SKULL – II : Now More Than Ever (HNE Records / Previously Unreleased) *EXCLUSIVE*
And now we have here HNE / Cherry Red Records 2-CD release of Bob Kulick’s band SKULL “II : Now More Than Ever”. This 37 track, 2 disc set represents a “what could have been” second SKULL album. It includes 14 previously unreleased original studio tracks making up an entire “lost” album’s worth of SKULL material, plus an abundance of demos dating back to the earliest stages of the band’s recording history.
What can be considered one of the strongest collections of “lost” songs unearthed in recent times, this release is not to be missed for fans of SKULL’s debut album “No Bones About It” and late ’80s hard rock lovers.
This is taken from our actual CD’s, not the fake files floating the internet from dubious websites…
Unearthed and remastered by Kulick himself, SKULL “II : Now More Than Ever” starts off interestingly. Opener, the clumsily titled ‘Cave Of The Heart’, a Kulick co-write with Jon Bon Jovi, Richie Sambora and Desmond Child, bears the familiar hallmarks of the trio, resulting into a song with a strong Paul Sabu feel.
‘I Walk These Streets’ hints at the pomp and anthemic majesty of Magnum and indeed of Steve Walsh’s band, Streets. A favorite of mine with a mid-Eighties feeling.
‘Children Of Paradise’ pursues even more of an AOR direction, marrying urgent vocals and a declamatory chorus to emphatic keyboards. Arena-ready stuff.
Other absolute winner is the title track ‘Now More Than Ever’: a killer pumping melodic rocker with an AOR chorus that could have graced any ’80s action movie soundtrack with success.
The melodic rock punch of ‘Heart Of Stone’ somehow brings to my mind second Dare album, and there’s very good, faithfully bluesy cover of Mark Farner’s ‘Streetfight’.
For some songs sessions, ex Rainbow drummer Churk Burgi appears.
Disc 2 comprises a huge variety of demos and mixes, glimpses of the refining process, what works and what doesn’t, mis-steps, mis judgements and inspired choices.
The more fascinating of which are the instrumental 4 track demo of ‘I Walk These Streets’ – revealing it to be a backing track just waiting for a powerful vocal melody to do it justice. Further on, the “with vocals” rehearsal version sounds disappointingly weak and watered down, compelling you to jump back to CD1’s final version, where you are reminded that the raw material had subsequently been sculpted into an imperious arena rock song.
The original ‘Living On The Edge’ and ‘Head Over Heels’ demos suggests that both these song had real promise as hard rockers. Then were polished and produced / mixed with a more melodic approach.
Despite Kulick’s pedigree, it’s arguable he knows that Skull will end up no more than a footnote in rock’n’roll history.
The expanded versions of ‘No Bones About It’ and this “II : Now More Than Ever” are the musician laying it bare for all to see. Bravo. To that extent, the liner notes provides a great essay about Skull, written by Malcolm Dome (Rock Candy Records).
Skull II: Now More Than Ever:
01 – Cave Of The Heart
02 – I Walk These Streets
03 – Children Of Paradise
04 – Troubleshooter
05 – Now More Than Ever
06 – Three Words Away
07 – Heart Of Stone
08 – All Night Long
09 – A Place In The Sun
10 – At The End Of The Line
11 – Velvet Touch
12 – Eyes Of Fire
13 – The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter
14 – Streetfight
15 – Children Of Paradise (Original Demo)
16 – Troubleshooter (Original Demo)
17 – I Walk These Streets (12 Track Demo)
18 – Now More Than Ever (12 Track Demo)
19 – Skull Radio Advert
Bonus Tracks & Demos:
01 – I Walk These Streets (Instrumental 4 Track Demo)
02 – Now More Than Ever (12 Track Demo)
03 – Streetfight (12 Track Demo)
04 – I Like My Music Loud (Demo)
05 – Head Over Heels (Original Demo)
06 – Guitar Commandos (Alternate Demo)
07 – Living On The Edge (Original Demo #1)
08 – Living On The Edge (Original Demo #2)
09 – King Of The Night (Rough Mix)
10 – Little Black Book (12 Track Demo)
11 – Breaking The Chains (Live Rehearsl)
12 – I Walk These Streets (Rehearsal)
13 – This Side Of Paradise (Rough)
14 – Guitar Commandos (Original Demo)
15 – Head Over Heels (Alternate Demo)
16 – Streetfight (Alternate Demo)
17 – Living On The Edge (Rough Mix)
18 – Little Black Book (Alternate Demo)
Bob Kulick (guitars)
Dennis St. James (lead vocals)
Kjell Benner (bass)
Bobby Rock (drums)
Churk Burgi (drums)
Guitars – Bob Kulick (Kiss, Balance, Meat Loaf, WASP)
Vocals – Dennis St. James (Paul Stanley Band, Balance)
Bass – Kjell Benner (Quiet Riot)
Drums – Bobby Rock (Lita Ford, Alcatrazz, Vinnie Vincent Invasion)
Drums – Churk Burgi (Rainbow)