ALBUM OF THE DAY: SKID ROW, SKID ROW
I was mindlessly channel surfing, as you do at the end of a long day, when I saw a flash of blond hair that could only be Sebastian Bach. Naturally, I had to go back to see if it was true. Lo and behold, I was right. Now, I don’t know what’s sadder; that I recognized him in a split second or that he was on… GILMORE GIRLS. Yep, old Sebastian was part of some cool indie band on the show, and he was singing, uh, “Holla Back Girl.” My reaction was threefold; 1) Why did no one tell me this existed? 2) What the fuck is he doing?! 3) Man, how good was old Skid Row?
Though I do enjoy Slave to the Grind as the heavier follow-up, 1989’s Skid Row is, in my humble opinion, the best Skid Row release. For a first album, just look at all the amazing songs that came out of it.
“18 and Life” was the perfect song to define the band. Angry and a little rough around the edges, but with crisp guitars and drums set off by one of the best voices in metal. It had one of those videos that made you sit and watch it all the way through because it had a sincerity that made it seem honest rather than preachy. But then songs like, “Here I Am,” which was just this shit-eating, cheeky little number that seemed so simple but was so damn catchy, would be such a direct contrast. It kept a good balance between hot-headed self-righteousness and just fun sleaziness.
“I Remember You” has the honor of being the only power ballad I really love. Mostly because despite it’s ridiculously sappy lyrics (“walking hand in hand and writing love letters in the sand” being a particularly notable moment), it’s not really a ballad. The guitar solos never veer into overblown, masturbatory territory and Bach’s vocals are just… there are no words. I once attempted the really long “You” note around 4:33 into the song and almost passed out.
I can’t help but think if you’re singing about being a rebel or a wild child or dangerous (or, if you’re Crashdiet, all three), you’re actually none of the above. But holy God, the glory that is “Youth Gone Wild” is the exception. It is the perfect anthem for disgruntled folks, or, y’know, just going through puberty. I have yet to meet a person who doesn’t involuntarily yell “Skid Row!” after “Hey man, there’s something that you oughta know, I tell ya Park Avenue leads to…” You just yelled it in your head, didn’t you?
My favorite Skid Row song is a little odd. It’s “Forever,” a one-off from the best-of compilation 40 Seasons. But Skid Row will always be an album that I have to listen to all the way through. It’s actually what prompted me to write this. In their prime, I’d say they’re a band that deserved to be noticed. Well, okay, and having Rachel Bolan adding to the scenery sure didn’t hurt. What? I have eyes. Sometimes they can’t help but see these things.
I think Sebastian Bach once commented how Skid Row fans are so hung up on songs he did “a billion years ago.” There’s a reason, sir. They were miles above anything you’ve done (musically… I mean there was that whole biting a bartender incident) since. Well, excluding singing a Gwen Stefani song on a WB show.