Dear Mr. Rose,


Dear Mr. Rose,

Thanks for pissing on the remaining shreds of hope that I had that there could ever be an Appetite-era lineup reunion of the infamous Guns N’ Roses.  I wasn’t hoping for a world tour or anything.  Just a 1-time set at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame would have been gracious and exciting.

I watched as the band burned bright, then fell apart.  Illusions I & II are the sound of a band imploding, and Spaghetti Incident is the sound of a band phoning it in.  Chinese Democracy is the unsettling ranting of a lunatic.

I have read the biographies, and I have made a public plea for a reunionAppetite for Destruction floored me when I was a teenager.  The guitars were blaring and dancing around each other perfectly.  The drums made my heat beat faster.  The bass managed to weave it all together.  The vocals made me want to scream and yell.  Lies was absolutely brilliant.  The raw aggression of the earlier “live” tracks were the Guns, & the stripped down yet edgy acoustic tracks were the Roses.

You could have been a grown-ass-man, and set aside your ego, your demons, and whatever else is plaguing you.  You could have probably even gotten away with not showing up for rehearsal, sound check or even acknowledging the existence of the other guys off stage.  Everyone knows you’re supposedly some sort of “temperamental genius” by now, and would have let it slide.  I mean, you really never got much more than a monetary slap on the wrist for inciting multiple riots.  If you can get away with that, you can pretty much get away with anything.

It seems that you fear reuniting with the old lineup would invalidate the existence of the current lineup of Guns N’ Roses.  The only thing that invalidates the current lineup is one W. Axl Rose.  You have made it unequivocally clear that the founding members of the band who wrote the songs that you’re surely playing on tour & developed the sound that you try so hard to get away from are nothing but hired guns (pun intended) to your apparently infallible and virtually unreachable artistic vision.  Why should we put any stock in the revolving door of members that has been present since the departure of core members Duff & Slash?  Perhaps Izzy was the most intelligent of the bunch, getting out shortly after Adler was ousted.  Gilby Clarke sure was never given status as a full band member.  Even Buckethead was called out for his apparent inabilities to record or tour when he left the band.  It’s always someone else’s fault, isn’t it?  Does Dizzy Reed know any other words than “Yes, Axl”?  (Surely even you have to notice how terrible the piano sounds on live versions of “Patience” and “Paradise City“.)

By all accounts it’s Axl who was always late to the stage, Axl who left everyone hanging in Chicago, Axl & some guy that wasn’t even in the band that included a hidden Charles Manson cover on an album despite the rest of the band’s wishes, Axl who called in Paul Tobias without asking anyone else, Axl who demanded legal ownership of the band name at a time when it was impossible for the others to refuse (all aiming to keep the fans happy), Axl who put out no albums while former bands mates cranked out multiple albums from multiple projects, and Axl who consistently points out the shortcomings of his peers and former friends through some self-created veil of paranoia while never taking the time to analyze or even admit to his own self-destructive actions.

Thank you for destroying my favorite band.

I guess I do have to thank you for making sure that the last memory of my favorite lineup won’t be some half-hearted attempt at recapturing some inspirational spark or any multitude of possibly disappointing outcomes.

Former Fan,
-ERiC AiXeLsyD

Appetite for Destruction

Appetite for Destruction (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ink N’ Pages – The Guns N’ Roses Autobiographies


Slash

Slash

So, it’s no secret that I’m a Guns N’ Roses fan.  Well, a fan of everything up until The Spaghetti Incident.  I like both of Duff‘s solo albums, all of Slash’s Snakepit & solo material, Velvet Revolver, I even have Hollywood Rose.  I still need to pick up a Loaded album, but I do have the Neurotic Outsiders.  This doesn’t dig into bootlegs of live and demo stuff… of which I have a plethora.

Appetite for Destruction generally tops my “all time favorites” album lists.  I go back to it time and time again, & get lost in between Slash & Izzy’s guitars spiraling around each other.

Of course, when the autobiographies started coming out, I had to read them.  I got Slash‘s book, then Duff’s then Steven’s.  Slash was a rock n’ roll hero to me when I was in Jr. High & high school, but out of the three books… I think Duff comes off the best  and most entertaining.  The writing is very fluid.  I found it easy to imagine Duff in the early days.  The stories are blunt & sincere, and he ties it all back to where it has led him & where he is now in life.  Duff seems like a great guy to hang out with.

It's So Easy: and Other Lies

It's So Easy: and Other Lies

Slash’s book is an easy read, but it jumps around quite a bit.  His recollection of events is really questionable.  It doesn’t necessarily feel like Slash is remembering things correctly, or even the one telling the story.  I might have to give it a re-read after finishing the other two books.

