#717: Only Your Nose Knows

GETTING MORE TALE #717: Only Your Nose Knows

 

Who are the most recognizable noses in music? Seriously? Who comes up with this shit?

I do! And why not? We’ve already covered the best glasses, best shoes, and best hats in rock. Let’s go for the nose.

 

5. Barbra Streisand

The mighty Barbra is one of the biggest names in entertainment. From music to movies, Barbra has conquered all stages. Her profile is one of the most famous. Her world famous nose has not held her back!

4. Geddy Lee

What do Geddy Lee and Barbra Streisand have in common? They both come from Jewish families, and both have a prominent schnoz! In fact the “Jewish nose” is an old racial stereotype, one which has actually been studied in science and literature. Geddy’s recognizable nose is loved by millions.

3. Rachel Bolan

Rachel is probably responsible for launching the nose ring trend that picked up in the late 80s. You didn’t see nose rings on rock stars back then, and certainly none with a chain connecting to their ears. Rachel Bolan was the rock and roll nose ring pioneer in 1989!

2. Michael Jackson

Few remember what his original nose looked like. We can’t get the image of that plastic surgery nightmare out of our heads.  Yet that weird, artificial construct is now iconic.  Who knew?

1. Nicko McBrain

“Old flatnose himself” has an old schoolmate named Peter Beecham to blame or thank for his profile. Beecham broke his nose in a school brawl. Nicko was “clobbered”, but it’s all good. As Nicko has said, “Look where I am now. Fuck you!”

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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

REVIEW: Skid Row – Revolutions Per Minute (2006)

Scan_20160614SKID ROW – Revolutions Per Minute (2006)

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.

Scan_20160614 (2)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.

2/5 stars

REVIEW: Skid Row – Slave to the Grind (both versions)

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SKID ROW – Slave to the Grind (1991 Atlantic “clean” and “dirty” versions)

The Skids knew the second album had to kill. The band, always heavier live than the first album implied, also knew the second album had to sound more like they did in concert. And following up a huge hit debut, they also demanded the album be all killer, no filler. Raising the bar and ignoring the record company, the band re-convened and kicked every ass in the room. The result is Slave to the Grind, one of the best hard rock albums of ’91 period.

The first single “Monkey Business”, which is essentially just dirty grooves n’ screams, was about as commercial as the album got.   With this as first single, it was clear that Skid Row didn’t care whether they got played on MTV or not.  There was nothing glossy or slick about it.  It’s still obvious that there’s something special here, and I credit that to two factors:  the songwriting talents of Snake Sabo & Rachel Bolan, and the frontman chops of Sebastian Bach.  Bach commands this song.   It’s not just his vocals.  It’s his confidence, his swagger, and his ego shining through.

If “Monkey Business” didn’t scare your little sister, then the second single “Slave to the Grind” definitely did.  For the first time, Skid Row jumped straight into the thrash metal deep end.  Drummer Rob Affuso had the chops to do it, and it really was a natural step to take.  Other bands were getting heavier in 1991 too, but none of them took a turn like this.  Skid Row raised the bar for everyone in their field in ’91.

The other singles from the album were technically “ballads”, although the band were eager to point out that none of them were anything like “I Remember You”.  They were dark and edgy.  The record company execs no doubt shit their pants when they heard the magnificent “Wasted Time”, which I can only describe as epic.   It’s an incredible song, and it’s one of the few that Bach had a hand in writing.  Baz wrenches all the emotions from his soul and that’s what I hear coming from the speakers.   “Quicksand Jesus” and “In A Darkened Room” are only a little less impressive.  They share the same kind of mood and sonic landscape.  There is really nothing commercial about any of them.  They all have headbanging moments and integrity.

Rounding out the album were several very strong deep cuts.  “The Threat”, track 3 on the disc, easily could have been a single.  In fact Terry David Mulligan of MuchMusic asked Sebastian if it was going to be selected as a future video, so I’m not alone in thinking that.  “Psycho Love” is a bangin’ bass groove, laid to waste by Bach’s scorching vocal.  “Livin’ on a Chain Gang” is another standout, an angry one about injustice.  Then you have slow, landmine-infested blasters like “Mudkicker”, and fast smokers like “Riot Act”.  All strong songs.  The only one I’m not keen on is “Creepshow”, a jokey tune about the kind of people you’d see on daytime talk shows.

