Sympathy For The Critics

Posted in Movies, Uncategorized on August 22, 2016 by A handfull of napalm

After watching a few trailers for the Suicide Squad movie I was pretty stoked. It appeared as if DC/Warner Bros FINALLY got the memo. That what worked on the Watchmen IS NOT going to work ON EVERY FUCKING COMIC BOOK MOVIE. That it’s cool to be dark and gritty and serious as long as you don’t forget that COMIC BOOK MOVIES ARE SUPPOSED TO BE FUN. Then came the bad reviews….

 

I’m not the one to let bad reviews prevent me from watching a movie. Or start some dumb petition bitching that Rotten Tomatoes  was ‘unfair’ to Suicide Squad, that shit is just silly. Still, I was surprised to discover that (infamous so bad it’s genius cult movie)  The Room has a higher percentage on rotten tomatoes did raise an eyebrow. I couldn’t help but wonder: Is Suicide Squad THAT bad?

 

After watching the movie I had to admit that the bad reviews I read raised some valid points. The trailers were better than the actual movie.  The people who made Suicide Squad took what is a pretty cool premise (The Dirty Dozen with Supervillains) and micromanaged it into mediocrity. It is a given that every action/comic book hero needs an interesting villain to play off. Otherwise you’d be stuck in a shitty Steven Segal movie…So you figured that a movie in which the villains are the protagonists that they would have some superbadass mecca villain to defeat. But nooooooooo they had to find a way to fuck that up. I have to agree with pretty much every review I’ve read that the main villain in the movie (the Enchantress and her bother Incubus) are WEAK AS FUCK and that Ghostbusters knockoff showdown at the end was complete and total bullshit.

Another thing that was weak was the writing. The movie barely bothers to place all the members in the same room before it expects them to go on a mission, work as a team and act as some sort of misfit family. I’m all for suspension of disbelief and rooting for ‘the bad guys’ but a little bit of pacing goes a long way.The dialogue in the movie was every bit as wack as that boomerang guy whose only purpose in the movie was to be a dumb Australian stereotype. If I had a dollar for every time the movie felt obligated to tell the audience that the members of the Suicide Squad ‘were the bad guys.’ I could have gotten my ticket reimbursed.

There were some things I did like about Suicide Squad, Viola Davis being one of them. Ms. Davis completely owns that shit as Amanda Weller, the one bad mothe-hush yo mouth who comes up with the Suicide Squad idea. She is to Suicide Squad what Ernest Borgnerine’s character was to the Dirty Dozen. Her performance is an indicator of what the Suicide Squad could have been if it was allowed to live up to its potential. Margot Robbie is on point as Harley Quinn. She gets into it, looks the part and tries add some  much needed humor and personality into the movie. But like Hugh Jackman with Wolverine before her Ms Robbie is being held back from showing what she could do with the character. I don’t often s eye to eye with Rolling Stone magazine (in print or online) but agree with the article David Fear wrote in which he argues that Harley Quinn is the best thing about Suicide Squad and its biggest missed opportunity. I sure hope they don’t fuck up that rumored Harley Quinn movie. It’d be cool watching her and the Joker go all Mickey and Mallory. If it’s done right.

http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/news/how-suicide-squad-messed-up-harley-quinn-w432939

I don’t get why the Suicide Squad movie goes through all the trouble of reintroducing the Joker (arguably the best known comic book villain) and hyping Jared Leto’s performance ONLY TO HAVE HIM IN A SUPPORTING ROLE. Especially when the main villain turned out to be such a fucking dud. Just thinking of the royally wasted opportunity aggravates me. Imagine this: The Suicide Squad is sent to stop the Joker’s latest scheme while competing with a pissed off Batman. Meanwhile Harley Quinn gets to be the wild card who plays both sides…That sounds to me like a Box Office Bulls-eye. HOW COULD THESE PEOPLE MISS WHAT WAS SO FUCKING OBVIOUS?

