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Sony Music International

A great musician should be passionate about music. That may seem an obvious statement but there are many people out the making a living as a musician that are not and to be honest, in the great scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter providing they play their parts well. After all, in life, we never think that a bus driver has to love driving or a person working in a pizza parlour adore pizzas so likewise, we should not expect every musician to be a music nut. Slash though, is clearly an aficionado of the classics. In fact, this album - his first solo album since 2010 - is as sincere and passionate as you can get with stellar performances on every track from everyone on it.


Some of the titles are instantly familiar and have been covered numerous times through the years but the approach Slash has taken to each song is as good as you will ever hear. He made the right decision to record them in a studio, live, with a band, making each one feel heartfelt and fresh. As a few examples there’s a blistering section by the entire band on Oh Well through which Slash solo’s true to Peter Green whilst the version of Hoochie Coochie Man goes back to the Muddy Waters original from 1954. Billy Gibbons drops a delicious vocal on it as sultry as Muddy’s ever was. (if you search for it, the actual title was I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man). When it comes to Stormy Monday, you can take your pick of any of the 200+ versions already recorded since T-Bone Walker wrote and released it in 1947 (Call It Stormy Monday But Tuesday Is Just as Bad) as a favourite but this version will jump into most people’s top five. Slash and the band are on fire on this track as Beth Hart draws on Etta James to deliver a stunning vocal.


All but one of the tracks – the instrumental - have a guest vocalist and no doubt due to his knowledge and ardour to get things right, he has chosen each guest well. Musically, the core band of Michael Jerome (d), Johnny Griparic (b) and Teddy Andreadis (k), are very capable and comfortable in both the Blues and Soul genres – that’s a rarity these days. They play off not only Slash but each other as well. The recording team of Mike Clink, David Spreng and John Spiker could not have done a better job capturing the sounds and mixing the band; I suspect everyone involved with this project is also an aficionados of the classics.


Simply put, if you like great Rock, Blues and Soul, you’ll love this album.


Track List

The Pusher (featuring Chris Robinson)

Crossroads (featuring Gary Clark Jr)

Hoochie Coochie Man (featuring Billy F. Gibbons)

Oh Well (featuring Chris Stapleton)

Key to the Highway (featuring Dorothy)

Awful Dream (featuring Iggy Pop)

Born Under a Bad Sign (featuring Paul Rodgers)

Papa Was a Rolling Stone (featuring Demi Lovato)

Killing Floor (featuring Brian Johnson)

Living for the City (featuring Tash Neal)

Stormy Monday (featuring Beth Hart)

Metal Chestnut

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Sony Music International

New bands that genuinely have something new to offer are few and far between these days, as far as Finland to be precise for that is the home country of Us. You may have not heard much about them, maybe nothing at all but they have already played the Glastonbury Festival in the UK last year and will play on three different stages at Fuji Rock this year. That’s quite an achievement for a band whose debut solo album is only just hitting the stores.


Garage Rock seems to be the category they are being labelled as but there is so much more to their music than that. Comprised of three brothers, The Theo (lead vo/g), Pan (harmonica), and Max (vo/g) and two school friends, Rasmus (b) and Levi (d), they have the ability to write songs that have the sound of today with overtones of melodies from the sixties. Couple that with their playing is frantic but never out of control and you have a sparkling combination that has never been successfully done before, a style of music that links six decades and three generations.


There is a lot to be said for this disc. For one, it was recorded in just one day à la The Beatles Please Please Me album in 1963. I do not make Beatles comparisons lightly but Underground Renaissance does have that same feel of excitement of them making their first record, the same anxiety as they see the clock ticking away and the innocence in that they didn’t know what a great record they were making; the same approach in 2024 – either deliberately or by chance - of that 1963 classic.


The energy Us creates is almost tangible and they are tight. That’s natural having grown up together but what is also noticeable is their level of musicianship. They are above average and show a maturity beyond their age. (I would wager that Pan on harmonica could easily hold his own against Jagger, Daltrey or Relf). The production is vibrant, the mix is in-your-face and loud; if it were recorded in 1963, the VU meters would be slamming against the red end.


The arrangements were obviously well rehearsed as they had been playing these songs for a couple of years but there is no going through the motions here of just laying down the tracks - their heart and soul is in every second of this recording. As a debut Rock album, this is one of the finest I have heard for many years. Their live reputation is obviously established and if this disc is anything to go by, they have a very bright recording career ahead of them.

Track List

Night Time

Snowball Season

Hop On A Cloud

Paisley Underground

Just My Situation

In & Out My Head

Citroen Blues

Carry Your Bag

Don’t Call The Cavalry

While You Danced

Black Sheep (Japan bonus track)

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