SLAVE TO THE GRIND_0003Skid Row knew well ahead of time that some markets would not release an album with a song called “Get the Fuck Out” on it.  This fun punk rocker sounds like a Rachel song, but Bach’s attitude nails it.  It’s probably a bit of a novelty, but it’s fun.  “Fuck you if you can’t take a joke!” says Bach in one line.  But it’s OK: if you can’t take the joke, you can buy the version of the album without “Get the Fuck Out”.  Earlier pioneers in the clean/dirty dual releases, Skid Row saved the song “Beggars Day” for the Walmart version of the album.  (Also sold by Columbia House in Canada.)  I think it’s cool that they gave both markets added value with exclusive songs.  This song is more traditional metal (perhaps Priest-like) than the rest of the record, but it’s equally strong.

Michael Wagener produced this album with a raw, unpolished finish.  But there are backing vocals where you need ’em, and the instruments are clear and in your face.  It still sounds heavy today, unlike a lot of other music from the same year.  It just seems like everything clicked, and all the factors were in place.  Slave to the Grind kicks ass with the best of them.

4.5/5 stars

REVIEW: Skid Row – Forty Seasons: The Best of Skid Row (Japanese version)

SKID ROW – Forty Seasons: The Best of Skid Row (1998 Atlantic Japan)

US cover

US cover

The Japanese fans always seem to get the coolest stuff.  Look at this package: shiny silver, instead of the boring grey of the American release.  Digipack with foil stickers!  Bonus track!  So much cooler than the standard release here.  Hell, the Japanese title is even spelled F-o-r-t-y, where the American version has the briefer 40.  Why?  Not sure.  Either way I’m glad to have this version, which fell in my hands thanks to customer Conrad in the late 90’s.  He sold it to me with stickers intact and still sealed; all that is missing is the obi strip.

Whether you own Forty Seasons or 40 Seasons, the party starts with “Youth Gone Wild”.  Any commemoration of the Sebastian Bach years should open with that track.  Although “Youth Gone Wild” is Bach’s signature track today (along with “I Remember You”), he actually wrote neither.  Some fans would be surprised how little Bach has written in Skid Row, and indeed he only has two writing credits on this greatest hits disc.  What Bach brings to the party is his spirit, attitude, and incredible voice.  When Skid Row came out in ’89, Bach was almost instantaneously a 21 year old superstar.  He had the ego to deliver the rock star vibe in concert and in print, and he certainly had the vocal chops.  This is why Bach has remained a thorn in Skid Row’s side today, 15 years since hiring Johnny Solinger to replace him.

Track two is a little too soon for a mellow song in my opinion, but “18 and Life” works in this slot due to its dark vibe and powerful choruses.  The singles “Piece of Me” and “I Remember You” are the other representations from album #1, although I definitely could have done without “Piece of Me”.  Skid Row have written much better heavy rockers since.  “I Remember You” is a song I still haven’t really tired of, thanks to Bach’s timeless performance.  Every time Baz sang this tune in Toronto, the place went insane, as Bach always sang it for his old stomping grounds.  Rachel Bolan and Snake Sabo may have written the song, but when I think of “I Remember You”, I think of Toronto.

Skid Row’s second album Slave to the Grind blew away the first.  I’m glad “The Threat” was included.  It may not have been a single, but it was one of the outstanding album cuts.  Equally solid was the bass groove of “Psycho Love”, which is relentless.  Skid Row really turned up the octane on that second album.  I think both tracks outshine the single “Monkey Business”, but nothing can overpowerful the thrash metal of “Slave to the Grind” itself.  When it was released, I couldn’t believe how full-on Skid Row had become.  This is a high water mark of heaviosity.

“Quicksand Jesus” represents one of the three slow tunes on Slave; I would have selected “Wasted Time”.  “Quicksand Jesus” is an outstanding song, and so is the other slow tune not included here, “In A Darkened Room”.   “Wasted Time” is so clearly above and beyond either of those two, that I can’t understand why it’s not on this CD.  It has something special to it, like “I Remember You” did.