I’m on the fence about Jared Leto’s performance. Even with all the tattoos , shiny suits, silver teeth and method acting stories it still feels as if he’s pulling an o.k. Heath Ledger impersonation. On the other hand the times Leto’s Joker is on screen he does provide some of the maniacal energy the trailers promised but the actual movie sorely lacks.  Maybe if he was more screen time he could have further developed his own take on The Joker. From what I read there were plenty of Joker moments left on the editing room. Maybe enough to show Leto finding his own groove as ‘Mister Jay.’

If there is a lesson to be learned here, it is that bad reviews are not the end of the world. I was still able to enjoy (to some extent)Suicide Squad despite agreeing with most of the bad reviews. I’m that I enjoyed the movie more because of the bad reviews. The lowered my expectations enough to almost overlook the fact that the Suicide Squad movie didn’t live up to what the trailers promised.  I know it’s tempting to hate a critic when they trash a movie you love (I’ve been there) but critics are people too. They’re merely giving their opinion on a movie. You don’t have to agree with it. Wanting to shut down Rotten Tomatoes over a bad review just makes you look like a dick. The main difference between them and you and your friends is that critics get published and (usually) paid.

 

Once you made that money it costs more now…

Posted in Music, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 5, 2016 by A handfull of napalm

The latest Guns N Roses tour started a war between my Current Self and my Adolescent Id:

 

Current Self: You know that isn’t a real guns reunion.

Adolescent Id: But at least DJ Ashba had the decency to FINALLY step down.

CS: But it doesn’t have Steven, Izzy or even Matt.

AdID: But it has the three most important members. You know…Axl, Slash and Duff. Did I mention Duff was in?

CS: Why the hell does Axl have two keyboardists in the band?

AdID: I wish I knew. Did I mention Duff is now rocking a Prince sticker on his bass?

CS: Tickets are too expensive.

AdID: Did I mention Duff was back in the band?

CS: Enough with the Duff shit.

ADID: Fuck You Man!! Duff Mckagan is my spirit animal

CS: But it ain’t gonna be as cool as this:

ADID: Nothing will ever be that cool.

CS: Is it really worth all the money and hassle? Finding parking, dealing with people, having to choose between paying way too much money or settling for nosebleed seats?

ADID: If you don’t go you’ll regret it.

CS: Fuck you

ADID: You know i’m right.

CS: You suck.

AdID: Did I mention The Cult was opening?

CS: I hate You

I caved in and went to the Guns N Roses show in Orlando. My Current Self never stood a chance. GNR is after all, one of my favorite bands. I still think Appetite For Destruction is one of the best Rock albums anybody has ever made. I still love the Illusions records despite all the pretentious ballads. “Dust and Bones.” “Bad Obession,” “The Garden”…there are some cool songs on them two albums. The Spaghetti incident was one of the albums that steered me into the world of punk rock. I even have a copy of Chinese Democracy although I’m not too crazy about the album.

Shiiiit! I saw Slash’s Snakepit in 1999 for  9 bucks (or a similarly ridiculously cheap amount…it’s been a while) at the Orlando House of Blues with some 200 other people. Saw Duff Mckagan’s Loaded at some beach bar in Jacksonville FL. I saw Velvet Revolver six times and STILL tell anybody who listens that Velvet Revolver was one of the best bands I ever saw live. I even caved in and watched Axl’s version of GNR once despite years of bitching that it ain’t GNR without Slash or Duff. The only GNR related project I didn’t care for is Slash’s band with Myles Kennedy. I’m sure Myles is a decent guy and all but he sounds like a constipated Chris Cornell fumbling through GNR karaoke night when he sings. He also has about as much personality onstage as a jaded bar band singer.

Objectivity went out the window the night of that show. I didn’t care who got fat or if Axl was hitting all the high notes. If Slash was fucking up  his parts I wouldn’t know. If the drummer was fucking up it escaped my mind. As soon as Duff started playing the bass-line to “It’s so Easy” all that shit didn’t matter. I was singing along and  stomping and headbanging like nobody was watching. The Adolescent Id was runnin thangs.

