By Carl Begai
Some folks might remember Mötley Crüe frontman Vince Neil’s debut solo album from 1993, Exposed, put together after he ditched the band. It was a scorcher featuring Neil backed by the likes of Phil Soussan (ex-Ozzy Osbourne), Jack Blades (Night Ranger, Damn Yankees) and Steve Stevens (Billy Idol) as songwriters and / or players, pretty much stomping on everything the Crüe did following Dr. Feelgood (which still holds true to this day). Former Skid Row singer Sebastian Bach’s new solo record, Give ‘Em Hell, is similar in that he’s surrounded himself with greatness and coughed up music that stands at least toe-to-toe with his previous outing Kicking & Screaming, if not crushing it entirely. Time will tell.
Fact is a lot of people thought Bach was screwed after firing guitarist Nick Sterling, one of the main songwriters on Kicking & Screaming. Instead, he and his backbone – producer Bob Marlette and drummer Bobby Jarzombeck – went into the studio all guns and speed dial blazing, calling on Duff McKagan (ex-Guns N’ Roses / bass), Steve Stevens (guitars) and John 5 (Rob Zombie / guitars) to join the party. As a result, Give ‘Em Hell is ballsier, more aggressive and much darker than Kicking & Screaming, with more than a few eyebrow-raising moments thrown in to induce shit-eating grins amongst the diehard fans.
You’re not going to find anything as over-the-top and raging as ‘Slave To The Grind’ on Give ‘Em Hell, but there’s no shortage of fireworks. Opening track ‘Hell Inside My Head’ is distinctly Baz and perfect for the jump start, but it’s the Subhuman Race-era Skid Row-ish tracks ‘Harmony’ and ‘All My Friends Are Dead’ (the demented sister of ‘Eileen’) that set the tone for the album. Continue Reading
For you Hoser-loving heathens…
First off, unless you’ve been living under the weight of a large rock and your own self-importance, you’re aware that former Skid Row vocalist Sebastian Bach has released his new album, Kicking & Screaming. (Yes, yes, I know he lives in the U.S., but Doodness grew up in Peterborough, Ontario and cut his teeth in Toronto). As I mentioned in my review (found here), the record didn’t do anything for me during the first spin, but it won me over and has since become a regular listen in the hallowed halls of BW&BK’s European crash pad. Apologies to Baz for my initial misgivings, but the album is a brilliant piece of work. If you were ever a fan of the Skid Row debut and Slave To The Grind, pick it up.
Check out my illustrious BW&BK colleague Aaron Small’s recent interview with Bach here. Continue Reading
By Carl Begai
Maybe it was a full moon, the previous evening’s entertainment, or a case of pre-flight jitters, but my first run through Kicking & Screaming left me cold and underwhelmed. Bach’s voice was shot full of holes, the songs were toothless, and there were too many damn ballads to be take the album title seriously. The 21-year-old fanboy rattling inside my brain was having none of it, however, and for the next month at home in Toronto the album received regular airplay on a set of cheap-ass portable iPod speakers (due to a bizarre gardening accident involving the car stereo). Slowly but surely, Kicking & Screaming revealed its true self. By the time it hit the big metalhead approved junk-in-the-trunk office sound system, there was no choice but to drown those first impressions.
Putting the bottom line before wiseguy prose, this is the album Skid Row wishes they could cough up. Call it shades and reflections of the Skids’ classic first two albums (the self-titled debut and Slave To The Grind). And while there’s no ‘Youth Gone Wild’, ’18 & Life’ or ‘Monkey Business’ to be had after a dozen listens, it far surpasses anything Baz’ former bandmates have done since Johnny Sollinger was tapped to try and follow the Bacharoo Banzai Show.
The jury is still out on whether it overpowers Bach’s previous ton of bricks, Angel Down, as Kicking & Screaming is a grower that has to be absorbed over time rather than pounded back like a free Jäger shot. Continue Reading
By Carl Begai
Toronto rockers Danko Jones have been a buzz band for years. Europe caught on long before Canada and the United States, turning them into an annual staple on the metal festival of your choice sandwiched with some of metal’s finest. A support tour with Motörhead and Saxon in 2008 gave them a foothold in the UK, not to mention serious credibility amongst the old metal guard. Up until now Canada and the US have devoted half an eye to the band beyond the diehard fans that have been following them for a decade, but 2010 may well be the year things change for the better. It began with a coveted opening slot on the Canadian leg of Guns N’ Roses Chinese Democracy tour alongside countryman Sebastian Bach (ex-Skid Row) followed by a support tour with Clutch and select headline shows in the US. Add to this a brisk-selling Canadian headline tour announced prior to the official May release of new album Below The Belt and the rock trio seem to finally be on their way to getting the credit they deserve at home. Continue Reading
By Carl Begai
I recently caught up with Danko Jones to discuss his new album, Below The Belt, and because he and I both call Toronto home conversation invariably turned to Canadian metal – past and present – and growing up on the local scene back in the day. One topic of discussion was vocalist Sebastian Bach, easily the loudest personality of that era. Baz was also the man that put Skid Row on the map back in 1989 and took the band’s voice, face and fame with him when he got the boot in 1996. Danko, an admitted Bach fan, toured with him on the January 2010 Canadian leg of the current Guns N’ Roses tour, an experience he would be only too happy to repeat. He looks back on sharing the road with his fellow former Willowdale native… ironically, the same part of town where I grew up. It’s a small world.
Danko: “Growing up in Toronto and going to shows, my biggest goal was to play the Concert Hall because that where all the shows I went to were. That level of band to me was ‘You made it!’ If you could get on a tour and be the first of three bands on a night, you were in. I remember seeing Testament, Savatage and Nuclear Assault there; Nuclear Assault were first up and for me it was like ‘Aw man, they made it!’. So sometimes when we get on those tours where we’re first of three I have to remind myself that that’s what I wanted (laughs).”