Steven’s book, like Steven, is a mess.  I can’t help but feel pity for the guy, mostly because he professes to not have a “poor me” attitude, but every single action the guy takes screams “oh poor me”.  This guy just can’t get it right, but he still seems like a likeable guy.

It comes across in all of them that they had fun times in the early days, with a vibe that can never be repeated.  Sadly, all these guys seem to have a habit of burning bridges… yet posses a decent history of patching things up.  I mean, Slash & Duff have never really stopped working together.  Duff has been on-stage with Axl’s band recently.  They both patched it up with Weiland recently.  Duff, Slash, & Izzy have jammed with Adler’s Appetite.

My Appetite for Destruction: Sex, and Drugs, and Guns N' Roses

My Appetite for Destruction: Sex, and Drugs, and Guns N' Roses

One thing is clear from all of these books… Axl is an absolute wild man, and these guys love & fear him.  I really hope Axl & Izzy churn out books someday.  Maybe somehow all of the events can get plotted out & reconstructed correctly.

Maybe they’ll even get together for the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame ceremony.

I’d love to check out some of the other GN’R biographies (like Reckless Road), but if the guys in the band can’t even get it right… then what hope does an outsider have?

♧♠♡♦♢♥♤♣

Concert Stereotypes


Rock Concert!

Rock Concert!

This topic was by my friend Laurel the other night at the Dropkick Murphys Shamrock-N-Roll tour.  I know I’ve had this conversation before with others.  I decided to take it & digitally run with it.  Stereotypes are generally a bad idea, but they sure are funny.  A punk rock show, or really any show… is full of them.  I’ll start a list.  You’ll contribute in the comments.

  • That” guy.  Formerly known as “the guy that wears the shirt of the band he’s going to see”, but shortened to “that guy” because that’s a mouthful.  I’ve been that guy.  I bet you’ve been that guy.  Somehow it’s sometimes seen as cool… and sometimes not.  This is probably more acceptable/expected at a Misfits or ICP show than anywhere else.
  • The “Windmill” Guy.  Generally, he’s in a college hoodie, maybe even with his Greek letters on it.  He’s visibly drunk, and probably double-fisting when not in the pit, flailing his arms around in an effort to be cool and badass by totally missing the point of slam-dancing or moshing by trying to hurt people… and take as much punishment as they can get.  You can also spot them by the off-kilter fitted cap, thank Fred Durst for these toolbags.
  • Old Creepy Guy.  I’m rapidly becoming this guy.  I’m cool with that.  The recent Shamrock-N-Roll show saw a really diverse group of concert-goers.  There were grandmas & grandkids all over the place!  Generally though, at smaller shows… there’s a lone dude just hangin’ out that doesn’t seem like he’d be into whatever’s going on at all.
  • Your new best friend.  Cat comes up & starts talking like you’re old buds.  No big deal right?  You’re obviously both fans of the same band, you’re both there.  What’s the harm?  The conversation turns way too intimate or inappropriate quite soon.  You have no escape.  This guy’s probably drunk.  Hopefully, anyway.  He has no concept of personal space, and is telling you all about the band/joke/logo on your T-shirt.
  • The “Stuffed Sausage”.  Generally a petite-in-height but not in girth young lady with self-esteem issues.  Most likely she started as quite an attractive curvy woman, but donned about 3 lbs. of makeup, pushed up and bared most of her boobies, hung some butt cheeks out of a tiny skirt or shorts… and all of her clothing is about 2 sizes too small.  I’m not hatin’, I’m just sayin’.
  • The nearly blind-drunk guy.  There’s always a stumbler ambling through the crowd that’s just there for beer.  At $30-$50 for a concert ticket without TicketBastard fees, and $7-$9 per tiny draft beer… the whole concept is pretty ridiculous.  This guy generally looks like he doesn’t belong anyway.  He squints to see, walks sideways while looking straight ahead, and smells like the floor of a brewery.
  • The militant lesbian.  I’m not going to say much here, for fear of getting beat up.  The partially shaved head and camo pants are a sexy sexy combo that’s always in style.
  • Lookatmytats. This dude or dudette has spent thousands of dollars & hours under the needle, so they wear as little clothing as possible in order to bare their epidermal canvass.  I would too were I all inked up, I think.  Generally this is accompanied by gauges or other “non-traditional” piercings.  Not to be confused with Lookatmytatas, who needs no explanation.
  • Wikipedia Guy.  This one is always directly behind or in front of me at concerts where you have an actual seat… also prevalent at Pens games.  Wikipedia guy isn’t here to be entertained, he’s here to wow the people with him & anyone in earshot with his knowledge of the band’s formation, various lineups, demo material, and complete discography including various pressings and formats.  I’m in danger of being this guy, and it’s so annoying.  I love my music & trivia… but try to only spout when asked, & not broadcast it.

