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Velvet Revolver Contraband

By Mick Stingley, Contributor
Tuesday, June 22, 2004 @ 9:23 AM


(RCA)

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It would be reprehensible to compare this record with Appetite For Destruction or to drolly suggest that any song sounds like “Plush,” however it would be irresponsible to ignore the obvious. Suffice to say, after a long build-up, yes, Velvet Revolver sounds like Guns ‘N Roses meets Stone Temple Pilots. It is pure, unabashed hard rock, and it is excellent.

Contraband kicks off hard and fast. With sirens blaring, VR unleashes a stomping Slash n’ burn number called “Suckertrain Blues.” On top of a punishing Duff-driven bass-line the song goes ripping through the air with a gritty Scott Weiland gleefully leering through the microphone: “Yeah and when I find you/ Yeah I will blind you.” This is fast-talking slam-dancing fuck-music, and it only gets better. If you can stop playing the first song over and over, you will discover the many gems within, and, most importantly: the rest of the record manages to live up to the hype…

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Songs like “Do It For The Kids” and “Big Machine” makes the case for Slash’s trade-marking ‘the Les Paul-through-Marshalls’ principal as his soloing gets a push from Dave Kushner’s guitar pummeling – though it is Weiland’s Beatles-esque harmonies on the chorus, which ring through again and again, pleasantly.

Weiland’s lyrics are curious and more thought-provoking than… those of other singers. This darkness brings something heavier to a player like Slash; his licks and leads take on a new resonance… and give way to the record’s contemporary sludge. The drums are as heavy and just as important as anything Matt Sorum ever played, and his efforts are in full balance to the band. They’re tight, they’re hard, they rock.

The absolute best part of Weiland, EVER, hands-down, comes out in the ballad “Fall To Pieces,” which, is, also, total Slash… if there was a new “Sweet Child o’ Mine” out there, this it.

The singularity of Slash’s style, Duff’s “in-the-pocket” groove and Matt’s kick the “give and take” of Dave Kushner -- on songs like “Headspace,” “Superhuman,” “Slither,” “Set Me Free” -- blend smoothly over Scott’s whisper-singing. And, as Scott whisper-sings, again, on “You Got No Right,” (a ballad), the Scott-as-John Lennon-thing is moving, crying, and hopeful. Its slow-guitar wah-pedal poignant mood swings upward in a glorious, magnificent crescendo of rock balladry. Truly beautiful stuff.

The last song, “Loving the Alien,” while not a David Bowie cover, is fully Bowie-ensue; though, honestly, more GNR than DB, yet shades of The Thin White Duke permeate the song through and through. Absolutely stunning.

Enough superlatives. Velvet Revolver. Contrand. Oh, yeah. It rocks.

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