CD Review: Slash


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Slash’s curly black hair, top hat, sunglasses, and dangling cigarette are as much a part of the guitarist’s trademark as the riffs on “Sweet Child o’ Mine,” “Welcome to the Jungle,” or any other Guns ’N’ Roses hit.

However, no one can say he has let all the fame get to his head. Slash has always been an honest guitar player, one who relies more on emotion than fancy pyrotechnics. This is part of the reason his playing on the latest solo album, Slash, works so well, perfectly complementing the guest vocalists and musicians he invites to perform over his spicy rock ’n’ roll licks.

Almost every song on the album — from the crunchy opener “Ghost,” featuring the Cult’s Ian Astbury (vocals) and former Guns ’N’ Roses guitarist Izzy Stradlin, to “I Hold On,” which is led by a vocal performance from Kid Rock — flows better than the listener might expect.

Even artists who can be grating on the ears in their respective bands (such as Avenged Sevenfold’s M. Shadows) seem to benefit from the songwriting ability Slash brings to each track.

Most surprising of all is “Beautiful Dangerous,” which includes lyrical contributions from Fergie of Black Eyed Peas fame. Longtime Guns ’N’ Roses fans may cry “sellout,” but the pop star almost eerily channels her inner Axl Rose to make a fun, classic rock track.

Then there are, of course, “the natural fits,” the musicians that you just expect to work. Ozzy Osbourne sings catchy vocals over the track “Crucify the Dead.” Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister successfully lends his trademark Jack Daniel’s-soaked voice to the rocker “Doctor Alibi.” And Iggy Pop adds some rock ’n’ roll excess to “We’re All Gonna Die,” chanting, “We’re all gonna die, so let’s get high,” during the song’s chorus.

Of course, this is Slash’s album, and his presence is felt throughout. Solid songwriting and emotional blues-based playing have always been the Les Paul wielding guitarist’s strong point, and he does not disappoint listeners anywhere on the album.

“Watch This” is an instrumental track that showcases the guitarist’s groove and jamming ability alongside the Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl (drums) and former Guns ’N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan.

It’s really the only time Slash shows off on the album, and he still brings friends along for the ride.

Alter Bridge vocalist Myles Kennedy, who sings on two of the album’s tracks and will handle vocal duties on the upcoming shows for the album, offers what is probably the most forgettable performance of the bunch. Despite this, the musician’s work affirms that he has the singing ability to hold his own onstage.

Slash proves on his latest release that he can still write some mean licks, with a sense of style that outdoes most guitar players, young or old. Most importantly of all, Slash delivers pure, old school rock ’n’ roll at its best.

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