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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

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.

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Axl Speaks to Billboard

http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/feature/the-billboard-q-a-axl-rose-1003939032.story?pn=1

NOW he decides to talk? Nearly three months after the release of Chinese Democracy? Where were all these fan site & Billboard chats before the release to, y’know, actually PROMOTE it? Where was ‘Axl Rose: The Rolling Stone Interview’?

Oh well. At least he’s getting out there in the press, but he sure has a funny way of promoting an album. Perhaps sometime within the next three months he’ll announce a tour for 2010.

Looking forward to in 2009…

2008 gave us tons of great rock/metal albums, but we gotta keep movin’ on! Here’s the bands I’m looking forward to most, who are slated to have new albums released:

KISS – THE most looked forward to release for ’09 for me. With Paul producing, promises of a 1970s KISS vibe, and Tommy & Eric in the studio, I have no doubt this album will deliver.

Megadeth – My 2nd most anticipated release. United Abominations was a slight step down from The System Has Failed, but still high quality. I know Dave is going to get it done again.

Heaven And Hell – Dio-era Black Sabbath. ‘Nuff said! Can’t wait to hear what these guys have cooked up.

Iron Maiden – Bruce Dickinson says something new will pop up…

Anthrax – While I wish John (or even Joey) was still in the band, I’m looking forward to the release of Worship Music.

Bon Jovi –  Another greatest hits is in the works for ’09 and Jon & Richie are reportedly working on new material for the next studio album. Richie has stated they’ll be moving away from the country sounds of Lost Highway, which is great news to me. I suppose the hits comp will be the only Bon Jovi release of 2009, but hopefully, the greatest hits record will give us a taste of their next musical step with a new song or two. Despite the recent disappointments, Bon Jovi is a band I’ll always give a chance to win me back.

Ace Frehley – Tentatively planned to be released in Spring 2008, there’s been little word from Ace about his latest solo effort since that season has come and gone. Some song ideas reportedly go back to the early-90s. Is this Ace’s Chinese Democracy? Hey, I hear KISS is putting out a new album in 2009, what better time than Ace to get a bit of that spotlight and release his own album? KISS tour with Ace as the supporting act, anyone?

Hot Leg – The new band from Justin Hawkins, the former frontman for The Darkness, is due for a release in January. From what they’ve released online, it sounds just as silly as The Darkness was and I’m okay with that.

Slash – A new Velvet Revolver album seems unlikely (at least for 2009), but I’m really curious as to what Slash has got in his top hat for a solo release.

Who else?

The Top 10 Albums of 2008 (#1-5)

Before we get on with the conclusion of the Top 10 (#6-10 found can be found here), let me first say that outside of the #1 spot, there were no clear cut rankings. I spent the last month listening to each and every 2008 release once a day in order to accurately judge where they should be ranked.

Okay, not really, but it was pretty tough deciding who went where, especially when getting down to the cream of the crop…

1. Guns ‘N Roses – Chinese Democracy

Well, this was a no-brainer for me. Is it bloated? Full of ego? Overproduced? Sure. But through all of that, there’s no filler. Regardless of who the public thinks should be a member of GNR and what GNR should sound like, this is a great hard rock album. The fact that I spent the last 7 years listening to most of these tracks (in some form or another) and still play this almost every day in my car to and from work just goes to show how powerful the whole album is. It’s completely epic, UYI sessions to the extreme and I love it.

2. Edguy – Tinnitus Sanctus

Edguy came late in the year and vaulted over everyone to earn the No. 2 spot in my eyes. I’m a big fan of Edguy’s change in style and Tinnitus Sanctus continued the hard rock catchiness and huge choruses found on Rocket Ride.

3. Whitesnake – Good to Be Bad

After hearing the new tracks from Whitesnake’s Live: In the Shadow of the Blues, I knew David was going to give the world a great hard rock album… and he did! This is quite possibly Whitesnake’s best release, it stays true to the Whitesnake sound, and I’m still playing it these days. The band is powerful and so is David’s voice. Just a shame Whitesnake doesn’t carry as much cloat as a band like AC/DC because Good to Be Bad definitely deserved a wider audience.

4. Metallica – Death Magnetic

Funny thing is, this album may have ranked higher had it played in my car, where I tend to do most of my music listening (it’s a 20 minute drive to work at the least, depending on traffic). For some reason, it skips in my car’s CD player, so I was restricted to listening to it in the home, where I’m often distracted. Great album though. I’m still not sure where I’d rank it in the band’s catalog, but easily their best since the Black Album and possibly even better. Metallica just can’t win with fans these days though, because I’ve seen some serious trashing on this album as well.

5. AC/DC – Black Ice

Well, they did it! One of the most successful releases of the year and AC/DC definitely earned it with Black Ice. AC/DC is a great band, but I had grown tired of them quite some time ago. This album pulled me back in.

