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CD Reviews: Review of Contraband by Velvet Revolver
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Click here to buy yourself a copy from Amazon.com Velvet Revolver: Contraband (2004)

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“Went too fast, I’m out of luck and I don’t even give a fuck.” No lyric, past or present, more accurately sums up Scott Weiland’s lot in life. If you haven’t yet caught wind of Velvet Revolver, the latest hard-rock supergroup and most valid since Audioslave, you better hurry. Remember, Weiland hasn’t survived more than a few months at any time without a legal run-in or toxic meltdown. While he’s out here among us, however, the self-destructive voice of Stone Temple Pilots does have a real talent for filling the growing void in this genre. Add to the concoction Hollywood Boulevard’s most notorious sons, Duff McKagen, Slash, Matt Sorum and newbie Dave Kushner (formerly of Infectious Grooves), and this recipe really gets zesty quick.

The aforementioned “Do It for the Kids” is a bona fide grunge-rock treasure, layered up like a Betty Crocker cake with wailing guitars and rumbling rhythms. For their part, McKagen and Sorum have never sounded better. Slash is Slash, which is plenty good for most any band, and Velvet Revolver is no exception. In fact, Slash has laid in waiting for more than a decade to have such a fitting role. His shimmering solo in the all-skate power ballad “You Got No Right” awakens the sleeping giant that first gave life to “November Rain.” But while the Gunners outnumber Weiland three-to-one, Contraband is decidedly more Stone Temple Pilots in its sound and feel. In fact, when “Set Me Free” was released last year to a movie soundtrack, many thought it was STP. The first radio cut is the pile driver “Slither,” thick with Weiland’s macabre verses (“Rape my mind and smell the poppies, born and bloodied every single time”). But nothing gets the pulse a-racing faster than “Sucker Train Blues” or “Big Machine.” They are each implausible bodies of work, and beg the question of what took these cats so damned long to consummate this band.

There are very few disposable moments along Contraband. Even the vacant lyrics go by largely unnoticed when balanced within such fevered musicianship. The G’n’R fans will adore this project, as will the STP faithful. Anyone who still gets a charge out of learning that Motley Crue might tour next year with Tommy Lee or pines for the day Axl’s pipedream Chinese Democracy might see the Best Buy shelves can feast on this new offering. It goes without saying that Contraband was a decade in the making, but at least it was worth the wait. Speaking of Axl, the pressure is squarely on him now to match the vigor and focus of Velvet Revolver with whatever ham-and-egg group he eventually assembles. As for Weiland and the boys herein, tick tock, tick tock… 

~Red Rocker 


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