All posts by deKE

Never Gonna Stop The Rock

U2: ACHTUNG BABY (2021 Reissue)

During this crazy Pandemic I have been supporting locally owned Record Shops. The only problem is Tbay has no good record shops other than Sunrise which is a nationwide chain. Instead I have decided to support local shops that are out of town! Encore Records out of Kitchener, Aux33 out of Montreal and now Resolute Records out of Toronto are three locally owned shops that I have given my business too. I ordered 5 albums from Resolute Records and first up is those four fellas from Ireland. 

Another huge album that just turned 30 years young was U2’s “Achtung Baby” that was released back in November 1991.

I will never admit to being the biggest U2 fan around as my collection is patchy at best but there is something about certain albums that after all these years still draws you in as the listener.

“Achtung Baby” for me is that record which I finally got on vinyl after my sister Kristin nicked my CD copy of it about 29 years ago!

All kidding aside, U2 created a brilliantly written and recorded album that still stands up today.

Full out props to Producers Daniel Lanois/Brian Eno/ Steve Lillywhite and engineer Flood whom all created and crafted one of the best sounding records I have ever heard.

No other record before or after that I have heard sounds like “Achtung Baby” and thats thanks to all the parties involved in making of the album.

U2 themselves that being of course Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr. stepped up and wrote 12 tracks that are all classics and to prove that point this record went 5 singles deep while  selling well over 1 million records in Canada. (certified Diamond as was ’87’s “Joshua Tree”.)

I’m not going into a detailed breakdown of this album but I will mention a couple of tracks that really stand out. (the whole album really stands out too be honest with ya).

 

Opener “Zoo Station” sets the pace and it’s very apparent about 20 seconds in that this album is sounding like no other albums. Love the mix of Clayton’s Bass on this record as its soars over everything. Very simple yet very effective.

Speaking of soaring Bass how about “Even Better Than The Real Thing” which has some real cool Mullen Jr. percussion driving the song forward along with The Edges guitar.

“One” was a big single and I love the feel of this tune as Bono delivers a stellar vocal along with Edge’s guitar playing.  “One” is one of the all time greats..

“Until The End of The World” has Edge leading the charge on guitar as how many effects does this guy use?

One of my favourite tunes is “The Fly” which is such a killer track. The chorus is Gold as I love how Edge and Bono’s voices collide while all the other rock trimmings are going on sonically  in the background.

“Achtung Baby” on vinyl is a must listen and  actually is a great listen on headphones as well as there is so much going on socially around the four dudes known as U2.

 

Skid Row: Subhuman Beings On Tour (2021 Reissue)

Part 5 of Skid Row The Atlantic Years (1989-1996)

Kinda interesting that this live EP (recorded in London England) would be the last release of the  Sebastian Bach fronted Skid Row.

Too be honest until this box set was announced I had no idea this EP existed so for me it was a no brainer that I wanted to hear it.

Subhuman Beings (or Beigs!!) On Tour is a quick little ass kicker of a 6 song, 36 minute listen that is friggin heavy.

Opener” Slave To The Grind” lights the fuse as the band goes into hyperdrive in terms of tempo and Bach singing and screaming and hailing a bunch of Fucks like only he can do.

The band behind him are playing at a ferocious pace. Skid Rows pal Robert Halford shows up and shares the mic with Bach on “Delivering The Goods”.

The only tune featured from the “Subhuman Race” album is the classic “Beat Yourself Blind” which just flat out wants to blow your speaker with Rachel Bolan’s Fuzz distorted Bass tone. I friggin love this track.

Speaking of Bolan who lifts off with a super charged take on “Psycho Therapy” which goes right into a 120 mph version of “Riot Act”.

“Riot Act” is another one of those killer tracks. Short-Fast-To The Point.

“You say its raining but its pissing down my back”

“Monkey Business” closes out the record which is the longest track as it features a bit of a jam in the form of “Mississippi Queen” to which the band ramps up..

Funny that nothing from the debut was on this and if there is one knock on this is that its too short.  But holy moly what an ass kicking EP.

Since this was an original Japan only release each band member thanks the Japanese fan base for coming out at the end of the album. Included are both the lyrics in Japanese and English. Just like Cheap Trick did back on their “Budokan” album.