Now that we’ve talked about the best…

Most Disappointing Releases of 2008

Def Leppard – Nine Lives

I’m okay with Def Leppard abandoning the “Def Leppard sound” for the most part, but I just can’t get behind this album. 1970s glam cover album YEAH! was definitely an influence here, but it didn’t influence them to rock. “Nine Lives” was a great Leppard-esque rocker, but the rest was a huge letdown.

Alice Cooper – Along Came a Spider

Not bad, but definitely one of Alice’s least impressive albums. There’s just nothing special about it. Just to show how little of an impact it made on me, I only remembered it after posting this article! Again, my gripe was that it just didn’t rock out enough.

Don’t forget to check out what these great sites thought of this year’s releases…

All Metal Resource
Bring Back Glam
Hard Rock Hideout
Hair Metal Mansion
Heavy Metal Addiction
Heavy Metal Time Machine
Imagine Echoes
Layla’s Classic Rock
The Metal Minute
The Ripple Effect
Rock And Roll and Meandering Nonsense
Rock Of Ages

SLASH’S SNAKEPIT – Ain’t Life Grand

Slash’s Snakepit – Ain’t Life Grand (2000, Koch Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Been There Lately” … 4:28
2. “Just Like Anything” … 4:23
3.  “Shine” … 5:21
4.  “Mean Bone” … 4:40
5.  “Back to the Moment” … 5:33
6.  “Life’s Sweet Drug” … 3:53
7.  “Serial Killer” … 6:19
8.  “The Truth” … 5:17
9.  “Landslide” … 5:30
10.  “Ain’t Life Grand” … 4:54
11.  “Speed Parade” … 3:52
12.  “The Alien” … 4:27

Band:
Rod Jackson – Vocals
Slash – Guitar
Ryan Roxie – Guitar
Johnny Griparic – Bass
Matt Laug – Drums

Additional Musicians:
Teddy Andreadis – Keyboard, Harp
Jimmy Zavala – Sax, Harmonica
Lee Thornburg – Trumpet
Jack Douglas – Sitar

Produced by: Jack Douglas

A decent effort full of solid blues rock and Rod Jackson is a great vocalist, but the album on a whole is fairly forgettable. This album lacks bite and doesn’t come close at all to the danger and anger of GNR, but then, this was just Slash wanting to have fun and killing time until something else came along anyway.

Slash’s Snakepit was okay, but definitely no GNR and not even Velvet Revolver. Surprisingly, Slash’s own talents, in his own band, seem to be downplayed. That only hurts this album.

Highlights: “Been There Lately”, “Shine”, “Mean Bone”, “Back to the Moment”, “Serial Killer”

www.slashsworld.com

Metal Excess News Desk #3

Chinese Democracy unleashed upon the world and debuts at #3 on Billboard, world calls it a complete failure! Axl still in hiding, label angry!

So the numbers finally came out for GNR’s Chinese Democracy… 261,000 copies putting it at #3 behind Taylor Swift (#2 with 267,000 copies sold) and Kanye West, the week’s other big release, who came in at #1 with 450,000 copies sold.

People are blasting this #3 debut as if it’s the end of the world because they didn’t get #1. #1 would’ve been great, but for a group that hasn’t released a studio album of new material since 1991, and seeing as how this is essentially The Axl Rose Band now, the #3 spot and 261,000 copies is exceptional, as far as I’m concerned for a group that has had virtually zero precence in the mainstream since the early 90s and it considered by some to be an “80s hair band”. 261,000 copies + praise from highly respected industry critics = good enough for me. What, were people expecting this album to ship diamond to make up for that $13 million+ that has been sunk into this album? Even if this was a hugely anticipated album: perspective, people…

By the way, Axl has been incommunicado with the label pretty much since handing the album in, so it’s been said. Universal/Interscope/Geffen/whatever execs are miffed about Axl’s disappearance and lack of promoting the album. Yes, I’ll agree with that, he should be out there promoting this. But knowing Axl (which I don’t), I think he’s probably just sitting up there in his mansion reading every word people are saying about the album and taking that into account for the band’s next move (which I hope is to tour). After the world waiting 17 for new original material, I think he decided it would be best to let the music talk for him. He’s never been a fan of the press anyway.
Now, as much as Axl is to blame for not helping to promote this album, I have to point a finger at Best Buy as well. Where were the commercials for Chinese Democracy? Where were the huge in-store banners and special sections of GNR merchandise & albums? There weren’t any. Not at my local store, at least. I go to Best Buy frequently, and you wouldn’t have known the album was even coming out if you weren’t on top of the situation already. There was NOTHING there to let you know “HEY! GNR is BACK!!! And it’s EXCLUSIVE RIGHT HERE at BEST BUY!!!!”
I picked my copy up the day it was released. I came in about an hour and half AFTER the store had already opened and they were just then starting to put up a (small) cardboard stand to put GNR’s albums (including the new one) on. I mean, I know Best Buy isn’t Wal-Mart, but should have at least *tried* to follow the extremely successful formula that Wal-Mart used for AC/DC’s Black Ice.

