Skin Yard

Start at the Top

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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.

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