 

deKe’s 2022 score of Subhuman Race: 8.5/10

Well friends thanks for reading and commenting along the way on this handful of Skid Row reviews.

I had a great time over the holidays digging into these albums. A pretty good flashback if anything and nice to own now on vinyl.

It’s too bad they get lumped in the whole Hair Metal tag but outside the debut release they are pretty much a cheese free band as once “Slave To The Grind” and “Subhuman Race” proved there were many more layers involving this band.

It’s  shame really that they couldn’t get there shit together on personal level but I guess that why there is a word called divorce.

Sabo/Bolan really prove themselves are prolific songwriters who at the time had a lead vocalist that could deliver the goods(so to speak).

Skid Row had a great run really and of course Bach is doing his own thing while the other guys are doing there’s. Regardless of what the future holds you can honestly say that these 5 guys did let the music do the talking for the seven years of recorded material for Atlantic Records.

deke’s 2022 score of the The Atlantic Years Box Set: 8.5/10

 

 

Skid Row: Subhuman Race (2021 Reissue)

 

Part 4 of Skid Row The Atlantic Years (1989-1996)

I wonder what was going through the minds of the five guys in Skid Row when “Subhuman Race” hit the streets in March 1995.

My point being that one year earlier in March 1994 Motley Crue released there self titled album with a new singer in tow (John Corabi) with a sound that wasn’t what was normal from the Crue.

A different sound, one that reflected the musical climate at the time.

The comparisons between the Crue and Skid Row albums are so similar its scary.

Same producer (Bob Rock) and studio (Little Mountain Sound) as well as  huge shift in sound in both bands camps which resulted in both records only hitting “Gold” status.

Hitting Gold for both these bands back in 94/95 was a failure yet if this was the case in 2022 this would be huge news as not too many rock acts get certified anymore.

Yet over time both records to my ears have aged well.

Kinda weird that the Skidders themselves have distanced themselves from this record and I have no idea why. They all have laid blame on being fried out with each other while blaming Bob Rock as well as the record company wanting product.

Safe to say that when you are at one level of success and the wheels come off the career and it starts going downhill thats when the finger pointing starts.

But to be fair at the time  it had been almost four years since the “Slave To The Grind” release and a lot had changed in that time as Kurt Cobain and his Tattered Cardigan had a hand in snuffing out a genre for a good few years (maybe a decade when you really think about it) but these bands like Skid Row kept going as they still had there deal with Atlantic Records.

At various times throughout this record I can hear elements of Alice In Chains, Soundgarden and STP musically on here. That was what was current back in the mid ’90s.

13 tracks make up “Subhuman Race”. Opener “My Enemy” is a killer opening track which within 10 seconds you hear that Skid Row ’96 is not Skid Row ’89.

I have already mentioned in my other reviews of Skid Row that these guys could play and “My Enemy” proves that point. Listen to that tempo change when the guitar solo kicks in. Rachel Bolan’s Bass tone is mega on this track (and how about that Geezer like fuzz bass that leads off “Beat Yourself Blind”) and throughout. Great player/songwriter he is along with Sabo.

Lyrically Bolan and Snake just six years earlier (’89) were writing lyrics like “Rattlesnake Shake”,

“Juicy Miss Lucy always diggin’ on junk
She’s on the corner talkin’ trash with the punks
Her buried treasure is so easy to see
‘Cause talk is cheap and so is she”

But by ’96 those kind of fun words were replaced by some more serious lyrics like  the title track “Subhuman Race” has…

“Jesus knows my story, he knows the position that I’m in
A hooker knows the feeling to get fucked the way I’ve been
Turn my insides out; your mouth drank my water”

Whoa. From Juicy Miss Lucy to Jesus and a Hooker as the boys were not worried about radio or video play by this point.

Lot’s of great stuff on here. “Iron Will”, “Eileen”, “Bonehead” the list goes on as I can listen to this album all the way through.

One track though which is perhaps my favourite song is “Breaking Down” which is a Sabo only composition. This tune is truly epic in every sense as Bach throws down an excellent vocal while the chorus is Gold. As my pal Geoff Stephen knows this is an end of the album GEM! Don’t want to say ballad but how about a mid tempo track.

