REVIEW: Slash – Slash (Deluxe edition)

SLASH – Slash (2010 Universal Deluxe edition)

This album was a revelation to me.  Truth be told, I didn’t expect too much.  I didn’t consider Slash to be among the best songwriters in Guns N’ Roses (Izzy and Duff for that honor).  So, a couple things about Slash struck me right away. One, every track on this album is strong, almost every one would make a great single. Two, I was surprised how these songs kind of chameleon themselves to resemble the bands that the singers come from. Almost every guest does a co-write, which might explain this.

I’ll discuss my favourite tracks. I have always been a Cult fan, so Ian Astbury’s “Ghost” kicked off the album with a bang. It doesn’t quite sound like the Cult, but at first it didn’t sound like Slash either. Astbury’s voice, deep and low, is almost as strong as ever. Ozzy’s track is next, and my immediate feeling was, “This song could have been a Sabbath number with a little tweaking.” I very much enjoyed this song.

I’m not a Black Eyed Peas fan; at all!    All I really know about Fergie is “Big Girls Don’t Cry”. To my surprise, she is capable of the rock. Her vocal is highly stylized (as are many on this CD) and she just rips it up on “Dangerous Beautiful”! Of all the singers on this CD, Fergie is the most similar in attitude to Axl. Every once in a while she does a squeal or two that sound positively Axl. This is a decent song made memorable by Fergie’s vocal, although I think the lyrics leave something to be desired.

I wasn’t at all familiar with Alter Bridge, but Myles Kennedy blew me away. I guess there must have been a reason that the Led Zeppelin guys were jamming with him as a potential replacement for Robert Plant. I get that, but although he has a powerful voice with great range, he has his own sound. My new favourite singer! His two songs, “Back To Cali” and “Starlight” couldn’t be less alike. However they both boast one thing in common, and that is a chorus to raise the roof. These two choruses are among the strongest moments on Slash.

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Chris Cornell is up next with “Promise”, a good song which struck me as more similar to Cornell’s early solo work than Soundgarden. Let it be remembered that Chris opened for Guns N’ Roses on their 1992 European tour. The first single “By The Sword” featuring Wolfmother’s Andrew Stockdale is another one that blew me away. It struck me as very “metal” with the kind of lead vocal that is high and powerful, like Wolfmother itself. Great song, and bears similarities to “Beggars and Hangers-On” from the first Slash’s Snakepit album.

I’m especially not a Maroon 5 fan.  I burned out on them in the record store, and the person responsible knows who she is, I do like Adam Levine’s stylized vocal on the ballad “Gotten”.  This guy is smooth like butter. My only wish is that there was more of his music with Slash. The way his vocal and Slash’s guitar melodies intertwine is quite beautiful.

Lemmy’s tune sounds like some sort of Motorhead outtake (don’t forget Slash appeared on Motorhead’s March Or Die CD). Anything Lemmy touches automatically sounds like Motorhead. Up next is an instrumental featuring Dave Grohl on drums and Duff McKagan on bass. Immediately, that familiar Dave Grohl drum sound kicks you in the face, on this rocker that is pure groove, with Slash playing a low grinding riff.

I didn’t mind Kid Rock’s “I Hold On”, and I found his vocal quite appealing. Another one that surprised me was M Shadows’ “Nothing To Say”. I’ve never listened to Avenged Sevenfold but this guy’s voice has enough melody to carry the tune. The song itself was riffy, like late 90’s Megadeth or black album era Metallica. Good song. Very similar to “Chains and Shackles” (more on that song later). I have to listen to both back to back, but it’s possible they are both based on the same music.

I have no idea who Rocco DeLuca was, but his tune is another winner. The final track of the regular album songs is the immortal Iggy Pop’s “We’re All Gonna Die”. One of the most fun tunes on the album with great lyrics, Pop and Slash have an obvious chemistry. What a great tune with which to close the regular edition!

Oh, and three ex-GN’R members appear: Duff, Izzy, and Josh Freese (who was in the band after Slash).

