Album review: SKID ROW – Skid/34 Hours (reissues)

SKID ROW - Skid/34 Hours

BGO [Release date: 21.07.17] 2 on 1 CD

“I remember Paris in ‘49” … five words guaranteed to cue the leery lads of the night to grab and clinch their squeezes for that last, up close smooch in the smoke and beer fug of dancefloors the length and breadth of Britain back in 1979. ‘Parisienne Walkways’, a slow-burn hit for now late, alas, Irish compatriots Phil Lynott and Gary Moore, showcased what each did best, Lynott’s emoting vocal and Moore’s  soaring guitar tugging tired and happy dancers to the disco door exit, and out into the night.

Roll back the years and the duo were together in Lynott’s Thin Lizzy; back further again, and they shared (albeit briefly) in the act behind this confident debut and even more rounded successor.

Phil had actually decamped Skid Row by the time the band blasted into the London studios to put these sets from 1970 and 1971 to bed. ‘Skid’ and ‘34 Hours’ were taped fast and furious for CBS Records abetted by BBC sessions for John Peel and a swiftly-nailed reputation on the live circuit (the CBS deal coming about via a nudge from an impressed Peter Green of Fleetwood Mac).

The times were still kind to the genre: Mac – a Green-less future as US AOR darlings in the wings – along with the likes of The Groundhogs, Budgie, Andromeda and Taste peddled power line-ups often pared to a trio to happy hairies hungry for the very loud. Zeppelin did a fair job of it, too.  18-year old virtuoso Moore and Skid Row founder Brendan ‘Brush’ Shiels took the lion’s share of song-writing credits on these releases and clearly had been reading the tea leaves.

‘Pop’ music was in a state of flux, the blues slipping in favour of trickier time signatures with quasi-classical flourishes (think capes), and the band’s slight output (a third unreleased album did finally surface in 1990) managed to trick country, psych and prog flourishes into the pile-driving blues-rock that preoccupied 15 tracks here.

’34 Hours’ (yep that’s how long it took) is nicely bolstered by bonuses revisiting the first album sessions plus a single B-side while John O’Regan’s booklet notes ably complement the roar of Skid Row in a value celebration of an under-valued band that platformed two important careers in music history.  Safe to handle – play loud.  ****

Review by Peter Muir

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