Tag Archives: Guns n’ Roses

Slash – SLASH – 2010

Every once in a while, a band comes along and manages to restore our faith in good ol’ rock n’ roll. Too much prog? Try The Ramones. Too much punk? Try thrash. Too much Limp Bizkit? Err, try suicide. After an entire decade of bands made of 50% hair and 50% hairspray, the world needed a change. Guns n’ Roses were ones to deliver everyone from them, and Slash was their patron deity. Sure, they borrowed a bit from the hair era, but it was, you know, so much better. Much has been written about Slash’s paradigm defining look and playing- the hard drinking, near death experience ridden, drug-addled guitar hero-in-a-top-hat image has endured, and the new GnR will always be incomplete for that reason.

Thankfully, Slash moved on, and formed the very vital Velvet Revolver with Duff McKagan and bulimic-cadaver-turned-rock-singer Scott Weiland. Now, freed of the bonds of band membership, he’s turned to making the solo record he always was meant to make. Initially, it was lamely titled “Slash and Friends”, but it’s since been shortened to just ‘Slash’. Whew.

Aah, Fergie

So how does it stack up? ‘Ghost’ kicks off, with the standard guitar-soaked hard rock fare, that displays Slash’s still tasteful touch on the instrument. Excellent solo, but then what else is new? One of the notable things about this album is the huge number of guest stars, which is a good and a bad thing. It’s good, ‘cause it adds a lot of variety. It’s also bad, ‘cause I think Slash missed a trick here. Doing Motorhead-like-songs with Lemmy, and Iggy Pop like songs with Iggy “We’re All Gonna Die” (which is nonetheless very memorable) and Ozzy like tracks with Ozzy (“Crucify the Dead”), is kind of limiting. I would’ve been very pleasantly surprised if some of them had been taken out of their comfort zone and made to do something new in the service of Slash’s songs rather than the other way around. That’s why Fergie comes out so well. Aah, Fergie. She’s the surprise of the album, on ‘Beatiful Dangerous’. She gives an extremely sultry performance, with the half-rapped verses being genuinely powerful. This is the album’s song to fuck to. And Slash caps it all off with a great solo. Why isn’t she in a rock band?

Some of the songs veer on unimaginative, and a star cast of the best singers/bass players Slash can muster doesn’t necessarily save them. The guitar solo and the change in tone save ‘Promise’, but the rest of the song is fairly B-side-ish, and Chris Cornell does not save it. Same is the case with ‘Gotten’, which I feel should’ve been done by the much ballsier Fergie than Adam Levine, who seems out of his depth. The album’s biggest disappointment has to be ‘Doctor Alibi’, which completely ruins (RUINS!) Lemmy’s legendary voice by having him mouth juvenile lyrics. “You’ve got some real bad habits/ You’d better stop right quick”. Seriously? Thankfully, things quickly improve on the instrumental track “Watch This”, which features Duff McKagan and Dave Grohl and is full of twisted solos. It sounds like Jeff Beck and Velvet Revolver jumping into a vat of molten lava. There are some incredibly meaty riffs and some truly excellent soloing worth listening to over and over again.

As you might have noticed by now, I think this album is a bit of a mixed bag. There are a few great songs here, if you look deep enough, and Slash has clearly been playing guitar during his off days. And the Fergie song is understandably the lead single. It bloody rocks. At times however, it sounds like GnR 2.0, and at other times it sounds like Slash guesting on his guests’ records rather than the other way around. In the end, a mixed bag. This sounds somewhat right.

-El Bajista

Blackfield II – BLACKFIELD – 2007

Right. My second Blackfield album in two days rounds off their discography. This one is substantially different from the first album, in that it doesn’t sound as much like a bunch of Porcupine Tree outtakes. This is primarily because Aviv Geffen finally woke up and decided it was time to contribute.

More tea, Vicar?

One thing I’ve noticed about Blackfield is that they take garden variety chord-changes and keep them fresh, constantly fiddling about with arrangements, instruments etc. That’s just as well, because this second album is more ‘commercial’ sounding that Blackfield I. Think Third Eye Blind-ish guitars and Radiohead-like arrangements. Don’t take this as a criticism, just as an aesthetic chosen by the artists. There is notably lesser use of acoustic guitars (particularly the scratching sound made on the strings when strumming), and more electric guitars.
It was not until ‘Miss U’ that I first noticed that the song was being sung with an accent. I realized that this was the first time I was able to distinguish between the Wilson and Geffen!! The voices of Steven Wilson and Aviv Geffen (yes, he has the same name as Guns’ n’ Roses’ label) are VERY similar. Too similar, according to me. But the accent is welcome, as is Geffen’s greater role in this release, with ‘Miss U’ and ‘Where is my Love’ being standouts.
Compared to the music in the first album, this one is notably less ‘dramatic’ sounding, lacking the motifs that regularly punctuated the first album. This one focuses on smoother and less choppy arrangement. Again, this isn’t a criticism of either album, just an aesthetic. Its evidence of Blackfield wanting to move away from the heavy stylings of Porcupine Tree during its Fear of a Blank Planet era. In fact the distortion guitars are all but absent. Me? I much prefer the first album already.
What I have by way of a general criticism of Blackfield in general and Steven Wilson’s music in general: Its all wonderfully produced and all, but I miss music that is more ‘raw’ and less produced. And less gloomy. By means of further criticism, there are too many mid-tempo songs here.
It’s a good album, but the strings and pianos become hackneyed halfway through, and are not terribly innovative. Yes, that’s it. This album lacks innovation. Compared to the first Blackfield album, I find a curious dearth of attention grabbing innovation here. This is supposed to have proper ‘songs’ and not drone/ambient music. So some motifs are needed. On the other hand, while the first album had the necessary pluck, it had too much of Porcupine Tree in it. A frankenstien of these two albums, I think, would be great. That’s not happening, sadly, so I’ll have to say I prefer the first album. Though quite uninspiring, this generally sounds right.

- El Bajista

You want more of this BLACKFIELD doohickey? Go HERE.



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