Slash and FriendsApril 23, 2010
I bought a CD today, the first disc of new music I’ve bought for myself in a long time. While I was at the record store, I spotted that Mother Love Bone CD for thirty bucks. And record labels wonder why people download music …
Anyway, I bought the new Slash record, the guitarist’s solo debut. The one-time Guns ‘n’ Roses/Velvet Revolver/Slash’s Snakepit axegrinder recruited an all-star team of rock howlers to handle the vocals for this one, and his backing band includes several former GnR members in different combinations.
First thoughts? It’s what I expected. Slash still plays exactly how he did 25 years ago, with plenty of noodly lead lines and big sharp-edged riffing. There is no experimentation, and some of the tracks sound scarily close to his earlier work.
This, of course, is fine with me.
Anyway, I thought I’d run through the singers for you, as the track listing reads like one of the hard rock playlists on my iPod.
- Ghost, featuring Ian Astbury: The disc kicks off with the singer from my all-time favourite rock band, The Cult, who have been fairly silent since 2007’s Born Into This. Apparently The Cult are set to release some kind of digital-only mini-album this summer, so this track fills that gap nicely. Musically, it’s nothing new for Slash, and it’s nothing new for Astbury, just a clean little rocker.
- Crucify The Dead, featuring Ozzy Osbourne: The founding Black Sabbath belter still sounds like his leather pants are too tight. I have never been a huge fan of Osbourne’s voice, but hearing him rock out with one of the genre’s best guitarists is a real treat.
- Beautiful Dangerous, featuring Fergie: I am not sure why Prince Andrew’s ex-wife is singing on a Slash record.
- Back From Cali, featuring Myles Kennedy: I can’t sing this kid’s praises enough. Kennedy is the singer in a band called Alter Bridge, a modern metal act I quite like. His voice hearkens back to the glory days of hard rock, before the hair got too big and the lipstick got too stupid. He’s a great singer with a great range, and he does some of his best work here.
- Promise, featuring Chris Cornell: The ex-Soundgarden singer is wasted here on what I think is one of the disc’s weaker tracks. Cornell is a fine vocalist, but he too easily slips into droney dirge mode (think roughly 1/2 of Superunknown). Slash’s music is lively, bluesy and energetic, and having such a dark singer on the track weakens it.
- By The Sword, featuring Andrew Stockdale: Who? The singer/guitarist/leader of Wolfmother, Australia’s fiercest power trio. I love Wolfmother, and I love this nifty little blues jam. It sounds like it was recorded in 1967, which I consider a good thing. This is the first song on the album on which the influence of the singer is stronger than Slash’s; this could be a Wolfmother outtake.
- Gotten, Featuring Adam Levine: This song features that douchey guy from Maroon 5 who thinks he’s Michael Jackson. I have never liked that sort of music and did not expect to like this song. And I was right. This will probably be a single and I’ll hear it whenever I walk past American Eagle or The Gap or whatever.
- Doctor Alibi, featuring Lemmy: Fuck, yeah. This one cleans the palate nicely after Gotten. Lemmy can do no wrong, folks. This makes me think Slash should join Motorhead.
- Watch This, featuring Duff McKagan and Dave Grohl: This is probably my favourite track on the album, with its big fat Slash riff, smacktastic Grohl drums (the man really is a fantastic drummer) and soaring lead. I actually air-guitared and banged my head around the rec room when this one came on.
- I Hold On, featuring Kid Rock: The first time I heard Kid Rock, I thought “Hm, that’s an interesting sound.” Then that wore off. My opinion has not changed. Take a shower, dude.
- Nothing To Say, featuring M. Shadows: I had to look this one up, which is surprising, because I have a couple of Avenged Sevenfold albums. In fact, they’re my brother’s favourite band (and he kind of looks like M. Shadows). I don’t think that’s his real name. Anyway, this is a solid thumper. Nothing to get excited about, though.
- Starlight, featuring Myles Kennedy again: You can’t have too much Myles. Hey, you might remember him from the movie Rock Star, with Marky Mark. He was the kid who gets hauled up onstage at the end to take over lead vocals (“They call me Thor, god of thunder! Dude, I know all your moves”). This is a slower track, a good little blues.
- Saint Is A Sinner Too, featuring Rocco Deluca: Rocco Deluca sat in front of me in chemistry in Grade 10. I’m pretty sure he stole my jean jacket once. However, I am not sure if this is the same guy.
- We’re All Gonna Die, featuring Iggy Pop: Slash was clearly influenced by the Stooges, because this song sounds like something Iggy would have pumped out after chewing on glass and running naked through a convent. It’s a lot of fun, and the perfect ending to the disc.
So do I recommend this album? Only if you like that guitar-driven late-80s, early 90s sound, that strange middle era between metal and grunge, when groups like Badlands were exploring the roots of hard rock. This is a throwback to those times, and a welcome one for me.