Here we go again. Let's try this one more time.
Since leaving Guns 'N' Roses centuries ago, the Guns guitarist has been active as a solo artist and as part of the short-lived band project Velvet Revolver. He's also landed himself a few guest spots here and there, but nothing has ever really clicked. His previous solo efforts are somewhat weak, and the Velvet Revolver stuff sounded like another G'N' R attempt. So what's to be expected this time around? Hold on to your silver conch infested top hats, folks.
Slash made a few phone calls and sent a few more emails preparing for this disc. And, I would say he got an inbox full of responses and a few more voicemails. Some of the friends that lend the guitarist a hand are Chris Cornell (Soundgarden), Ozzy Osbourne, Adam Levine (Maroon 5), and Black Eyed Peas funk diva, Fergie. Yeah, I know……just try and stay with me.
When I hear of so many different singers on an album, I almost expect continuity and flow to be sacrificed. Many albums that have a ton of guests seem to become very choppy and sporadic. The songs often lack a cohesive feel, and song placement can often feel awkward. So, when I heard of all these different singers, especially coming from a wide variety of musical styles, I was a bit fearful. Now that I've listened to Slash, I fear not for the guitar god known as Slash has finally arrived.
I don't know how he's done it, but he has. This set of excellent songs has great flow and it paces itself beautifully. And, even with 12 very different singers, these songs cruise like a fully loaded locomotive - every track hitched to the one in front of it and staying on track.
From this point on, the only way to tell you about this one is to review it track-by-track…..
1. "Ghost" - The Cult's Ian Astbury sings this one and it's a real winner. Slash lays down one of his "Sweet Child O' Mine"- type of riffs, and it totally drives the song. Astbury can sometimes be a bit overbearing with that monster voice of his, but he keeps things at a minimum here. It comes across more in the sly Billy Idol style than anything that Astbury has done with The Cult. Fantastic lead off track.
2. "Crucify The Dead" - Enter Ozzy. This is the classic Ozzy sound with him singing about the relationship between Slash and Axl Rose. He sings, "We had the same dream/Live life to the extreme/A loaded gun jammed by a rose." This is another steady rocker that would fit quite well on Ozzy's No More Tears record, but better yet, it fits perfectly right here as track #2.
3. "Beautiful Dangerous" - Oh baby! Here she is, ladies and gentlemen. This is Fergie's time to shine, and shine she does. She also punches you right in the face. Her powerful voice and the serious bite she gives this tune make it one of the best tunes on a record loaded with excellent material. This has a great sing-along anthem-type chorus, and the verses will have you bobbing your head like some kind of funky chicken with a real badass 'tude. Awesome stuff to behold, over and over.
4. "Back From Cali" - This song arguably features the most talented singer on the record, Myles Kennedy. Immediately upon hearing the first words of this song, the hair on my arm stood on end. Former vocalist for Alter Bridge, this guy has an amazing voice. He is the only singer to appear on two songs, and this first tune is one of the catchiest. It starts with a bluesy guitar and vocal, and then explodes into an homage anthem to sunny California. This is the one that will keep you up at night with a headache because you can't stop singing it over and over and over in your head. ….and over…..and over….
5. "Promise" - Chris Cornell - another amazingly talented singer with a great natural ability. This song is one with a very catchy refrain that gets hammered home more than a few (hundred) times. A simple little song really, but Cornell's tone and Slash's nice guitar work make it a nice addition.
6. "By The Sword" - Wolfmother's Andrew Stockdale has that certain fire. It's the kind of burning that you find in the younger, hungrier rock stars. One of the best written songs on the record, Stockdale's voice gives this a serious mood that fits perfectly into the set. With Stockdale's distinct sound, this one sounds like it's straight off of a Wolfmother record. And, as a big fan of Wolfmother, that's a damn good thing.
