Rare, Worthy Material From Flawed Sources
317 East 32nd | Toledo, OH USA | 05/25/2006
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I read a few comments about this disc on overseas message boards prior to its U.S. release, and they weren't altogether flattering. Still, the prospect of hearing the original Skid Row in live performance meant that, for me, this was a "must" purchase.
The studio single sides don't sound all that bad, though they were taken directly from vinyl. It's nice to hear early versions of "Felicity" and "Saturday Morning Man;" they're much more folky, and laid-back than the later album versions. In fact, a couple of the studio sides have a vibe not all that far removed from America recordings like "Tin Man" and "Ventura Highway."
Unfortunately, the best vinyl source available actually had a SKIP (on two consecutive revolutions) in the song "Misdemeanour Dream Felicity." That is to say, the CD doesn't skip, but the record used to make it did... I know the single is ultra-rare, but that's pretty raw!
Skid Row was recorded live twice for BBC broadcasts. One has been lost, and the other is presented here. Sound quality is fair/acceptable. But that doesn't really matter because the performance is heavy and furious. "Christian Blues Brother," after getting off to a ferocious start, goes on for a total of 13:39 and I should warn you that a full eleven minutes of it is drum solo. Fortumately, it's an excellent drum solo; it's nearly right up there with Ian Paice's solos in Deep Purple.
The band really stretches out on a very uptempo version of "Felicity," and parts of it - especially during the final seven minutes - are incredibly heavy; even through the hazy old tape (or is it an ancient bootleged vinyl source?) you can hear how powerful (and loud) Skid Row must have been in person. The disc ends with a thunderous, stomping (albeit severely edited) live version of "Un Co-Up Showband Blues" which clocks in at a mere 2:51.
Insert features excellent liner notes (increasing my knowledge of the band twofold) and a few delightful rare photos.
If, like me, you own everything else this band released and were wondering if there was anything of merit left in the vaults, this is definitely a treasure. On the other hand, if you're looking for an introduction to the Irish Skid Row, this may not be the best place to start.
Could easily have been a four-star disc if better-quality sources had been available to the compilers, but this is very rare stuff, and it's still great music worth hearing."