 

There were a few times when my Current Self attempted to get the upper hand. The set-list did lean a little too much on their longer songs and ballads. It would have been cool to hear more of the heavier stuff like “Perfect Crime,” or “Back Off Bitch” or even “Pretty tied up.” But I got to hear them play motherfucking “COMA” and I’ve always had a soft spot for “Civil War.” Then there was the moment in which the excessive guitar wanking between Slash and second guitarist Richard “I can pass for Izzy Straddlin” Fortus came close to ruining “Knocking on Heaven’s Door”. When they were done with the silly wanking they immediately tore a new asshole into “Nighttrain” and all was forgiven. For the life of me I could not figure why would GNR decide to cover an ok Who song (The Seeker) instead of playing “My MOTHERFUCKING Michelle” but as soon as Slash busted the opening riff to “Paradise City” and the fireworks starting to go off everything made sense in the world.

One More time around….

Posted in Movies with tags , , , , , , on July 5, 2016 by A handfull of napalm

When I heard that early 90’s movie Point Break was being remade I was confused. I thought the movie had been remade already coughTHEFASTANBDTHEFURIOUScough. Whenever I hear that some assholes are trying to remake a movie that I loved since I was a kid I worry. When I read that the guy (Kurt Wimmer) who wrote the script for the Total Recall remake was going to remake the script for Point Break I REALLY worried?

 

Did the people who hire this guy SEE the Total Recall remake? That movie is a textbook example of everything THAT IS WRONG with most contemporary Hollywood remakes. They took the name of one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s most entertaining movies and replaced it with a watered down sort of watchable (once) sci fi movie with a few wink wink references to the original film.

When I saw the trailer for the new Point Break movie all it did was reinforce the reservations I had about it.  After watching the trailer and reading all the bad reviews the movie got I was pretty certain I was going to hate it. I felt confident that I didn’t need to watch it to know that it sucked. But I was lying to myself. I DID  need to watch it to see if the movie was as bad as I imagine it would be. Which is exactly what I did as soon as I saw a copy of it at the public library.

Wimmer did an arguably better job with Point Break than with Total Recall. At least Mr. Wimmer managed to mostly stick to the basic premise of Point Break unlike whatever that new Total Recall movie was. Unfortunately, the filmmakers still made the rookie mistake with Point Break 2015 that so many remakes make: assuming that by doing everything on a bigger scale, fancier stunts, bigger explosions and so forth that you will automatically have a better movie.

Everything on the new Point Break movie has to be taken to THE EXTREME!!!!! Being President masks wearing bank robbing surfers isn’t ‘extreme’ enough to cut it in the new Point Break. Apart from mandatory WINK WINK  homage scene that is. The Surfing Ex Presidents are replaced with a group of EXTREME POLY ATHLETES  on some ridiculous worldwide (because having a surfing/action movie take place mostly in southern California is sooo 1991 Dude!) quest for enlightenment called the Ozaki 8. A quest that happens to include acts of robbery and eco terrorism. Never mind, that the Ex Presidents in the original were ALREADY sort of ‘poly amorous athletes’ themselves. That term poly athlete wasn’t really used back then (the original Point Break came out some five years before the first X Games) but those guys were also into sky diving and football and any sort of thrill seeking physical activity outside of surfing and robbing banks. Instead of robbing banks to support their unusual lifestyle the poly guys in the new Point Break (unfortunately they lack a cool group name like the Ex Presidents) live off some rich asshole ‘sponsor’ for reasons that the movie fails to elaborate on. The new Point Break, also (out of obligation) includes a surfing scene but instead of the beach (since that’s sooo 20th century) they decide to surf IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FUCKING OCEAN for no reason other than to one up the original. .  The scene looked about as dumb as it reads on paper.

On the original Point Break, Johnny Utah (played by Keanu Reeves) was an all American ex college Football player fresh from the FBI academy and thrown into his first assignment. The new Johnny Utah is a world famous Poly Athlete who after a tragic accident decides to ditch the Extreme Athlete life to join the FBI. Another big distinction is that the new Utah is an FBI agent CANDIDATE.He doesn’t become an actual agent until near THE END of the movie. Yet for some reason, the FBI is A-o.k. with sending some kid who is kind of sort of but not really an FBI agent on some worldwide mission because he came up with a theory linking the (nu X Presidents) with the  Ozaki 8? These people are asking a lot when it comes to suspension of disbelief.

