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Start at the Top

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Album Review

Ten years after their split, one of Seattle's most influential yet overlooked bands, Skin Yard, issued an odds and ends compilation, 2001's Start at the Top. Billed as "A Collection of Singles, Rarities, and Outtakes," the album does precisely what it sets out to do — clears out the vaults for longtime fans still clutching their worn-out, fifth-generation cassette dubs. As with most bands that put together such collections, several covers are included — a rapid-fire version of the Damned's "Machine Gun Etiquette," a noise-makeover of Ace Frehley's "Snowblind," and even a run-through of the Beatles obscurity "Hey Bulldog." However, there's plenty of room for Skin Yard's own material as well, including the album-opening title track (which musically bears some resemblance to '80s era Red Hot Chili Peppers) and the guitar-busy "The Ha-Ha." Most of the time, there's a reason why rock bands leave certain songs on the cutting room floor. But with an overabundance of surprisingly strong material, Start at the Top is not your average, half-baked collections of leftovers.


Formed: 1985 in Seattle, WA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '80s, '90s

Possibly the least appreciated of Seattle's early grunge pioneers, Skin Yard never broke out of the deeper levels of the underground. Unlike most of their peers, they never made it onto the Sub Pop roster, nor did their key personnel go on to breakout stardom with other bands. They did, however, contribute drummers to acts like Soundgarden and the Presidents of the United States of America, and guitarist Jack Endino became the local scene's pre-eminent producer and engineer, helming records for nearly...
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