7. "Gotten" - This is really the first ballad of the album, and it comes at the perfect time. With Maroon 5's Adam Levine taking us under his wing with his lilting tenor, this is a welcome addition. Much like Andrew Stockdale of Wolfmother, Adam Levine has an unmistakable sound. So this song sounds like it's stripped cleanly from a Maroon 5 record. And, being a fan of Maroon 5 as well, it's all good.
8. "Doctor Alibi" - From a lilting ballad to the harshest voice on the planet, and somehow it works seamlessly. Motorhead legend Lemmy Kilmister handles the vocal duties on this one, and it's a rough and tumble rocker, as you might expect. This is fairly reminiscent of a typical Motorhead song, and it fits nicely here.
9. "Watch This" - Here's the lone instrumental on the record, and it does act as the bad child that's been placed in the corner. It's a decent instrumental with some nice guitar work from our host, but it does interrupt the flow of this set just a bit. Now, the run time of the track is only 3:47, so it's a very slight hiccup. Not that I don't like the track, I just don't like it much here.
10. "I Hold On" - This one features Kid Rock on vocals; and when I say "vocals," I really mean it. We hear the Kid doing a power ballad-type song, leaving his rap/rock attitude on the shelf. Not so sure that's a great thing, though. With Slash's dirty tone, and that Kid Rock bulldog rap style, I think they could've made some real magic. But, even though this track is pretty formulaic, it has a nice hook and it's worthy of a listen.
11. "Nothing To Say" - Here's a superfast grinder that has Slash playing one of his most complex and speedy solos on the record. With Avenged Sevenfold singer M. Shadows with the mic in hand, this turns out to be a nice heavy rocker that sounds quite different from the rest of the record. This is the song where Slash gets permission to lose control and let it all loose, which is alright by me.
12. "Starlight" - Here's the other song featuring Myles Kennedy, and it's another that has the ability to send a shiver. He makes this thing soar with that powerful, uplifting voice. Slash follows him with beautifully manicured guitar work. This is a wonderful song with a rousing chorus that will keep you singing way after you turn the disc off.
13. "Saint Is A Sinner Too" - Rocco DeLuca…….who the heck is that? Yeah well, look him up. It'll be worth your time. An indie artist out of California that has opened for Taj Mahal, John Mayall and John Lee Hooker, he's known for playing a mean Dobro. This song has a certain edginess to it. The tension of DeLuca's voice is intriguing to say the very least. This is one that you might either love or hate. I personally think it's an excellent addition. It has a little bit of a Coheed and Cambria mood to it, with its quiet approach. The impressive instrumentation sounds like a classical or Spanish style guitar, backed by a soft marching drum roll. The most unique and fascinating song on the record, hands down.
14. "We're All Gonna Die" - Punk legend Iggy Pop sings, "We're all gonna die/So let's get high/We're all gonna die/So let's be nice/I'm in the mood/So let's intrude/Pee on the ground/And jump around." As you might guess, he sounds right at home singing this one. But wait, this really doesn't have a rabid punk feel to it. It's a pretty steady rock song formula, with Iggy doing his best Billy Idol impression in the verses. But, any song that starts with the line "Gee, I really like your tits"…..you just gotta love it.
This is an amazing record on many levels really. The main reasons I appreciate this record so much is because of the cohesive "complete album" feel. It's not 14 separate songs on a little silver disc. It really has a "beginning to end" kind of presence about it. The other thing I really appreciate is the fact that it's not trying to be another Guns 'N' Roses record. I think we've all had our fill of those by now, right? Slash has reinvented himself here, abandoning the G 'N' R safety net entirely.
Finally, it's time to give kudos to all of the guest artists on this record. They are all brilliant. Slash employs former Guns members Izzy Stradlin, Duff McKagan, and Steven Adler, along with Dave Grohl and superstar studio drummer Josh Freese (among many others) to round out the album. Everyone involved with this record was firing on all cylinders, and the result is a magically fine tuned street beast.