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Sebastian Bach – Give ‘Em Hell [Review]

Sebastian-Bach-Give-Em-Hell

Sebastian Bach – Give ‘Em Hell
2014, Frontiers Records
Buy the album

1. “Hell Inside My Head”
2. “Harmony”
3. “All My Friends Are Dead”
4. “Temptation”
5. “Push Away”
6. “Dominator”
7. “Had Enough”
8. “Gun To A Knife Fight”
9. “Rock N’ Roll Is A Vicious Game”
10. “Taking Back Tomorrow”
11. “Disengaged”
12. “Forget You”

Musicians:
Sebastian Bach – Vocals
Devin Bronson – Guitar
Jeff George – Guitar
Steve Stevens -Guitar
John 5 – Guitar
Duff McKagan – Bass
Bob Marlette – Bass, Piano
Bobby Jarzombek – Drums
Franky Perez – Harmonica

Producer: Bob Marlette

The most recent outing from Sebastian Bach sees him recruiting a few other well-known musicians to help out. Steve Stevens, John 5 and Duff McKagan (who handled the majority of bass playing duties, I believe) all lend a hand in the recording and writing process of Give ‘Em Hell.

For the most part, this album continues down the path of modern hard rock & heavy metal that Baz has been walking on for quite some time. While Sebastian has publicly said he’d like to do a reunion with the rest of Skid Row, he isn’t spending his days as a solo act trying to recreate the vibe of his old band. Well, Skid Row was always heavier than the rest of the hair metal acts and heaviness is something Bach has retained as a solo artist but he’s not trying to put out new songs that sound like it’s still 1989.

In his mid-40s, Bach shows no sign of slowing down or softening up whether you’re talking about his approach to singing or the content of the songs themselves. Sebastian is a controversial figure at times due to his opinions but you can’t take away that he’s one of the best singers (if not THE best) of his generation. Bach is still going all out on vocals on this album and that’s a testament to his natural born abilities and training as a singer to still be able to do what he does after so many years.

As for the music itself, Give ‘Em Hell finds Sebastian doing exactly that — giving ’em hell. I don’t think this album is as melodic as his last two albums were but this is the most consistently heavy album Bach has done yet (the heaviest solo song he’s ever done would still probably be Angel Down‘s “American Metalhead”). Bobby Jarzombek is still a monster on the drums and the album is full of crunchy riffs.

There are two occasions when this album lets up: the power ballad “Had Enough” and “Rock N’ Roll is a Vicious Game” (an April Wine cover). After Bach’s last two albums delivered exception ballads, I was really looking forward to what, if any, ballads would appear here. Unfortunately, “Had Enough” falls a bit short in comparison to the likes of “I’m Alive”, “By Your Side” and “Falling Into You” but it is still a fine track. The April Wine cover is a song I’m not familiar with and given the style of the rest of the album, it sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s not bad, just odd-sounding given that the rest of the album comes across as pretty modern rock/metal.

I have a big soft spot for Angel Down (that album still holds my favorite Sebastian Bach songs) but in addition to being consistently heavy, Give ‘Em Hell may be Bach’s most consistent album from a quality standpoint.

Highlights: “Hell Inside My Head”, “Temptation”, “Push Away”, “Dominator”, “Had Enough”, “Taking Back Tomorrow”, “Disengaged”, “Forget You”

Duff McKagan’s Loaded – The Taking

Duff McKagan’s Loaded – The Taking (2011, Armoury Records)

1. “Lords of Abaddon” … 3:25
2. “Executioner’s Song” … 3:36
3. “Dead Skin” … 3:20
4. “We Win” … 4:04
5. “Easier Lying” … 4:05
6. “She’s An Anchor” … 3:22
7. “Indian Summer” … 4:22
8. “Wrecking Ball” … 3:27
9. “King of the World” … 3:24
10. “Cocaine” … 4:14
11. “Your Name” … 3:18
12. “Follow Me to Hell” … 3:39

Band:
Duff McKagan – Lead Vocals, Guitar
Mike Squires – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Jeff Rouse – Bass, Backing Vocals
Isaac Carpenter – Drums, Percussion

Producer: Terry Date

The follow up to 2009’s Sick is an improvement in my book although it is the same mix of radio rock, metal, alternative rock, punk and rock/pop. I wasn’t extremely impressed by Sick but I guess I’m at the point where I’ll support any of the core GNR members just as long as they physically get their music out there (sorry, Izzy, not messing with iTunes).