Making the new Utah some kind of  polyamorous extreme athlete from the get go ruins the vibe of the new Point Break. A big part of what was cool about the original was that Utah was a complete stranger to this world. So as Utah discovered this world of surfing, bank robbing and skydiving so did the audience. For the new Utah stepping into familiar territory as if it’s no big deal makes it a little harder for the audience to be engaged.

On the original Utah’s handler/partner Angelo Papas was played by Gary Busey (in one of his most memorable roles) who came up with the theory of the EX Presidents being surfers. Which led to Busey’s character Papas and Utah bonding as they engaged in the investigation while dealing with ridicule and red tape from the FBI. The partnership between Pappas and Utah was one of the things that drove the movie. But by having Utah come up with the theory of the Ozaki 8 instead of Papas it rendered the new Papas, played by Ray Winstone useless. Winstone is a great actor but he’s not given much to do in this movie other than look angry and collect his paycheck.

Another character that is wasted in the remake is the female love interest. On the original Point Break the female love interest  Tyler (played by Lorry Petty) teaches Utah how to Surf and introduces him to  Dirty Surfing Patrick Swayze. But since the new Utah was already a part of this world and it was Bohdi not Tyler who rescued Utah from being wiped out during the wink wink surfing homage scene, the new female love interest (who goes by the name Samsara) is just kind of there on the few scenes she has. It’s a shame since Tyler did play such an important part on the original.

Did I mention  that the new Utah is REALLY SHITTY at his job? Apart from being able to sort of profile the villains in the movie he doesn’t do much in the way of actual ‘investigating.’ He stumbles into Bohdi and his crew practically by accident. The original Point Break Utah juggling between working the case and hanging out with his newfound buddies. There is even the classic scene  in which Utah targets the wrong surfing criminal gang. The new Utah on the other hand forgets about his day gig and runs away with the circus for half the movie.

The new Point Break also makes the same fatal mistake the Robocop remake made: it tries sooooo hard to be taken seriously that it comes off corny. Forgetting that this type of movie IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUN. The new Point Break is 8 minutes shorter than the original yet it feels like the longer film. Sure the new Point Break looks good and the action scenes and stunts are well executed. Except for using CGI on some stunts. That shit was lame.  I’ll even admit that flying suit scene looked pretty cool but the movie still fucking drags. It spends too much time stressing over weak dialogue and tedious dramatic shit with not enough ACTION to compensate for the boring parts.

Not only is the new Utah kind of dumb ass but the Nu X Presidents come off as pretentious assholes with hipster beards and tattoos. They might do their share of thrill seeking shit but all the flight suits and fancy snow cabin parties in the world can’t hide the fact that these guys aren’t much fun to be around. The guy that plays Bodhi is a decent enough actor but isn’t given much of a story arch. On the original Point Break Patrick Swayze goes from friendly surfer dude to raging sociopath/potential  cult leader in the span of two hours. The new Bodhi goes from being a quiet moody asshole to…a quiet moody asshole by the end of the film. You also never see Utah bond with Bodhi truly bond the way they do in the original. So when the big scenes where Utah shoots the air instead of Bohdi it comes off more as a WINK WINK homage than a memorable scene. Shiiit Hot Fuzz did a better job recreating that particular scene.

 

I might joke about it all the time bu it doesn’t change the fact that the first fast and the furious film was a better Point Break remake than the ‘official’ remake. Unlike the current remake fast and The Furious managed to capture a similar as the 91 Point Break. It was also able to slightly compensate for its lack of originality, wooden acting and weak dialogue by being ‘fun.’ One big difference is that Vin Diesel plays his  sort of villain/adversary character more like a protective older brother than a surfer dude guru. He also doesn’t get killed off/lose his shit like Swayze’s Bodhi did at the end of Point Break. Which left the door open for an entire franchise that has little concern fort physics or gravity.

