Believe In Me: Duff “Rose” McKagan

Rating: 50%

Believe_in_Me.jpgAfter the Guns n’ Roses break up, Duff McKagan broke out on his solo career. In 1993, “Believe in Me” was released. Upon hearing this for the first time, I thought that it was different. One can hear many of the influences he brought to and from GNR. Duff plays most of the instruments on this album with some of his old band mates making special appearances.

Musically, one can hear punk, hard rock and also some bluesy and jazzy elements throughout the record. Some of the old GNR hard/metal sounds are clearly heard on songs like “Believe in Me.” “Punk Rock Song” is one of those songs you can hear the punk influence. “Lonely Tonight” is a laid back song with that jazzy and bluesy influences that almost seems to be a song you hear in an high society bar. “Fucked Up Beyond Belief” is another song that has some jazz influences that are mixed with heavy metal. There’s even a rap song on here, “Fuck You.” Many of the  songs are ballads or partial ballads. With regards to the ballads, I have to ask why so many? “I Love You”, “Man in the Meadow”, “Could it Be You”, and “10 Years” are all ballads which is almost half of the album.

So, what about Duff and his guests? Well, the musicianship is good and Duff knows hows to play everything. With regards as a signer, he is no Axle Rose, but if he would have stayed with punk music, he might have made a better early career. He does write songs and some of them are good.

Music wise, there’s a lot going on here from song to song. It’s almost as if Duff had written these songs and they were rejected by GNR and he later recorded them for this album. The album does have some nice melodies and some decent songs. But I am glad that got this used as this opener for the solo career starts out weak. I have heard some of his newer stuff with Loaded Revolver and its a hell of a lot better than his earlier stuff.

Track listing:

“Believe in Me” (featuring Slash) – 3:23
“I Love You” – 4:14
“Man in the Meadow” – 4:50
“(F@*ked Up) Beyond Belief” (featuring Jeff Beck and Matt Sorum) – 3:29
“Could It Be U” (featuring Dizzy Reed) – 3:04
“Just Not There” (featuring Slash) – 3:34
“Punk Rock Song” – 1:37
“The Majority” (featuring Lenny Kravitz) – 3:10
“10 Years” (featuring Gilby Clarke) – 4:29
“Swamp Song” (featuring Jeff Beck) – 3:04
“Trouble” (featuring Sebastian Bach and Dave “The Snake” Sabo) – 3:12
“F@*k You” – 3:24
“Lonely Tonite” – 3:03

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Self titled: Rage Against the Machine

Rating: 90%

RageAgainsttheMachineRageAgainsttheMachine.jpgIn 1992, Rage Against the Machine released their self titled debut album. I must say, I had mixed feelings about this album when it was released. The radio played a censored version of “Killing in the Name Of” which became the band’s trademark song. But, when I found this album used at a pawnshop in Frederick for $1.00, the minute I listened to it, I was blown away. I never heard anything like this before. Zack de la Rocha’s vocal work is strong, Tom Morello’s guitar style is truly amazing. He makes more sounds on the guitar that I never heard before up to that point. Bassist Tim Commerford is very talented and so is drummer Brad Wilk.

Musically, Rage Against the Machine has a mixture of heavy metal riffs with rap and funk influences. Lot’s of good and upbeat tempos. There’s a balance to the metal side vs the rap side of the album. Structurally, this album is well done. The musicianship is very tight and very good.  Morello’s guitar work redefined the guitar. The bass lines are also very good. The drums are at their best. Between the three main musicians and de la Rocha vocals, which that man can sing and he can rap, makes this album a highly influential album for all time. Production wise, this album sounds great and there’s hardly no background noise. It’s almost as if the band is there with you when you listen to the album. It’s not hard to understand why this album was voted among the 1001 albums you need to hear before you die.

Lyrically, all the songs contain a political protest message or deal with social inequality. The songs “Bombtrack” is a good example of the social inequality. The song “Killing in the Name Of” is a great example of racial tensions in the country and features the word “Funk” upwards to 17 times. But, to the band’s credit, they are using it in context of the art. “Bullet in the Head” is a song about the government’s influence over the media.

Track listing:

1. “Bombtrack” 4:04
2. “Killing in the Name” 5:14
3. “Take the Power Back” 5:37
4. “Settle for Nothing” 4:48
5. “Bullet in the Head” 5:07
6. “Know Your Enemy” 4:55
7. “Wake Up” 6:04
8. “Fistful of Steel” 5:31
9. “Township Rebellion” 5:24
10. “Freedom”

I’m the Man: Anthrax

Rating: 85%

AnthraxI'mTheMan.jpgThe year was 1987. This was the year that Rap Metal was born. Anthrax who wanted build that bridge between the worlds of rap and metal, decided to do an EP, doing just that. The end result was an EP that was fun with lots of humor and more importantly, bridging the that gap.

Well, they did it and “I’m the Man” was born, although the song had been  rumored to be around for a few years prior. The song was like taking classic Thrash Metal and throwing the Beastie Boys into the mix and that is where Rap Metal was formed. But, Anthrax took it to the mainstream and it caught on.

This EP has three versions of the “I’m the Man” song on it. One is the radio edit, the other is unedited and then you have a live version. Musically, the EP works. Structurally, the EP is sound. Production wise, it’s not bad. There’s a good bit of humor in the lyrics. On the song itself, Joey Belladonna is the lead vocals and drums. The guitar work of Dan Spitz and Scott Ian is good. They managed to rap along very well in the song too on vocals. Charlie Benante drumming is solid as is his backing  and lead vocals on “I’m the Man”. Frank Bello’s vocal work is good and his bass lines are clearly heard. This song has snip its of Metallica’s “Master of Puppets”, the introduction of “Fight for Your Right to Party”, Beastie Boys and “Shut up” by Run DMC.

Anthrax covered “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath” which is performed in classic Thrash Metal style. For a cover song, Anthrax pretty much hit the ball out of the park. The EP ends with two live songs, “Caught in a Mosh”  and “I Am the Law”. Both of these sound fairly good for being a live version. All and all, Anthrax would influence many younger musicians that would enter the world of Rap Metal and Nu Metal.