I spend too much of my time defending hair metal. Like anything else, there was a lot of crap that went along with it, but the baby doesn’t need to get thrown out with the bathwater. You wouldn’t throw out Nirvana because of Candlebox, so why throw out Skid Row and Guns N’ Roses with Trixter and Slaughter?
It’s a tough case to make since the genre was founded on an awful lot of ridiculous showmanship. The hairspray, the leather pants, the very pretty lead singer, the lyrics almost entirely about banging hot chicks, and even the squealy guitar solos replete with scrunched-up faces: Skid Row did not escape any of this. But they fucking ruled.
Their self-titled debut ages well, but not exceptionally well. There are catchy, rocking songs from start to finish, but the weaker songs in the bunch aren’t quite good enough to overcome the eye-rolling treatment we give to songs of the time. The machismo, I-ams-what-I-ams lyrics of “Piece Of Me,” “Here I Am,” etc. seem to be written explicitly to appeal to adolescents frustrated with family and school life, looking for a way to aggressively express their frustrations. That’s fine, sure, but it doesn’t stand up to future generations.
The three best songs are the three hits: “18 And Life,” “Youth Gone Wild,” and even the power ballad “I Remember You” all stand the test of time better than almost anything from the era. You can call them formulaic, but what you have to realize is that this stuff was setting the formula. It’s only really formulaic post-hoc. Also, the disc sounds awesome. Almost 25 years later(!) and I still can’t reliably get music that sounds this good.
Like I’ve said, I’ve spent too much time defending hair metal’s redeeming bands, songs, and albums. I don’t want to do it anymore. This album goes into the required listening bucket. If you want to have a conversation with me about it, listen to this, Guns N’ Roses’ Appetite For Destruction (possibly the best album of all time), Too Fast For Love (Motley Crue’s only good album), and this album’s follow-up, Slave To The Grind.
– “Big Guns,” “Sweet Little Sister,” “18 And Life,” “Youth Gone Wild,” “I Remember You”
– “Can’t Stand The Heartache,” “Piece Of Me,” “Here I Am,” “Makin’ A Mess,” “Midnight/Tornado”
– “Rattlesnake Shake”
Filed Between: Skeleton Key (Obtainium) and Skid Row’s Slave To The Grind
Song Notes: After the jump