That’s my starter list.

I know I’m missing more than a few that I see regularly, but I’m hoping someone else will think of them too… so I’m not all alone here.  What about the kid with headphones?  The super-fan?  The crying girl?  The PDA couple?

Please, leave the name of your concert-going stereotype in the comments section below.  If you’re feeling creative, how about a description too?  If you have landed here via Facebook or Twitter & you’re still logged in there… you can comment below with no hassles.  You can also just comment w/o logging in.  WordPress just asks for a name & an email address to go along with your comments, with the option of a URL.

What stereotype are you?  Which one do you love?  Which one do you hate?  Which one are you?  Which one am I?  Have any comments/additions/corrections to the ones I’ve already listed?

Perhaps I’ll compile another blog with all the results, perhaps they’ll just live in the comments section… but I need your help making the list!

Sat.08/27 @ GOOSKI’S! – The Dirty Charms / Ernie and the Berts / What Else? – 21+/$5/10:00pm (via Ernie and the Berts)


I love Gooski’s. It’s a relaxing hole in the wall with a killer jukebox and ridiculously awesome honey BBQ wings. It’s always cool to play a place you’re so comfortable in, so please come out to this one, hang out, & have a fun time with Ernie and the Berts as we rock out with the Dirty Charms & What Else?.

Sat.08/27 @ GOOSKI'S! - The Dirty Charms / Ernie and the Berts / What Else? - 21+/$5/10:00pm GOOSKI’S.  That’s all I need to say.  Come early, stay late.  Rock out with some cheap beers, tasty wings & pierogies.  We all need a night of debauchery in Polish Hill every once in a while.  That’s what your favorite local rock n’ roll bands are for!  What Else? channels some glam, Ernie and the Berts will make you feel scuzzy & fuzzy, and the Dirty Charms just may make you need to take a shower… Read More

via Ernie and the Berts

If it’s too loud, you’re too old!


☢ BOOM! ☢

Phallic-Atomic Wall Art

That’s what I used to think, anyway.  Over the years I’ve come to appreciate things like volume & tone… and dialing in a bit of control to the chaos.  Recently the following open letter/plea to local & touring musicians was posted in a semi-private Facebook group for the bands that rock out at the Fallout Shelter.  I asked permission to re-post, as it seems like a cool discussion starter.  As a dude in a band, I’m always up for talking about such things.  Permission was granted, and so we’ve arrived at:

PLEASE READ – An open letter to the bands in our musical community from Rick at the Fallout Shelter –

July 27, 2011:

The Fallout Shelter in Aliquippa is well into its fourth year of providing local bands in Beaver County with a venue where they can hone their skills, develop a following, and join a sincere and optimistic musical community. We are very proud of that. We also are committed to bringing excellent quality sound and professionalism to the music patrons who attend our shows. And we strive to help the bands that perform become more professional and polished as they gain experience in front of the crowds. With all of that in mind, I feel compelled to write this letter to everyone who has contributed so much to our journey.

Rock music is traditionally expected to be performed at loud volumes. Although we welcome all musical genres at the Shelter, we have tended to present rock, punk and metal acts more regularly. As such, volume frequently reaches levels that would severely damage the sensitive ears of small animals. So, the question becomes, can “loud” be too loud? Despite your inner rock god’s rabid denials, the truth is that, yes, it can be too loud. On more than a few occasions, I have witnessed young rock fans leave the Shelter shaking their heads and declaring that “it is too loud down there!” How can loud be too loud?

The Fallout Shelter ☢

The Fallout Shelter ☢

As an old rock musician and former fine arts major who grew up in the 70’s listening to bands such as Zeppelin and the Who, let me offer my view on the matter: When the individual sounds of the instruments become too loud, they tend to meld together into what can essentially be described as a “mush” of sound emanating from the stage. As the on-stage musician, you no longer are providing the sustenance of musical nectar to the fans, but are instead dumping the digested excrement of the combined sounds upon them. Individual sounds are completely lost and thus, so are individual expression and critical accents of each musician which can significantly enhance the musical presentation. Some of you might argue that certain genres are intended to be presented as musical mush – and I cannot disagree because musical taste is indeed individual. But musical mush is not what we desire to showcase. The occasional unusual act that uses noise or volume for musical or artistic effect is welcome, but we do not wish to bombard our patrons with unnecessary volume. By beginning your performance at maximum volume, you lose nuance and dynamics, which eliminates your flexibility in making your performance so much more powerful. Being able to increase volume for that soaring lead, or for that key phrase, and using those skills, will make you better musicians and more polished performers. Dynamics is a natural emotional expression of the music, and its importance cannot be over-emphasized.