 

The new Point Break has more in common with a different Vin Diesel film. XXX to be exact. The one in which Vin Diesel plays an Extreme sports athlete/tv host who is ‘persuaded’ by ‘The Man’ to be a Super Spy. Secret Agent Diesel infiltrates a hip mercenary group who look like the Eurotrash offspring of the Spectre agents from the Sean Connery Bond movies. Except that they  would rather hang out at loud clubs than fancy casinos. So the man needs somebody like Vin Diesel who can infiltrate into this sort of world. Like the new point break XXX tries to mixes Extreme sports stunts with conventional action sequences and a tendency for negro please moments. XXX was better though. It had Samuel L Jackson as M. People like to make fun of Diesel’s ‘acting’ but the guy does have a certain bonehead charisma that seems to work for what he does. That’s more than can be said about that one lead guy on the new Point Break movie

Getting It Right

Posted in Music, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 10, 2016 by A handfull of napalm

During last year’s record store day, I received a free copy of Sixx Am’s: Modern Vintage bonus ep. Previously, I wrote how despite being a die hard fan of Motley Crue and most of bassist’s Nikki Sixx and other musical projects (58 and Brides of Destruction) Sixx Am does nothing for me. I blame it on a combination of vocals that sound too whiny to my ears and music that ranges from generic radio rock to pretentious music theater bullshit. I also sort of reviewed Sixx Am’s Modern Vintage CD without bothering to listen to the entire record. I figured even if the music sucked, anything that took time away from guitarist Dj Ashba Cleveland steaming  what little fun and dignity was left in Axl Rose’s (hired) Guns N Roses (his other gig at the time) was a very good thing.

I still gave the EP a fair listen but I can’t say it did much to change my opinion of Sixx Am. James Michael’s voice still gets on my nerves. Their attempt at a dance rock song (Let it Haunt you) was embarrassing. INXS they are not. They took one of the singles of the Vintage album (Stars (cinematic) ) and turned it into a fucking Taylor Swift song. ‘Cinematic’ has to be some kind of code word for cheesy.

I was surprised that there was one song on the EP that did not make me want to punch babies in the face and throw them at random little old ladies. It was the acoustic version of Modern Vintage single “Gotta Get It Right.” That surprised the fuck out of me since I’m not a fan of the album version of the song. In hindsight what ruined the studio version for me were the overbearingly obnoxious back up vocals. Everything else I could have dealt with.

Underneath all that bullshit hid a decent acoustic ballad. SHIIIIT, If I was producing that record I would have just added some percussion, a bassline and called it a day. In order to ‘get it right,’ sometimes less is more effective.

 

The Music Video Struggle

Posted in Music, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on May 28, 2016 by A handfull of napalm

The video for Betsy’s (the artist formerly known as Bitch) “You’ll never get out (of this love alive)…

 

…and Betsy’s (the artist currently known as Betsy Bitch) “Turn You Inside Out”…

 

 

…looked like they were made on the same day in the same soundstage. This is understandable when you are a band of limited resources. Their record label Metal Blade was  back then(and remains) one of the biggest independent labels around.  Meaning they could put a decent amount of money behind a band but not the amount somebody like say Columbia Records could. Back in those days (late 80’s) YOU NEEDED a professional looking music video in order to get on MTV,  sell records and be part of the hit making machine. You couldn’t get away with what that O.K. Go band is known for and  make a music videos with cheap digital equipment riding a treadmill and shit. While watching these two Betsy videos not only do I suspect that they were made the same day but I wouldn’t be surprised if they were filmed in the same soundstage Lizzy Borden’s video for “Me Against The World.”

 

 

Both Lizzy Borden and Betsy were signed to Metal Blade Records back then. So it is possible that the label had a specific soundstage/director/production team that most bands were forced to use. Or that they rented this particular place for X amount of days and wanted to get as much use out of the place as possible.

