8 May 2013

Velvet Revolver - Contraband

Now from the outset, I was never a massive fan of Guns N' Roses. While from a standpoint of creativeness they were up there with the greats, the band had been ridden with the excesses and in house fighting between members that typified in a rock n' roll group, a classic case of point that all good things come to an end too soon. While Axl Rose has managed to keep the band together albeit with twice as many members as before, I really see GNR as nothing more than a overinflated joke with an irony in the guise of Chinese Democracy.

To my mind, the essence of the band were of Messrs Slash, Duff McKagan and Matt Sorum (already an accomplished drummer of Cult fame) looking to shake off the tag of being puppets of Rose and move on to pastures new. When in 2003 the three pulled together to record new material, the lineup was completed in Dave Kushner (rhythm guitarist from Wasted Youth) and vocalist Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots) though at the time, he wasn't sure if he would enlist as a full time member.

Anyone hoping that VR runs along a similar vein to Guns N' Roses is going to be gravely disappointed, partly because Weiland's traits of Alternative Metal runs along a different theme to Rose's, but also because the general theme of Contraband for half an hour is of living the high life unapologetically. The opening track, Sucker Train Blues has ZZ Top written all over it, along with the more slightly hurried Do It For The Kids ("Went too fast I'm out of luck and I don't even give a fuck") although the Def Leppard-esque harmonies are a tad laboured. Big Machine is the first of the notable highlights - simplistic chords with typical "hit a stone wall in my life" lyrics.

First evidence of mellowing is in the blatant ballad Fall To Pieces, charting Scott Weiland's drugs issues but I find far too distracting the Sweet Child O' Mine type chords and riffs, evidence that GNR still runs in some quarters. Set Me Free has traces of Billy Idol and post-punk lines continuing the fast paced tone, while Slither as well as being the lead single is one of the few tracks where the Slash's leads and the lyrics are finally pieced together well. Oddly, the album finishes with an acoustic lead Loving The Alien ("I'm moving on") which does leave an open question as the sunset over the horizon.

The whole of Contraband is chiefly comprised of rock fillers. There's nothing new or groundbreaking here, it's largely a compendium of listenable fillers possibly retro in places but enough to firmly establish Velvet Revolver as an act to be taken seriously. It's unlikely we will see more of the band soon, but this album is a reasonable indicator of how a supergroup (for want of a more appropriate term) should operate. M. Richardson 08/05/2013

8 out of 10. Oh, now you have my attention, and maybe my money and my heart.

You can purchase the album here

You can listen to the album here on Spotify

Velvet Revolver are officially on hiatus, but they do have an official website here

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