As a young bassist, I recall performing many times and falling into the same bad habit of turning up during performances – or leaning over to place my ear near my speaker so I can hear my bass. The sound was essentially blowing past my legs so I could not hear myself well enough. The temptation to turn up in such a case is inescapable. This problem can be solved by either asking the sound man to increase your instrument volume through the monitors, or by raising the speaker to be closer to your ear level. We provide one amp stand that leans back to direct the amp speaker to the performer for this purpose. We also intend to build crates to keep on stage which all amp speakers must be placed on to raise them up. Hopefully, this will solve some of the volume problems. We also provide a drum shield for those drummers who play very loudly. When our sound man asks you to use it, it is because he is trying to make you all, as a band, sound the best that you can. Please do not refuse to use it. Trust our sound man – he is working in a very small venue with a powerful sound system. If you maintain the volume that he requests, he will make you sound spectacular. Doing a sound check to establish an excellent level, and then turning up, just creates a cascade of each musician turning up, one after another, and destroys the effort that went into doing the sound check. When you turn up, he has to fight the instrument and drum volumes to bring vocals up to be heard and the result is often feedback and “mush” coming from the stage.

Please help us present the best local performances to your fans and experiment with volume for maximum effect, not just maximum levels. We will not continue to book bands at the Shelter who cannot realize that learning to use volume properly is as important as learning to master their instruments. Personally, I feel that such bands are either incapable of learning what it takes to perform meaningfully, or are simply fulfilling some narcissistic rock star fantasy.

Once again, thank you to all of the fine musicians and people who make the Shelter such a special venue. Let’s continue to work together to make it, and our bands, the best that they can be.

Rick

Ernie and one of the Berts

Ernie and one of the Berts...

You can pick up on the frustration in Rick’s message.  I get it.  There’s a good discussion already going if you’re part of the group.  Rick, Randy, & everyone at the Fallout Shelter have always been really cool to us.  The sound guys have been great…  I’m absolutely terrible with names or I’d mention them here.

My focus/attention span has been crazy lately, so I think the best way to organize my thoughts on this is a completely random bulleted list.

  • I used to want a wall of Marshall cabinets…  I don’t anymore.  In a stadium?  Sure!  But, the reality is that I play mostly bars…  Bars that are small, and sometimes too small to host bands but do it anyway.  Lately I have been digging using Erin’s little Fender Hot Rod Deluxe amp or Dave’s killer Egnater Rebel head with my 4×12 Mesa Boogie cabinet.  (My Crate Power Block is oddly “OK” live, but absolutely terrible when being recorded.)  Not only do we have to provide entertainment, but we have to carry our own crap in & out.  An amp that’s a quarter of the size & has twice the balls of most other amps?  It’s a win every time in my book.  Try it out!  (Especially if you’re playing a place downstairs like the Fallout Shelter or upstairs at the Smiling Moose.)
  • Let the sound guy do his job.  The sound guy at any given venue has been hired to make you sound good.  Don’t piss him (or her) off.  Don’t insist on turning your stage volume up until you hear the mix from the monitors, or go sit in the house yourself to hear the mix.  Want to have the most rock n’ roll attitude in the room?  Just play, and don’t give a crap what it sounds like.
  • Suck it up.  Shit happens.  Monitors screech, cut out, blow up, sound like mud, or are entirely non-exsitant at times.  There are still people sitting there waiting for you to play.  Play!  Don’t ask the sound guy to adjust a different level after every song.  Once one or two songs in?  No problem.  All night long?  Just deal with it.
  • Use the drum shield.  I think I’ve only ever played at one place where the drummer sits behind a shield.  They asked, so we did it.  I even put a sign on it that says something like “don’t tap on glass” that I think is still there.  It gives the sound guy further control over the room… and the monitors.  As long as you have a monitor in there for the drummer, it shouldn’t be a huge issue.  It might feel & look weird, but if Dave Grohl can do it, you can do it.
Please don't feed the drummer.

Please don't feed the drummer.

That’s all that comes to mind right now.  I’m sure there will be more.  For their part, it looks like the Fallout Shelter is open to suggestions in improving their monitoring system & the overall sound for the room.  I’d suggest some kind of acoustic wall tiles to keep already loud noises from reverberating, but that’s just me.

