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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

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”

Buy ‘The Taking’ at!


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

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”

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

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:

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