This band was never a great success outside the UK and Ireland, but they were very important just by their members.
Almost “everyone” knows that Gary Moore played with them, but Phil Lynott was also a member for a short while.
Paul Chapman, later known for his work with UFO, was also a full time member of this band. If Moore had stayed with them, I wonder what would have happened, but Moore quit the band in December 1971.
Skid Row, serving out the humble pie
By Nick Logan
THE first homegoing — particularly when laced with the opportunity of proving the cynics wrong before their very eyes — must be one of the most sweetly satisfying rewards of success. Rarely can it have been more lip-smackingly enjoyable than on Skid Row’s early January return to their native Ireland.
Seven packed shows in five major cities culminated in a 2,500 sell out at Dublin Stadium where there was a good portion of humble pie to be eaten, as well as local pride to be aired, among the former associates, journalists, friends and relatives who turned out to welcome them home.
It was the diminutive trio’s first return, on a working or personal basis, to the Ireland they left seven months earlier as one of the many bands that head for the land of musical opportunity but invariably return home disenchanted. At the time, their friends, and one of the Irish music magazines, gave them three/four weeks before they’d be home wiser, but poorer.
Even so, they could hardly have returned much poorer. Manager Clifford Davis, who also handles Fleetwood Mac, had to mail over their air fares to get the three of them to England in the first place, and then, once here, had to set them up with a complete set of equipment. Guitarist Gary Moore, relieved by thievery the day before they left, didn’t even have a guitar.
Once equipped and set up in a house in the East End, Davis got to work. Using the experience that made Fleetwood Mac a major club attraction long before they were pulling in the record buyers, Davis set about booking Skid Row round the important British venue. The trio for their part demonstrating their determination to make it by, in the early days, sleeping in the back of their Transit after gigs to cut hotel costs.
The result today, with an American tour behind them, is a band of influential admirers forwarding their name as the next attraction to join the big league by the end of ’71 and, more concrete, a date sheet as packed as a Waterloo timetable which Davis is fond of displaying with pride.
The Irish tour came soon after the end of their two-month American trip which, according to Skid Row bassist Brush Shiels, Christmas Day father to a baby son, considerably broadened the group’s knowledge and expertise.
They are now — Gary Moore and drummer Noel Bridgeman nod in agreement — much tighter and less “slick” than they were. Explains Shiels: “We realised it was all getting a little too premeditated. Twenty minutes for drums, fifteen for guitar solos… we began to know exactly when the applause would come.
“Since America we’ve become less mechanical and do more jamming.”
None of them were particularly impressed with the groups they saw in the States, where in their view it is easier to perpetuate a hype than in England. Shields cites the Stooges and Grand Funk Railroad as examples, mentioning Mountain as one of the better of the heavy bands.
Of the bands they were billed with, the trio scored some success supporting Jethro Tull in Cleveland — the night Glen Cornick was leaving. Shields, Moore and Bridgeman admit that Jethro were, if not their biggest influence, among the bands that inspired them during their formative years in Ireland.
Says Brush: “We’d be playing down the bill with these English bands that came over and, until we saw them, we didn’t realise just how inferior we were.”
Adds Gary Moore: “Over there we’d have all these people coming up and saying how good we were and, if you’re not careful, you can start believing it.”
The group recognises that much of its success comes down to the brilliant, precocious guitar playing of Moore, the first potentially big guitar virtuoso to emerge in a long time.
All of them are wary of the danger that if Gary receives all the attention they could follow the road of Taste, but feel they have covering insurance in the fact that, on stage, they are most definitely a three piece band. “Everybody gets a look in,” they point out harmoniously, “and roughly every three numbers everyone gets a go on his own.
Main priority now is the second LP. The first was attempted twice, initially on a two-day trip to London. “At the time we thought it was okay but when we heard it again later we thought it was terrible,” says Shiels, pointing out that the trio was then into a semi-country, Band-like bag.
When they acquired new management, Davis had the album re-made, dropping most of the original material, and although the end product stands up as a good reflection of Skid Row they recognise that it is not the best they can produce.
Their view, from contact with buyers, is that the album bears comparison if bought before seeing the band live but if heard the other way round is disappointing in contrast.
“We can play a lot faster than we did on that album,” comments Moore, “as we’ve found out from tapes people have made of shows. In fact we didn’t realise how fast we were.”
They feel they are best as a live band nevertheless and all three – although Davis thinks it might be too adventurous at this stage in their development would like the second album to be a live recording.
Despite all the accolades, Skid Row’s most concrete claim towards future fame is still in their date sheet. So far they have an enviable 100 per cent re-booking record at all the gigs they’ve played.