I’d like this to start a discussion about sound at smaller venues all around Pittsburgh, & well… everywhere.  In the comments section below, post your thoughts!

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Hard Rock Cafe X Winter Rock Showcase (via Ernie and the Berts)


So, vote for Ernie and the Berts n’at…

You should vote for Ernie and the Berts in the Hard Rock Cafe X Winter Rock Showcase.  Click the link, listen to all the bands (or just some of them), and click the vote button to vote for us! … Read More

via Ernie and the Berts

Guitars & Rock N’ Roll


I like guitars.  I blog about a bunch of stuff, but I can’t believe I neglected adding a guitar category before now.  Perhaps because I’m back to rocking out again, I’ve been more aware of guitars and music in general.

I have always loved music from an early age, and the guitar has always been my favorite instrument.  Of course I wanted to learn how to play.  I took a class in school because I needed 2 music electives one year.  We did the Mel Bay “Marry Had a Little Lamb” crap and I skimmed through only sort-of learning to read music while I bought guitar magazines and learned my favorite riffs by tab at home or from the kids in the guitar class who already knew how to play & were taking it for an easy A.

I was also learning at church camp… the minister in charge used to play campfire standards & hymns for the sing-alongs, and taught me how to play chords to a whole song instead of the riffs that I was used to half-assedly piecing together.  I think through this is where I first felt comfortable singing & playing at the same time.  I remember that being a huge obstacle at one point, but now it almost seems ridiculous.

I took lessons at a music store for a while, and it was cool… but basically I learned 1 scale and how to play by ear.  It wasn’t very structured, and I wasn’t a great student.  I just wanted to rock… not learn.

Around the same time, I re-discovered punk rock.  I had always been a fan of pop rock, punk rock, metal, & more… but when I learned that I could pop in the Misfits or Ramones and play along to the whole record, something just clicked.  I fell into a three-chord way of life… and discovered that I didn’t need to be a great guitar player.  Sure, there’s always room to improve, but I’m not trying to be Yngwie Malmsteen or Jimi Hendrix or anything.

With the punk re-awakening that I had, I wanted to write songs and be in a band.  Playing the guitar was the means to that end.  Luckily this was happening at the same time for me as some other good friends & eventually AiXeLsyD was born.  I’ve played on & off in a handful of bands & projects since then and been part of a few different scenes.  I’m very thankful for being introduced all the people that I’ve met through those endeavors.  There’s a weird bond with other people in bands that you just don’t get if you’re not part of the whole thing.  It’s like a weird brotherhood or religion or secret club… even within that I guess there are still more than a few who still don’t get it once they’re in it, but that’s a whole other blog.

This went a different direction than I intended, but you’ll have that.  Maybe I’ll blog more about the band experience… I’ve had a few standard rants about bands over the years that I’ll have to rehash here.

My original intent was just to say that I was going to start blogging about guitars.  I love guitars.  I like to play all kinds, I’d love to own them all.  I like normal guitars, but I gravitate toward the weird ones.  I’ll blog about all of them here.  Hopefully it’ll spark some discussions, awe, and ire.

Don’t tell me it’s too late… Slash solo album review.


Slash“Don’t tell me it’s too late” is a line from my favorite song on the album, I’m reviewing this well after it came out, and it seems like a running theme lyrically through more than a few songs on the album… so I felt that it was appropriate to work into the title of this post.

If you know my musical tastes at all, you know that Guns N’ Roses is near the top of my list in all-time favorites.  So, with some warning, this may be a little biased.  The basic idea for this record was for Slash to pull in session musicians and do the record he wanted to do that wouldn’t necessarily fit into any other mold.  He’s done session & guest work with everyone from ICP to Rihanna, it’s about time to turn it around.  (I’m sure it doesn’t hurt that Velvet Revolver is on “hiatus” and Slash’s Snakepit seems dissolve after each album.)

Since it’s such a diverse record (with and endless number of releases), I’m going to try to throw out my opinions track-by-track, and then wrap it all up.

