|Skid Row Thickskin||skidrow.com|
Skid Row is another band that is faced with overcoming huge odds to make a successful recording comeback. The scene has changed, the fan base has changed and those still around have been waiting patiently for this album for several years now.|
With new singer Johnny Solinger, the band has spent considerable time recording and even re-recording parts of this album.
The band have tried to shop it to labels, and then decided to go it alone, only to shop it to labels once again before finally biting the bullet and releasing the album themselves last week.
Skid Row have updated their sound big time. While this remains a rocky and mostly uptempo album, the overall sound is more in tune with (heavier) Goo Goo Dolls and Matchbox 20, than Slave To The Grind era Skids.
I am not surprised that no label picked up on this. Not because of the quality of the album, but because of the style. No label would find this record easy to market to a new audience with the name Skid Row attached, while other die-hard Skid's fans might find parts of the new sound hard to stomach.
The good news is that amongst the tracks on Thickskin are some true gems. Yes, the style has changed, but the band has written some very good songs, which at least gives them the chance to reach potential purchasers.
But I do fear the worst. I think this album will be a hard sell outside a core audience. Which is a shame really, as those that pass on the album will miss some good songs.
Overall there remains some fillers, but the band should be proud of their ability to remain relevant in 2003. In fact, it's the most modern rock friendly tracks on here that I like the best.
Track By Track:
New Generation opens the album as expected – a big bombastic hard rocker, which immediately sets the tone for the album – darker, more contemporary and of course, that new vocalist! The song features vocal effects and some big riffs, plus a very punk chorus.
Ghost is the first of a few tracks that are almost unrecognizable from the Skids of old. This mid-tempo rocker wouldn't sound out of place on a Matchbox 20 record, with some great vocals and melodies making the track memorable and a definite radio possibility.
Swallow Me is one of the darker tracks on the album, with the guitar sound and vocals both very much influenced by today's modern rock sound – right down to the fairly bare chorus. Not the most easily digestible track. Born A Beggar is a diamond. A real gem of a track. In fact, it's the furthest track from the Skid's of old and my favourite of the album. This uptempo Matchbox 20/Goo Goo Dolls style modern rocker has a great guitar riff and melodic chorus that bursts into a big heavy anthem. Some old fans of the band might have some trouble with the style, but it's a great track.
It was no surprise to see that Thick Is The Skin was previewed by the band as a lead single. It's the most traditional sounding Skid Row track on the album, acting as a bridge between the old and the new. Great track and still the heaviest of the album.
See You Around is another modern rock track that might throw old fans for a loop. Very commercial and quite laid back, this track would sound right at home alongside Nickelback, SR-17 and MB20 on the radio.
Mouth Of Voodoo sees the tempo and the aggression lifting again, but it doesn't match that of the opening track or Thick Is The Skin, plus a weak chorus lets it down a little.
One Light is the album's only proper ballad. It's an mid-tempo modern rock ballad, but nevertheless one that is very commercial and a hell of a long way from 18 And Life.
I Remember You Too is a high energy punk version of the Skid's classic track. This version is nothing like the original, but a bit of fun and comes at a good point in the album.
Lamb keeps things rocking along, with a heavy track that is closer to the band's old style. A good hard rocker. Down is another rocker, but a more contemporary one this time. Not as catchy as earlier numbers, but solid enough.
Hittin' The Wall finishes the album by rocking hard. It's not as heavy as Thick Is The Skin, but still manages to raise a sweat and walks the fine line between the modern and old school sound.
Whether fans will accept their updated approach is yet to be decided, but the band have as good a chance as any other band out there doing the same, due to some care in the songwriting department.
Overall this is an album that may leave some fans undecided, with a few tracks that could be considered filler. But the majority rocks and the production quality helps deliver their message in a positive way.
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