The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

SLASH

SELF TITLED

 

 

I declared this album from ex-Guns n’ Roses man Slash to be my 2nd MOST ANTICIPATED EVENT FOR 2010 in our Best of 2009 Roundup, and after living with the promo version for a couple of weeks I’ve finally got my hands on the real deal so can finish my official review. (My initial Promo Version review appears underneath this review if you’re interested!)

 

Classic Rock Magazine have put such weight on this album that they are releasing a special edition of it in the UK along with a 134 page magazine dedicated to the former Guns n’ Roses man who may well be the only larger than life modern guitar hero worth giving a damn about.

 

The back story is that Slash found himself with more downtime than expected after his Velvet Revolver singer came down with a bad case of Lead Singer’s Disease, and a replacement has not yet been found (despite them jamming with practically everyone who is anyone on planet rock).

 

Like a man addicted to turbulent relationships, Slash has had a tendency to hook up with volatile (and some might suggest bipolar, in certain cases) lead singers, and for his first solo album he has gone the whole hog and enlisted the help of as many of the most prominent and colourful singers he could get his hands on.

 

The intrawebbynet went crazy a while ago when Slash announced he was working with Black Eyed Peas fembot Fergie, stoner-rappers Cypress Hill, and plastic fantastic Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger – there was outcry and wailing from the rock unfaithful who decried the top-hatted one’s choice of strange bedfellows: Slash will go ‘pop’, the album will suck, how dare he do this to us, and so on.

 

Having said that, it’s not “Appetite For Destruction” either. Twenty three years on, he has released a handful of seminal albums with G ‘n’ F ‘n’ R, Slash’s Snakepit and Velvet Revolver, done guest appearances on dozens of albums, gigs, singles, video games and whatever, been through a myriad of addictions and rehabs, been elevated to the status of role model and burner of the rock flame – not to mention being, in effect, the only man worthy of being called the modern day successor to Keef. Throw in the aforementioned dramas with pretty much every singer he has worked long-term with, and his total absence of any lapses in his absolute (or should that be Absolut?) rock star guitar hero cool, and we have no right to think he’d merely revisit his past, however glorious.

 

Originally to be titled “Slash & Friends”, the album sees Slash mainly playing to his guests’ strengths and styles. Consequently, Ozzy’s song would fit on any latterday Ozzy album; Lemmy’s song on a Motorhead album; Chris Cornell’s song on his earlier solo albums, and so on.

 

The common denominator, of course, is THAT guitar sound – as much for his rock n’ roll lifestyle and look, as for that instantly recognisable sound and style.

 

As my colleague Dale pointed out – often these “guest artist” albums end up sounding like random compilations, but in this case Slash’s sound is so instantly individual that it binds the collection together to a (mostly) coherent whole.

 

What we DO get is lashings and lashings of great rock n’ roll: Ian Astbury and Izzy Straddlin tear up album opener ‘Ghost’, belting out the refrain “you can’t run from the future, can’t change your past – not that fast” while Slash lays down a signature fat riff and a brief but intense solo. This song says “I’m Slash. I’m back.”

 

Ozzy Osbourne – equally clean and sober as Slash nowadays – sings up a storm on ‘Crucify The Dead’, written about the Guns n’ Roses breakup. Slash shares influences with most of Ozzy’s career guitarists, and if The Ozzman is going to release a new album any time soon, we can only hope it sounds THIS good!

 

Next up is Fergie’s contribution ‘Beautiful Dangerous’, and it’s actually a lot more like Garbage (the band, not the trash!) than you’d expect – though a Garbage that cites G n’ R as their main influence and has Slash in charge of bringing the noise! Certainly there will be 18 year olds who know far too little about rock, as well as mullet-wearing bogans who refuse to accept that their rock idols might want to diversify their output a little, who will rant and rave against this and some other tracks herein, but this is a great slice of heavy rock and veers a little towards the Holy Grail of “Appetite For Destruction”’s rifferama.

