Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Axl vs. Slash: The New Albums


Technically Chinese Democracy isn't really new, but having recently picked up Slash's new solo album, I couldn't help but want to compare. I mean, who wouldn't? So here's a song by song breakdown of both albums with a win/lose score. Slash's album (at least the version I have) has 17 tracks, so he's already 3 points in the lead from Axl's 14 track epic...but hey, consider that the spread. So let's get this going:

Track One

A: Chinese Democracy - the title track of the album and a very cool beat...lyrically very interesting and many, many different sounds. Starts with a haunting "sound montage" that pulls up visions of the past and sets the tone for the album. Yowza!

S: Ghost - Cool track with an interesting lead guitar part...features the vocals of Ian Astbury of the cult and also guitar by Izzy Stradlin, Slash's ex-GN'R bandmate. Some weird lyrics, but killer guitar. Great rock track. Sounds simple and complex at the same time.

Result: Axl's lyrics and tone are better, but I react on more of a gut level to Slash's song. so TIE.

Track Two

Shackler's Revenge - Neat song, I love the shuffling guitar beat over the verses and the various vocal tracks and harmonies throughout. Also a very original composition...doesn't exactly have a standard rock sound. Whether this makes it creative or inaccessible is hard to say. Either way you can appreciate the work that's gone into this song.

S: Crucify The Dead - Featuring Ozzy Osborne on vocals, this track has an amazing, haunting guitar sound which I really love. It's also a fairly scathing testament to the current relationship between Slash and Axl ("We had the same dream/Lived life to extreme/A loaded gun jammed by a rose/The thorns are not around your head/Your ego cut you till you bled/You cannot crucify the dead/To me you're dead, yeah"). Gutsy. I'm not sure if the lyrics were penned by Slash and represent his feelings or if they were written by Ozzy and "how he might feel if he were Slash" but I guess either way it's endorsed by the man.

Result: I like both songs, but I think Axl's is more creative, and I'm not a huge fan of modern Ozzy. If someone else sang it I'd probably vote Slash but in this case it's AXL

Track Three:

Better - I really like the lyrics to this song. I can relate fully (read the lyrics and you'll see why). However, I find the lead guitar a little jarring and even annoying (perhaps an homage to the girl the song is about??) Cool track, nonetheless

S: Beautiful Dangerous - Featuring Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie! That in itself is weird enough to give it bonus points, particularly since she sounds amazing on this track. Also, I can really relate to the lyrics of this song ("Rebel of this party, I'm in love with all of your danger"). Musically it's not my favourite on the album, but it's cool and has a neat crunchy sound on the rhythm track. And Fergie wants to sleep with me. Nice.

Result: Axl's lyrics are better, but Slash has Fergie spinning on a pole. Winner = SLASH

Track Four:

Street Of Dreams - Oh man this is one of if not my favourite track from Chinese Democracy. Beautiful but mean lyrics, a sense of abandonment and loss that is underlined by a great piano melody, cool bass line and understated but powerful guitar. I'm listening to these songs as I'm typing and just heard the line "What I thought was beautiful don't live inside of you anymore" and it moved me. Great solo too. Wow, why wasn't this a single? Rivals the "real" GN'R.

S: Back From Cali - Featuring Myles Kennedy. WHO? Well the short answer is I don't know who he is and I don't care because he is AWESOME!!!! This is one of my favourite songs on this album. KILLER guitar. Awesome. Great vocals. A cry for help to be saved from a metphor. I love it. Why are they making this so hard???? The last line of the song "And all I want is to come home...." Amazing.

Result: Damn I love both these songs so much it's crazy. I really want Myles Kennedy to be Slash's new permanent singer (barring a GN'R reunion of course) He fits sooo well it's madness. I cannot understate how great this song is.

But Street of Dreams is sooo good too. I can't decide. TIE

Track Five:

If The World - Neat music, and some interesting lyrics, but Axl's singing WAY TOO HIGH! Cool lyrics though.

