Skid Row might never have achieved the same level of fame as some of their peers, but that didn’t stop their fusion of hard rock and metal from playing out in millions of mosh pits in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Their fortunes hit the skids after their third album, but when they were good, they were very, very good, with the result that by 1996, they’d already sold over 20 million records. Here, we take a look back at some of their finest moments with our pick of the 10 best Skid Row songs of all time.
10. Breakin’ Down
Up first is Breakin’ Down, the second single released from the band’s third album, Subhuman Race. The album generated mixed reviews critically, and neither it nor any of its singles fared well in the charts. For all that, Breakin’ Down is a banging tune, and one that holds special significance for guitarist Dave ‘Snake’ Sabo. “It was the first song I wrote on my own, and also the first Skid Row song ever to be used on a movie soundtrack (“The Prophecy,” starring Christopher Walken), so it means a lot to me,” he’s revealed to Louder Sound. “Of course, it was a crazy time for music, so the album didn’t do much. And there was a lot going on with the band at the time. It’s amazing how success can paper over the cracks in the relationships between band members, but when you have adversity, people’s real characters come through. That’s what happened to us in the mid-90s. For me, this song accurately reflects what that period of time was like for Skid Row.”
9. Into Another
The band’s third album, Subhuman Race, failed to match the commercial success of its predecessors, stalling at number 35 on the Billboard 200. It’s by no means a bad album though, with All Music even going so far as to call it their “strongest and most vicious record to date.” One of its chief highlights is Into Another, a song that combines the grumbling guitars and stripped-back dynamics of grunge with Skid Row’s street-savvy style of metal. Released as the album’s second single in 1995, it hit number 28 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart.
8. Quicksand Jesus
Sebastian Bach’s vocal pyrotechnics were always Skid Row’s secret weapon, and on Quicksand Jesus, they send what was already a good song stratospheric. When he holds that high note for what seems like an eternity, it’s impossible not to get tingles. Factor in the crunching guitars and thundering drums, and it’s easy to see why the song has become such an enduring favorite with fans.
7. Slave to the Grind
The title track to the band’s multi-platinum-selling second album wasn’t quite as successful as the rest of the album’s singles, but it still managed to reach a respectable number 43 in the UK Singles Chart and become an almost permanent fixture on MTV. Snake’s aggressive riffage is extraordinary, but as usual, it’s Bach’s brutal vocals that steal the show.
6. Monkey Business
Slave to the Grind, the band’s second album, made history in 1991 when it became the first heavy metal album to chart at number one on the Billboard 200. It’s since been certified 2x platinum by the RIAA after selling over 2 million copies in the US alone. It spawned a string of hit singles, with Monkey Business ranking as the most commercially successful. A hard-hitting slice of head-banging metal, it made it to number 13 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks and number 19 on the UK Singles Chart.
5. In a Darkened Room
Described by The Top Tens as “a rare pleasure,” In a Darkened Room may be one of the band’s most overlooked singles from their outstanding second album, Slave to the Grind, but for those in the know, its muscular riffs and chewy hooks make it one of the album’s most underrated treats. Bach’s vocal bravado is, as ever, reason enough to take it for a spin.
4. Wasted Time
If you didn’t think that heavy metal had the emotional clout to make you cry, grab a box of kleenex and give yourself up to Wasted Time. A rawly emotional, hugely powerful song with a tender heart and a visceral intensity, it gives us Skid Row at their potent best. Released as the third single from 1991’s Slave to the Grind, it became the band’s last notable hit in the US, climbing to number 88 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 30 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. It was also a success in the UK, reaching number 20 on the UK Singles Chart.
3. I Remember You
In November 1989, Skid Row earned one of the biggest hits of their career with I Remember You. A big-hitting power ballad with a sublime vocal performance from Bach, the song hit number 6 on the US Billboard Hot 100, number 36 in the UK, number 12 in Australia, and number 14 in Canada. Strangely enough, it almost never made it to the band’s eponymous debut album at all, with both bassist Rachel Bolan and guitarist Snake worried that it would paint them as a “chick band.” Fortunately, both Bach and the record label recognized a hit when they saw one and pushed for it to be included.
2. Youth Gone Wild
Youth Gone Wild, the debut single from Skid Row’s debut album, gave us a band already at the very top of their game. If they were feeling any hint of first night nerves, it doesn’t show. An anthemic rocker with heavy riffs, mighty hooks, and a jaw-dropping vocal from Bach, it heralded the arrival of one of the most exciting bands in heavy metal in years. Released in January 1989, it didn’t do much in the charts, peaking at number 99 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and number 27 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks, but it became massive on MTV.
1. 18 and Life
In at No. 1 on our list of the ten best Skid Row songs of all time is 18 and Life. Released as the follow-up single to their debut Youth Gone Wild in June 1989, it clicked with audiences, soaring to No. 4 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and No. 11 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. Within just three months, it had certified gold. It’s easy to see why – with meaningful lyrics, incredible riffage, and a gut-wrenchingly powerful performance from Bach, it’s 4 minutes of rock perfection.