Among the bonus stuff, an English version of “Sahara” featuring a singer I never heard of called Koshi Inaba. Good song, but is is followed by Alice Cooper’s track with…someone I never heard of apparently from Pussycat Dolls. This actually sounds a lot like an Alice Cooper song, say circa The Eyes of Alice Cooper. Another good song, and we all know how big a fan Slash is. Lastly there is Fergie and Cypress Hill’s “Paradise City” remake. Good choice for the very Axl-ish Fergie to sing, and Cypress Hill add their sound to the verses. Great version, a guilty pleasure. There is also a Japanese version of “Sahara”, and a song with Beth Hart called “Mother Maria” which is a really nice one featuring her strong bluesy voice. I’m telling you, Beth Hart can really sing, she is a the real deal. I just wish they didn’t add distortion to her voice…she does not need it.

The new acoustic live material with Myles Kennedy is sheer awesome. Kennedy’s got an incredible voice and you can tell this is really live. The backing guitar player makes a few mistakes during Slash’s solo in “Sweet Child” and it’s right there, unfixed. I like that. It’s like a guarantee. It’s like the Stones and Henry Rollins say — “The only way to know for sure.”

I’m disappointed that Nick Oliveri’s “Chains & Shackles”, the best song in my opinion, is not present on this edition. It remains exclusive to the Australian iTunes. However, by my reckoning every other bonus track from every other format is on this disc. There are also two previously unheard demos. These demos are interesting jams and they show great interaction between Slash and his players. Also included are some live electric versions (also seemingly unpolished) and a bonus DVD. All of this is worth owning if you really love the album like I do.

IMG_00000702I made a bonus CD with the Oliveri track, and other “bonus tracks” that I found online, as well.  How official these downloaded tracks are I can’t say; Wikipedia is silent on the issue.

You may have noticed I didn’t comment on Slash’s presence too much. I dare say it, the only weakness to this album is that Slash is overshadowed by his guests. That happened to Santana on some of his records as well. Slash’s guitar playing is still unique and stylish, not hogging the spotlight but sharing it more than fairly. Slash himself explores more sounds on his Gibson than I’ve ever heard him play before. When he solos, it’s Slash; it’s the old GN’R sound, and it sure is cool.

5/5 stars

48 comments

  1. I was skeptical at first of this as well Mike,just for the fact I’m not big on different singers on each track but this album it works well as u had mentioned . I think for me the clincher was the first time I put it on and the riff to Ghost and Astburys vocal got me hooked so after that it was like well that was a deadly starting point!!!! And from there it just grew on me for a rotating vocalist carousel for me anyways Slash pulled it off!

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    1. Right on all counts Deke. And I’m glad Slash didn’t do this thing with multiple singers twice. He was smart to go with Myles. If he had done another album like this, it usually feels like an inferior sequel.

      Are you a fan of Mr. Big, Mr. Deke?

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  2. I bought the first 3 Mr big Releases..when Gilbert left so did I !!
    Hahahaha….no reason being its just that I found with each release it was a little bit of a decline except for the debut which is a monster album and by the third I really did not get into so I just stopped buying….but I did pick up there double live album from a few yrs back that’s pretty good but the solos lose me …..

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    1. The reason I asked is because this weekend I have a two-part Mr. Big special coming up :)

      I think Hey Man is a great record. Get Over It is different, but as a Kotzen fan I liked it for that reason.

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    2. I totally agree with you on Mr Big. Weird thing is, Gilbert was replaced by Richie Kotzen, which normally would have made them even better. But I think that the whole concept of Mr Big had ran its course by then.
      But, if you’re into their three first albums, then you MUST and NEED to check out their reunion album What If. In my opinion, it’s their best album second to their debut.

      http://etainmentnewsreviews.wordpress.com/melodic-rock/melodic-rock-reviews-2011/mr-big-what-if/

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  3. Cool ,I don’t know with some bands u stick with them and with me I find its the ones I got into at a young age..ie…Kiss,Maiden,Halen,Leppard,Rush,ACDC,Priest(for the most part),bands like that but when all the late eighties bands came out like Mr Big,Great White,Faster Pussycat,Slaughter, for me while,I would still buy there releases after a while I found the quality just wasn’t up to par from what I had heard earlier but when Rush/Maiden got word out on the street about a new release I was a first day buyer! Even if wasn’t the best release I would still go back and buy there next release as well…..