 

Alterbridge’s Myles Kennedy appears on the album twice, and his first offering ‘Back From Cali’ sounds like Slash just being Slash – if anything the two Kennedy songs are the closest to a Gunners-era sound on offer, and you can’t help but wonder what might be possible if Kennedy was enlisted to the Velvet Revolver ranks.

 

Chris Cornell (Soundgarden, Audioslave) plays a very soulful and funky croon on ‘Promise’ while Slash lays down what may be his slinkiest guitar line. That Slash can play so effortlessly in these different styles and still retain his individual and unique sound is testament to the man’s chops and devotion to Rock!

 

Fancy some Led Zeppelin? ‘By The Sword’, featuring Andrew Stockdale, is Wolfmother doing an even more Led Zeppeliney turn than normal, and Stockdale loves any chance to crack out his nasally Robert Plant impersonation and step on his wah-wah pedal – the song is elevated to a new level by a cracking Slash solo.

 

WOAH – didn’t I say earlier that it was a MOSTLY coherent whole…? Just when you think it’s all sounding pretty cool so far, Adam Levine from Maroon5 pops up on ‘Gotten’ and it sounds horrendously like… well, erm… Maroon5. If you’re a fan – you will enjoy this. I’m not, and I don’t: to me this is horribly bland, wet and insipid as a … well, erm… as a Maroon5 album! I swear I would have more fun with a wet paper bag than having to ever hear this song again, and I’m docking half a star for this song alone. It’s Slash though, and he pulls out a pretty nice solo in the latter stages so I forgive him his trespass into limp modern AOR, but just hope he has the decency to avoid it in future.

 

Grizzled Motorhead legend Lemmy comes out punching with the fantastic ‘Doctor Alibi’, searching for a doctor or shaman who will allow him to live the destructive lifestyle he wants. It’s a slab of supercharged rock – unsurprisingly sounding like a Motorhead and Guns n’ F*cking Roses jamming after a Jack Daniels fuelled free-for-all, and the second best song here. How about a whole album of Slash and Lemmy? I’d pay for that!

 

Dave Grohl pounds drums and Duff McKagan rumbles thunderbass on instrumental ‘Watch This’, which is a throbber with a tasty mellow mid section. It’s got a memorable riff and although Grohl turned down the offer to sing on it (still disappointed about how a previous collaboration turned out, apparently – possibly the song ‘Goodbye Lament’ on 2000’s Tony Iommi album “Iommi”) you have to wonder how Velvet Revolver would sound with Grohl on board, even if only for one album!

 

Modern classic rock fans seem to also have an issue with Kid Rock’s transition from rapping superpimp drug dealer to modern day southern rock superstar and king of the country-tinged plaintive rock-radio ballad. Well throw away any narrow-mindedness you may be harbouring: this is a great song, and Slash obviously relishes stretching his muscles out a little instead of being boxed into rehashing Guns n’ Roses riffs ad infinitum. Despite some initial Dr Suessey lyrics, the Kid delivers with “I hold on because I can’t let go – and I refuse to let the hands of fate unfold”, and who knew Slash could play such a scorching solo in this more Skynyrdy style? Proof again that the real legends deliver as much in what they don’t play – the air between the notes – as in what they do.

 

Avenged Sevenfold’s M Shadows’ ‘Nothing To Say’ is bookended with a monstrously heavy Sabbathian riff, then tears into a formula one-speed demolition derby of a rocker, Shadows singing a sweet and raw melody over Saul Hudson’s primal guitar madness. “Voices with nothing to say” – that has to be a dig at the critics, and I’m whole heartedly in Slash’s corner by this stage! This should come as no surprise to anyone, but this is not the first nor last time Slash plays a blinder on this album.

 

Kennedy’s second appearance ‘Starlight’ proves itself the dark horse that wins the race: this really is the best song here, huge sounding and anthemic, and destined to be screamed at full volume in mega-ginorma-ultra-outdoorsydomes for many years to come. Kennedy brilliantly channels some scorching seventies classic rock, and the chorus will stick in your head for the rest of your life!

