Review Summary: Give and take
Duff McKagan, as he himself may tell you, is one of rock’s great survivors. The man whose excess led him to suffer an exploded pancreas was also the last original member of Guns N’ Roses to let Axl do his own thing upon his leaving in 1998. His time in the well-intentioned but sub-standard Velvet Revolver saw him having to deal with Scott Weiland, a man who treats rehabilitation centres as if he had a loyalty card. The briefest of stints with the crumbling Jane’s Addiction in 2010 put him in direct contact with Perry and Navarro, Toxic Twins Mk. II, and more potential hazards.
Despite these pitfalls, realised or otherwise, McKagan has emerged at the other side surprisingly unscathed and The Taking
is the sound of a man who still has something to say and the energy with which to say it. The LP opens with the blistering one-two punch of “Lords Of Abbadon” and “Executioner’s Song” that call to mind the sludge-ridden tone of groups like Down. McKagan displays a surprising yet welcome combative and confrontational mood in the latter, telling us that ‘democracy is such a whore’ and that listeners should ‘know your history’. There is an altogether darker mood prevalent throughout this LP. Song titles such as “Dead Skin”, “Follow Me To Hell” and “Easier Lying” give an instant insight into what’s to be expected here. The ill-advised “We Win” breaks up this prevailing mood, its terribly ambiguous lyrics and chorus that is reminiscent of 30 Seconds To Mars’ “Kings and Queens” is ruinous and nearly derails the album completely by the fourth track.
McKagan is too canny a veteran to allow a duff track to let the side down though and the album continues in a great fashion, taking in a number of different styles. Consider the Alice In Chains (another group McKagan has been of assistance to) style grind of “She’s An Anchor”, the ponderous “Wrecking Ball” whose music swings freely but then hits a destructive climax on the chorus and the furious “King Of The World” which harks back to his own roots in punk rock.
is the sound of a man with no corporate or musical responsibility simply doing what sounds and feels right. For a man who has spent a lot of his career under pressure, babysitting drug addicts and fending off the megalomania of one Mr. Axl Rose he can only be respected for putting himself into such a comfortable position.