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on 17 January 2015
Guns ‘N’ Roses, eh? Discuss. For a spell they were the biggest band going, filling stadia worldwide with millions of adoring fans and selling millions of copies of everything they produced. For me personally, they will always retain a place in my memory as the first gig I ever went was one by G ’N’ R, at Wembley Stadium.

Like many acts of that era, they were a volatile grouping, with one member leaving before they ever released a record and the line up changing several times even while they were at their best. Subsequently, however, Guns ‘n’ Roses largely vanished. One huge line up change saw singer Axl Rose retain the Guns ‘N’ Roses name, but none of the original members. Supposedly the band still exist, but "Chinese Democracy" took 15 years to arrive and the follow up is already 3 years after rumour said it might appear.

Three members of the great Guns ‘N’ Roses line up have not been as idle, though. Slash, Duff and Matt Sorum got together with former Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland and set about doing what Axl hadn’t managed and produce an album of new material. The result is Velvet Revolver and their album “Contraband”. But will it sound right without Axl’s trademark whine over the top?

Rock music has had a rough ride in recent years, particularly with its biggest band being a novelty act like the Darkness. However, this harks back to the days when stadium rock was the biggest thing going. It’s not quite good enough to be able to say that the old sounds are making a comeback, but it’s a lesson to any young rock band in how things used to be, and should be, done.

Fans of either of the bands that Velvet Revolver’s members came from are not going to be disappointed with “Contraband”, although it’s Guns ‘N’ Roses fans who are going to find more they can cling on to than Stone Temple Pilots fans. Hardcore G ‘N’ R fans are likely to be disappointed, as there’s enough differences to suggest that while Velvet Revolver may not have their own distinctive sound as yet, they’ll get one with the next album. But, then, if you want a new G ‘N’ R album, you need to give Axl Rose a kick in the backside and tell him to release it.

For those who remember G ‘N’ R fondly, or for anyone who enjoyed the rock music of the 1990s, you can’t do much better than this album for an hour of nearly top class rock music. The good old days weren’t always good, but some of them were, and this album is a great reminder of those days.

This review may also appear under my name at any or all of www.ciao.co.uk, www.thebookbag.co.uk, www.goodreads.com, www.amazon.co.uk and www.dooyoo.co.uk
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on 31 December 2017
This VR album is incredible. It's filled with instant classics. Sucker Train Blues, Set Me Free, Slither and Dirty Little thing are just remarkable, well up there with the best of Guns 'n' Roses - though I will say that it doesn't ever surpass or even equal Appetite For Destruction.

It's vastly better than Chinese Democracy though. It's stripped back, the guitar playing and sound quality is much better. And I say this because I'd imagine a lot of people are wondering about how it compares to Axl's stuff.

It's generally a stronger album than Libertad. The songwriting is much better.

The thing that really stands out about this album is that it is badass. Contraband sums it up perfectly as the title. It's a dangerous album, about rage, drugs, tough guys, all the cliché stuff. And it isn't faux tough like most rock albums. They deliver on this throughout the album.

It misses the last star because there is a bit of filler on it. And while there is a lot of great songwriting on there, it never managers to come up with another Welcome to the Jungle. Lastly the guitar tones aren't the best. I hear that Slash used his classic amps (JCM800, 2225 JCM Slash, and Silver Jubilee) rather than Vintage Moderns that he used in Libertad, so that's not the problem. I think the recording quality is the problem. The guitars sound a bit flat.

But overall, amazing album. Should be reissued. It's fantastic. Leagues ahead of Chinese Democracy.
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on 4 March 2012
Took quite a while to get around to buying this album, having wanted to since hearing "Slither" on the radio. Have to say I'm glad I did. Most people probably already know this, but you get pretty much what you expect with this band. The guitar, bass and drum style of Guns 'n' Roses (the original and best) with the vocals of former Stone Temple Pilot frontman Scott Weiland.

The hard, melodic rock is still there, (as are the expletives), but Axl's wailing vocals are replaced with something a little easier on the ear. Plenty of good vocal harmonies too. The lengthy, classic Slash solos we're used to take a bit of a back seat, in favour of shorter, punkier licks and riffs. Overall, I feel they could have left 2 or 3 of the weaker tracks off the album to make the overall package stronger.

1. Sucker Train Blues:
A rip-roaring opener thats also catchy as hell. It'll get you nodding your head, tapping your foot and possibly playing air guitar too. 8/10.

2. Do It For The Kids:
A slight drop in pace but with a punchy and menacing main riff and a slightly sad-sounding chorus. Another great song. 7/10.

3. Big Machine:
Another hard-hitting mid-tempo rocker, great for playing loud in the car...or anywhere else for that matter. 8/10.

4. Illegal i Song:
A different feel this one. Quite angry, with elements of emo and grunge. Guitar work is slightly discordant - a bit Smashing Pumpkins or Jane's Addiction. If you like your songs a bit alternative, you'll like this. 7/10.

5. Spectacle:
A faster-paced number, but keeping the angry/emo feel from the previous track. Slash is let off the leash a little more here, adding a bit of flair to the generally hard punk sound. 7/10.