FORTY SEASONS_0005So the first half of the CD covers the first two Skid Row records with all the big hits.  The second half covers the rest, plus rare and unreleased stuff.  I love the third Skid Row record, Subhuman Race.  I consider it a great metal record in the context of the mid 1990’s.  For some reason, none of the Subhuman songs included here are the album versions.  I know the band fought with Bob Rock over the production on that album, and maybe that is why.  “Into Another”, which might be considered a slower song, is remixed making a little lusher.  The single “My Enemy” is also remixed, perhaps to tame down the St. Anger-esque drums.  My favourite Skid Row ballad, “Breakin’ Down” is remixed as well, but you have to know the song really well like I do to notice by ear alone.  (Listen to the guitar accents.)  Overall it’s more polished and finished, which is fine, because the album version was actually more or less just the demo version.  Lyrically the song is a message from Sabo to Bach, about their failing relationship.  Bach reportedly received the demo, sang to it, and that’s what was put on the record.

The excellent banger “Frozen” is presented in demo form, which is interesting but inferior to the excellent, slamming album version.  Finally, “Beat Yourself Blind” (Bach’s favourite song from Subhuman Race) is live.  What an awesome tune live.  This is from the Japanese Subhuman Beings on Tour EP. As great as the stuttery album version is, the live one is more fluid.   I’ve heard Rachel Bolan say the Subhuman album “sucked”.  I don’t understand how he can say that, and I think the five songs here prove my point.

The album closes with a pair of treats: unreleased songs!  “Forever” from the first album’s sessions is better than many of the songs on that record!  Who chooses these songs?  Perhaps it was a bit too derivative of other popular 80’s bands, but Sebastian makes it sound like nobody else but Skid Row.  This not only should have been on the album, but could have been a hit single.   Then there’s “Fire in the Hole”, a great little slammer that didn’t make the second album.  This time I agree.  That second album is incredible and “Fire in the Hole” isn’t up to those high standards.  It’s definitely better than many bands’ album tracks, but not Skid Row.

Last of all, the lucky Japanese got the Ramones cover “Psycho Therapy” from the B-Sides Ourselves EP (1992).  This is the only inclusion from that EP, and it’s a gooder.  Rachel sang lead (with Taime Downe of Faster Pussycat backing him).  We all know Rachel’s a punk guy, and I think that’s the side of Skid Row that clashed with Bach’s metal tendencies.  Just my theory.

Great CD, loads of fun and value.

4.5/5 stars

REVIEW: Skid Row – B-Sides Ourselves (1992)

SKID ROW – B-Sides Ourselves (1992 Atlantic EP)

This was a great EP, ranking among some of the better examples of such a format in metal.  I love the MAD-Magazine-esque cover artwork.  I also loved the concept of this EP as a bit of a treat to tide the fans over during the excruciatingly long four year wait between albums. The five selections are all fun, performed competently, and sound like Skid Row. They also sound like a band who truly loves these songs and knows them backwards and forwards.  It’s not quite as satisfying as you want it to be, as it’s only about 18 1/2 minutes long.   (I mean hey, there’s a Ramones cover on here so there you go.)  This is meant to be nothing more than a fun snack, and as such pay no more for this than you’d be willing to pay for any 18 minute CD.

Tracklist time!

1. “Psycho Therapy”

Bassist Rachel Bolan sings this Ramones-approved cover (backed by Faster Pussycat’s Taime Downe).  It was chosen as the first single/video. Excellent cover, very authentic. So well received, it was even included on their Forty Seasons: The Best Of CD.

2. “C’Mon And Love Me”

Classic Kiss cover from Dressed To Kill! A great riffy Kiss song. Skid Row do it justice.  It’s one of those solid, meat & potatoes rock songs that requires no frills, just some solid guitars.  I think this is definitely one of my favourite Kiss covers ever.

