Skid Row Revolutions Per Minute
By Marcus Pan
What a surprise receiving
this was. It seems that a lot of older skool acts are getting back together or
simply trying again. Over the past month or two I've received new work by Fear
Factory, Megadeth, Twisted Sister, Sepultura...and now one of the bandwagon
hair rockers of the 80s, Skid Row. Skid Row's Revolutions Per Minute
marks the first time in history that the Legends editor has received a CD his
wife might actually want. Strange but true...now before we get into Skid Row's
fifth album, let's have a short history lesson class.
Right down the road from where I grew up, and indeed my wife
and her troupe of friends in their high school days were big fans of this
group, Skid Row were formed in 1986 by bassist Rachel Bolan and guitarists
Scotti Hill and Dave Sabo in Tom's River, NJ. By 1987 they had completed what
many would refer to as their "classic line-up," which included the well-known
vocals of Sebastian Bach and the addition of drummer Rob Affuso. With help from
glam rocker Jon Bon Jovi, also from this area of New jersey, the troupe
released their self-titled debut in 1989 on Atlantic. This debut contained two
of their most known hits - I Remember You and 18 and Life. While
playing about, Bach became known as either an asshole, or a typical Axl style
rocker - depending on your point of view.
Most people will place Skid Row as a back-end "hair band" of
the glam-laced 80s, alongside such acts as Motley Crue, Trixter, Def Leppard
and Bon Jovi. Truthfully, Skid's sound was riveted with a much harder edge than
most, a mixture of thrash, blues and heavy metal. The fact that their hits
started up in 1989, years after the glam-metal thing had already began, puts
them behind the eight ball and got them lumped together - by myself included -
with the bandwagon rollers of the time. In fact I still regularly mix Warrant
and Skid Row together in my mind - same time, same style, same look... As they
released their sophomore album, Slave to the Grind, in 1991, Seattle had
already shit on most of the metal scene and kicked grunge and alternative out
into the world and Skid Row found their sound, style and music overshadowed by
such acts as Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Nirvanna and Pearl Jam.
Slave to the Grind however debuted at number 1 - the
first metal album to ever do so. The band had gotten heavier, while other acts
like Metallica and Anthrax started to soften up into cranky pudgy versions of
their old selves. The band toured on the album, it dropped quickly from the
charts, and the troupe spent three years pondering a split while grunge stomped
glam-rock and heavy metal into the proverbial dust. In 1995 they released
Subhuman Race, which charted in the top 40 but didn't do much beyond
that. Then in 1996 Sebastian Bach was fired for being...too much of an asshole
or too typical an Axl style rocker - again, depending on your point of view.
Sebastian Bach, the band's face for nearly ten years, went on to do other
things, some silly some not, and Skid Row took a powder.
In the late 90s, Skid Row's three core members picked up
Johnny Solinger and drummer Phil Varone of Saigon Kick. Skid Row opened for
KISS at their farewell tour. They've toured nearly every summer since, many
times as part of the Rock Never Stops Tour - a dynamic line-up of 80s metal
bands that 35+ year olds will still dust off for the tape machine. Their
fourth album, Thickskin, came out in 2003 without much fanfare. Phil
Varone was replaced by Dave Gara and the five are pushing out Revolutions
Per Minute on SPV, officially less than two weeks from the time I'm writing
this paragraph. History lesson over, Skid Row's future starts on October 24th,
2006 - and Revolutions Per Minute is released.
Disease shreds us open with bluesy thrash riffs,
Solinger strutting his stuff and showing he can hold his own against Bach. Very
catchy, quite slamming - my denim jacket with the Maiden back patch in the
closet is trying to get out. Another Dick in the System is an anthemic
tune with your crowd shouts, fast guitar work and rallying catchy rhythms. Skid
slows it down a bit, but keeps the strong guitar rock sound, with Pulling My
Heart Out From Under Me, a dark ballad.
Not to be taken too seriously, When God Can't Wait is
a fast-paced bit of bar punk, reminding me of work by Drop Kick Murphy. Shut
Up Baby, I Love You gets thrashy-blues again, somehow reminding me of Great
White, with Solinger's blistering yowls. Strength is Skid Row's chick
song here on Revolutions Per Minute. White Trash is a shredding
condemnation of modern suburbia (with a touch of Jerry Springer) and You
Lie is reminiscent of Guns 'n Roses' I Used to Love Her.
Strangely enough, Skid Row sound very similar to how they
did fifteen years ago. Solinger does a good job of upholding what Sebastian
Bach started then, and the three core members of the band certainly poured more
into the mix that was late-80s Skid Row than most of us gave credit for.
There's a lot of fun on this album with tracks like You Lie, White Trash
and Shut Up Baby, I Love You. And there's some chick ballads too with
Pulling My Heart Out From Under Me and Strength. All riveted
together with elements of thrash, blues and old skool heavy metal. And it's not
one of those squirrely magnetic tape things!
Post: 48 Broad Street, Red Bank, NJ, 07701, USA
 Yes, fifth. What? Didn't know about anything
after '91s Slave to the Grind? Some fan you are!
 Band: Sebastian
Bach and Friends - a band name about as imaginative as...well...ripping off a
famous composer's name.
 Portraying Riff Raff in The Rocky Horror
Picture Show on Broadway.
 Tapes are what we had before CDs.
Sometimes, if you look hard enough (especially in old closet spaces like mine)
you'll be able to find one.
Click to Buy!