S: Promise - Featuring Chris Cornell. He's a great singer but this isn't his best work. Lyrically it's kinda meh and the singing is proficient but doesn't move me or anything . I do really like the guitar work and this song has a really funky sound that I enjoy.

Result: We go from two amazing entries to two lackluster ones. Regardless, I think I'll give this one to SLASH. If nothing else it's amazing he got Chris to work with him after the incidents on the Soundgarden/GN'R tour. Something about sex dolls onstage??

Track Six:

There Was A Time - Brass instruments to open and great guitars. I also love this song for it's lyrical content. It's another one about the girl who seemed amazing at first but turned out to be crazy. Why do I relate to these things? That's crazy.... Okay I just read the lyrics and they're such a story that it's awesome and I relate even more. Great tune!

S: By The Sword - Featuring Andrew Stockdale of Wolfmother. Cool tune with a great guitar hook and cool lyrics, if a little too reminiscent of Zeppelin. Makes me want to listen to Wolfmother, who I have thus far skipped as a band. Very good sound but does it MEAN anything??

Result: I like By The Sword a lot, but I have to give this one to AXL

Track Seven:

Catcher In The Rye - A nice song. It has a sort of sense of peace. Then again It's the peace of a storm brewing on the horizon. Very solid and enjoyable. I really like the melody. Lyrically it's got some nice lines too, I appreciate the message although I'm not sure I understand the book reference.

S: Gotten - Featuring Adam Levine of Maroon 5, a band I really don't like. However, I love his lyrics and vocals on this song. This song also has a real sense of peace and beauty. It's bittersweet in a way. I really like some of the lines too ("I've been saving these last words for/one last miracle/but now I'm not sure" and "Do not make me think of him/the way he touched your fragile skin/that haunts me every day") Awesome.

Result: This is a tough call. I'm tempted to make it a tie but since it's won me over to Adam Levine and his awesome lyrics I will give the win to SLASH

Track Eight:

Scraped - It's an interesting track...some cool guitar parts and an interesting melody. BUT I am not really feeling it.

S: Doctor Alibi - Featuring Lemmy from Motorhead! This song is silly fun and I love it!!! "Doctor I ain't gonna die/Just write me an alibi!" It's totally just great rock and roll. And I don't even like Motorhead particularly.

Result: No Brainer. SLASH!

Track Nine:

Riad N' The Bedouins - Very interesting lyrics. I don't know what it means, but it's cool and some great lines. Interesting musically too. A different sound than the rest of the album, which nicely breaks it up. Cool.

S: Watch This - Featuring Dave Grohl on drums and Duff McKagan on bass. Sadly there are no lyrics. Thankfully the song stands without them. Killer drums, killer bass and really REALLY killer guitar parts. It holds my interest without lyrics, and that's very rare.

Result: Wow I never would normally award a song without lyrics cause I'm a poet at heart but SLASH FTW!

Track Ten:

Sorry - Oh I love this song. I don't have any evidence to back this up, but I like to think it's Axl singing about Slash. In a way it could be Axl singing to society at large or just any of his detractors as well. There is one awkward line though. He rhymes "in" with "in". I hate that. Of course Slash's album is guilty of that in several songs. Other than that I love this song. "I'm sorry for you/not sorry for me..."

S: I Hold On - Featuring Kid Rock, not sounding very much like himself. It's a very decent rock track though. One of the few tracks with a piano/keyboard part on the album which I love. Good song.

Result: Well, I really like the Slash song but I've gotta give this one to AXL I relate more to his song and it's just not as generic.

Track Eleven:

I.R.S. - This song starts with a neat bit where Axl is trying to sound just like the lead guitar. It's also got a great melody and is sort of a story. Pretty guitars, cool track.

S: Nothing To Say - with M. Shadows of Avenged Sevenfold (isn't that a great band name? Reference to Cain and Abel. Cool). This song doesn't do much for me EXCEPT it's got Slash playing like a real heavy thrash guitarist. I can't believe the speed he goes at...it's like Van Halen meets Megadeth. Very cool.