3. “Delivering the Goods” (Live)

Featuring the Metal God himself, Rob Halford, in a duet with his buddy Baz! One thing that is immediately obvious is that Baz is absolutely pumped. But then again, he does state that he’s been waiting his whole life to share a stage with Halford.  Great cover, very live sounding, mistakes and all.  Still, “Delivering the Goods” is the weakest of these covers…yet it still blows away most bands.

4. “What You’re Doing”

Perhaps the best cover on the album. This is a first-album Rush cover. Back when Geddy was writing the lyrics, and before Rush were singing about how trees are talking to each other and how different sides of your brain works, or outerspace bullshit. It’s an absolutely ferocious, angry Skid Row cover with Baz paying tribute to his countrymen. Excellent, obscure choice and the only cover on the album that I hadn’t heard somebody else do before (or since).

5. “Little Wing”

A surprisingly great turn on the Hendrix classic. Very different from Jimi’s version (obviously), this sounds nonetheless authentic and classy. Of note, the Skids also did a live-in-the-studio version for the music video.  I wish that version was released on a CD as well.  Unlikely we’ll see that happen.

Covers records can be so very hit-or-miss, but this one is five hits.  Battleship sunk.  Just wish it wasn’t all over in 18 minutes.

5/5 stars

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REVIEW: Ace Frehley – Trouble Walkin’ (1989)

Part 4 in a series on Ace Frehley!  Missed the last part, Second Sighting?  Click here!

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ACE FREHLEY – Trouble Walkin’ (1989 Megaforce Worldwide)

Gone was the Frehley’s Comet moniker, and gone was multi-instrumentalist and talented singer Tod Howarth.  I believe he toured with Cheap Trick after the Comet, on backing instruments and vocals.  In his stead came Richie Scarlet, certainly no slouch, and an alumnus from an earlier version of the band.  Not only did Scarlet write some of Ace’s best stuff, but takes a lead vocal on the album Trouble Walkin’.  Also back was drummer Anton Fig!

On top of all that, producer Eddie Kramer was back working with Ace again, and they have great chemistry together.  Certainly all the elements were in place for a great solo album.  The critics and fans were pretty much unanimous in their praise of Ace’s latest.  Little did they know it would be his last solo album for 20 whole years!

Trouble Walkin’ was Ace’s heaviest solo album to date.  Take “Shot Full Of Rock”, the opener.  It is scorching from start to finish, but especially on the ripping guitar solo.  It has a great chorus to boot, and a fine lead vocal from the Ace.

Frehley has a knack for selecting great covers, and his take on The Move’s “Do Ya” is superior to the original in some respects.  As he has with other covers, Ace makes it his own.  I think Ace does very well when rocking up poppier, melodic material and “Do Ya” is no exception.  I always hoped it would be a bigger hit, but it wasn’t really.

“Five Card Stud” is co-written by Marc Ferrari of Keel.  It’s not an exceptional song, but it does boast a suitably heavy riff, and plenty of tasty Ace licks and solos.  It might not be the best song, but the guitar work makes it worthwhile.

This is followed by the weirdest song of all:  “Hide Your Heart”, a song written by Paul Stanley, Holly Knight and Desmond Child.  It had been demoed years before for Crazy Nights, but not used. Bonnie Tyler was first to record the song, then Robin Beck and then Molly Hatchet!   When Kiss recorded it for Hot In The Shade, they released it as a single mere weeks before Ace’s album came out.  By the time Kiss’ album came out (the week after Trouble Walkin’) the song had been released by no less than five different artists.  The common thread to some of those versions seems to be Desmond Child.  Obviously, Ace knew people would compare his version with Kiss’.  Gene Simmons spoke to him on the phone to warn him that Kiss were releasing it as their lead single.  Ace’s version, while harder, just is not as good.  That’s not to say it’s bad, because Kiss’ version is awesome.

TROUBLE WALKIN_0006“Lost In Limbo”, a Richie Scarlet co-write, closed side one on a pedestrian note.  Side two began with a better song, the title track.  This would be a good time to mention that Peter Criss sings backing vocals!  You can’t hear him, but he showed up.  That’s Richie Scarlet saying “Take it, Ace!” and singing the bridge.  This one’s a solid Ace rocker, guitar and cowbell heavy!

