Skid Row - Revolutions Per Minute - SPV Records 2006
Running Time: 40:29
Revolutions Per Minute is the Skids return to public consciousness after 2003's Thickskin, an album that fell through just as many cracks as it could, causing nary a blip on the radar of all but the most dedicated fans. This album - and first for SPV - really needed to bite like a rabid dog and kick like a pissed off mule. Well...
While "Disease" does contain a bit of the chug present in Subhuman Race, it fails as a leadoff track, coming across as damn near catatonic when compared to Bach's last run as frontman. When a band like Skid Row replaces a vocalist of Bach's caliber, it's important to not jump at the first soundalike that comes along; however, it's also important to have a vocalist that can not only fill the boots left behind, but can - if possible - trump his predecessor. Unfortunately, Solinger can neither cut it in range or leather-lunged power. It seems that the musicians know this, writing down to his style instead of blasting ahead, confident in their frontman's ability to hang. Agreed, "Another Dick In The System" may be a pity commentary on the current state of US politics, and the Sabo/Hill duo shred competently throughout, the song just doesn't stand up like it should, as doesn't "Pulling My Heart Out From Under Me". The latter song isn't bad, but seems as if it was dredged up from the murk of pre-Skid Row glam. This is Aerosmith after getting clean, and suffers due to the fact. Sadly, here's the point where the mild turbulence of RPM thus far becomes a nosedive. Hearing Skid Row blatantly cop a feel from the early Oi! of Cock Sparrer and Cockney Rejects in "When God Can't Wait" is about as interesting and credible as Dropkick Murphys ripping into "Youth Gone Wild" at the annual St. Patrick's Day drunkathon. It's the most pitiful sort of crossover attempt, especially into a genre that doesn't easily admit outsiders. At last, with "Shut Up Baby, I Love You", the boys hit the mark dead on. This is the Skids at their best, Solinger effectively shooting the song up with his homegrown Texas flair. If RPM was this consistently reliable, I could easily buy into Skid Row 2006. I'll admit to an almost unnatural affection for The Alarm. Call it Welsh pride, what have you. Seeing "Strength" on the tracklist, and hearing that it was, in fact, a cover, I was beyond fearful. I was downright livid, and considering the lackluster performance thus far, ready to rip this version to shreds. I just can't, though. "Strength" here is faithful to the original, and done with all the passion and honesty a band that once penned the lyrics "...in the pink but screamin' blue" can muster. This choice of a more obscure band and song gives Skid Row points for not choosing some overdone '70s rock classic, and gave me a bit of hope for the rest of RPM. "White Trash" proudly visits the "My Name Is Earl" crowd at the local tractor pull, and while the spoken parts drag things down somewhat, it's still a credible stumble through the bar at 1:59am trying to pick up anything but the tab. Next, though, Solinger drags the boys along into Merle Haggard fandom for the country (yes, country) collision that is "You Lied". I'd thought "When God Can't Wait" was enough of a crossover attempt, but aparently not. For a band once hailed as potential contenders for the Guns 'N' Roses crown, this is simply abysmal. Call it "letting your influences shine through" if you want, but that's no excuse. "Nothing" may name check David Bowie, but at its heart is a total Green Day emo-punk waste. Sorry, but people don't buy Skid Row albums to hear a bunch of forty-somethings reminisce about their high school years. We have Nickelback for that, and this is just as banal. Still, it isn't as if the Skids have totally dropped the past in the trash. For all the bad points of RPM thus far, "Love Is Dead" and "Let It Ride" are the perfect double-shot ending. The solo work on the former is surprisingly exquisite, the Sabo / Hill duo playing with true emotion, while "Let It Ride" rocks with all the hormone-driven fury of Jersey dirt metal at its best. It's trashy, adrenalized, and lyrically nonsensical, as is most of the best from Skid Row.
I would've thought that nearly two decades in the business would've wisened the band more than it has, and taught them that it isn't necessarily prudent to follow every stray path you come across musically. From what I hear, the Skids still have the goods live, and I'd be willing to shell out the ducats to put that to the test. On Revolutions Per Minute, however, the needle only touches the redline a few times, and never pushes past it, which is where Skid Row always did their best work. Albums like this make me glad that bands like Crank County Daredevils and The Wildhearts are still around pissing in the mainstream.