I can honestly say that this album is a great no compromise like spin so why the Skid guys diss this one who knows but for many (myself included) like the Crue ’94 release “Subhuman Race” features some of the bands best work.

deKe’s 2022 score of Subhuman Race: 8.5/10

 

 

Skid Row: B-Sides Ourselves (2021 Reissue)

Part 3 of Skid Row The Atlantic Years (1989-1996)

1992 was a busy year for Skid Row. Touring non stop yet again plugging the current  “Slave To The Grind” release so to keep the momentum going out came in September of that year “B-Sides Ourselves”.

“B-Sides” is a five track cover album and the thing I like best about this back than (when I originally bought it on CD) was the fact that it was short.

With a running length of just over 18 minutes this keeps my attention span as I’m not a big fan on full out meal deal cover albums that feature lets say 10 songs.

“B-Sides Ourselves” is a fun little ass kicker album.

Each fella in Skid Row picked a song and you know Bassist Rachel Bolan picked “Psycho Therapy”( RAMONES). Rachel takes over the lead vocals on (with the help of one Taime Down on backing vocals) and throws it down on a fun cover.

The band than goes into “C’mon And Love Me”(KISS) which I’m sure Stanley Klein loved at the time in 92 to get funds added to his bank account.

“Delivering The Goods”(Judas Priest) is a live version which has Sebastian Bach trading of vocal lines with Rob Halford and the band  slays this song musically. So good so heavy! In other words Rob and the Skids do indeed deliver the goods!

Nice to see Skid Row flex there musical muscle and cover RUSH’s “What You’re Doing” as Bach lays down a killer vocal while the other Skid’s lay down a killer groove that I’m sure Alex, Geddy and John Rutsy(RIP) would appreciate.

The EP ends with “Little Wing” where the two guitars of Dave Sabo and Scotti Hill take a chill pill approach and show us that they can take the foot off the gas pedal and do some nice blues runs in a tribute to the Jimi Hendrix classic.

Listening to it on vinyl now was probably the first time I have heard these songs probably since 92 when I really think about it.  Time does indeed fly!

deKe’s 2022 score of B-Sides Ourselves: 7/10

 

Skid Row/Killer Dwarfs: Live in Thunder Bay June 22 1992

Taking a bit of detour in reviewing the Skid Row box set as these guys rolled into Thunder Bay back in June ’92. 

June 22 1992/Skid Row/Killer Dwarfs

Skid Row just a year earlier (1991) score a #1 album in the US of A and now they are  playing Thunder Bay as part of there Canadian Tour.

Whut?

Thunder Bay never got bands at the time when they are selling albums only when they were old and playing the nostalgia circuit do they come here!

I think this may have something to do with Sebastian Bach as I recall reading in M.E.A.T Magazine at the time  that Bach said he’s played all over the world and he’s not going home until he plays Thunder Bay!

BAHAHA!

So the show was originally scheduled on June 15th but  Bach was sick so they pushed the show back a week later.

Give them credit as they could have blown us off big time and just trucked through and have never returned.

Along with my brother Todd and my good pal Oink’s as well, we  zipped to the Gardens on the rescheduled date and we went down to the floor for a pretty good view of the stage.

I have to add that the stage and lights were massive for the size of the Fort William Gardens yet the 4000 plus crowd didn’t mind.

Up first was TO’s own Killer Dwarfs plugging their “Method To Madness” release. These guys were pretty cool with Russ the lead singer doing handstands,summersaults while not missing a beat. Some of the tracks like “Hard Luck Town”,”Dirty Weapons”,”Stand Tall”,”Keep The Spirit Alive” and others were played. Bach even hoped on stage and sang “Heavy Metal Breakdown” with the Dwarfs. Kept me and my brother amused to say the least!

The video posted below is from Norway but this is the closest clip I could find that shows you the size of the crowd and stage as if it could have been here in Thunder Bay. I laughed at Baz at the end of set opener “Slave To The Grind” leading the crowd on a “Ice Ice Baby Fuck Off” lol…

Skid Row is coming on and the intro music is the Beastie Boys “Fight For Your Right To Party” and you could hear Sebastian chirping  the crowd over the song. You could hear him not see him(he was still backstage). One of his best comments was along the lines of  “C’mon you lazy ass motherf#%kers from  Thunder Bay wake up” Baz, you know Tbay crowds all too well!