My favourite song is “2 Young 2 Die”.  It’s just so heavy!  I used to think Peter Criss was singing the lead vocal, because it’s so raspy.  It is in fact Richie Scarlet, though Peter is on backing vocals again.   This is an outstanding song, rhythmic and bass-driven.  Anton’s drums are tribal and dramatic.  The guitar solos are all over the place, but all of them are ear candy.

TROUBLE WALKIN_0003“Back To School” is a a fun song, and you can’t mistake who’s singing (screaming) with Ace on the chorus:  one of the biggest Frehley fans on the planet, Sebastian Bach himself!  He’s joined by Peter Criss, and Dave “Snake” Sabo and Rachel Bolan, also of Skid Row.  This one is more hard rock than anything else, but damn catchy.

I’m not sure if “Remember Me” is really live, but it’s mixed to sound that way.  A crowd is mixed in, and Ace says good evening to “Club Remulac, in France!”  It is important to remember that “Remulak” is home planet of the Saturday Night Live characters, the Coneheads.  Appropriate since this song is sung from the perspective of a space traveler, advising Earthlings to get some world peace happenin’.  Good song, though, kind of lazy and light.

The album closes with “Fractured III”, and much like its predecessors, it’s an instrumental.  The thing about the Fractured series is that they do sound all interconnected.  They all sound related at the hip, or the heart, and that’s cool.  I like all of them for different reasons.  “Fractured III” might be the hardest, most electric of them to this point.

After this, Ace seemed to lay dormant for a number of years.  In 1990 there was a rumour that Kiss were working on a reunion with Ace, Paul, Gene and Eric Carr which of course never happened.  A few years later Ace turned up on his Just 4 Fun tour, playing a Kiss-heavy set of classics.  Later came the Bad Boys of Kiss tour with Peter Criss, and finally the inevitable original Kiss reunion.  During the reunion, there were some interesting Ace Frehley releases, and we’ll be talking about those things next.

As for Trouble Walkin’?  Solid.

4/5 stars

REVIEW: Skid Row – Thickskin (2003)

SKID ROW – Thickskin (2003 Skid Row Records)

Thickskin came out in 2003, a full 8 years since their last record.  They’d been through a lot, including firing their charismatic lead singer.  Sebastian Bach was one hell of a frontman with a voice to be envied.  In was Johnny Solinger, the little-known frontman of Texas band Solinger.  Could they gel as a band, and put out a decent record?

Yes, they could and did.

THICKSKIN_0004Solinger only has one writing credit on Thickskin, leaving the majority of the writing to Rachel Bolan and Snake Sabo  That pair wrote much of Skid Row’s older material anyway, and the sound does not stray far from classic Skid Row. Thickskin sounds like a natural followup to the excellent Subhuman Race, though less twisted and exploratory.  Where Solinger succeeds is in continuing to sing in the Skid Row style. He doesn’t stray too far from the blueprint, although his voice does not have the power of Bach’s.  He still throws in the shrieks in the right places, the roughness, the toughness, and the expressiveness.  If only he’d avoided those Nickelcrap-sounding moments on “Swallow Me”, but hey, he didn’t write the song.

Song-wise, we have an album here that comes pretty close to Subhuman Race in quality. There are those who prefer early Skid Row, when they were more hard rock and less dark heavy alterna-rock.  That’s fair — but be forewarned, this album won’t turn you around.  I find that very few weak songs blemish the album, and even the weak songs have pretty strong choruses.

My favourites include “Ghost” (killer chorus!), “Born A Beggar” (even better chrorus!), “Thick Is The Skin” (the sort of speedy metal that Skid Row did on Slave to the Grind), and “See You Around” (a sort-of ballad that reminds me of “I Remember You”).  Most controversial of all was “I Remember You Two”.  This remake is more a re-imagining of the hit ballad as a fast punk rocker.  And it works!  Try to listen to it as if you don’t even know the original song exists.  It’s fun if you can accept it.

Impressive also-rans include “One Light” (another ballad) and “Hittin’ A Wall” which is pure speed and aggression.  Solinger succeeds at pulling off both extremes.  He also pulls of the more grungy styled lead vocal on the opening verse of the title track, a Weiland-esque moment.  He’s versatile enough to do the job.