  1. “Ghost” – Featuring the vocal talents of Ian Astbury and the only other guitarist to appear anywhere on the album, the venerated and underrated Izzy Stradlin.  The song starts the album with a really nice melodic riff and Izzy’s guitar fills in just like it did back in the Appetite days.  Their work back & forth is unmistakable… and I’d love to hear more of it in the future.  While I like the guitar play in Velvet Revolver with Dave Kushner, Izzy and Slash are like a left hand & a right hand when playing guitar… they’re aware of what the other is doing without thinking about it.  Ian Astbury sounds awesome, and really fit well with this song.  I laugh every time I hear him though, as I once spent the better part of a day convincing a former co-worker that Ian Astbury & Glenn Danzig weren’t the same person.  I’ll never forget when The Cult’s “Fire Woman” was on the radio… he was all “You can’t tell me that this isn’t the guy who sings ‘Mother’.  It’s the same guy!”  At any rate… I hope this is picked up as a single, I’d love to see some live performances of this with Ian, or even a video.  It’s a nice unapologetic 80’s-ish rocker of a tune that doesn’t sound ridiculously dated.  Already you can tell that Eric Valentine‘s production on this album blows any Velvet Revolver stuff out of the water, because you can actually hear the guitar.
  2. “Crucify the Dead” – With Ozzy Osbourne on vocals, and somewhat inexplicably Taylor Hawkins on background vocals., this one starts out somewhat somber and ends up rocking.  It could have easily been on any Ozzy album from No More Tears on.  It’s somewhat odd to hear Slash doing the palm-muted power-chord chugging… and just the way that the guitars are layered.  I think that’s the point of this album though, to hear Slash doing stuff that you wouldn’t hear anywhere else.  It sets that right away with this song.  It would have been cool to have Zakk Wylde on this track too.  The one thing that makes it stand out as an Ozzy song is the lack of Zakk’s style of pinch n’ squeal harmonics.  I really love the melodic guitar lines here though.  I can imagine that Taylor was in the studio hanging out with Chris Chaney who plays bass on most tracks of the album (whom with he currently plays in Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders & they both played with Alanis Morissette once upon a time) and/or Dave Grohl and they just needed someone to do Ozzy backing vocals because he was too tired or didn’t know where he was.  This is the first of many incestuous rock n’ roll band relationships that are all over this album.
  3. “Beautiful Dangerous” – This is the song with Fergie.  Yeah, that Fergie.  Slash has done a bunch of live gigs with her, and she slays on some GN’R songs. In the first few seconds, I get an “oh no” because it starts off like a Rob Zombie song… but that’s quickly eaten by the guitars, bass, & drums.  It’s hard to hear a woman sing a rock song and not compare her to a small list of other rock singers…  This song has a Heart vibe.  I can imagine Fergie wouldn’t mind being compared vocally to Ann Wilson.  She’s got a strong beautiful clear voice… and I can totally hear an Axl influence.  You knew the A-word was coming eventually.  It’s not in the sound of her voice, but in the cadence and delivery of some of the lines… I challenge any GN’R fan to not hear it.  There’s a certain way they Axl holds on to & twists notes… Fergie does this also here… not sure if it was prompted or just came naturally with the style of riffs if she’s a GN’R fan at all.  This song is full of some nice solid riffs, and is one of my favorites off of the album.  My wife likes this one too, and she’s not the world’s biggest guitar-rock fan.
  4. “Back From Cali” Myles Kennedy takes up vocal duties on this song.  The feel of this song reminds me of It’s Five O’ Clock Somewhere, and is definitely a Slash composition out and out.  It’s a pretty straight-up blues rocker, and Axl is again channeled at a mere 30 seconds into the song.  Myles will take vocal duties in Slash’s touring band, he’s probably as notable for being the guy rumored to sing for the Led Zeppelin reunion tour as much as his last band, Alter Bridge.  This guy has the pipes & range to hold it down well, no doubt.
  5. “Promise” – This one starts out a little strange, although this riff could have been on either  of the Illusions albums in a different context.  It really reminds me of Audioslave… maybe that’s why Slash called in Chris Cornell in the first place.  This is the first mellow one… and while it’s not a bad song, I think I have to be in the mood to listen to it.  It’s quite a haunting melody & riff, perhaps it’ll grow on me as time goes on.
  6. “By the Sword” – This is the album’s first US single, I think the video has been shot it’s just waiting for production, and they’ve been doing the lateshow circuit with performances.  Andrew Stockdale of Wolfmother takes the vocal helm on this blues rocker.  This could have also easily been another Snakepit song… but I feel Stockdale does it real justice with his oddly whiny vocals.  Slash’s solo here (starting at 2:45 into the song) reminds me of George Harrison on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” for some reason.  At first, I wondered why on Earth this was the first single as it wasn’t a straight-up rocker, but the more I hear it, the more I really like the song.