And kaboom, well no kaboom as word on the street was there was no pyro allowed (local Fire Marshall ) but they came out in hyper drive with opener “Slave To The Grind” complete with a pretty big stage set and lighting rig and these Skid Row guys were wired up to say the least.

From there onto “Big Guns”,”Here I Am”, “Makin A Mess”,”18&Life”, “Piece Of Me” these guys weren’t letting up as the show continued with  “Psycho Therapy” (Ramones cover),”Psycho Love”, “Mudkicker” (my personal fav), “Monkey Business” with Sebastian being bad assed and lighting a little Mary Jane in front of the crowd. Nowadays in front of any crowd people would be like MEH!

But back in 92 things we’re different.

Party favourite “Get The Fuck Out” was played and than they improvised a bit when they looked at each other as too what do we play now which ended being a bit of “God Of Thunder” by KISS and “Godzilla” by Blue Oyster Cult The Skids ended the show with “I Remember You” followed by of course “Youth Gone Wild”!

One of the better arena shows I have seen in this town.

I tell ya I give em respect for showing up to Tbay back when they could have easily like I said earlier just cruised by…

Coming up…”B-Sides Ourselves” 

 

 

Skid Row: Slave To The Grind(2021 Reissue)

Part 2 of Skid Row: The Atlantic Years (1989-1996)

When you think about it with the amount of touring Skid Row did on the back of the self titled debut it’s amazing that they followed it up with an even better record in the form of “Slave To The Grind”.

Recorded once again with Micheal Wagener at the dials the guys decided to make an even heavier album at times than the debut.

Toss in the stellar production which is massive but is not over polished, almost dry sounding which is another added charm to the listener.

I always liked the artwork on this album. David Bierk (Sebastian Bachs father) drew this cover and its cool that the band used it as I love the colour scheme. This vinyl reissue is a gatefold sleeve along with the albums 12 tracks spread out over two records.

Even the back cover with those song titles are killer. I remember when I got the CD(back in June ’91) the first thing I would look at would be the song titles as I wanted to figure out what was rocking and what the ballads were and to see upon my first listen if I was right.

When you drop the needle this album kicks ass. It’s amazing that its now heading towards year 31 in regards to age.

Nuts is what comes to my mind.

Rachel Bolan and Dave Sabo dug deep as they know they had to deliver a stellar followup and full kudos to them for going the exact opposite way and making a heavier/beefer album than the debut.

Even lyrically they stepped up. Gone were the late 80’s fun tunes like “Big Guns” and “Sweet Little Sister”. Instead you get volcanic heavy rock in the form of the stellar “MudKicker” and “Riot Act”.

“Get The Fuck Out” is really the only tune on here that could have slid onto the debut with its lyrical imagery so to speak.

I have to say the opening three pack of tracks (“Monkey Business”, “Slave To The Grind” and “The Threat”) are a solid way to begin the album. Heavy and to the point!

I don’t want to say ballads because the three somewhat slower like tracks (“Quicksand Jesus”, “In A Darkened Room” and “Wasted Time”) all have deep meanings.

“Quicksand Jesus” deals with the questioning of not only faith but all the other curveballs that life throws your way.

“In A Darkened Room” deals lyrically about child abuse whereas “Wasted Time” tells the tale of drug abuse specifically Heroin.

Bolan and Snake prove not one themselves as songwriters but as great lyricists as well. ( Bach also contributed with a  co write on “In A Darkened Room” and “Wasted Time”).

Some pretty have stuff here folks not only musically but lyrically.

Bolan though should get more respect as a songwriter as more people were fixated on the dudes pierced nose chain than his bass playing and lyrics. Check out “Psycho Love ” written solely by Rachel and I love that driving bass and drums at the beginning of the song.

The fact that the band (along with drummer Rob Affuso and six stringer Scotti Hill) did this all in-house is even more impressive. No outside writers or guest musicians it’s just the five guys doing what they do best and “Slave To The Grind” turns that Grind into platinum on this album.

deKe’s 2022 score of Slave To The Grind: 10/10

Once again I caught Skid Row opening for Guns N Roses at the opening night of Guns Use Your Illusion Tour (May ’91) as Skid Row  got on another mega tour. The only thing was the Skids were playing tracks from “Slave To The Grind” which was still a few weeks away from being released.

