Velvet Revolver- Contraband
Whether you are a fan of this album or not, there IS some good music. Velvet Revolver is a ‘super group’ combining the forces between ex STP singer, Scott Weiland and the former band members of Guns N Roses, Slash, Duff McKagan, and Matt Sorum. The band also features Suicidal Tendencies/Infectious Grooves rhythm guitarist Dave Kushner. This debut skyrocketed and brought the band into the limelight almost immediately. I have a mixture of feelings for this album. The good songs are great, yet the bad songs seem to be really bad. I realize and understand that most MXer’s absolutely hate this album. On portions, I have to agree, but the talent of some songs can’t be denied. Let’s get to it.
Scott Weiland- Vocals/lyrics
Slash- Lead Guitars
Duff McKagan- Bass
Dave Kushner- Rhythm Guitars
Matt Sorum- Drums
The opener, Sucker Train Blues
is one of the songs that I’m not too fond of. The music is good but the song seems too much of a generic alternative rock song. It starts with some weird noises and a thumping bassline. After a bit the riff comes in and the verses hit you. The vocals are a bit annoying, Scott’s voice is kind of whiny. The lyrics are stupid, the line “ Somebody rape my tapeworm abortion, come on mother****er and deliver the cow.” kinda gives you that idea. The riff is okay, and the choruses are even more annoying. The solo is probably the best part of the song, making efficient use of the tremolo bar. This Slash doesn’t quite seem like the Slash that I love. He doesn’t really feel at home in this song. It’s talented, sure, but it doesn’t have the emotion or feel that the playing from the other bands gave you.
Up next is probably my least favorite track on the album. Do It For the Kids
is the worst filler track on the album. Just a boring rock song. It starts with Scott struggling to sing a profane line incredibly fast before a rock riff dominates the 4 minutes. The choruses are a tad catchy, Scott’s voice finally setting in, but the song is just too plain. There’s not much to say about it. It has a solo, which is not bad, but the song is incredibly boring. Nothing else.
Following the previous track is a somewhat better song, Big Machine
. It’s pretty good. A distorted bassline and drum groove control the song, and give it the ominous vibe that the message wants you to feel. The guitars are crunchy an powerful and the vocals are eerie. The lyrics describe a media brainwash and carry a message that is almost identical to “Idiot Box” by Incubus. Cool idea, but overdone The voices are strong, not straining or biting off more than he can chew. The choruses are a great one-liner. The music is nothing special though, just a fill here and there. The song kinda gets repetitive after a while, but Scott’s voice is on top form here. Average, but definitely better than the last two.
Here we have another boring track, by the name of Illegal I Song
. This one is like Sucker Train Blues; it is musically talented, but the songwriting is generic. Matt Sorum gives the skins quite a workout here, with offbeat, jagged drumming and fast fills. The riff is quite good, but once again, the voice is strained. The verses are okay, but the chorus is really plain. The solo is unlike the others, it isn’t fast, but menacing and creepy. Cool feel, but still doesn’t sit well with Slash. Too bad.
Up next is a grungier, STP influenced song. by the name of Spectacle
. This is one of the stronger tracks and the turning point of the album. It starts with a thrashy rock riff and blasting drum beat. The lyrics are a little perplexing. I have no idea what he’s talking about. The choruses are right at home for once, working well with the song, and uplifting. The solo is wonderful and melodic, using full range of the guitar and no-frills. It just kicks major arse. The verse vocals are a little bit higher pitched, for Scott’s standards. A lot of people don’t like this song, but I like it and think it brings the album into it’s good stage.
The first ballad of three is next, and one of the bands most popular songs. Fall To Pieces
is somewhat reminiscent, in terms of structure, to Sweet Child O’ Mine. It features some pretty guitar licks that wail beneath Scott’s tale of drug abuse. The rhythm section is wonderful and Duff’s bassline is pretty, and works so well, it’s almost percussive. The verses are pretty and mellow, but the guitar thunders in and Scott’s wailing during the choruses. This was picked for a single for good reason. The bridge is actually a little faster paced, and the dynamics build up into Slash’s wonderful solo. This is the guitar playing that you’d expect from Slash. It’s pretty, bluesy, rocking, and dripping with emotion. Wonderful song.
After the lovey dovey ballad, the rock songs make a comeback. Thank God it’s this song, too. Headspace
is probably my favorite track on the album. It’s actually the best hard rock song on the album, in my opinion too. It features a grungy, dark hard rock riff and some angry lyrics. Scott is doing well, vocally, because he’s not going a million miles per hour, just to keep up with the band. The choruses are energetic, Scott’s voice is very loud, and screaming “Free my mind!” Another cool factor in the song is Matt’s powerful drumming and spot on snare rolls in between verses. The bridge has Scott doing some overdubbed voices with different pitches and keys. The solo is very nice, and is drenched in wah-distortion and sounds really cool. It has a very ‘hit-in-the-nads’ vibe and just screams for attention. Very nice song.