 

‘Saint Is A Sinner Too’, featuring indie rocker Rocco DeLuca, is the only other misstep on “Slash”. Too mellow by half, despite some nice finger picking acoustic guitar, overall the sound just doesn’t fit here – not unlistenable like the aforementioned ‘Gotten’, ‘Saint…’ is merely a sheep in a the midst of a pack of wolves and doesn’t warrant further attention.

 

The last song on the standard CD features Iggy Pop at his most tongue in cheek and vibrant. ‘We’re All Gonna Die’ is possibly Iggy’s finest moment since the iconic ‘Repo Man’ way back in the 80’s, and features some hilarious lyrics and ferocious guitar from Slash. “We’re all gonna die, so let’s get high” Iggy croons, “pee on the ground, n jump around” and it’s hard not to (errr…jump, that is!) as this rocker throttles along.

 

Well, the bonus song on this UK version of the album features Scherzinger duetting with the great Alice Cooper on ‘Baby Can’t Drive’, and it’s a great song that rocks along in a style not dissimilar to the Cherry Bombz – the short lived post Hanoi Rocks band featuring Andy McCoy, Nasty Suicide & Anita Chellemah. On the strength of this it’d be interesting to hear the results if Scherzinger teamed up with a real band and made a real rock record.

 

There are other songs from the project available if you look around - ‘Sahara’ featuring Koshi Inaba; Cypress Hill and Fergie collaborating on a souped up and slowed down cover of ‘Paradise City’; and the folk-blues ‘Mother Maria’ with Beth Hart, which was donated to the relief fund for the victims off the Haiti earthquake disaster. All of them are considerably better than ‘Gotten’ or ‘Saint is a Sinner Too’, but I don’t want to quibble too much about the little things.

 

Slash does himself and each and every one of us proud on this record – despite the ever-present stigma of “Appetite For Destruction”, and the proliferation of different people involved on this, “Slash” is his truest, most complete work.

 

With 3 of his 4 former G n’ F n’ R bandmates appearing on the album, no doubt the fourth will be toiling away for another 13 years on his next dense and impenetrable album, and you have to wonder why he bothers when Slash can create something this good in a fraction of the time, seemingly effortlessly.

 

It’s not perfect though – I previously mentioned docking half a star for the Maroon5 song – but this is not just the best rock album of the year so far, completely justifying my anticipation, but this could also be the most important album of the year: With commercial radio refusing to play much REAL hard rock, Slash’s profile is just big enough to sway them to the dark side and see brand new classic rock music get a radio audience and a wider crossover market.

 

Legendary!

Shane

April 2010

 

 

 

MARCH 2010 - Review of the promo version of SLASH - SELF TITLED

 

Very occasionally an album comes along which is slightly hard to review – the weight of expectation behind its release can create some bias, and I declared this album to be my 2nd MOST ANTICIPATED EVENT FOR 2010 in our Best of 2009 Roundup.

 

Furthermore, Classic Rock Magazine have put such weight on this album that they are releasing a special edition of it in the UK along with a 134 page magazine dedicated to the former Guns n’ Roses man who may well be the only larger than life modern guitar hero worth giving a damn about.

 

I don’t have my copy of the CD yet, but I have got my grubby hands on a promo version of the album, and since anticipation is so high, here are my initial thoughts, and I will revise this review when the real deal lands in my lap in a week or two.

 

The back story is that Slash found himself with more downtime than expected after his Velvet Revolver singer came down with a bad case of Lead Singer’s Disease, and a replacement has not yet been found (despite them jamming with practically everyone who is anyone on planet rock).

 

Like a man addicted to turbulent relationships, Slash has had a tendency to hook up with volatile (and some might suggest bipolar, in certain cases) lead singers, and for his first solo album he has gone the whole hog and enlisted the help of as many of the most prominent and colourful singers he could get his hands on.

 

The prospective full track listing is like a role call of modern and classic rock – Alice Cooper, Iggy pop, Ozzy Osbourne, Ian Astbury, M Shadows, Myles Kennedy, Kid Rock, Lemmy, Andrew Stockdale, and more – and he throws a few wild cards into the mix as well…

 

The intrawebbynet went crazy a while ago when Slash announced he was working with Black Eyed Peas fembot Fergie, stoner-rappers Cypress Hill, and plastic fantastic Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger – there was outcry and wailing from the rock unfaithful who decried the top-hatted one’s choice of strange bedfellows: Slash will go ‘pop’, the album will suck, how dare he do this to us, and so on.