The biggest difference between the three videos is that the Lizzy Borden video tries to cram as much band members, fancy platforms, musical equipment, etc in front of every camera. More than likely in an effort to duplicate the feel of the cover of the album (Visual Lies) the band was promoting at the time. The one that has a silver colored Lizzy Borden popping out of a television set. So everything is IN YOUR FACE. The Betsy videos take a more traditional approach and place all the band’s equipment way in the back. Thus giving the band more room to run around and do their Rock Star moves.

But what if all three videos were filmed ON THE SAME DAY. That while Ms Betsy was playing with her crystal ball Lizzy Borden and crew were trying to decide which shade of silver lipstick to use. That while Lizzy was doing his closeups Betsy and her band were changing from wardrobe on video number one to video number two. Teasing Lizzy Borden’s hair on the “Me Against the World” video  had to have taken hours. Hours that could have been used to film two extremely similar looking videos. It is possible.

 

 

Ace Frehley: Origins vol 1

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , on May 13, 2016 by A handfull of napalm

Good cover albums can be fun to listen to (Hollywood Vampires) or an outlet for musicians to explore wacky concepts while creatively reinterpreting other people’s songs (Tory Amos’ Strange Little Girls). Now shitty cover records tend to be weak, thinly disguised attempts to nickle and dime dedicated fans (Vince Neil’s Tattoos and Tequila) or fucking train-wrecks (Danzig Skeletons.) On Origins Vol 1, ‘Space’ Ace Frehley seems more concerned with having fun than making any sort of serious artistic statement. Apart from his rendition of “Street Fighting Man” in which he replaces the Stone’s original groove with something closer to the 80’s metal sound of Frehley’s Come, Ace doesn’t stray too far from the original arrangements. Ace also has a solid band backing him up. A band that includes drummer Scott Coogan who also handles the vocal parts on Cream’s White Room and Zeppelin’s “Bring it on Home” that are outside of Ace’s vocal range.

Ace also gets a little help from his friends. Lita Ford does some singing on “Wild Thing. ” John 5 plays guitar on a few songs. Slash even does some guitar dueling with Ace on their version of Thin Lizzy’s “Emerald”. Although they’re not as in sync as Lizzy guitarists Scott Gorham and Brian Robbo Robertson it’s still cool hearing Slash and Ace, two guys used to being the only lead guitarists in a band situation trade licks.

The biggest surprised guest of them all is without question Ace’s former Kissmate Paul Stanley. After all the drama leading up to the Kiss Hall of fame nomination a few years back. Refusing to even do ONE SONG with the original Kiss lineup. Shit talking that included Paul writing in his biography that Ace and (original drummer) Peter Criss were  anti Semitic. So despite all that bullshit, Paul Stanley decided: “Sure Ace I’ll sing Free’s Fire and Water on your album.” I officially do not get these people.

Speaking of Kiss Ace ‘covers’ three Kiss songs on this record. Two of which (Parasite and Cold Gin) are songs he wrote for the band but didn’t sing on the original studio versions. In a way it is nice to have studio versions of those songs with Ace singing. While the third (Rock n Roll Hell) is off Creatures of the Night. You know, the album Kiss was working on when he quit the band in the 80’s. The one Ace didn’t really play on despite being on the (original make up wearing) cover.

I will admit that I wasn’t very thrilled at the idea of an Ace Frehley covers album. I found his previous album Space Invader to be a let down. Especially, when compared to the album before that (Anomaly) which to me, was the best thing Ace had done as a solo artist since the 78 record. Despite not being 100% in love with Space Invader I’m still glad that after a 20 year gap between solo records (89’s Trouble Walking to 2009’s Anomaly) Ace is recording and releasing new music on a more regular basis. Sobriety seems to be agreeing with Ace. Ace hasn’t been this productive since the 80’s and he sounds great. Despite my reservations I gave in and got the album. I guess Kiss still has that much of a hold over me. I’m just relieved that I like the album and I don’t have to hate myself for buying it out of some fucked up sense of loyalty.