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    1. Mr. Big is all early stuff this weekend :)

      I’m the same with most of the bands you mention Deke, although not always Def Leppard. I haven’t been a first day Leppard buyer since Slang…after that I’m hit and miss and I wish I never bought X!

      Actually one thing about the record store that I miss was getting albums early.

      In 1998, we got in Kiss Psycho Circus the week before the actual release. As it happened I had a road trip planned with this girl I liked that weekend. And you know who my favourite band is! Having Psycho Circus a week early on a weekend like that? Could it even get better than that?

      There were lots and lots of albums I got early but none more memorable than Psycho Circus.

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  4. I have this! Even the bonus tracks! THANKS TO YOU, LEBRAIN! I still listen to it regularly, it’s really pretty great. Back To Cali is a real gem of a track. Damn. But you’re right, they’re mostly all good. I don’t really find that Slash’s presence is overshadowed too too much. – it’s pretty hard to hide that big, snarly and gnarly Les Paul. ;) These are just really good songs, and its obvious a lot of fun was had in the making of them. Well done.

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    1. Yeah I think Slash loves collaborating and being in the studio laying down his tracks unfettered, and just having creativity happen. The joy comes out.

      I’m glad to hear so much love for this album.

      2 votes on Facebook right now for Ghost as the best track.

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      1. I think maybe Slash shines because even if his guests act out like rock stars and get all petulant or whatever, they can NEVER be as batshit crazy as Axl was (and is).

        Oooo Ghost is a good one. I don’t think I could pick though, if it came down to it. There are songs I like more than others, but then on other days other songs hit me more…

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        1. Ditto on the batshit crazy. There’s Axl and Ozzy and that’s about it for batshit crazy. And Slash has worked with both.

          Ian Astbury could be humming Happy Birthday and I’d still probably be spellbound by his voice.

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  5. Speaking of Kiss I read yesterday that there releasing a Monster Japan 2013 double cd with the studio album being one and a live 2013 show being the second disc…….
    Yeah with leppard I did tend to fall off the first day buyer thing as well after Slang as well…..now that u mention it…

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        1. Well I’m heading to Toronto again in less than 2 weeks to do more record shopping. I don’t expect to find Monster there in that new Japanese edition…

          But if I found a cheap copy of the original “deluxe” that came with the big booklet, I’d buy that.

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        2. Haha oh man, I remember when we went to Taranna last lime and I showed you that one and you said you didn’t want it! Had no use for the booklet! Hope it’s still available for you this year!

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    1. Ahh but the thing is, if I buy the Japanese edition, it doesn’t count towards a Canadian sale! So I’m actually making it go gold in Japan!

      And this is also the SECOND Japanese edition I will have bought, of Monster.

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  6. Just received Sean Kelly’s Metal On Ice in the mail today!
    Between Brent Jensens No sleep….and Metal On Ice these are fantastic books written by guys are age that we can totally relate to…..

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  7. A great album, this one, but all those singers and the fact that all of them got to write their own lyrics and melodies makes the album sound like a compelation album. But, I don’t care when the songs are as good as on this album. And I agree on Fergie. She’s one of the reasons that Beautiful Dangerous is one of the best songs on the album. Makes you wonder why she keep doing the Black EyeD Peas garbage. Money, probably.
    But Slash’s latest album is better, I think. Myles Kennedy is so awesome!

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    1. Totally agree with u Jon ..Myles Kennedy is one of the best current rock vocalists out there!
      Crazy thing is that Slash/Kennedy band here in Thunder Bay twice in the last yr!….July of 2012 and July of this yr and both shows were sold out here….1500 per show!
      Someone current actually plays here!
      Hahaha..usually they only come once there career is in decline!

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  8. That’s great to hear – Slash is my supergroup guitarist based solely on his body of work with GNR. Sounds like this one’s more supporting evidence of his brilliance (and him being overshadowed is definitely a surprise, that’s some generosity in not hogging the spotlight), I’ll check it out!

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