A number of songs on the album remind me of the Foo Fighters. “We Win” is certainly an anthem that could’ve been written by Grohl & Co. and it’s done well being licensed out for use by MLB and ESPN. “Indian Summer” sounds like one of FF’s more easy going moments. There are also some true metal moments like “Executioner’s Song” (something I could imagine from Death Magnetic),  But of course with Duff’s roots being in punk, those influences shine through on a songs like “Follow Me to Hell” and “King of the World”.

I’ve found myself really enjoying this album the more I’ve listened to it but personally I would love for Duff to go back to a Believe In Me/Guns ‘N Roses sound. The closest he comes to doing that is on the swaggering “Cocaine” (original song, not a cover) .

All told, The Taking is a pretty good album and in the absence of working together in some fashion I’m perfectly fine with Duff & Slash release solo material.

Highlights: “Lords of Abaddon”, “Dead Skin”, “We Win”, “Easier Lying”, “She’s An Anchor”, “Indian Summer”, “King of the World”, “Cocaine”

http://duff-loaded.com/
http://www.facebook.com/DuffLoaded

Buy ‘The Taking’ at Amazon.com!

SLASH – Slash

Slash (2010, EMI Label Services/Dik Hayd Records)

1. “Ghost” … 3:34
2. “Crucify the Dead” … 4:04
3. “Beautiful Dangerous” … 4:35
4. “Back from Cali” … 3:35
5. “Promise” … 4:41
6. “By the Sword” … 4:50
7. “Gotten” … 5:05
8. “Doctor Alibi” … 3:07
9. “Watch This Dave” … 3:46
10. “I Hold On” … 4:10
11. “Nothing to Say” … 5:27
12. “Starlight” … 5:35
13. “Saint is a Sinner Too” … 3:28
14. “We’re All Gonna Die” … 4:30

Musicians:
Slash – Guitar
Duff McKagan – Bass (Track 9)
Lemmy Kilmister – Vocals, Bass (Track 8 )
Chris Chaney – Bass (Tracks 1-8, 10-14)
Dave Grohl – Drums (Track 9)
Josh Freese – Drums (Tracks 1-8, 10, 11, 13, 14)
Leonard Castro – Percussion (Tracks 1, 3-7, 10, 14)
Izzy Stradlin – Guitar (Track 1)
Eric Valentine – Piano, Keyboards
Ian Astbury – Vocals (Track 1)
Ozzy Osbourne – Vocals (Track 2)
Fergie – Vocals (Track 3)
Myles Kennedy – Vocals (Tracks 4 & 12)
Chris Cornell – Vocals (Track 5)
Andrew Stockdale – Vocals (Track 6)
Adam Levine – Vocals (Track 7)
Kid Rock – Vocals (Track 10)
M. Shadows – Vocals (Track 11)
Rocco DeLuca – Vocals (Track 12)
Iggy Pop – Vocals (Track 13)

Producer: Eric Valentine

Well, it’s finally here: “Slash & Friends” (the original working title for this project). The few reviews I’ve read are mixed. Some “fans” were crying out that it sucked and Slash had sold-out before it was even released and now that it has been released typically those same “fans” are still saying it sucks and Slash is a sell out. Then you have Classic Rock magazine, who has claimed it’s the first great rock album of the decade. This might sound like mighty fine praise to some but given that the album was released in April 2010 the statement seems less impressive and sounds more like hyperbole to help promote an album they have a vested interest in (the album was a free UK-exclusive gift with a special Slash-themed issue of Classic Rock).

For my money ($7.99 + free shipping from BestBuy.com!), this is indeed a great album and I don’t really get the “sell out” criticisms. Why is he a sell out? Because a GIRL sings on this album? Fergie has a great voice for rock ‘n’ roll and she proves it on “Beautiful Dangerous”. If anything, I can see maybe cries of selling out coming from Maroon 5’s Adam Levine singing “Gotten”. It’s a decent song but if I didn’t know better, I’d say it was a Maroon 5 song. Not much rock to it at all other than the solo. Then again, Slash has always flirted with pop stars. He’s a guy that doesn’t like to pigeon hole himself and goes to play with whoever wherever he thinks he’ll have fun. Nothing wrong with that. He’s not a sellout, he’s just not close-minded.