Result: Both songs have some really cool stuff in them. Neither stands out to me. If I was more of a heavy metal fan Slash'd get it as I am really impressed by his guitar work here but since it's not my thing...TIE

Track Twelve:

A: Madagascar - Neat song, cool start with a horn section and good lyrics. Also it will go down in history as the song that finally killed my computer speakers. Now I'm listening to it in the mono built in back-up speaker. Lame. Cool track though. Even if it now sounds like a ring tone. Slash will suffer the same fate of hardware.

S: Starlight - Featuring Myles Kennedy again and HANDS DOWN THE BEST SONG ON THE ALBUM. Killer amazing guitar from beginning to end, I ADORE the lyrics...the vocals make we want to weep in a good way. Beautiful song, worthy of anything Slash has ever played on. Only problem is it has that one line that is lyrically redundant. "That leaves us scared and so afraid". Same thing boys. If you'd just said "YEAH so afraid" it wouldn't stick out. It's a minor flaw. I still LOVE this song.

Result: Madagascar is a good song but I LOVE STARLIGHT! SLASH!!!!!

Track Thirteen:

A: This I Love - Oh man this is one of the most Beautiful songs I ever heard. I adore the piano, string arrangement and especially the lyrics and vocals. If it was track twelve I think it would even beat Starlight. It's so sad and yet so uplifting at the same time. I've actually broken down and cried listening to this song. AMAZING!

S: Saint Is A Sinner Too - featuring Rocco DeLuca, Google informs me he's mostly a solo artist who was also in a band. Yeah whatever. He's a great singer and this is a very cool track. I like the lyrics and it's got an acoustic, sort of spanish sounding guitar part that is very nice. I love all the different sounds on this album...I'd thought a Slash solo album would sound like one big song, but it really doesn't, and songs like this help that. Great track.

Result: Good try Slash, but you're not gonna beat This I Love. AXL!!

Track Fourteen:

A: Prostitute - The final track on Chinese Democracy and a fitting epilogue..."If my intentions are misunderstood/please be kind, I've done all I could..." I really like this song. Again, it's sweet in some ways (despite the name). Musically and lyrically it's incredibly strong and has a cool string/synth rhythm part that I enjoy a lot.

S: We're All Gonna Die - Featuring Iggy Pop. This is the final track on the "regular" version of the album, and it's not nearly as good as an epilogue as Axl's Prostitute. Actually it's the weakest song on the album IMO.

Result: It's so easy for AXL.

Since this is where both albums officially end, lets tally up the scores:

Ties = 3

Axl Wins = 5

Slash Wins = 6

Well it was very close, but the winner is SLASH!!! I'm not surprised. But very solid showing.

Oh, there are 3 more tracks on my deluxe version of the Slash album. Those are

Bonus One: SAHARA - Featuring Koshi Inaba, of some Japanese hard rock band. He sings in English here though. It's a cool track, although nothing jumps out at me. Worth a listen....the singer sounds a bit like Sebastian Bach, and the guitar solo is cool.

Bonus Two: Baby Can't Drive - This song features Alice Cooper and Nicole Scherzinger, whom Google informs me is the lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls!!! How bizarre. It's a great song too. More silly fun rock and I like it a lot. "If you wanna survive, wanna get there alive, then baby can't drive/baby can't drive" Awesome!

Bonus Three: Paradise City - Featuring Cypress Hill and Fergie of B.E.P. This is an incredible remake of the original Guns N' Roses song. It works shockingly well and makes me want to see the original Gunners go on tour with Fergie instead of Axl. I love how it's super faithful too and yet completely different from the original. Funky beat and just really cool. Some fans are against it 'cause, let's face it, nothing is ever going to be cooler than the original Paradise City. I mean, 23 years and it's still one of my all time favourite songs. This version breathes some new life into it and has the same feel to me. Same excitement and energy and awesome!

Definitely buy the deluxe version of Slash's album for the bonus tracks. They're worth the extra couple bucks. Great album. Great Albums!!! Now if only these two musical geniuses would get together and take their half-a-winning-album each and make a new REAL Gun's N' Roses album.

Probably never happen, but a boy can dream.

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