Bring 'em Bach Alive!
Spitfire Records, 1999
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/02/1999
Sebastian Bach seemed to be headed towards becoming the answer to a question in "Trivial Pursuit." After his departure from the band Skid Row, both Bach and his bandmates struggled to find their own musical identities - only to be greeted with indifference thanks to a changing musical scene.
Now, in the midst of rumors about his own musical future, Bach gathers a group of musical partners in crime to form Sebastian Bach & Friends. Combining a mixture of new studio tracks and a re-hash of Skid Row songs recorded live in Japan, Bring 'Em Bach Alive! tries to recapture the glory days of the past.
Bach's vocals have deepened a bit, giving the live material a more mature sound - and, dare I say it, a little more credibility. That said, though, I question how long Bach will be able to sing a song like "Youth Gone Wild" without it becoming a self-parody, like The Who singing, "Hope I die before I get old."
The personnel on this disc flips a little bit between the studio band and the live act. Anton Fig handles the drum work in the studio, while Mark "BAMBAM" McConnell smacks the skins in the live set. Otherwise, the group is pretty stable with bassist Larry (why do I have a Newhart sketch running in my head all of a sudden?) and guitarists Jimmy Flemion and Richie Scarlet. (Oh, friendly word of advice: Lose those ridiculous fucking costumes. Christ, the guy dressed as "The Angel"... that looks like a cross between Liberace and Kiss. And, Sebastian, I didn't realize people still could make a suit out of Reynolds Wrap. 'Nuff said.)
The five new tracks stay pretty much in the musical vein you'd expect from Bach, although they're not that bad. Tracks like "Done Bleeding," "Blasphemer" and "Counterpunch" all are pretty enjoyable in their own guilty-pleasure way. Only "Superstar, Superjerk, Supertears" is a superwaste - and I don't know why, but I was a bit disappointed to hear "Rock 'N' Roll" was an original, not a cover of the Led Zeppelin track.
Regarding the live set, if someone were to play this without telling you who it was, chances are you'd guess you were listening to Skid Row. While it's been years since I dug any of my Skid Row albums out of the dusty halls of the Pierce Memorial Archives, I'm now intrigued enough to go back and listen to Slave To The Grind again. Especially noteworthy is the medley of "Monkey Business" and Blue Oyster Cult's "Godzilla", an appropriate song for the location of the concert - and a damned fine performance of it as well.
While Bring 'Em Bach Alive! is a decent enough set, part of me hopes that this disc represents Bach closing a chapter of his musical life and the full-fledged start of a solo career. I understand he'll probably always have to do a few Skid Row songs in his repertoire, but it would be nice to hear him come out with a set that leans more heavily on new material, even if that concept scares away some fans. It's called "musical growth" - and you can hear it happening on a few of the new tracks.
Bring 'Em Bach Alive! is the kind of disc that fans of late '80s/early '90s metal will be drooling over, especially when hearing one of the musical heroes like Bach with a more world-travelled voice. And it is an interesting slice of history to listen to - but I'm still crossing my fingers that Bach is planning to start writing a new chapter in the book.