For the most part, it seems like every song was written with that song’s particular singer in mind. I know Slash already had ideas for songs before enlisting the troops but I’m also sure the songs were tailored to suit the vocalists. “Ghost” sounds like The Cult, “Crucify the Dead” sounds like the best Ozzy song in the last decade at least, “Promise” sounds like something Chris Cornell would have done in Audioslave, “Nothing to Say” could have been on Avenged Sevenfold’s last album and so on and so on. In a way, this is somewhat disappointing for those that were looking forward to a bluesier guitar hero effort or for something similar to Guns N’ Roses from Slash. There is NOTHING here that brings to mind anything GNR has done. I’m okay with that but maybe some backlash stems from people wanting Slash to have delivered something more akin to the original GNR since Axl has moved the hired Guns into heavier more industrial terrain.

Slash claims this is a rock album and for the most part he’s right but songs like “Gotten” and “Saint is a Sinner Too” are pure pop that I can’t imagine Slash would be playing without the chosen vocalists. I was worried myself when I saw the guest list for this album. The participants just seem so over the place I thought it would all be a big mess. Definitely not the case and there’s a surprisingly low amount of filler with the two Myles Kennedy songs “Back from Cali” and “Starlight” being the only ones that really fall short with me. Kennedy is from the band Alter Bridge and he’s the only singer that has two songs and I’m sure it’s because he’s the singer for Slash’s touring band while promoting this album.

Everything else is decent at the very least while “Nothing to Say” featuring Avenged Sevenfold’s M. Shadows and the album’s lead “By the Sword” featuring Wolfmother’s Andrew Stockdale are my favorites. “By the Sword” has a cool Led Zeppelin/Pink Floyd classic hard rock sound to it.

Despite Slash’s insistence that this is a rock album, there’s a bit of genre jumping and he dips his feet (fret?) into the pop realm but it’s only done so in order to fit the singers. Even though this is a self-titled affair, Slash really isn’t the star here. There’s some good solos on this disc but this album isn’t built around them. It’s all about the songs as a whole and Slash (and friends) has delivered a very satisfying release that is much better than anything he did the first time he went “solo” with Slash’s Snakepit.

I do have two disappointments though: Dave Grohl drums on the album but does not sing (he apparently has a thing against singing on other peoples’ albums) and the U.S. version of this album does not feature “Baby Can’t Drive” featuring Alice Cooper and The Pussycat Dolls’ Nicole Scherzinger. It’s a pretty cool song so what gives ?!

Highlights: “Ghost”, “Crucify the Dead”, “Beautiful Dangerous”, “By the Sword”, “Watch This Dave”, “Nothing to Say”

http://www.slashonline.com/
http://www.myspace.com/slash

Buy it at Amazon.com
Buy it at CD Universe

VELVET REVOLVER – Libertad

Velvet Revolver – Libertad (2007, RCA Records)

1. “Let It Roll” … 2:32
2. “She Mine” … 3:25
3. “Get Out the Door” … 3:14
4. “She Builds Quick Machines” … 4:04
5. “The Last Fight” … 4:03
6. “Pills, Demons & Etc.” … 2:54
7. “American Man” … 3:56
8. “Mary Mary” … 4:33
9. “Just Sixteen” … 3:59
10. “Can’t Get It Out of My Head” … 3:58
11. “For a Brother” … 3:26
12. “Spay” … 3:06
13. “Gravedancer” … 8:42

Band:
Scott Weiland- Vocals, Keyboards
Slash – Guitar
Dave Kushner – Guitar
Duff McKagan – Bass, Backing Vocals
Matt Sorum – Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals

Produced by: Brendan O’Brien

The second (and final) Scott Weiland-fronted VR album sounds a lot like his old band Stone Temple Pilots. The band seems to have traded some of the heaviness of Contraband for a bit more melody that showcases Weiland’s voice much better with its diversity. This isn’t surprising though with longtime STP producer Brendan O’Brien producing this record.