Coming up… Skid Row skids into Thunder Bay back in 1992!

Skid Row: Skid Row (2021 Reissue)

Part 1 of the The Atlantic Years (1989-1996)

REWIND 1989…

It was early January of that year and a few months earlier (late ’88) I had read in “Music Express” (Canadian Magazine) about this band from New Jersey named “Skid Row” that was about to release there self titled debut in January(89) thats features a Canuck at the mic.

Sebastian Bach was his name and I was familiar with Bach as he was in a Toronto band in the mid ’80s called Kid Wicked that was featured in another Canadian mag at the time (“Metallion”) that had featured Bach.

I knew of him but had not heard him sing.

I was already invested at getting the debut Skid Row when it came out and by the end of January ’89 the album hit the streets here in Tbay, I scored it on cassette tape ( at the time I could not find it on CD) and for a debut its a pretty decent one at that.

Eleven songs make up the debut. “Big Guns” leads off and it takes you the listener about 30 seconds to realize that Bach when he opens his mouth to sing you know this cat means business.

What becomes pretty evident quickly is that Bassist Rachel Bolan and Guitarist Dave ‘Snake’ Sabo could write great hooky hard rock ditties and this debut is filled throughout with these kind of tunes.

“Sweet Little Sister”, “Rattlesnake Shake”, “Makin A Mess” the list goes on.

Bolan brought in his punk rock roots which you can hear in the track like “Piece of Me” yet Rachel had a knack for writing a decent hard rock track like “Can’t Stand The Heartache”.

The albums three biggest singles “Youth Gone Wild”, “I Remember You” and “18 & Life” are all Sabo/Bolan compositions as those three tracks pushed the album well past triple platinum in Canada.

The main thing for me personally was these guys were all good musicians, Drummer Rob Affuso could stay in the pocket yet he could unleash some cool double bass drumming at times but not taking it too far. Guitarist Scotti Hill together with Sabo formed a great guitar team as they held their own with all the other hot shot guitar duos at the time.

Video play and touring as well also played a huge part in Skid Rows success back in 1989-90. They went everywhere.

Personally, I caught Skid Row three times as openers on the debut album.

Once with Bon Jovi (Winnipeg Canada-August 1989) and twice with Aerosmith (Toronto Canada-January 1990 and Winnipeg- March 1990). They delivered it live with a ton of energy and cussing to say the least.

Course having the managerial muscle of Doc McGhee as well as Sabo’s connection with Jon Bon Jovi helped.

The return for all this good fortune was that Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora owned a piece of Skid Rows publishing (which became a huge thorn in Bach’s side) as when the album took off and sold like gangbusters both Richie and Jon’s pockets got even more filled with cash as Bon Jovi was huge business back in 89 in there own right.

But you have to take the good with the bad as Skid Row skipped the bar circuit plugging this album and instead went straight to the arenas as an opener playing to packed houses.

All three times I seen Skid Row as openers the place was always filled for them. Thats saying something.

Overall the debut is a pretty solid listen even now in 2021 on vinyl where the tracks are big and beefy and Micheal Wagners production still holds up rather well.

deKe’s 2022 score of Skid Row: Skid Row: 8/10

 

The Atlantic Years (1989-1996): Skid Row

Happy New Years Folks!

My daughter Lauren gifted me this year for Christmas  “The Atlantic Years(1989-1996)” which is a box set that focuses on the  Sebastian  Bach fronted era of “Skid Row”.

I have to thank Lauren who pre-ordered this box back in October (from Amazon).

Now that Christmas has come and gone its time to crack the plastic and check out this set which is of course on vinyl.

Spread out over 7 LPs and all on 180 Gram vinyl, the reviews I have read all have been pretty decent.

The selling feature for me was that all of the Bach material is housed together in one box. I know there are vinyl copies of the first two albums (the debut and “Slave To The Grind”) floating about but I wanted the whole deal in one box.

I have to admit that is a cool looking back cover shot.

The only real knock I have on this is the fact that there is no booklet included which I’m sure for the price tag of this box someone at Atlantic could have whipped up an easy 20 pages or so as who does box sets nowadays and not include a booklet?

