Sunday, December 18, 2022

Review: Skid Row, "The Gang's All Here"

 I didn’t see this coming.

Like many fans, I’ve longed for a reunion of the original lineup of Skid Row. While I enjoyed some of the band’s work with replacement vocalist, the late Johnny Solinger, it never quite stacked up with their earlier output. It’s become pretty clear, though, that the chasm between former vocalist Sebastian Bach and the rest of the band is too wide to bridge. So, I never expected to get a new Skid Row record that I considered on par with those first three albums.

Enter Erik Gronwall, former vocalist of the band H.E.A.T., a lifelong Skid Row fan despite being born only a couple of years before their debut album. His version of the band’s hit “18 and Life” on a Swedish TV singing competition helped earn him the nod from Skid Row after they went through a series of replacement vocalists for Solinger, including Tony Harnell (TNT) and ZP Theart (Dragonforce), and they seem to have made the right choice. Gronwall breathes new life into the band. He sounds enough like a young Bach to hit old guys like me right in the nostalgia, but he also brings enough of his own sound to not give off the tribute vibe.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Review: Ward Davis, "Live from an Undisclosed Location in Hays, Kansas"

The story behind Ward Davis’ latest live album is almost as entertaining as the record itself. Back in 2017, he and his friend, fellow underground country singer Cody Jinks, were playing a show in Hays, Kansas. The previous night, they had played in Colorado, so they were well stocked on, um, herbal remedies.

After the show, Davis was hanging out by his van behind the venue while his bass player was inside the van partaking of said herbal remedies when one of Hays’ finest (alternately “Officer Asshole” and “Officer Tough Guy” in Davis’ words) knocked on the door of the van. The bass player threw the doors open while lighting up, the van was searched and Davis and his bass player ended up being put in cuffs for possession of just under an ounce of marijuana.

As Davis and his bandmate were being marched the full block from the venue to be booked at the courthouse, Jinks emerged from the building and proceeded to cuss the cops all the way to bailing Davis out, much to the chagrin of Davis and one of Jinks’ band members who were attempting to calm the situation. Davis ultimately ended up with a good story and some unsupervised probation. That’s the short version. It’s definitely worth reading Davis’ version, though.