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Libertad
     

Libertad

4.6 3
by Velvet Revolver
 

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Velvet Revolver always seemed like the answer to a quintessential L.A. rock & roll question: what does the engine of Guns N' Roses do when they're left to rust by the side of the road? It was long past the point when Slash, Duff, and Matt Sorum could possibly hope that Axl

Overview

Velvet Revolver always seemed like the answer to a quintessential L.A. rock & roll question: what does the engine of Guns N' Roses do when they're left to rust by the side of the road? It was long past the point when Slash, Duff, and Matt Sorum could possibly hope that Axl would abandon Buckethead, Tommy Stinson, and whoever else was toiling away in the studio under the GNR banner and go for a reunion tour, and old rockers need a place to make noise even while they're in the process of fading away, so they started a new band (Izzy may or may not have been invited to the party, but he long ago started following his own path and never seemed interested in coming back into the fold). A band as big as this needed a true star to front it -- a lesson well learned from the charisma-free black hole that was Slash's Snakepit, where the vocalists never could quite spar with the guitarist -- so even if they flirted with Buckcherry's Josh Todd, there really was only one choice to fill the singer's slot and that was Scott Weiland, who wasn't abandoned from his own imploding band, Stone Temple Pilots, as much as alienated from them due to a combination of ego and excess. A band in search of a singer, a singer in search of a band, both parties calling Los Angeles their home, both well-known for their all-encompassing love of rock & roll debauchery -- it seemed like nothing could go wrong. As it turned out, nothing quite went unquestionably right, either, as their 2004 debut, Contraband, met the GNR-meets-STP expectations but never transcended them. It was far from a flop -- selling millions around the world -- but it wasn't quite compelling either, partially because it was too easy to hear the separation between Slash's sleazoid blooze riffs and Weiland's hazily psychedelic melodies, and they had yet to find a common ground apart from a handful of songs. Despite this, it was hard not to feel some affection for Velvet Revolver, since they were so unrepentant in their love for old-school rock & roll theater, and also since they were driven by Slash and Duff, two of the most lovable characters in '80s hard rock, and there was a certain joy to hearing them play again on a big stage where they belong. But the key problem with Velvet Revolver is that the GNR aesthetic doesn't quite gel with Weiland. If GNR are the kind of band all rock fans feel good about loving, Weiland is the kind of frontman who gets grudging respect; it's possible to love his music, particularly the irresistible swirling melodies, without really loving him. A large part of this is that he exudes a reptilian coldness that doesn't thaw even when paired with the big, blowsy rock of Slash and Duff, but instead of giving the music tension it just means that it doesn't quite gel, since both parties play to their strengths instead of finding a collective sound. That's as true on their second album, 2007's Libertad, as it was on Contraband, but this record is more cohesive than the debut, partially due to the presence of Weiland's old STP producer, Brendan O'Brien, who lends the recording color and texture that enhances the melodies while still giving the guitars considerable muscle. O'Brien amplifies the energy for both the singer and the band and, taken on their own terms, they sound quite good. Weiland gets off some great tunes (as on the "Days of the Week" sequel "She Mine"), sometimes the band dominates (as on "Spay"), and sometimes everything suddenly clicks (as on the relentless opener, "Let It Roll," where both parties shine). Too often, though, there are concessions between Weiland and the others during the course of a song, with the bandmembers getting to ride their riffs during the verse, then fading into the background as Weiland delivers a chorus that is indelibly his own, as on "She Builds Quick Machines," which seesaws between the two extremes. This isn't necessarily a bad thing because both camps are good at what they do and the individual pieces of the songs are pretty enjoyable, but as Libertad rolls on, it's hard not to wish that Velvet Revolver buckled down and acted like a band, finding a way to fuse their two aesthetics into a whole, instead of stroking their individual egos by indulging in what they're good at. Of course, indulgence is the very reason the band exists: it's what made them stars, and without GNR or STP around, all the guys in this band need some outlet for their energies (which may only be partially musical). And in that regard, Velvet Revolver fulfill a need for the bandmembers, but also for an audience that is craving rock & roll that is proudly about good times -- an audience that is not insubstantial in 2007, but is poorly served. Libertad won't necessarily provide that audience with lasting sustenance, but it is a quick enough fix of old-fashioned rock & roll hedonism that does do its job reasonably well, as it has the riffs and melodies to please, even if they're not quite pulled together as full-fledged songs. And that's all down to the band acting as a group of stars instead of a group -- the charisma of each individual bandmember still shines brightly, but if they can funnel that into some kind of group charisma next time around, they might finally have an album that lives up to their past instead of merely doing no disservice to it.

Product Details

Release Date:
07/03/2007
Label:
Imports
UPC:
0828768885925
catalogNumber:
5003199
Rank:
69276

Related Subjects

Tracks

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Velvet Revolver   Primary Artist
Duff McKagan   Bass
Slash   Guitar
Matt Sorum   Drums
Scott Weiland   Vocals,Voices
Dave Kushner   Guitar

Technical Credits

Jeff Lynne   Composer
Nick DiDia   Engineer
Duff McKagan   Composer
Brendan O'Brien   Producer,Audio Production
Slash   Composer
Matt Sorum   Composer
Scott Weiland   Composer
Billy Bowers   Engineer
Dave Kushner   Composer
Brett Kilroe   Art Direction
Geoff Hansen   Illustrations
Douglas Grean   Engineer
Rocco Guarino   Video Editor,Video Producer,Video Director,Videography

Customer Reviews

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4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Lets do away with all the "sophmore curse" stuff right away. This makes their first release "Contraband" seem like childs play. From the opening rush of "Let it Roll" to the anguish of "Grave Dancer":This CD grabs you and doesn't let go. First thing you notice is the bass and drums are pushed up front, laying down a bedrock for Slash to go crazy on. The secret weapon may be Kushner's second guitar which allows Slash to breakaway whenever he feels like it. And by the sound of things Slash was feelin' it on every song. This is guitar heaven! Then there is Scott Weiland. His voice is immediately recognizable with or without the treatment of his vocals. Like John Lennon, Weiland is seldom heard up front and in your face. Preferring to glide over the top or lurk in the heavy mix. Then when he lets the listener hear his pain as he does on "The Last Fight", the starkness is breathtaking. It's long been said the the Rolling Stones are the greatest rock and roll band. There was a time they fought it out with the Who to hold that title. A long time has passed. I should know, I grew up with those bands. The Stones haven't had to look over their shoulders for dacades. They might want to sneak a peak now. Thats Velvet Revolver comin' up fast in the rearview mirror.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I feel pretty much the exact same way about this album as AMG... all of the parts are there but it seems that the substance doesn't quite gel the we know it could. This by no means makes for a bad album, and I think those looking for an STP/ GNR fix would really enjoy this CD. From the viewpoint of more of an STP fan, I think VR should emphasize a bit more on Scott's melodies than on the all-out heavy guitars as they do. I think that it would serve the band well to include some more mellow, melodic songs on the next release, while still leaving room for the guitarists to do their thing. In other words, I think they are leaning too much in one direction, whereas I think they should be shooting closer towards the middle. All in all, though, this is one of the better rock releases I have heard lately... 4 stars, but still waiting on that classic album from these guys.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago