Review by Mark Montgomery & James Couch (Because a lot of what I have written here comes from conversations between James and myself)
The evolution of rock music forms a wild and intricate tree. Since the roots were set, its growth took some amazing twists and turns.
Some surprising saplings separated from the main trunk to take on a whole life of their own and as it grew, each branch would diverge in new directions. On the end of some of the branches are the most important bands in history, Led Zeppelin for instance sprouts a whole new generation directly influenced by one band alone, and other bands create genres that can only be reached by going through them.
Some bands loop back and create circular growth where it can influence and be influenced by those it influences. Parts of the tree have been spliced with other, different trees, to create a new flavoured fruit. This allowed the introduction of synthesisers for instance.
Then we have Skid Row…
I must admit I am no fan of the band, but I need to try these flavours again. As we get older (I’m not that old) our tastes change. So, when the opportunity to review The Atlantic Years (1989 – 1996) Box Set came my way, who am I to put my nose in the air and turn it down on the basis of previous opinion?
The Box Set covers the bands career while the lead vocalist, Sebastian Bach, was fronting the outfit. Tight jeans aside, Its quite a package. 5 CDs. Or if you are going to spend the money, 7 LPs.
Helped into the spotlight by a friend of the band’s guitarist, Dave Sabo (Bon Jovi…) the first release was barely noticed. Youth Gone Wild, is a cheesy, big chorus, Hair Metal, track that can be tolerated if you like Bon Jovi. Skid Row are often referred to as Hard Rock. But at this early in their career, they are Hair Metal, a genre that went out on a limb, withered, and died.
I listened to every single track on this box set, there is some interesting music later in the career, but this early stuff makes you wonder what on earth they were trying to do. Its not really metal is it? Its just mediocre pop music. And 6 million copies of the 1st album sold, meant they were allowed to keep going.
I cannot get past the issues I have with the lead Vocalist. At the Academy of Contemporary Music in Guilford, UK, they use Bach as an example of how not to be a front man of a band. The guy was a maniac, but not in a Keith Moon or Ozzy Osbourne way, in the wise words of Deacon Logan when asked why he ditched Napoleon, “He was a dick”. And no matter how I tried, this affected my listening pleasure. The band had great musicians; drummer Rob Affuso was amazing by the time he left the band…
The interesting thing I found about listening to this is you can hear how Pantera were influenced by Skid Row. I had heard this and thought nothing of it, but to actually hear how Bach is a direct influence on Anselmo is quite something. Then the really interesting thing is you can see how Skid Row were influenced by Pantera, and toward the end of the Bach era, the riffs and arrangements between the two bands are staring at each other in a mirror.
I have to say I enjoyed listening to the latter part of the box set. The stark difference between the music in 1989 and the music in 1996 hits you like a bottle in the face. Hearing the evolution is something you don’t get all the time. Listening to a band abandon that dead end and loop back into something where they become a major influence on some of the best metal band in history is an enlightening process. You must listen to the whole package to appreciate where the changes happen and why.
I will be listening to this again, mostly out of nostalgia. And I will be checking out the bands new release in 2022. Just out of Curiosity, and because Bach isn’t involved.
All five albums are also newly remastered.
The five-album, 7LP side-loading box set includes:
Slave to the Grind (2xLP)
Subhuman Race (2xLP)
Subhuman Beings On Tour!!
This five album, 5CD side loading box set includes:
Slave to the Grind
Subhuman Beings on Tour!!
PRE-ORDER HERE: https://music.bmg.com/skidrowTAYPR