 

Well I haven’t heard the song featuring Scherzinger, but it also features Alice Cooper, which is promising, and despite some diversity on this version of the album, there’s very little that fails to hit the mark or rock out.

 

Having said that, it’s not “Appetite For Destruction” either. Twenty three years on, he has released a handful of seminal albums with G ‘n’ F ‘n’ R, Slash’s Snakepit and Velvet Revolver, done guest appearances on dozens of albums, gigs, singles, video games and whatever, been through a myriad of addictions and rehabs, been elevated to the status of role model and burner of the rock flame – not to mention being, in effect, the only man worthy of being called the modern day successor to Keef. Throw in the aforementioned dramas with pretty much every singer he has worked long-term with, and his total absence of any lapses in his absolute (or should that be Absolut?) rock star guitar hero cool, and we have no right to think he’d merely revisit his past, however glorious.

 

What we DO get is lashings and lashings of great rock n’ roll: Ian Astbury tears up album opener ‘Ghost’, belting out the refrain “you can’t run from the future, can’t change your past – not that fast” while Slash lays down a signature fat riff and a brief but intense solo. This song says “I’m Slash. I’m back.”

 

Next up is Fergie’s contribution ‘Beautiful Dangerous’, and it’s actually a lot more like Garbage (the band, not the trash!) than you’d expect – though a Garbage that cites G n’ R as their main influence and has Slash in charge of bringing the noise! Certainly there will be 18 year olds who know far too little about rock, as well as mullet-wearing bogans who refuse to accept that their rock idols might want to diversify their output a little, who will rant and rave against this and some other tracks herein, but this is a great slice of heavy rock and veers a little towards the Holy Grail of “Appetite For Destruction”’s rifferama.

 

Avenged Sevenfold’s M Shadows ‘Nothing To Say’ is bookended with a monstrously heavy Sabbathian riff, then tears into a formula one-speed demolition derby of a rocker, Shadows singing a sweet and raw melody over Saul Hudson’s primal guitar madness. “Voices with nothing to say” – that has to be a dig at the critics, and I’m whole heartedly in Slash’s corner by this stage! This should come as no surprise to anyone, but this is not the first nor last time Slash plays a blinder on this album.

 

Ozzy Osbourne – equally clean and sober as Slash nowadays – sings up a storm on ‘Crucify The Dead’. Basically an Ozzy song in much the same way his collaboration with Lemmy on ‘Hellraiser’ or ‘Mama, I’m Coming Home’ sounded like Ozzy. This isn’t a bad thing – Slash shares influences with most of Ozzy’s career guitarists, and if The Ozzman is going to release a new album any time soon, we can only hope it sounds THIS good!

 

Chris Cornell (Soundgarden, Audioslave) plays a very soulful and funky croon on ‘Promise’ while Slash lays down what may be his slinkiest guitar line. If there’s one thing notable by this stage of the album it’s that many of the collaborations sound like Slash playing on the collaborator’s normal output, whereas usually multiple vocalist albums like this are designed to sound like the vocalist guesting on the mainman’s music. Yes everything sounds like Slash is playing guitar, but perhaps this is a mark of the man’s devotion to the song and to Rock?

 

Fancy some Led Zeppelin? ‘By The Sword’, featuring Andrew Stockdale, is Wolfmother doing an even more Led Zeppeliney turn than normal, and Stockdale loves any chance to crack out his nasally Robert Plant impersonation and step on his wah-wah pedal – the song is elevated to a new level by a cracking Slash solo.

 

‘Sahara’ featuring Koshi Inaba was to be, I thought, a Japanese only release so perhaps this won’t be on the CD you pickup in Western countries, but you should be able to find it on Amazon or eBay or CD Baby and its well worth picking up for another huge riff from Slash, and even if half the lyrics ARE in Japanese it still seems to make perfect sense to me!