The album didn’t fare as well as their debut, as of this writing it hasn’t even gone gold (their debut was 2x platinum), but it’s just as strong. It took some time for Contraband to grow on me, but I immediately loved this album for it’s similarities to STP (“She Builds Quick Machines”, “Pills, Demons & Etc.” and “American Man” sound like they would’ve fit on No. 4). I was surprised and disappointed this album didn’t catch on despite debuting at #5 on Billboard and that Weiland left the band less than a year after this release. I know drugs played a part in that, but I’m sure if the album had been more successful, the group would’ve been more determined to work things out.

There is a hidden song on Track 13. It starts at about 4:43 and is called “Don’t Drop That Dime”.

This is one of only two albums Weiland claims to have recorded sober (STP’s Core being the first).

Highlights: “Let It Roll”, “She Builds Quick Machines”, “The Last Fight”, “Pills, Demons & Etc.”, “American Man”, “Mary Mary”, “For a Brother”

www.velvetrevolver.com
www.myspace.com/velvetrevolver

GUNS N’ ROSES – The Spaghetti Incident?

Guns N’ Roses – The Spaghetti Incident? (1993, Geffen Records)

1. “Since I Don’t Have You” [The Skyliners] … 4:18
2. “New Rose” [The Damned] … 2:38
3. “Down on the Farm” [U.K. Subs] … 3:28
4. “Human Being” [New York Dolls] … 6:48
5. “Raw Power” [The Stooges] … 3:11
6. “Ain’t it Fun” [The Dead Boys] … 5:05
7. “Buick Makane/Big Dumb Sex” [T. Rex/Soundgarden] … 2:39
8. “Hair of the Dog” [Nazareth] … 3:54
9. “Attitude” [The Misfits] … 1:26
10. “Black Leather” [The Professionals] … 4:08
11. “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory” [Johnny Thunders] … 3:35
12. “I Don’t Care About You” [Fear] … 2:17
13. “Look at Your Game, Girl” [Charles Manson] … 2:34

Band:
Axl Rose – Lead Vocals, Keyboard, Kazoo
Slash – Guitar, Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals
Duff McKagan – Bass, Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals, Guitar, Drums
Gilby Clarke – Guitar
Matt Sorum – Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals
Dizzy Reed – Piano, Keyboard, Backing Vocals, Percussion

Additional Musicians:
Michael Monroe – Lead Vocals
Carlos Booy – Guitar
Mike Staggs – Guitar
Richard Duguay – Guitar
Mike Fasano – Percussion
Eddie Huletz, Stu Bailey, Eric Mills, Rikki Ratchman, Blake Stanton – Backing Vocals

Produced by: Guns N’ Roses, Mike Clink, Jim Mitchell

The last album that the so-called “real” Guns N’ Roses would ever record together was a album of covers and thus, in my opinion, a bit of a downer due to the odd collection of songs. It was meant as a placeholder (much like GN’R Lies) to keep the fans satisfied until the next original studio album arrived. Of course, that album, Chinese Democracy, arrived FIFTEEN YEARS later with only Axl & Dizzy making the trip.

There’s a strong punk influence on the album (I bet Duff was in heaven), but punk rock has never really been a favorite genre of mine. The real standout is the album’s opener, The Skyliners’ “Since I Don’t Have You”, which itself was kind of an odd choice for an cover album made up of mostly punk bands (and Charles Manson).

The parallels to GN’R Lies continue as Axl made sure to put another controversial track on the record (although it is unlisted on the album’s track listing) — “Look at Your Game, Girl”. It was written by Charles Manson. Supposedly, the rest of the band protested, but as usual, they folded to the demands of Axl who insisted this song be included. The only GNR members to perform on the track were Axl & Dizzy. Surprise surprise!

Anyway, this album is more of a curiosity than anything essential. Sad note for the old school GNR to end on.