  7. “Gotten” – Having Adam Levine of Maroon 5 on the album is probably as shocking as having Fergie, if not more so.  I have to say, I really dig this track too.  The guitar is surprisingly nice & clean for the most part, a very gentle riff… this could be on top 40 radio if there is such a thing left.  It builds in a “Don’t Cry”-like crescendo, although the strings mayJudgement Day.) be a little much.  (Sorry, Again, you most likely have to be in a mellow mood for this one, but it stands as a good track.)
  8. “Doctor Alibi” – Old school metal fans are going to love this one… or at least I do.  Lemmy takes vocal and “distorted bass” (according to the liner notes) duties on this un-apologetically obnoxious rocking beast.  The opening riff jingles with bad-ass and descends into chaos with Lemmy’s story telling of visiting various doctors until he gets the answer that he wants to hear.  I vote for Lemmy as the next frontman to Velvet Revolver, ha ha ha.  This song is full of rock clichés and that’s OK with me.  This solo rips through you, reminiscent of the rambling in “Nightrain”.  It even breaks down to just vocals and drums before the rest of the bands comes back in.  This one is a keeper.
  9. “Watch This Dave” – I have to admit that I couldn’t wait.  I had to jump to this one the first time I popped the album into the CD player.  (Yeah, I bought the CD that came with the T-shirt from Best Buy on the day that it came out.) Why did I jump here?  Because it features Dave Grohl on drums and Duff McKagan on bass.  On some track listings, it’s simply titled “Watch This”… but my CD adds the “Dave”, so I added that here.  This is a timeless instrumental groove that just smacks you in the eardrums.  I miss Duff’s bass playing on the rest of the album.  No offense to Chris Chaney, but Duff has a definite signature that just fits with Slash’s guitar work like hot fudge on vanilla ice cream or ketchup on fries.  You don’t need it, but it’s always a perfect combo.  Dave pounds the drums like a madman, and they seamlessly string together patches of riffs & guitar wanking that swell an undulate into a heart-pounding mess of a ride that ends by just slamming you into a wall.  Parts of it remind me of the feel of Metallica’s “Call of Ktulu” or “Orion”.  Slash does some shredding work here, something you don’t usually think of when you hear his name.  I for one would love to hear a whole album of stuff like this.
  10. “I Hold On” – This track has Kid Rock on vocals.  It could have just as easily been Myles Kennedy… and may have been better if it was.  It plays out like a mellow country/gospel inspired Kid Rock ballad.  I don’t know, I guess I just don’t feel it.  It’s by no means a bad, song, it just doesn’t make me say “wow” or anything.  Slash’s solo is great, but could have gone over anything with these same chord changes.  I would imagine that this would clean up on country radio.
  11. “Nothing to Say”M. Shadows of Avenged Sevenfold was a surprise guest to me… but I was also really anxious to hear this track.  I must say that i wasn’t disappointed!  I’m an A7X fan, and I remember thinking that they went form a Metallica influence on Sounding the Seventh TrumpetWaking the Fallen to a Guns N’ Roses influence on City of Evil and Avenged Sevenfold.  At first, I didn’t like it, but as time went on, it made sense.  I love both of those bands, why wouldn’t they?  Only AC/DC fans like the same album over & over again.  This was an excellent paring, as the riff is just more evil and menacing than anything  else I’ve ever heard Slash play… and I can’t imagine anyone vocally pulling this off any better. (For reference,  see “Chains and Shackles”.)  I really would have a hard time telling that this wasn’t a straight-up A7X song, and I can typically pick out Slash’s guitar work in just a few notes.  There’s more shredding here, within the blues context that Slash likes to stay in, and within the confines of the song… but again, I would love a whole album of songs like this form Slash.  It’s odd to hear him playing Metallica-styled palm-muted chugging even though I know he’s a big fan of theirs.  Speaking of Metallica… why wasn’t Lars or James on this thing?
  12. “Starlight” Myles Kennedy is the only one to feature twice vocally on the proper US album release.  This is another bluesy/gospel sort of ballad that could have easily went on either Snakepit
  13. “Saint is a Sinner Too” – Yeah.  I’m wholly unfamiliar with Rocco DeLucca who sings for this one… and really, I think I’m glad.  I mean, the guitar work is beautiful and quiet here… and shows great range… but I really can’t regard the vocals as anything more than annoying.  I’m sorry if it offends you, but I hate this kind of crap, and the crap  thatit reminds me of… like Dave Matthews and Coldplay.
  14. “Were All Gonna Die” – Slash dusts off Iggy Pop for this one which acts as the closer to the regular US release.  Iggy sounds bored, and the song is a little slow.  I’d actually love to hear Duff sing this one… and for the tempo to be upped a little bit.  Duff has a great punk sensibility, and like I said Iggy just sounds bored.  You’d think a song that stars out with the line “Gee I really like your tits” would be a little more raucous.  Maybe I just expected more from this pairing?  “Home” off of Iggy’s Brick by Brick album features Slash & Duff, and it hits a little harder than this one.  Still, it’s not a ad tune, and gets better with every listen.

