THE GANG’S ALL HERE is the sixth full-length studio album from Skid Row, produced by Nick Raskulinecz.
What a long and interesting ride it’s been for Skid Row. Rising to fame with their first two albums that featured frontman Sebastian Bach, the group persevered onward following Bach’s departure from the group with a varied lineup of musicians. Replacement vocalist Johnny Sollinger (RIP) tried to take the band in a more modern direction. Many years later, they joined with TNT vocalist Tony Harnell, but that collaboration lasted under a year. They found continued touring success with Dragonforce vocalist ZP Theart, but he was let go after a few years. Just days prior to their Vegas residency supporting Scorpions earlier this year, the band made the surprise announcement that ZP was being replaced by Swedish vocalist Erik Gronwall of the band HEAT.
That was a crazy announcement out of left field, but the band made an announcement that they’d be recording and releasing a new studio record with Gronwall as frontman. As such, Skid Row’s current lineup consists of vocalist Gronwall, drummer Rob Hammersmith (with the band since around 2010), and three classic members: Guitarist Scotti Hill and Dave “Snake” Sabo, and bassist Rachel Bolan.
There hasn’t been a new Skid Row album in many years; the most recent releases from the group were some EPs to feature former vocalist Johnny Sollinger, as well as a re-recording of the band’s classic hit “18 and Life” they did with Tony Harnell. Fans likely wondered if we’d ever get new material from the band, so this announcement was music to my ears; the band’s residency alongside Scorpions and the handful of new songs that got satellite radio and web airplay definitely had me excited.
THE GANG’S ALL HERE is here. And how does the end result measure up? I’ll be the first to admit I loved ZP Theart in Skid Row, and I gladly would’ve continued to support a version of the band that had him as the frontman, having loved their concerts I saw during that era. But Erik Gronwall has surpassed the mighty ZP as the best frontman this group has had since the departure of Sebastian Bach in the mid-1990s. The Johnny Sollinger era’s efforts to modernize were met with a mixed reception with fans, but THE GANG’S ALL HERE is classic Skid Row all the way, and is hands down the best release the band has put out since 1991’s classic sophomore effort, SLAVE TO THE GRIND. Producer Nick Raskulinecz clearly knows what works. What we get on this album is proof.
There aren’t any attempts to modernize here. No gimmickry. No unwelcome surprises. No bizarre concept album themes. THE GANG’S ALL HERE is Skid Row going back to their classic hard rock roots, getting back in touch with what they know and do best – rock and roll. I was certainly won over with the tracks the band released for online and satellite radio listening, including the title cut, “Tear It Down” (not a cover of the Def Leppard song) and “Time Bomb” (not a cover of the Rancid song).As much as I love Skid Row and have been impressed by their concerts with all the varied vocalists, no band needed to cut a “return to roots” album more than they did. Three decades after their classic heyday, they finally have it. This album rocks hard from start to finish. It easily ranks as one of my favorite albums of 2022, and I have no doubt it’ll find its way on my Best of the Year list. In the band’s discography of full-length albums, only the first two score higher than this one. I have a pretty good feeling it’ll stand the test of time.
THE GANG’S ALL HERE is the album Skid Row fans have been waiting for, and the band is back with a vengeance and two secret weapons - Nick Raskulinecz in the producer’s chair, and Erik Gronwall behind the microphone; here’s hoping this collaboration will be a long-lasting one. In a year that’s been filled with some great releases from classic hard rock bands, this one is easily near the top. Skid Row’s still going wild, even if they aren’t youths anymore. Fans won’t be disappointed with what they hear on this album, easily one of the best of 2022.