Thursday, September 24, 2015

Retro Video of the Week: "Slave to the Grind" by Skid Row

For this week's Retro Video of the Week, I decided I would go with the first song (with a video) that randomly played on my iPod today that fit the parameters of the Retro Video of the Week (i.e., between the dawn of MTV and 2000).  That song happened to be "Slave to the Grind" by Skid Row, which is the title track off of the band's second album.

Released in June 1991, the album is famous for being the first metal album to debut at #1 on the Billboard album charts after the institution of the SoundScan system.  If you don't know, the SoundScan system changed the way Billboard chart positions were calculated, using a far more accurate system to track album sales, as opposed to the previous system, which -- I kid you not -- involved calling records stores and asking them about sales.  

If you were a fan of metal or hard rock in the early '90s, you may remember that it was a pretty big deal that Slave to the Grind debuted at #1.  While metal and hard rock (particularly hair bands) had been popular on the charts for several years, it was rare that a metal band had a #1 album (dating back to 1983, only 8 other hard rock or metal albums reached #1), much less that it would debut at #1.  It was a testament to the fact that metal was more popular than radio airplay might have indicated.

The album was much heavier than the band's debut album, and "Slave to the Grind" is a perfect example of that.  It's definitely closer to thrash metal than glam metal, and it has an empowering message:  "you can't be king of the world if you're a slave to the grind." 

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