Slash [Deluxe Edition]
Guns ‘N Roses is in his past. Velvet Revolver is looking for a new singer. Even though they traded on his name for marketing purposes, he always saw Slash’s Snakepit as a collaborative band like any other. So what is one of the most celebrated guitarists of his generation to do when he finally has the opportunity to make his first solo album? Well, if you are Slash, you borrow a page from Carlos Santana and invite a bunch of your friends (and some people you admire but have never met) over to the studio to record a bunch of songs you have never had the chance to record in a band. And how should you follow up that experiment, which resulted in one of the most celebrated rock albums in recent memory? How about the same way you follow-up a blockbuster movie release on DVD – with a three-disc special edition.
The Deluxe Edition of Slash contains the original album on CD, an additional CD of bonus songs, demos, and live tracks, and a DVD with even more special features. As stated previously, Slash was one of the best-reviewed albums of recent memory. There is not much I can add that other reviewers have not already addressed. Guest vocalists range from classic rockers that influenced Slash (Iggy Pop, Ozzy, Lemmy), to contemporaries (Ian Astbury and Chris Cornell) to the current crop of rock ‘n rollers (M. Shadows and Andrew Stockdale), to the unlikely (Fergie and Adam Levine). Myles Kennedy (Alterbridge) is the only vocalist to score two tracks, and has since agreed to tour in support of the album.
Technically, the tracks are all well-produced. The songs tend to take on the aspects of the vocalists, so the Lemmy track sounds like Motorhead, and the Ian Astbury track could have come from The Cult’s Electric. There are a few surprises, as Slash gets to drive a little heavier than I have ever heard from him with Avenged Sevenfold’s M. Shadows on “Nothing to Say”, and gets more mellow than ever with Maroon 5’s Adam Levine on “Gotten”, but mostly it’s variations on a rock theme.
The bonus features really make this package worth picking up. The second CD features more guest appearances, most notably the two versions of “Sahara” with Koshi Inaba, one in English and one in Japanese. The English version leads off the disc and immediately transported me back to the late ’80s, when hair bands ruled the radio. This song would have been a number one hit back then, and would likely spark some new interest today. It’s fascinating how well the Japanese version compares; I only wish I knew how well the translation went.
The collaboration with Cypress Hill and Fergie on a “Paradise City” cover is more of a mixed bag. I appreciate the attempt to cross genres, but it has been done before and better elsewhere.
The real meat though, is a collection of tracks featuring Myles Kennedy, three acoustic numbers and two live performances. Only two of these are from the new album, an acoustic performance of “Back From Cali”, and oddly, a live performance of the instrumental “Watch This”. The rest are renditions of Guns ‘N Roses and Velvet Revolver tunes. While Kennedy tries too hard for an Axl impression on the live “Night Train”, the acoustic “Sweet Child O’ Mine” breathes new life into this almost-ruined-by-radio song. Slash’s guitar is practically magical here, and Kennedy’s voice is the perfect complement, bringing nuance to a song never really considered complicated.
The DVD features a “making of” documentary, a music video for “By the Sword”, two live performances, and a session with Slash where he introduces each track, sort of the equivalent of director’s commentary for an album. On its own, I would not have gone out of my way to pick up the DVD, but as a special feature, it really helps to flesh out the making of this unique album. I found myself with questions about the guests and the production as I listened to the songs, and this disc answered several of them.
The deluxe edition packaging includes the three discs in separate cardboard envelopes (easy to slip out of, so be careful), a 12-page booklet, a guitar pick, and a code to upload your photo to the Slash Fanwall and get a copy of the poster. All of this is wrapped up in new artwork on a sturdy box. All in all, Slash has put together a package worthy of the title Deluxe Edition.
I have really enjoyed my time with this album, both the original version and this deluxe edition. If you haven’t already bought the album, and you are a fan of rock ‘n roll in general, this one is a no-brainer. If you already purchased the digital download, go old school here and get a physical copy. The only real difficult decision if for those of you who have already bought the original CD. Is there enough new stuff here to justify the DVD-like double-dip? I would say so, if you were a real fan of the initial release. Just do someone else a favor, and give them your old copy to spread the love.