“Skid Row” that is…

Seriously though that is my only gripe upon my first impression as its the music that matters right?

One other thing that is funny is you would  have thought that Atlantic Records had hired me to do the spelling on the spines. Can you spot the grammar error?

All kidding aside its that not big of a deal as shit happens all the time.

Coming up…

Skid Row’s self titled album from 1989!

 

deke’s Top Reissue’s of 2021

I actually added  more vinyl reissues to my record collection then new albums put out by acts this year.

Weird, but it seems everyone is doing reissue’s so who am I to argue about that with?

No CD’s here folks…no use for em..

Let’s go…

Skid Row came out in the late 80s when it was all about CD’s. I bought all the Sebastian Bach Skid Row stuff on CD. Now in 2021 the whole shebang has been reissued on vinyl under the title “The Atlantic Years”. Better yet I will be reviewing this box set starting next month when we flip the calendar into 2022!

KISS released an 45th Anniversary of “Destroyer” and by looking at the packaging they stepped up big time. The double vinyl set I got has a slick looking gatefold, demos and booklet included. You can always buy the CD box for a lot more. I downloaded the deluxe set off of Apple to hear the live show included which is a show from ’76. I will add it sounds horrible and by that I mean the recording sounds like it was done on a tape recorder. I’ll stick with the vinyl…

“Road Apples” by The Tragically Hip gets the deluxe treatment right after I bought “Saskadelphia” on vinyl. Oh well, The Hip though have put together a stellar package including demos, booklet and the classic Roxy Show from the spring of 91 which is included. This box was a must own for me. I passed on my stand alone vinyl copy of “Saskadelphia” to TeeBone as it needed a good home.

Can “No More Tears” by Ozzy Osbourne be 30 years young? Another one of those I originally bought on CD but now that its on vinyl it sounds superior. Such a killer album as Zak Wylde lays down some serious business on tunes like “Desire”, “S.I.N”, “Mr. Tinkertrain”, “A.V.H”. Do I need to go on? One of the Ozzman’s best I say!

Another must own on vinyl is “Allied Forces” (which is 40 years young) by Triumph who also gave this record the special treatment in which Andy Curran put together this box set and boy did Andy deliver. The original album as well as a 45 RPM, booklet, poster, tour book, Rik Emmett guitar pic are included. The real selling feature though is the double live “Allied Forces” show from Cleveland. That night the rock troops were on the move!

Not an reissue but an RSD release and thats this little ass kicker EP by Robert Plant from ’90. Plant back than had a young band that had some serious chops. “Tall Cool One” zips at a great clip while “Liar’s Dance” is one of Plants solo best.  Plus when your buddy Jimmy Page shows up and you rip through a deep Zep track (Wearing And Tearing) this makes it even more special.

Ah…WHO the F&#K are you!

Grumpy Roger and Grumpier Pete put out a RSD exclusive which was “Face Dances” which is perhaps my favourite WHO album. Yeah I like it that much. This package is stellar. Coloured vinyl, booklet, outtakes and some live tracks (“The Quiet One” kicks ass live) make this one a must own.

About a year ago it was announced that Black Sabbath was releasing both “Heaven And Hell” and “Mob Rules” each on double vinyl. I was stoked as the Ronnie James Dio version of Sabbath was my entry point into them (Mob Rules back in 82) and too be totally honest with you all those two Sab albums are my favourite of the catalog. Great reissues for both.  Double Gatefolds, liner notes and a bunch of live tracks spread out over both records. A must own!

My CD copy of the “Black Album” was due for an update so a few months back I purchased this on vinyl and holy frigg does it kick ass. Bob Rock knew how to harness in the band and made em focus and these songs and sales prove it. That crack of the snare drum at the beginning of Sad But True sums up this album. Sonic Gold!

Mogg, Schenker,Way,Raymond and Parker rereleased this all time great LP known as “Strangers In The Night”. U.F.O  delivers on all accounts. Another cool reissue that has some cool liner notes on how  a couple of tracks were not even played live but only in the studio where the crowd was added. Gotta love how these bands rolled out so called live albums back in the 70s. But who cares this is one of the all time greats.

Thanks for always reading and commenting Friends.

Merry Xmas to you all and lets hope for a great 2022!

Cheers,

dEke