Eleven Seven Music rock label performing well thanks to Motley Crue, SIXX: A.M. and Buckcherry

Blabbermouth

Eleven Seven Music, the independent rock label, dominates the iTunes Critics Picks for 2008. BUCKCHERRY’s “Black Butterfly” is named the Best Rock Album of 2008, MÖTLEY CRÜE’s “Saints of Los Angeles” is the top rock song, SIXX: A.M. is named a Best New Rock Artist of the Year and SIXX: A.M., BUCKCHERRY and MÖTLEY CRÜE top the sales chart. Eleven Seven Music’s releases comprise 25% of the Top 20 Best Rock Songs as selected by iTunes’ Editorial Board with MÖTLEY CRÜE’s “Saints of Los Angeles” at #1, BUCKCHERRY’s “Too Drunk…” at #2 and their “Rescue Me” at #8, SIXX: A.M.’s “Life Is Beautiful” at #10 and TRAPT’s “Who’s Going Home With You Tonight” at #17. iTunes Best of 2008 can be seen in its entirely at this location (you may have to re-enter link address once iTunes opens).

Eleven Seven Music is among the best-performing rock labels, taking hold on a good portion of the rock charts since its inception in January 2006. With the recent #1 independent release from MÖTLEY CRÜE (the label scored the #2 position last year with SIXX: A.M.’s “The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack” and BUCKCHERRY’s platinum and Grammy-nominated “15”), Eleven Seven continues to build on its model of research-based marketing strategies targeted directly to the fans and building out from that base. At rock radio, SIXX: A.M.’s “Life Is Beautiful” was the most played song of the year. Helmed by President Nikki Sixx, the label’s roster includes MÖTLEY CRÜE, BUCKCHERRY, SIXX: A.M., TRAPT, DROWNING POOL, MARION RAVEN, THE LAST VEGAS, CHARM CITY DEVILS and THE EXIES.

Really happy for all these bands and the label. Hopefully the label won’t fizzle and Nikki can stay interested enough to help keep it afloat. Great roster of talent.

Stone Temple Pilots a thing of the past… again?

USA Today

“When you commit to a band that big that sold so many records and touched that many people, you can’t easily get out of it,” he said. “I’m finally on my own, at a place I’ve wanted to be for so long.”

On being gun-shy about band duty, he said, “There’s a beauty in being part of a band, when there’s equality and trust. But at this phase of my life, I want to write and not have to think about whether a song is going to be a hit. I want to explore the music that inspires me, and I don’t want to ape myself.

“I’ve been saying for a long time that I couldn’t see myself shaking my (butt) in leather pants when I’m 40. My goal in STP was to leave an imprint. That was done. I want to move forward and be in control of what I do musically. I have kids, and I don’t want to spend my life on the road.”

This is kind of disappointing to read. STP are my favorite alternative band (probably because they had so little in common with most of the bands from that genre). As much as I don’t like Weiland these days, STP always delivered great music and I’m sure they could do it again.

These comments are quite odd though considering the band still has a few dates to play this month and Weiland has already gone on record to say the’ve written tons of new songs while on the reunion tour… Bait and switch?

And the 2008 Grammy nominees are…

A few categories in which some of the nominees are relevant to this blog:

Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals

* Rock N Roll Train – AC/DC

* Violet Hill – Coldplay

* Long Road Out Of Eden – Eagles

* Sex On Fire – Kings Of Leon

* House Of Cards – Radiohead

Best Hard Rock Performance

* Inside The Fire – Disturbed

* Visions – Judas Priest

* Wax Simulacra – The Mars Volta

* Saints Of Los Angeles – Mötley Crüe

* Lords Of Salem – Rob Zombie

Best Metal Performance

* Heroes Of Our Time – DragonForce

* Nostradamus – Judas Priest

* My Apocalypse – Metallica

* Under My Thumb – Ministry

* Psychosocial – Slipknot

Best Rock Instrumental Performance

* Castellorizon – David Gilmour

* Suicide & Redemption – Metallica

* 34 Ghosts I-IV – Nine Inch Nails

* Hope (Live For The Art Of Peace) – Rush

* Peaches En Regalia – Zappa Plays Zappa

Best Rock Album

* Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends  – Coldplay

* Rock N Roll Jesus – Kid Rock

* Only By The Night – Kings Of Leon

* Death Magnetic – Metallica

* Consolers Of The Lonely – The Raconteurs

It’d be really cool for Priest to win at least one of the awards they’ve been nominated for. I listened to Nostradamus again two weeks ago and I’m becoming a big fan of it.

Metal Excess News Desk #2

Chinese Democracy unleashed on MySpace! Axl Rose in hiding!

2 days before the album’s Best Buy release, GNR’s very own MySpace page now has every track up for your streaming pleasure. Listen, and be amazed. I’ve been familiar with most of this album for the past 7 years, but I’ll be there Sunday at Best Buy to grab the CD.

In related news, Mirror.co.uk is reporting that Axl has disappeared in the midst of all the Democracy buzz, reportedly to work on the band’s “comeback” and to make it “go off the scale”.

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