Highlights: “Since I Don’t Have You”, “Ain’t It Fun”, “Hair of the Dog”, “Attitude”, “I Don’t Care About You”

www.gunsnroses.com
www.myspace.com/gunsnroses

VELVET REVOLVER – Contraband

Velvet Revolver – Contraband (2004, RCA Records)

1. “Sucker Train Blues” … 4:28
2. “Do It for the Kids” … 3:56
3. “Big Machine” … 4:26
4. “Illegal i Song” … 4:18
5. “Spectacle” … 3:42
6. “Fall to Pieces” … 4:35
7. “Headspace” … 3:43
8. “Superhuman” … 4:16
9. “Set Me Free” … 4:08
10. “You Got No Right” … 5:35
11. “Slither” … 4:08
12. “Dirty Little Thing” … 3:58
13. “Loving the Alien” … 5:49

Band:
Scott Weiland – Vocals
Slash – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Dave Kushner – Guitar
Duff McKagan – Bass, Backing Vocals
Matt Sorum – Drums, Backing Vocals

Additional Musicians:
Douglas Grean – Keyboard

Produced by: Velvet Revolver, Josh Abraham, Douglas Grean, Nick Raskulinecz

I was slightly disappointed when this album came out, which I’m sure stemmed from my extremely high expectations. 3/5 of Guns ‘N Roses (Slash, Duff, Matt) + Stone Temple Pilots (my favorite alternative band) singer Scott Weiland sounded like it could’ve been one of the best hard rock releases of the decade.

I don’t quite think the album is that good, but it’s certainly a well-done release with very little filler and it was nice to hear songs like “Slither”, “Set Me Free” and “Fall to Pieces” on the radio besides the usual nu-metal/post-grunge garbage. If you’re looking for something as ferocious as Appetite for Destruction or any of the blues-influenced GNR hard rock, you’re not gonna find it here (though I suppose “Slither” comes close). If anything, Contraband is a mix of modern alternative rock and the melodies of Stone Temple Pilots (“Loving the Alien” could’ve easily been on a STP album). It’s an album well worth exploring.

The album was released with three different color sleeves: red, white and black. I picked up the black version.

Highlight: “Sucker Train Blues”, “Do It for the Kids”, “Big Machine”, “Illegal i Song”, “Fall to Pieces”, “Set Me Free”, “You Got No Right”, “Slither”, “Dirty Little Thing”, “Loving the Alien”

www.velvetrevolver.com
www.myspace.com/velvetrevolver

DUFF McKAGAN’S LOADED – Sick

Duff McKagan’s Loaded – Sick (2009, Century Media Records)

1. Sick
2. Sleaze Factory
3. Flatline
4. IOU
5. The Slide
6. Translucent
7. Mother’s Day
8. I See Through You
9. Forgive Me
10. No Shame
11. Wasted Heart
12. No More

Band:
Duff McKagan – Vocals, Guitar
Mike Squires – Buitar
Jeff Rouse – Bass
Geoff Reading – Drums, Backing vocals

Produced by: Martin Feveyear

This is a solid outing from Duff’s side project Loaded (though I think the official name is now Duff McKagan’s Loaded). I like “Sleaze Factory” and “Flatline” a lot, both of which seem like they would play well on radio.

There’s a mix of everything here. Duff let’s his punk side shine through a bit with songs like “The Stride” and “No More” (which actually is a bit punk pop) and he also enters Velvet Revolver territory with “I See Through You” & “Forgive Me” and then goes back to his GNR days with bluesy numbers like “Wasted Heart” and “No Shame”. My biggest gripe is “Mother’s Day”. It’s a very slow, cheesy song that I can imagine hearing during some “reflective” scene of some teen drama on The CW and it disrupts the flow of the album.

I think the album could’ve been stronger if Duff really focused on one style of rock instead of doing a bit VR, a bit GNR, a bit punk, a bit modern hard rock, a bit rock/pop, etc. I guess I can’t totally know it thoubgh, because in a way, it’s refreshing. The album is definitely “good”, but I just think it could’ve been better. I would’ve loved to have heard something closer to his 1993 solo release Believe In Me.

Still, there’s tons to be found here worth listening to over and over again.