 

Fergie pops up again on a slowed down, grooved up version of Gunners classic ‘Paradise City’, also featuring Cypress Hill. This was the b-side of the ‘Sahara’ single in Japan, and word has recently filtered out that this will be pulled as a bonus track from the UK release of the album due to unspecified legal reasons. We love it and on the strength of the two tracks we’ve heard featuring her here, she should ditch all that pop rapping malarkey and find herself a damn fine rock band to front – I’d certainly pay to see that!

 

Dave Grohl pounds drums and Duff McKagan rumbles thunderbass on instrumental ‘Watch This’, which is a throbber with a tasty mellow mid section. It’s got a memorable riff and although Grohl turned down the offer to sing on it (still disappointed about how a previous collaboration turned out, apparently – possibly the song ‘Goodbye Lament’ on 2000’s Tony Iommi album “Iommi”) you have to wonder how Velvet Revolver would sound with Grohl on board, even if only for one album!

 

Modern classic rock fans seem to also have an issue with Kid Rock’s transition from rapping superpimp drug dealer to modern day southern rock superstar and king of the country-tinged plaintive rock-radio ballad. Well throw away any narrow-mindedness you may be harbouring: this is a great song, and Slash obviously relishes stretching his chops out a little instead of being boxed into rehashing Guns n’ Roses riffs ad infinitum. Despite some initial Dr Suessey lyrics, the Kid delivers with “I hold on because I can’t let go – and I refuse to let the hands of fate unfold”, and who knew Slash could play such a scorching solo in this more Skynyrdy style? Proof again that the real legends deliver as much in what they don’t play – the air between the notes – as in what they do.

 

WOAH – think it’s all sounding pretty cool so far? Well it’s not all wine and roses… Adam Levine from Maroon5 pops up on ‘Gotten’ and it sounds horrendously like… well, erm… Maroon5. If you’re a fan – you will enjoy this. I’m not, and I don’t: to me this is a horribly bland piece of soft rubbish and I swear I would have more fun with a wet paper bag than having to ever hear this song again. It’s Slash though, so I forgive him his trespass into limp modern AOR, but just hope he has the decency to avoid it in future.

 

‘Mother Maria’ featuring Beth Hart is a real grower – Beth’s voice is more folk than rock, and more of a surprise than you’ll expect when laid over a solid Slash slow burning rocker. This song has been donated to the charity efforts to raise money to assist those disadvantaged in the Haiti earthquake disaster, so whilst it’s unlikely to be on your CD’s when finally released, you should go donate a little to charity and pick up a really great song as well.


And then album closer (this promo version of the album, anyway) ‘Starlight’ proves itself the dark horse that wins the race: this really is the best song here, huge sounding and anthemic, and destined to be screamed at full volume in mega-ginorma-ultra-outdoorsydomes for many years to come.

 

Alterbridge’s Myles Kennedy brilliantly channels some scorching seventies classic rock, and the chorus will stick in your head for the rest of your life! Now that Creed are back together, perhaps Myles should be dancing with the Velvet Revolver lads?

 

Of course, this is just a promo version of the album, and probably won’t be the actual track listing any of you will pick up at your local Sanity, HMV, Walmart or wherever, and there are other collaborations to discuss featuring Iggy Pop, Lemmy, Alice Cooper and more, but I don’t have them and won’t for another week or two. Rest assured you’ll be told when I do!

 

What you need to know is that Slash does each and every one of us proud on this record – apart from the ever-present stigma of “Appetite For Destruction”, and despite the proliferation of different people involved in this. “Slash” is his truest, most complete work. More than that, this is an important work: we simply don't have anyone else producing hard rocking music of this calibre and flying the flag so unapologetically for hard, classic, guitar hero rock.

 

I’m docking a half star for the Maroon5 song (and that’s what it is) – but apart from that song I would have given this 5 ½!!! As mentioned I will revise the review once the actual track listing is announced and the CD arrives all shiny and begging to torment the neighbours!

 

So far – 5 stars – and yes, it is the best rock album of the year so far, and has completely justified my anticipation!

 


Shane
March 2010