 

 

Dear Skid Row

Posted in Music with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2016 by A handfull of napalm

The oldest rock shirt I own is a Skid Row O’ Say Can You Scream T-Shirt. That shirt has gone through close to 24 years of wear, tear and abuse but I still wear it out every now and then for two particular reasons:

  1. Because I think the shirt looks cool.
  2. Because I love Skid Row.

 

The first album was a product of its time (the late 80’s) but at least Skid Row had the sense to tone down the make up/spandex/hairspray image and go for a more casual, tougher leather and denim look. The first record might have been radio and MTV friendly but it was still heavier than what the likes of Poison and Warrant were doing at the time. You can even hear traces of the band’s punk influence on “Piece of Me” and “Sweet Little Sister.” To this day, I still find the lyrics to “Rattlesnake Shake” amusing. Ole Rachel Bolan has a way when it comes to playing with words.

After the success of the first album,  the pressure had to be there to duplicate that success. Skid Row could have easily  gone more commercial, which is what most bands in your situation do. I bet the temptation was there but instead Skid Row went: Fuck You Motherfuckers!! We do what we want!!! Although Slave To The Grind was not as massive hit as the first record it sold enough copies to make ‘The Man’ a decent chunk of change. By not wimping out Skid Row also earned the respect of many in the Metal community with Slave to the Grind. Even among some of the people who would normally dismiss bands like Skid Row as: “Faggot poser shit.”

 

From what I read in interviews, Skid Row did not have the best time recording the album Subhuman Race. I suspect that the bad vibes have affected the band’s perception of the material. Since neither you guys or Bach speak very highly of the record. Personally I love Subhuman Race. It’s the heaviest record the band has done to date. To me, it’s just as good as Slave to the Grind. Although it wasn’t as big a hit as the previous records Skid Row managed to do a better job at adapting to the 90’s music scene than many of their late 80’s peers. I hoped that  once the backlash against 80’s Metal died Skid Row would be poised to make a decent comeback. But shit got complicated when Skid Row decided to part ways with Sebastian Bach.

 

 

I was not 100% behind the prospect of Skid Row continuing without Bach but I still tried to give the band with new singer Johnny Solinger a fair chance. I was not impressed with the new lineup when I saw Skid Row opened for Kiss but I understood that the lineup was fairly young and needed time to gel as a unit. I saw Skid Row again a year and half later on that rock never stops tour with Vince Neil and Tesla. It seemed the time spent on the road had done the band good. The band sounded tighter, more confident and the energy level was up. That night Skid Row came close to upstaging the whole bill.

That second time I saw Skid Row I heard a then new song called “Thick is the Skin.” I actually liked the song a lot. Skid Row might have replaced their singer but the guys who wrote all the material were still there and that counts for a lot. I was looking forward to hearing the rest of the album (called Thickskin) and was let down when I did. The last song on the record was called “Hitting a Wall” and it seemed oddly appropriate. Even the renamed song “Thickskin” sounded tame compared to the earlier demos. I will admit that I didn’t give Revolutions Per Minute a fair chance but the stuff I heard from the United World Rebellion eps sounded decent. It was as if Skid Row was trying to reconnect with the sound and attitude of the Slave to the Grind record.

After a while I stopped keeping track of the Sollinger lineup of Skid Row. Then again, it seemed that whenever the band was playing anywhere near where I live it was shit like Daytona Bike Week and I’m not into that sort of thing. I had accepted that Skid Row was not gonna get Bach with Bach and that they’d rather have Johnny Sollinger singing and I could live with that. So I was surprised when Skid Row decided to kick Solinger out of the band last year. Especially after Skid Row had spend years defending Solinger on interviews. Saying he was the singer for Skid Row and how he was the one the fans preferred. Then just like that the guy was dropped like a bad habit.

Maybe the years of playing smaller clubs to a diminishing fanbase took their toll on band morale. My guess is that Skid Row hired TNT singer Tony Harnell in an effort to go the route that Slash and Stone Temple Pilots went. Hiring a singer that was easier to work with than say Sebastian Bach or Scott Weiland but was still popular enough to bring his own fanbase and maybe even bump up attendance.