Well, that’s all the normal tracks.  I’ve managed to hear all of the bonus tracks form the various albums, and I’ll give my run-down here…

  • “Sahara” – This one’s from the Japanese release and the iTunes release.  It features Japanese rocker Koshi Inaba of the Japaneze rock band/duo B’z.  This sounds like a Winger or Poison song.  It’s the closest Slash has ever sounded to that… and I love some Poison… but this is super-cheese.  This was the first single overall, released only in Japan.  I bet they loved this one… it’s #4 on the Japan charts according to Wikipedia.  This one can be found with both English and Japanese lyrics.
  • “Chains and Shackles” – I mentioned this before during the “Nothing to Say” review… basically it’s the the same base, with some slightly different ingredients… provided by Nick Oliveri,  of Kyuss/Mondo Generator/Queens of the Stone Age.  Had I not heard the other first, I may dig this one a little more.  This is a heavy hard-hitting song with some killer structures & vocals… but I just liked what Slash & M. Shadows did with it in “I Hold On” more.  Slash also talked about giving this one to Dave Mustane… I’d love to hear that.  This is on the Australian iTunes edition.
  • “Paradise City” – This is an odd collection:  Cypress Hill, Fergie, and Slash covering Guns N’ Roses.  This was a B0side to the “Sahara” single as well as being on the Australian iTunes, Best Buy Exclusive, Napster, and Brazilian versions.  (This is according to Wikipedia… I bought mine at Best Buy, and this isn’t on it.)  This wasn’t really a surprise, as I’ve seen  Slash, Duff, Dave Kushner & Matt Sorum do this with Cypress Hill before.  Fergie rounds out the vocals nicely imitating Axl.  This is Campy and fun, and really shouldn’t be taken beyond that.  I enjoy it.
  • “Mother Maria” – On this song, Slash teamed up with Beth Hart to help Linkin Park’s Music for Relief charity.  I have no idea who Beth Hart is, but she sure can sing.  This is a country-tinged blues song with a real nice groove.  It rides the mellow/rocking line… and feels like it could spill over in either direction any minute.  This track is available on the iTunes version of the album.
  • “Baby Can’t Drive” – This is apparently what happens when Slash, Alice Cooper, Nicole Scherzinger (of the Pussycat Dolls), Steven Adler (classic GN’R drummer & VH1 reality show train-wreck), and Flea all get together.  I know Alice has always been theatrical… but this seems like a Meatloaf song with all the love & sex taken out.  I can see why this wasn’t included on the album.  Flea is known for being a wild/crazy bass player… and there’s no way you can even tell it’s him here.  It’s good to see that Adler can still play drums.  You can get this on the Best Buy Exclusive, Napster, Brazillian, and “Classic Rock Slashpack” editions.

Well, that’s it track-by-track.  Hope it made you more interested in the album if you’re a Slash fan, and certainly I hope I didn’t deter anyone from listening to a track or two.  I didn’t get to mention that Josh Freese is on drums for most of this album… I think he’s the only guy that does more session work than Slash or maybe Dave Grohl.  If you have a band, check and see if Josh Freese is a member.  I bet you he is, and you just don’t know it yet.  Josh holds it down nice & solid.  Oddly enough, he was also in Guns N’ Roses for a while, and played the title track on Chinese DemocracyTeddy Andreadis was on it playing the clavient & wurlitzer too.  So that makes 6 past members of GN’R on one album, 4 of them from the classic lineup?  Can we please, someday get our shit together, guys?  Before someone dies?

Conspicuously absent were Slash’s VR band mates Matt Sorum & Dave Kushner, but maybe that’s calculated and why it’s a “solo” project… although you know Duff  had to make it in.  Also, didn’t Sebastian Bach tweet about being in the studio & on this album?  I wonder if he ever recorded a track, or if he went all “Savage Animal” in the studio?  Also… what ever happened to Gilby Clarke?  I would have thought that Nikki Sixx or Tommy Lee would have popped up here too.  I’d also like to have seen some more guitarists.. but this is Slash’s solo record, not mine.

Here’s the album trailer from Slash’s website

I’m anxious to hear if anyone agrees or disagrees with me on the song analysis… please, let me know what you think!

Nick Oliveri