It’s hardly uncommon for rock legends to make new music that has to compete against the memory of their past; it’s rarer for them to be in direct competition with their own history. Slash’s fourth solo album emerges in the midst of his continuing reunion with Axl Rose and Duff McKagan under the Guns N’ Roses banner, and follows the deluxe reissue of Appetite for Destruction earlier this year. In fact, Living the Dream was recorded in breaks between last year’s Guns tour ending and this one beginning. Against the past – against the most feral group in modern rock history, against his youthful self – Slash comes up short, unsurprisingly.
On its own, though, Living the Dream offers enough pleasures to be worthwhile. The riffs might not all come from the very top drawer, but Mind Your Manners slithers and slides, a dirty boogie that proves Axl wasn’t the only one listening closely to AC/DC. In fact, that Young-esque territory feels most fertile for Slash this time around: Driving Rain opens in similar fashion, providing an intangible thrill, before slipping into a strangely attractive kind of southern rock-cum-funk. Perhaps that lack of distinctiveness is the issue: for all that Slash’s guitar tone remains instantly recognisable, there’s nothing unique about the songs (The Great Pretender appears to borrow heavily from Gary Moore’s Parisienne Walkways, for example, albeit in heavier fashion). It’s always likable, and his band – with Myles Kennedy still the nearest thing to Rose you can get without having Old Tantrums himself – don’t put a foot wrong. But it never quite feels as reckless as you want it to. The car’s being driven more carefully, which might be good for the driver, but it’s less exciting for we passengers.Continue reading...
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