Skull – No Bones About It – Extended Reissue Edition / 2 CDs


Naked Skull & Bones . . . 

Reviewed by Brian McGowan and released by Cherry Red Records 24 August 2018.

Guitarist Bob Kulick, whose story is well documented online, formed Skull in 1990. They released No Bones About It in 1991. Kulick had recruited ex Balance bandmate Denis Feldman/St.James on vocals, Bobby Rock on drums and Kjell Benner on bass, with Jimmy (New England) Waldo guesting on keyboards.

In Kulick’s rear view mirror, we can see the fruits of their collaboration… a long trail of previously unreleased demos and the first – and hitherto ditched – recording of the No Bones About It album dragging behind them. So here we have the finished version plus all the baggage that went with it. All 35 tracks.

The officially released version leads CD1.

This was 1991, AOR had been systematically hollowed out by corporate rock, preparing the ground for the backlash that eventually arrived from the US Pacific Northwest. Some rock bands, like Skull, didn’t get the memo and thought they were still auditioning for MTV. St James’s mature, biting, full bodied vocals are the perfect fit for Kulick’s ferociously busy guitarwork. But we are badly let down by the arrangements and the songwriting. Only ‘Eyes Of A Stranger’, ‘I Like My Music Loud’ and ‘Losers Game’ emerge honourably from this homogenous, one size fits all assemblage of blandly bombastic eighties melodic hard rock. Only those 3 songs remind us that this time limited genre could be epic, genuinely spirited, and gloriously melodic.

On CD2, we have the original album recording – the one that was ditched – and it is revealing. To begin with, the vocals are further up in the mix and are given considerably more headroom … ‘I Like My Music Loud’ pleasingly mimics Autograph’s classy melodic rock, circa Sign In Please, giving St.James’s powerful, attractive vocals precedence over Kulick’s sometimes cluttered axework. In streamlined form, several songs are light on their feet. ‘Living On The Edge’, ‘Head Over Heels’ and ‘King Of The Night’ seem agile and able anachronistic tilts at FM radio rotation. But in too many places the uninvolving, generic stuff that was emblematic of the genre’s dying days clings on.

The 4 and 8 track demos on CD1, and the 24 track demos on CD2 provide a neat and knowing comparison to the finished article. This embryo album had a lot going for it. It could have grown into something much more satisfying had it not been smothered by mixing desk overkill.


CD1: The released version:

  1. Eyes Of A Stranger
  2. Breaking The Chains
  3. I Like My Music Loud
  4. Little Black Book
  5. Loser’s Game
  6. Living On The Edge
  7. Head Over Heels
  8. Guitar Commandos
  9. This Side Of Paradise
  10. King Of The Night
  11. I Like My Music Loud (bonus track/demo)
  12. Living On The Edge (bonus track/demo)
  13. King Of The Night (bonus track/demo)
  14. Guitar Commandos (bonus track/demo)
  15. Head Over Heels (bonus track/demo)
  16. Loser’s Game (bonus track/demo)
  17. Breaking The Chains (bonus track/demo)
  18. This Side Of Paradise (bonus track/demo)

CD2: The Original Mixes:

  1. I Like My Music Loud
  2. Breaking the Chains
  3. Living On The Edge
  4. Little Black Book
  5. Loser’s Game
  6. Eyes Of A Stranger
  7. Head Over Heels
  8. Guitar Commandos
  9. This Side Of Paradise
  10. King Of The Night
  11. I Like My Music Loud (24 track demo/bonus track)
  12. Guitar Commandos (24 track demo/bonus track)
  13. Living On The Edge (24 track demo/bonus track)
  14. King Of The Night (24 track demo/bonus track)
  15. Head Over Heels (24 track demo/bonus track)
  16. This Side Of Paradise (original demo)
  17. Little Black Book (original version)