Skid Row - Skid Row
Atlantic
Hard Rock
11 songs (39'44)
Release year: 1989
Skid Row, Atlantic Records
Reviewed by Ben
Archive review

In their short but storied career, Skid Row released three studio albums, one covers EP, two hilarious home videos, and one post humus best of. I hold all three studio releases in a high regard, this was one band who never managed to dilute their music with moronic ideals even in the midst of the grunge invasion in the mid nineties, although with only three albums and the songwriting team of Rachel Bolan and Snake Sabo this wasn’t too hard of an endeavor. This self titled debut is rampant with youthful exuberance, you have huge anthems, raunchy sleaze filled rock songs, and one heart wrenching ballad that tears at you and makes the listener believe it was written about him. In short, this album has it all.

Everyone out there has heard the huge hits Youth Gone Wild, 18 and Life, and I Remember You. These three songs were massive, they were the calling card of the generation. Sebastian Bach’s golden voice dropped as many panties as it made people like me pump their fist in the air and headbang. Not to take away from the talent of Bolan and Snake, but I do believe that without Bach at the helm of this band, success would have been a lot harder to come by, if at all. When simplicity is the name of the game, as it is with Youth Gone Wild, his voice made this into the song that every metal fan could relate to. The buildup in the bridge that climaxes in the chorus, that is pure songwriting gold. Everybody out there knows a kid like Ricky, some of you might have even been him or on the same path as this (non)fictitious character. 18 and Life is almost as haunting and melancholic as it is a fine song, with solos that soar and dive to accentuate this tale of an out of control and self destructive young man, as well as Bach’s voice taking a ragged and torn approach that comes out forcefully in his rounding screams before the lead break. I Remember You, the requisite Power Ballad, although I will say that this has a lot more bite to it than your regular 80’s ballad staples. Great lyrics and a passionate performance, all I am going to say about this song is that it is damn near perfect for rock balladry, definitely on the same level as the best of Pretty Maids and Bonfire.

So what about the rest of the crop? Are they as good as the highly pushed singles or are they just huge flops and this record only sold because the public ate up what was pushed on MTV? I’m glad to say that this record defies the general “push the singles and to hell with the rest” mindset than many lesser hard rock bands followed as almost every song on this album is an outstanding one. Sweet Little Sister is an upbeat and fun song that makes the head nod without even trying, and Rattlesnake Shake has a very overlooked and under appreciated refrain melody that I think steals the show even if it is a scant ten seconds. Makin’ a Mess is a monster of a song and I am curious as to why it was never released as a single. A very energetic and frantic track that is full of hooks, both vocally and guitarwise, this is one of the strongest cuts on the album. Midnight / Tornado turned some heads when it was first released and it still does today. This is a straight up Heavy Metal song no ifs, ands, or buts, about it. Guitars that sound very much like Judas Priest dominate this song and Bach gives a slithery vocal approach until the huge refrain that stirs the blood. Whenever people tell me that Skid Row is “generic eighties cock rock” I just point them this way.

While I do enjoy all of Skid Row’s long players, this debut is the one that I come back to the most. It contains just the right amount of commercial accessibility, hard hitting songs, and Bach never sounded as good as he does here again. I highly recommend this to fans of hard rock that may have passed the band up in the past due to their popularity in the late eighties and early nineties. If Skid Row were to reunite (Chinese Democracy has a better chance of coming out before Rachel and Bach can be in the same room without a fistfight breaking out) it would be one of the few reunions today that would actually matter.

Killing Songs :
Sweet Little Sister, 18 and Life, I Remember You, Makin' a Mess, and Youth Gone Wild
Ben quoted 85 / 100
Aleksie quoted 87 / 100
Other albums by Skid Row that we have reviewed:
Skid Row - Slave to the Grind reviewed by Koeppe and quoted 92 / 100
Skid Row - Revolutions Per Minute reviewed by Mike and quoted 30 / 100
Skid Row - Thickskin reviewed by Mike and quoted 40 / 100
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