Not to be confused with the platinum-selling glam metal miscreants active in the late 1980s, the original Skid Row blazed a much overlooked trail some 20 years prior, as one of Ireland's earliest contributors to the hard rock field.
Skid Row began to coalesce in Dublin, Ireland in October 1967, around vocalist Philip Lynott, bassist Brendan "Brush" Shiels, drummer Noel Bridgeman, and guitarist Bernard Cheevers, who would be replaced the following January by a 16-year-old prodigy hailing from Belfast, north of the border, named Gary Moore. The quartet threw itself into playing pubs and working men's clubs so as to develop their chops and repertoire, eventually recording a 1969 single for Irish label Songs Records entitled "New Places, Old Faces." But when power trios were suddenly established as the most desirable rock band formation of the era by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, and Éire's own Taste (helmed by budding six-string legend Rory Gallagher), Lynott found himself the odd man out of Skid Row, and forced to seek his fame elsewhere, eventually finding great fame as frontman for Thin Lizzy. In his absence, Shiels took over lead vocals and a newly more marketable Skid Row quickly parlayed a few support gigs with Fleetwood Mac into a record deal with CBS Records, thanks largely to Mac main man Peter Green's recommendation.
The fledgling combo's full-length debut, simply named Skid, was released in October 1970 and climbed as far as number 30 in the U.K. charts on the back of CBS' considerable promotional muscle. But there were only so many consumers willing to stomach the album's skittish instrumental excess and relentless genre-hopping through blues, jazz, heavy rock, and more. The trio's sophomore attempt, issued in early 1971, failed to chart entirely and boasted even longer, more indulgent jams -- this despite having been recorded in just the 34 hrs of its title. Skid Row nevertheless managed to undertake brief tours of both Europe and America during this action-packed year, before Gary Moore left to launch a solo career in the midst of recording what would have been the trio's third LP (which remained unreleased for two decades).
Future UFO guitarist Paul Chapman briefly stepped into the fold, but Shiels and Bridgeman soon decided it'd be best to put the band on ice for a while. Their first, short-lived attempt at a comeback occurred in 1973, and though Moore joined his erstwhile bandmates for a limited series of dates late the following year, Shiels would soon be left to carry on juggling lineups for the remainder of the decade. One of these, featuring Shiels, Bridgeman, former Elmer Fudd guitarist Jody Pollard, plus bassist John Brady and drummer Dave Gaynor, produced a double-live album of rock & roll standards named Alive and Kicking in 1976, but Skid Row's trail once again went cold beyond that, their early promise squandered and then forgotten.
In fact, were it not for Gary Moore's subsequent solo success and some unexpected publicity generated by the emergence of another band named Skid Row toward the late ‘80s (including largely unconfirmed rumors of naming rights squabbles and backroom settlements), one of Ireland's original rock & roll power trios would sadly remain even more obscure than they already are today. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia