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Skull

No Bones About It

Review by Gary Hill

This is quite a cool set. It has the original 1991 album from Skull on the first CD, along with some demos for bonus tracks on that disc. That, along with the cool book, would be worth having if it stopped there, but we're really just getting started. The second CD has a different mix of the original album, plus more bonus demos.

Skull is probably most notably for having Bob Kulick on guitar. Their brand of metal was pretty darned cool, though. I'd say that for me, the actually album mix suffers a bit from an 80s metal kind of sound, making it seem dated. The other versions here are often more successful and hold up better today. However you slice it, though, this is an album that should have been huge from a band that also should have. This set is well worth the purchase price.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2018  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
CD 1: Original Album 1991
                   
Eyes of a Stranger

After a rather trippy little introduction, this works out to a pretty mainstream metal jam. It's metal of the 80s variety It has some good hooks and meaty guitar riffs. The bridge has some meaty stuff built into it and really rocks.

Breaking the Chains
There is a cool little almost jazz, almost prog introduction to this. From there they fire out into some screaming hot metal. There is both some early Motley Crue and Van Halen built into this beast.
I Like My Music Loud
Another scorching hot. screaming 80s metal jam, this has some great hooks. I can still make out some of that Crue sound along with something closer to Twisted Sister.
Little Black Book
More of a stripped back bluesy rocker, there is a lot of Van Halen and some of that Crue reference here. I suppose comparisons to some of the 80s hair metal bands like Poison would be appropriate, too. It's a nice bit of variety and some raunch and roll fun.
Loser's Game
More of a power ballad, this still has some of those 80s trappings, but there are some real steel elements here. I really dig some of the riffs on this tune.
Living on the Edge
A meaty screaming hot tune, this has a nice combination of real steel and 80s metal.
Head Over Heels
More of a melodic 80s metal number, in some ways this makes me think of Kiss just a bit. It is an accessible piece of music.
Guitar Commandos
A meaty metal stomper this is high energy and classy. It has some great riffing and a cool sound.
This Side of Paradise
Here we get a cut that's a bit more of a power ballad styled number. It has some definite epic metal elements at play. It's another that makes me think of Kiss a bit. There are actually some proggy things here, too.
King of the Night
Another metal rocker, this one has some great metal crunch built into it. This literally gets into some screaming hot territory. It has some great hooks, too. This is one of my favorites here. It's perhaps more closely tied to bluesy hard rock like Led Zeppelin than to heavy metal, but it's just so cool.
Bonus Tracks (Previously Unreleased)
             
I Like My Music Loud (8 Track Demo)

This demo does sound a bit like a demo. It's raw and aggressive, though and works well in this format.

Living on the Edge (8 Track Demo)

Starting with percussion, the guitar sound on this is particularly meaty in this demo version. I think I might like this version even more than the final one. It makes me think of WASP to some degree.

King of the Night (8 Track Demo)
A bit rougher in terms of the demo nature, this has a real Kiss like sound in this format. I dig the various voices on the cut and the guitar fills are tasty.
Guitar Commandos (4 Track Demo)
While this again feels a bit rough because of the demo approach, I like this better than the final version. It's particularly meaty and fierce.
Head Over Heels (4 Track Demo)
This one doesn't work so well in this format. For one thing, the demo quality is weak. The song just doesn't hold up that well stripped down and a bit rough like this.
Loser's Game (Original Demo)
This works better both in terms of the demo quality and the song standing up in this format.
Breaking the Chains (Original Demo)
Here the intro that felt more like a jazz prog thing on the final version seems almost King Crimson like. The song really screams here, too. It's another that makes me think of WASP. Again, I think I prefer this version to the one that made the main album.
This Side of Paradise (12 Track Demo)
Coming in quite dramatic and powerful, this suffers a bit from the sound quality of the demo. The song is particularly tasty here. Again, I think I might like this version better than the final one that was used. This gets quite proggy here.
CD 2: Early Alternative Version of "No Bones About It"

 

I Like My Music Loud

I definitely prefer this one to the version that landed on the final release. This is screaming hot and really mean. It has less of that 80s sound and seems more timeless.

Breaking the Chains
This cut seems to land somewhere between the demo version and the final one on the previous CD. It's fierce and quite effective.
Living on the Edge
More of a killer metal sound is on display here. I like this better than the final version for sure. It just feels meatier and meaner.
Little Black Book
This one works better here, too. It does have a decent amount of that 80s metal vibe even in this format, but this doesn't seem quite so trendy.  The guitar solo is very tasty.
Loser's Game
Now, this thing really shines here. The cut works forward with a really meaty metal arrangement. It has a good balance between the mellower and more rocking sounds. Somehow I'm reminded of UFO just a bit.
Eyes of a Stranger
I dig the meaty metallic sound here, too. It's another winner on a disc that's full of them. This has some hooks and pop metal elements, but also has a real vitality and power to it.
Head Over Heels
A bit more of an accessible, pop metal number, there are Kiss-like sounds here.
Guitar Commandos
Now, I think this is my favorite version of this song here. It's fierce and rocking.
This Side of Paradise
Perhaps the version on the main album is stronger than this one. That had more of an epic metal vibe to it. Mind you, I still like this, but I think I prefer the other version.
King of the Night
This is a solid, if not stronger, version of the song than the one that made the final cut. It's has some fiery metal sounds built into it.
Bonus Tracks (Previously Unreleased)
                 
I Like My Music Loud (24 Track Demo)

I dig the drum sound on this version. The cut has a nice stripped back texture to it, feeling a bit more tied to the basics. It's perhaps the most purely metal rendition of the tune here.

Guitar Commandos (24 Track Demo)
Somehow this version feels a lot like the metal era of Kiss quite a bit. It's a killer tune and, while not the strongest one here, this version rocks.
Living on the Edge (24 Track Demo)
This demo version has a real scorching metal vibe to it. I like this one a lot. It's just high energy and very cool.
King of the Night (24 Track Demo)
Not a particularly unique version, this is another solid take on the cut.
Head Over Heels (12 Track Demo)
This has a pretty standard pop rock sound here. It's good, and I particularly like the vocal arrangement, but there are better versions of this on this set.
This Side of Paradise (Original Demo)
I'm not a huge fan of the mix on this number. It seems a little cheesy in terms of way it's produced here. Of course, it's a demo, so you can only put so much stock in it. That said, some of the vocals on this are pretty strong.
Little Black Book (Original Version)
More of a stripped back hard rocker, this version is solid, but not really anything spectacular.
 
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