6. Fall To Pieces:
One of the two standout tracks on the album. A beautiful, gentle opening and quiet verses that gradually build to a huge bridge and chorus. Slash's guitar is back, sounding as good as it did with G'n'R. 10/10.

7. Headspace:
Very heavy - almost metal-sounding main riff and chorus, with slightly mellower verses. Slash gets to show off his chops again here. Nice showcase of VR's heavier, more metal side. 9/10.

8. Superhuman:
Another catchy, mid-tempo number. Bit cliched with the drink, drugs and sex references. Not the best lyrics they've penned. Good without being particularly memorable. 6/10.

9. Set Me Free:
A frantic, fast-paced stormer of a track. The familiar quiet verse / loud chorus formula. It. Just. Rocks. 8/10.

10. You Got No Right:
A slower number, with a quiet, acoustic opening that builds to a slow rock ballad. Weiland's voice really shines here. More great guitar work from the top-hatted one. 9/10.

11. Slither:
The other standout track. You've probably seen the video on MTV or heard it on radio (or played it on Guitar Hero). Just brilliant. 10/10.

12. Dirty Little Thing:
Another very catchy song, but unusally the verses are quick, while the verses are slower, which gives it an odd, quirky feel. 8/10.

13. Loving The Alien:
The obligatory acoustic ballad (with Slash playing a repeating electric lick over the top of the chorus). Very reminiscent of David Bowie's Space Oddity. 8/10.
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on 3 September 2017
When GNR meets STP

Great sound
Do not miss the songs:

01 Sucker Train Blues
06 Fall to Pieces
13 Loving the Alien
review image
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on 7 July 2004
Audioslave set the recent benchmark for what could be achieved by taking a singer from one late, great rock band (although Stone Temple Pilots were never in the same league as Guns N Roses, or, with regard to Audioslave, Soundgarden) and the guitarists and drummers from another seminal rock band.
Perfectly timed to steal the thunder from the inadequate GNR best of, Contraband fulfils all the promise the line up offered. Full of huge guitar licks and memorable solos (well, if Slash couldn't still leave an imprint on an album, who could?) and with Scott Weiland's voice providing an edge of authentic 'rock' - all deep throaty venom, but capable too (on Fall to Pieces for example) of a satisfying change of pace - Velvet Revolver prove that some bands can indeed match the hype.
As has been said, basically if you love Slither, then this is the album for you.
Good to see Weiland actually making headlines for music and not for failed rehab attempts / arrests too. Seeing his skeletal frame gyrate around in the Slither video shows that 'heavy' rock's own Mick Jagger - check the hip wiggling! - is back on that ball.
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on 12 June 2004
i honestly cant understand how anybody can listen to this album and not be completely blown away. its not even been out a week, but i know every song back to front. i consider it the greatest rock album since appetite for destruction. absolutely unbelievable - gnr with a better singer.
the fools that gave this bad reveiws must have been high on crack.
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on 4 December 2015
This review comes as I learn the sad news of Scott Wieland's passing at the age of 48, this kind of puts the review I was about to write into perspective. Always a fan of both G n R and STP I was intrigued when I learned of the formation of this band and eagerly anticipated the release of this, Contraband, their debut album. I wasn't disappointed, from the first few bars I was hooked, for me this is the sound of Rock n Roll, with influences in their sound of classic rock, metal, grunge, blues and punk and on this collection there is no songs on here to pad out the album and I have to say as I've already said previously of Juliette and The Licks the songs sounded just as good live as they do on the record, I can attest to this having seen them live in 04/05 in Birmingham and if you want proof of how good they sounded live you have the closing track on this collection being a cover of The Pistol's song Bodies played live. Sadly we only got two albums from them as shortly after the release of the second album "Libertad" the band imploded, but we do have these two albums. "Sucker Train Blues", "Big Machine" are big tunes for me and of course "Fall To Pieces" takes on a new meaning as I listen to it today. A mighty fine album you need to hear from a mighty fine band. Scott Wieland RIP.........
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on 14 June 2004
The first time i heard the album i loved the first track sucker train blues, it has a good guitar and is reminiscent of use your illusion material. Most of the album has stand out material, and the songs are very well written, the only thing you shouldt do is listen to appetite for destruction before you listen to this album. VR are completley different to GNR or STP, Scott wielands vocals are not as emotionally provoking or as powerful as axl roses but is still effective. Buy this album if you like to rock, but dont buy this album if you are expecting a another appetite for destruction, Axl Rose is taking a lifetime to realise that is impossible.
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on 21 August 2005
This album is really fantastic, it's rock and roll done properly, it's full of energy, the guitar playing is to drawer and Scott Weiland's vocals are great. There's a lot of new bands these days trying to sell themselves in the charts but these old rockers have dusted themselves off and really show the younger generation a thing or two about good music. Velvet Revolver are far better than the Stone Temple Pilots ever were too. Buy this album with confidence.
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on 21 July 2005
This album is superb, a real must for guns and roses/snakepit fans with some heavy rock tracks and some slower ones too.
The star of the show is Slash - there is some amazing guitar work here - but Scott Weilan is great too and aven though I am a big Axl Rose fan I think he probably has a better voice. This is definitely an album worth adding to your collection
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