One complaint:  the lame-o cover art.  When Baz was in the band, his father David Bierk provided some pretty wild paintings.  This cover is lifeless, not even barely hinting at the rock and roll thunder within.

I have to give this album a solid:

4.25/5 stars

It’s the best of the Solinger era, and the song “Born A Beggar” still makes my road tapes 10 years later.

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REVIEW: Skid Row – “Wasted Time” (1991 7″ single)

SKID ROW – “Wasted Time” (1991 7″ single)

I don’t think I’m going too far out on a limb if I call this the best song on Slave to the Grind.  The closing song on a damn fine metal album, “Wasted Time” is awesome.  It’s in “power ballad” territory, but it’s much darker than Skid Row’s prior hit ballad, “I Remember You”.  Sebastian Bach turns in the best vocal performance of his life on this one.  Sebastian co-wrote the song, about the damages of addiction.

Both the 7″ and the 12″ singles come with the previously unreleased live bonus track, “Get the Fuck Out”.  (The other bonus tracks on the 12″ are “Holidays in the Sun” and “Psycho Love” which are both available elsewhere.)  “Get the Fuck Out”, recorded at fuckin’ Wembley fer Christ’s sakes, features a long Sebastian intro that is probably more interesting than the song itself!  Apparently, Skid Row were given a letter that stated specifically that Skid Row were not to play “Get the Fuck Out”.  So what do they do?

Sebastian:  “It says here, they’re gonna stop the show, because they don’t like the word ‘fuck’!  And you’re not allowed to hear it!”  Baz then leads the crowd in a chant of “get the fuck out!” before Skid Row drive into the song.  As fans know, it’s a short firecracker punk rock song, and Baz is in top voice.

5/5 stars

REVIEW: Skid Row – United World Rebellion Chapter One (2013)

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SKID FRONT

SKID ROW – United World Rebellion Chapter One (2013)

I know Johnny Solinger’s been in the band longer than Sebastian was. I know the band probably hate Sebastian’s name even being brought up in a review such as this. I’ve been standing by the band through their last two albums (2003’s Thickskin and 2006’s Revolutions Per Minute).  My interest waned quite a bit, on the long wait between releases by the band.  This new EP (5 new songs) is failing to rouse me from my ambivalence.  So I’ll just come out and say it:  Guys, get Sebastian back. It’s time.  If Eddie Van Halen can get up on stage again with David Lee Roth and grin that grin of his, then Rachel Bolan can get over Sebastian Bach.

The thing is, there’s nothing wrong with United World Rebellion.  (Last album was a “revolution”, now they’re having a “rebellion”.  What will the next album be?  Defiance, disobedience, dissension, heresy, insubordination, insurgency?)  It’s heavy like old Skid Row.  It has squealing, howling solos like old Skid Row and riffs reminiscent of the classic stuff.  Johnny’s throwing everything he’s got into his performance.   It’s just…not memorable.

The most striking song is the first one, “Kings of Demolition”, which is really good.  Only problem:  It’s more than just a little similar to “Monkey Business” from Slave.  “Monkey Business” is a great heavy song, but you’re not going to top it by re-writing it.  It’s downhill from there.  I must have played this EP eight or nine times now, and I still can’t remember how “Let’s Go”, “Get Up”, and “Stitches” go.  They are all heavy, riffy…and non-descript.  The only song that stands out is “This is Killing Me”, the token ballad (right smack in the middle of the EP), and it stands out only because it’s a ballad.  You can hear the (intended?) similarity to a certain hit ballad by the Sebastian version of Skid Row…but without his soaring vocals.  Once again, you can’t create a new memorable song if you’re repeating an old one.

Sorry guys.  I’m usually in favour of bands carrying on with new members, because I’d rather have that than no band at all.  Unfortunately, Skid Row needs Sebastian Bach as much as Sebastian Bach wants to be in Skid Row.  Johnny can take a proud bow, because he’s no slouch and he did the best job possible.  I wanna see it happen.

2/5 stars

EDIT: May 15 2013 – There is a European version coming with two bonus tracks, both covers.  Bastards.