Highlights: “Sick”, “Sleaze Factory”, “Flatline”, “IOU”, “The Stride”, “I See Through You”, “Forgive Me”, “No Shame”, “Blind Date Girl”

www.duff-loaded.com
www.myspace.com/loaded
www.youtube.com/loadedlamf

Trimming The Fat: GNR’s Use Your Illusion I & II

In an attempt to add content to this blog besides reviews, I’ve come up with a new feature. The premise? I take a double album, double release, etc., cut out the filler and present it as one wholesome, satisfying release. Welcome to the inaugural edition of…

TRIMMING THE FAT

Guns N’ RosesUse Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II are both very good releases, but were mired in filler. This is to be expected when you release 30 songs at once though.

Read the rest of this entry

DUFF MCKAGAN – Believe In Me

Duff McKagan – Believe In Me (1993, Geffen Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Believe in Me” … 3:23
2. “I Love You” … 4:14
3. “Man in the Meadow” … 4:50
4. “(Fucked up) Beyond Belief” … 3:29
5. “Could It Be You” … 3:08
6. “Just Not There” … 3:34
7. “Punk Rock Song” … 1:37
8. “The Majority” … 3:10
9. “10 Years” … 4:29
10. “Swamp Song” … 3:04
11. “Trouble” … 3:12
12. “Fuck You” … 3:24
13. “Lonely Tonite” … 3:03

Band:
Duff McKagan – Vocals, Background Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Synthesizer, Piano, Drums

Additional Musicians (*deep breath*):
Billy Nasty – Harmony Vocals
Bobbie Brown-Lane – Background Vocals on “Believe In Me”
Dizzy Reed – Background Vocals, Piano, Farfisa Organ
Doc – Vocals on “Fuck You”
Gilby Clarke – Background Vocals, Guitar on “10 Years”
Jeff Beck – Guitar on “Swamp Song” and “(Fucked Up) Beyond Belief”
Joie Mastrokolos – Background Vocals on “Swamp Song” and “Fuck You”
Lenny Kravitz – Vocals on “The Majority”
Matt Sorum – Drums on “(Fucked Up) Beyond Belief”
Rob Affuso – Drums on “Fuck You”
Sebastian Bach – Vocals on “Trouble”
Slam – Background Vocals on “Trouble”
Slash – Guitar on “Believe In Me” and “Just Not There”
Snake – Guitar on “Lonely Tonite” and “Trouble”
Suicide Horns – Horns on “Lonely Tonite”
Ted Andreadis – Organ, Clavinet
West Arkeen – Guitar on “Fuck You”, “Man in the Meadow” and “Swamp Song”

Produced by: Duff McKagan & Jim Mitchell

Whenever there was some GNR downtime, Duff would hop into whatever studio was available to write and record his own stuff. Believe In Me is the result of those spare time sessions and it’s a great album. I found it really cheap about 10 years ago in the used section of the ridiculousy overpriced Turtles Music (probably why that chain isn’t around anymore) and have cherished it ever since.

GNR turned in the weird The Spaghetti Incident? cover album in ’93, but Duff turned in something that same year that is pretty close to something of a Use Your Illusion III. Minus the epic and grandiose songs of Axl, this is pretty much a GNR sounding album circa early 90s. All the then-current Gunners performed on the album (except Axl, of course) and a few other high profile artists helped out as well like Jeff Beck, Lenny Kravitz, and Skid Row’s Sebastian Bach and Rob Affuso. Heck, even Jani Lane’s girl made a guest appearance!

Lenny Kravitz particuarly does a great job on “The Majority”. Just listen to his opening “YEEEEAAAH!!!!” and tell me that’s not awesome. Sebastian Bach brings it as well when he channels Axl on “Trouble”. I even like the rap-rock song “Fuck You” with rapper Doc “from the Mob”, whoever that is. But the rest is all Duff, bringing that his punk style of singing over GNR quality tunes.

A definite must for GNR fans as it doesn’t stray too far from that tree.

Highlights: “Believe in Me”, “(Fucked Up) Beyond Belief”, “Could It Be You”, “Just Not There”, “The Majority”, “Swamp Song”, “Trouble”, “Fuck You”, “Lonely Tonite”

Duff has no personal site or MySpace that I could find (looks like there’s a few dummy MySpace accounts though), so I recommend these sites to see what he’s up to these days in Velvet Revolver and his side project, Loaded:

www.velvetrevolver.com
www.myspace.com/velvetrevolver
www.duff-loaded.com
www.myspace.com/loadedlamf

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