I’ll admit, I didn’t even know Slash released an album last week until I received a text from a friend about his signing at Amoeba in Hollywood. Intrigued (albeit mildly), I looked it up and realized the album was already out. I tracked it down, and began listening, not expecting a whole lot, honestly.
Truth be told, the album is pretty good. It’s the equivalent of what I would expect to happen if Slash had a BBQ party at his house and all his superstar celebrity rock musicians (and Fergie) came over to hang and jam on some tunes. Since Slash isn’t a singer, he gets by with a little help from his friends: Ian Astbury, Ozzy Osbourne, Fergie, Chris Cornell, Andrew Stockdale of Wolfmother, Adam Levine of Maroon 5, Lemmy from Motorhead, Dave Grohl (yes!), Kid Rock, Rocco DeLuca, M. Shadows, and Iggy Pop, as well as Duff McKagan, Izzy Stradlin, and Steven Adler, the rest of the real Guns N Roses. I guess Axl was too busy getting in fights in airports and hiding out in Europe to lend a hand. Oh, darn.
Of course, since this is Slash’s album, guitar solos and fancy flourishes abound, starting out with Ghost, featuring The Cult’s Ian Astbury on vocals. The next track, Crucify the Dead, with Ozzy, is alright but wasn’t one of my highlights from the record. Ozzy sounds really old, and while the melody is nice (and features background vocals by Taylor Hawkins of the Foo Fighters), the song is a little bit too meh. Slash’s guitar passages are pretty slick, though.
I expected to hate the next track, Beautiful Dangerous, since Fergie is on vocals, and she has a knack for annoying me with pretty much everything she does. Somehow, someway, though, she works well with the song, adopting a snotty and pretty brash “rap” style that explodes into an arena-rock chorus that almost sounds a bit like Axl Rose territory, which is amusing for obvious reasons. It’s a big, soaring, sweeping chorus, and it’s one of the more memorable moments on the album.
Most of the album works in the way that it’s a big rock and roll party meant to be fun. Promise, with Chris Cornell, is a solid exercise in Cornell’s signature vocal style and some less flashy but still enjoyable Slash-ness on guitar. By the Sword, with Andrew Stockdale of Wolfmother, sounds a bit bluesy and soulful, which is a nice touch. He does his Wolfmother-y vocals, and while it’s one of the more subdued tracks on the record it’s not bad.
Doctor Alibi, with Lemmy doing the singing, is a gritty, fast-paced romp kicked off with another signature powerful solo from Slash. Lemmy’s customary abrasive voice suits the song, an equally dirty and riff-heavy cut.
Watch This, with Dave Grohl on drums and Duff McKagan on bass, is an ominous instrumental jam that really demonstrates the talent of these three dudes – Dave annihilates the drum kit as usual, McKagan’s bass is top-notch, and Slash’s guitar solos are, well, Slash guitar solos. Which is to say, great.
I Hold On, with Kid Rock, sounds like the soulful, almost country-rock folk stuff that Rock has used to stay relevant for the past few years. Nothing to Say, with Avenged Sevenfold’s M. Shadows, is just as butt-rock as you’d expect, with Shadows delivering his snarly, whiny voice. Still, the song sounds pretty good, and has a crunchy driving rhythm and chugging guitars that would be pretty challenging on Guitar Hero/Rock Band (if those are still popular games).
In fact, the entire album sounds perfectly suited for Guitar Hero, which wouldn’t be surprising considering Slash’s involvement in the game a few years ago.
I was surprised at the quality of this record – sure, it’s little more than a rock star exercise in excess, personified in the glitzy star quality involved in the songs, but it’s a fun record that I can tell they all had a great time making. This is basically a big huge super group of rock legends (and Fergie and Adam Levine) coming together to make an All-Star record.
Slash can definitely still rock, and it’s on display full-force on this record.
Besides, it’s a hell of a lot better than Chinese Democracy.