It might have been a good idea in theory but then Harnell decides to quit. According to what I read on blabbermouth Skid Row found out about him quitting the same way Solinger found out he was fired: through the internet. If that isn’t some form of karmic justice… In all honesty, Harnell did Skid Row a huge solid by quitting. The guy is alright on tnt but with Skid Row he fucking sucked. On the live clips I saw he looked bored, and half assed the vocals. I was surprised the guy wasn’t after he fumbled his way through Slave to the Grind. I would have.

According the press statement I saw on Blabbermouth.net Skid Row  is insisting on continuing with Skid Row. The rumor (on Blabbermouth again) is that the one guy who used to be in Dragonforce is going to be the next Skid Row singer. He seems like a better fit than Harnell. He has a decent (but generic) voice and good stage presence but he lacks  the intensity of Sebastian Bach. You guys do what you want but as a fan and somebody who has enjoyed the music of Skid Row for over 25 years  I think you guys should reconsider getting another singer in the band so soon.

I get it. You never ever ever ever want to work with Sebastian Bach. If the way he acted on the VH1 shows Forever Wild and Supergroup were any indication of what it was like to work and live with Bach then you have my deepest sympathies. I bet you guys got a kick of Evan Seinfeld decking him on that Supergroup show. Unfortunately Sebastian Bach is the singer most fans would prefer to have in Skid Row. The band member people associate most with the band.

Bach might have not been the easiest person to get along with but he is good at his job. He could sing all pretty and shit put can also be loud enough to peel paint off with his voice. Although Bach has made some questionable decisions since being kicked out of Skid Row. Such as prostituting himself to every tv singing competition that would have him; when it comes to singing Metal and doing them old Skid Row songs he  is 100% business. He might have not written the bulk of the material but he’s always sang those songs as if he wrote and meant every single word.  It’s your band do with it what you want but please do not  fallow Tracii Guns example. A guy who alienated a sizable portion of his audience with each replacement singer he hired to front his version of LA Guns. The last time he played Orlando Fl was at some yuppie burger restaurant. Don’t be like Tracii. Be like Mike Tramp instead.

I don’t know if you guys are aware, but after White Lion broke up in 1991, Mike Tramp formed another band called Freak of Nature. He did a few records with the Freaks but by the late 90’s Freak of Nature was done and Mike Tramp was a solo artist. Then around the time all the old 80’s Pop Metal started reuniting Tramp tried to get in on that action. There was only one problem: the other members, especially guitarist Vito Bratta were not interested. Undaunted, Mike Tramp proceeded with his version of White Lion despite the constant threat of legal action by  Bratta. It got so nasty that Tramp was forced to drop off a tour with Poison and Ratt. Yet Tramp kept at it. He even did another White Lion album with an entirely new lineup called Return of the Pride. But after close to a decade of an uphill climb Tramp abandoned the idea and went back to being a solo artist.

I saw Tramp perform last year as an acoustic singer songwriter act. The show I saw was just him and his acoustic playing songs and telling stories in between. The cool thing about the show was that Tramp was able to strike a balance between forging a new musical path while still and playing the hits the fans want to hear. I think the members of Skid Row could strike a similar balance. Skid Row might be in need of a singer but it still has Rachel Bolan and Dave the Snake Sabo its core songwriters. I’m sure Snake and Rachel still have some good songs in them. But have would you guys considered doing something new  under a different name? You might be able to get more money out of promoters by dragging the Skid Row name around but you’d probably draw just as many people with a new name and a flyer that said: featuring members of Skid Row. Besides, if you only cared about money you guys would have reformed with Bach years ago.  Right?

I heard on You Tube a song from the Ozone Monday project. A band  that was essentially Skid Row without recently freshly fired frontman Sebastian Bach. Musically it is pretty far removed from the Heavy Metal sound Skid Row is known for. The song reminded me of the hit that band Spacehog had back in 97 but with crunchier guitars.  If there was an full album of these type of songs available I’d buy it. So what do you say guys? Have a little fun. Be creative. GIVE THE SKID ROW NAME A BREAK.

 

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