Since I was learning how to walk while Guns N’ Roses were living the high life, former GNR guitarist Slash has a lot to prove to me on his solo album, Slash. Not only does he have to live up to his own legacy, but he also has to show that, after 22 years of fame, his new material is still relevant. Unfortunately, Slash doesn’t do either of those things well.
There are 15 songs on this album, and 14 of them have a different vocalist. This does not work for several reasons. One, playing “Name that Singer” distracts from the guitar playing, which I thought was the main idea of the album. Two, contributing one track to a side project album typically means less than 100% is given by the performer. Three, it feels like Slash is just name-dropping. The bad thing is that not all of the names seem worthy of dropping.
Featuring classic hard rock frontmen like Ozzy Osbourne, Alice Cooper, and Lemmy Kilmeister (Motorhead) makes sense. Appearances made by newer faces like Andrew Stockdale (Wolfmother) and M. Shadows (Avenged Sevenfold) also make sense. It’s when Fergie and Adam Levine (Maroon 5) show up that I get thrown for a loop. The lyrics don’t go too far towards redeeming the mash-up of singers, either.
Unfortunately, the lyrics on Slash seem to be trying to imitate the “party hard” attitude of Slash’s younger years, but come off all awkward and middle age-y. For example, how did punk rock progenitor Iggy Pop ever get talked into singing the chorus “We’re all gonna die, so let’s get high / We’re all gonna die, so let’s be nice”? Kid Rock singing “I hold on / Because I can’t let go” sounds so appropriate that it’s more desperate than catchy.
Thankfully though, there are some bright spots to be found. ‘By the Sword’ is a nice, heavy number, and Stockdale gives a good account of himself. Myles Kennedy, currently Slash’s touring vocalist, provides a nice chorus on “Starlight” that sounds very reminiscent of the GNR glory days.
However, comparing the singer-free ‘Watch This’ to the rest of the album makes me think that the guitarist might have been better off releasing an all-instrumental album (especially one done with Dave Grohl). It would put the guitarist at the forefront, instead of relegating him to the back of the crowd. It’s too bad because, after listening to two or three minutes of the wooden vocal performances on this album, I’m thinking more about the song ending than about Slash’s soloing.
I may seem misguided, ranting about singers when Slash is really about guitar work. Well, the unfortunate thing is that the singing is what jumps out the most. The guitar playing might not stand out as much simply because bad company corrupts good character, but this album is not worthy of Time Magazine’s second-best electric guitarist of all time.