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Skid Row / The Atlantic Years is just brilliant rock songs and searing live performances

It has been said in the past, “the day you reform is the day you cease being legendary.” And while the majority wouldn’t dare put Skid Row under that banner, to many, they were one of the main cogs in the roaring machine of ’80s Rock.

Skid Row: The Atlantic Years 1989-1996 (BMG)

Release Date: 3 December 2021

Words: Brian Boyle

So if an unrefuseable offer was put on the table and respective feelings of pride were put back in the spandex, would their fans give two halves of a quarter fuck what status the band’s name retained? Most, probably not. Whether the day ever comes when hatchets are at best half-buried is at the moment less likely than Glasgow Rangers being managed by The Pope.

Skid Row were formed in New Jersey in 1986 by guitarist Dave “The Snake” Sabo and bassist Rachel Bolan, and are not to be confused with the Irish band of the same name, which included Gary Moore and Phil Lynott.

Visually they had the lot. Two brilliant shape throwing guitarists in Sabo and Scotti Hill and a punk-influenced bass player in Bolan who sported what looked like the chain off his front door dangling from his nose to his ear. But their USP was lead singer Sebastian Bach, a tall and skinny, handsome Canadian who had an unrivalled voice delivered by the rock god’s, and when let loose on an audience, he was like a hungry and angry pitbull.

But boy, did they have the tunes too, and this brilliantly nostalgic box set gives you the whole story from 1989 to 1996 with the classic lineup in what was, without doubt, the most creative part of their career.

But let’s be honest here, the inclusion of third album Subhuman Race, Subhuman Beings On Tour, and the covers EP B-Side Ourselves are really only tasty little extras if you fancy a nibble later, though the version of The Ramones Psycho Therapy with Bolan at the helm is explosive and still a mainstay in their live set to this day.

But we’re all here for the cream, the self-titled five times platinum debut and the fist-clenching follow up, Slave To The Grind. The Michael Wagener produced Skid Row wasn’t quite the game changer the like of Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite For Destruction was, and in fairness, not many were. But in terms of “all killer” strength and quality, it was just as significant.

Who can forget the way they rolled into town with the rousing rebellion of Youth Gone Wild and then raised the bar again with the harrowing 18 And Life. It didn’t stop there. Big Guns, Makin A Mess, Piece Of Me and Sweet Little Sister all immersed themselves in your bloodstream straight off the bat.

There were no “growers”. It was love at first listen. And you may have got to third base with the wonderfully penned ballad I Remember You.

Then the pressure cooker of the second album, but instead of maintaining the status quo, they bared their teeth and delivered a much heavier and darker collection. Title track Slave To The Grind pummelled you with its breakneck speed. Lead-off single Monkey Business was like a relentless Heavy Metal headbutt.

There were ballads too, but not in the formulaic lighters in the air way. Wasted Time and In A Darkened Room were much deeper than the generic power variety and evidence of a band maturing nicely. Get The Fuck Out raised a riotous middle finger with a bit of jovial angst, and let’s not forget the brilliantly titled and authentically epic Quicksand Jesus, a Sabo/Bolan songwriting masterclass.

With a little help from the Grunge pandemic, Skid Row’s ascent was slowed right down. But this sumptuous keepsake is an invigorating reminder of a band who made their name without the gimmickry of top hats, groinal pyrotechnics or fake decapitation.

Just brilliant rock songs and searing live performances, and when they were hot, they were absolutely flaming.

Track Listings

Disc: 1 – Skid Row

1 Big Guns
2 Sweet Little Sister
3 Can’t Stand the Heartache
4 Piece of Me
5 18 and Life
6 Rattlesnake Shake
7 Youth Gone Wild
8 Here I Am
9 Makin’ a Mess
10 I Remember You
11 Midnight / Tornado

Disc: 2 – Slave To The Grind

1 Monkey Business
2 Slave to the Grind
3 The Threat
4 Quicksand Jesus
5 Psycho Love
6 Get the Fuck Out
7 Livin’ on a Chain Gang
8 Creepshow
9 In a Darkened Room
10 Riot Act
11 Mudkicker
12 Wasted Time

Disc: 3 – B-Side Ourselves

1 My Enemy
2 Firesign
3 Bonehead
4 Beat Yourself Blind
5 Eileen
6 Remains to Be Seen
7 Subhuman Race
8 Frozen
9 Into Another
10 Face Against My Soul
11 Medicine Jar
12 Breakin’ Down
13 Iron Will

Disc: 4 – Subhuman Race

1 Slave to the Grind (Live in London)
2 Delivering the Goods (Live)
3 Beat Yourself Blind (Live in London)
4 Psycho Therapy (Live in London)
5 Riot Act (Live in London)
6 Monkey Business (Live in London)

Disc: 5 – Subhuman Beings On Tour

1 Psycho Therapy
2 C’mon and Love Me
3 Delivering the Goods
4 What You’re Doing
5 Little Wing

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