Must Own Heavy Metal/Hard Rock Albums :
Artist : Skid Row
Album : Slave To The Grind
Released : June 11, 1991
From the moment it was released American band Skid Row’s sophomore album “Slave To The Grind” made music history. It became the first Heavy Metal album to debut at Number one on the Billboard Top 200 chart at the beginning of the SoundScan era. What’s ironic though was it wasn’t Heavy Metal fans who ran out to buy the album the first week it was released to put it there. Pop Metal/Bon Jovi fans were the ones that ran out and bought it the day it was released expecting another polished sounding record like their debut. It would’ve been hilarious to be a fly on the wall when many of these fans (a majority of females) put this album on expecting “I Will Remember You” parts two, three, and four. They got nothing like that, and should’ve paid attention to the killer artwork on the front painted by Sebastian Bach’s father. It showed enough proof that this album would be much darker both in the lyrics and music than their debut.
In many ways you have to respect the two founding members of Skid Row guitar player Dave “The Snake” Sabo, and bass player Rachel Bolan. One thing they’ve proven through the years is they only care about the music, and if that means the fame will suffer so be it. (Unlike their former lead singer Bach who loves the fame and recognition. Which led to his dismissal years later.) They played the game of recording songs that got them their record deal with Atlantic. Being such good friends of Jon Bon Jovi it was obvious that he steered the direction of their debut. Now that they proved to be a successful band, they would make the album they truly wanted to make the second time around. To say it was a risk to move in this less commercial direction for their second album was an understatement. Especially with “the sophomore jinx” that many of their peers before them had fallen into. They didn’t seem to care though.
With a backlash from both their record company, and lead singer Sebastian Bach who wanted to keep the same formula going, it’s no surprise that there would be friction in the studio. That wasn’t necessarily a bad thing though, especially since the lyrics called for a certain aggressive style. Bach’s excellent voice fit perfectly to the style of these songs. Songs about corruption, drugs, and loneliness. The first two songs alone Monkey Business, and the title track make the record worth owning. Even the slower songs like Wasted Time, and In A Darkened Room never go anywhere into the sappy power ballad direction.
It shouldn’t be surprising that after the album had been out a few weeks sales dropped off dramatically. Without any catchy pop style songs it made the album a hard sell to the massive radio audience. Over the years though true Heavy Metal fans have discovered it giving it a whole new fanbase (the fanbase it was directed to in the first place). It’s now considered one of the last true great Metal records before the whole grunge scene. It’s too bad that the original Skid Row couldn’t get past their differences because they were one of the few bands that could’ve remained relevant into the 21st century. Slave To The Grind proves that more than anything. Easily one of the greatest sophomore records ever made in music history.