I have no idea why it comes as a shock that the debut solo album from the longest serving member of Guns N’ Roses (apart from Axl) would be tasty, but it is a shock, and it is rather tasty. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s G’n’R keyboardist Dizzy Reed, so you could be forgiven for expecting an album full of self indulgent piano noodling, but rather than battering the listener over the head with his own interpretations of Beethoven classics or a Jazz workout, Reed has opted to go with an album of material ripe for a Saturday night in your local dive.
Although the vast majority of the album is guitar-driven glam rock n’ roll, Reed can be heard quite clearly tinkling the ivories. It’s his party after all, so its only to be expected that he is high up in the mix, but he never overstays his welcome. His voice is actually quite strong, and that provides another surprise. Think Gerard Way when ‘Teenagers’ was the hottest three minutes in music, not a classic rock voice, but one with a hint of glam behind it. Exhibit A: ‘Cheers 2 R Oblivion’, with its bubblegum power pop vibe, could easily have come from the same session that saw My Chemical Romance produce the ‘Danger Days’ album. Exhibit B: ‘Dirty Bomb’, and its Bolan inspired joie de vivre that is catchier than a dose down the local docks. Same with the towering ‘Fragile Water’ and ‘Mystery In Exile’, glam rock for 2018. Opening track, ‘This Don’t Look Like Vegas’, along with ‘Mother Theresa’ and the magnificent ‘Crestfallen’, might suggest that the album is going down the G’n’R route, but anyone expecting a straight copycat would be better off checking out any of the multiple tribute bands out there. ‘Rock ‘N Roll Ain’t Easy’ is more Camden Town than Sunset Strip. Anyone old enough to remember Bolan, Bowie as Ziggy Stardust or during ‘Aladdin Sane’, Sweet, or the original Alice Cooper band will find much to enjoy on the album. ‘I Celebrate’ has a delicious snarl to the vocals from Reed, and you will believe that a saxophone can sound sinister, whereas ‘Forgotten Cases’ proves how much of an influence Elton John was on Axl, and perhaps Dizzy Reed himself? ‘Rock ‘N Roll Ain’t Easy’ is jammed with special guests, Ricky Warwick co-wrote ‘This Don’t Look Like Vegas’, and also lends his guitar skills to the track. Reed’s cohort and fellow gunner Richard Fortus also makes an appearance as do a few members of W.A.S.P.
Not the album that I was expecting by a country mile. A pleasant surprise.
Available through Golden Robot Records on February 16th. More information here.
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