This next song is different from most of the other songs on the album, but it’s not too appealing to me. Superhuman
has a strange structure of guitar sounds. Slash uses a technique on the riff that he used on Sweet Child o Mine. It sounds very electronic and eerie. The vocals are strong, with some outta this world lyrics that don’t seem to be about one particular subject. For example, the first lyric “I wanna be your Superman” is completely irrelevant to “Keepin’ her face packed with cocaine.” Slash plays a few fills here and there, but no spectacular musical performances. Average.
Up next is the fission of the pile driving Set Me Free
. This was the first song that Velvet Revolver released, and is featured at the end of the Incredible Hulk movie. It starts with a cool riff that has an attitude until the band comes in. The main riff isn’t any worse, taking you on a ride until the verse. Scott’s voice is really low, but it works with the thick, distorted bassline that accompanies it. The band gives an effect during the pre-chorus that is really cool and has a build up of tension until you want to lose your mind. The choruses aren’t bad at all, being a quite energetic one-liner. Once again the solo is great, and it’s not predictable like some other solos on the record. The outro just consists of Scott repeating “none for you” over and over again. I overall really liked this song. Very hyped up and energetic.
This next number is called You Got No Right
. It is another ballad. I like it. Through most of it, it’s very mellow, with some cool percussion and acoustic melodies. Scott’s voice is very subtle during the verses and incredible on the chorus. If you see them live, Slash is using is Guild Double-Neck and smoking while he’s playing. Very cool. The song is a little long for what it’s worth, but worth a listen, definitely. Slash gives a wonderfully dramatic solo that is the perfect fit for this song. Great tune.
Up next is the song that got them famous. They’re first single and most popular song. Slither
is a madhouse of effects, sounds and voices. The song begins with a haunting bassline and drums that give the title it’s purpose. It slithers around you and is just scary. Dave is toying with your mind as he switches his effects around and plays tricks with his guitar. Suddenly, the puzzle stops, just before a monstrosity of a riff comes hurling at you with energy. Scott is singing very creepily here, with some lyrics that scare you. The guitar and bass play around on the main riff just before the chorus comes in with a slower pace, but powerfully hitting chords and notes to kick you in the face. The intro creep comes in before a wah induced guitar solo storms you. It’s certainly no where near the best on the album, but nonetheless, fun to listen to and thoroughly enjoyable. Good song.
Dirty Little Thing
is another madhouse song and the bands most recent single. It features some galloping, jangly distorted bass before the shuffled riff. This song bears an uncanny resemblance to Sucker Train Blues, but in my opinion, much better. Scott’s voice is powerful and grungy, singing about a media whore and sex addict. With lyrics like “Dead men wishin that they had gotten together with you girl. But you’re a dirty little liar with a message of obsession to come.” you think about Paris Hilton. The song goes through numerous tempo changes before a powerhouse guitar solo. Slash’s hands are running all up and down the neck, playing awesome licks. This was another good song.
The albums closer, Loving the Alien
is the final of three ballads, and the most mellow of them all. It starts with a weird noise and a blend of acoustic and electric guitars. Scott’s subtle voice soothes you and the guitar melodies on the chorus evoke the powerful picture of GNR’s “Estranged”. The choruses are pretty, but the lyrics are kinda stupid. The guitar lines are to die for. The solo is mind-blowing. It makes you wonder how simple melodies can sound so beautiful. I really like this song, as it shows you the beauty of simplicity. Great closer to the album.
+ Musically talented
+ Scott’s voice is great
+ Guitar work is wonderful
- Too generic
- Some tracks sound the same
- Stupid lyrics
- Slash doesn’t feel at home with the guitar work
1. Sucker Train Blues- 2.5/5
2. Do It For the Kids- 2/5
3. Big Machine - 3/5
4. Illegal I Song- 2/5
5. Spectacle- 4.5/5
6. Fall To Pieces- 5/5
7. Headspace- 5/5
8. Superhuman- 3/5
9. Set Me Free- 4.5/5
10. You Got No Right- 4/5
11. Slither- 4/5
12. Dirty Little Thing- 4.5/5
13. Loving the Alien- 4/5
Overall: I liked some songs on the record, but others completely blew. The talent is noticeable, but the heart isn’t. If you like alternative rock, check it out, but otherwise, only a couple of songs deserve a listen. But they are great live!
:thumb: :thumb: :thumb: and ½ [3.5/5]
P.S.- I know a lot of people don’t like this album, so if you don’t agree with me, suck it up and stop leaving me biased, fanboy feedback based on opinion. Leave feedback only based on how my review was written. Fanboys will be dealt with. :D