Thursday, February 7, 2008

Slash's Snakepit

It's Five O' Clock Somewhere (1995, Geffen)

Probably the most high-profile of all the Guns' side projects.

Lots of people bought this album.

Slash's first solo album - must be full of sick guitar work, right?

Well, yeah, pretty much. Even though this album has taken quite a few knocks over the years, and its not as bad as some would have you believe, I think that the Snakepit is most maligned for what it isn't: Guns N' Roses.

When GN'R finished the Illusion tours, the band went home for a well deserved vacation.

Slash says that he's "not one to stay around the house smelling the roses", so instead of gardening, he built a home studio nicknamed The Snakepit.

Matt Sorum came over, and they started arranging some material that Slash wrote.

Slash put on the bass and rhythm guitars, and then former GN'R rhythm guitarist, Gilby Clarke came around and put in some new rhythm guitar.

For bass, Slash picked up Mike Inez of Alice in Chains, but finding a singer was difficult.

40 singers were auditioned before Slash found Eric Dover, formerly of Jellyfish.

Slash and Eric worked well and quickly together with lyrics written the day vocals were recorded.

In fact, all the guys worked easily together and experienced none of the heavy scrutiny they are used to when working with their home bands.

It's Five O'Clock Somewhere starts out pretty great. Slash's acoustic guitar intro (and outro) on "Neither Can I" sets a dark mood that lasts throughout the disc. My favorite lyric in this song paints a pretty accurate picture of what we're talkin about here:

Mommy and Daddy I've borrowed the car to sleep on the floor
I'm sorry so much
For bringing my own living hell to your door

In fact, the first time I listened to this disc - I was sleeping (days) on the floor of my (own) pickup truck. Its a pretty depressing song, but great to listen to when pretty depressed.

In preparation for this article, I listened to this record almost exclusively for a couple of weeks. Every time my brother-in-law, who sleeps/lives in his car, saw this CD sitting on the table, he exclaimed "Oh! That's a great album!"

"Dime Store Rock," "Good to be Alive," "Take it Away," and "Be the Ball" all rock in a similar Appetite-like vein (pun intended).

On "Dime Store Rock," Slash just wails on his guitar, on and on and on, laying down some real "Nightrain"-like shredding. The end of the song evolves into a slow, psychedelic jam, where Slash just shreds some more.

"Beggars & Hangers-on" is a Black Crowes style ballad.

"Good to be Alive" features some more great playing from Slash accompanied by some pretty awkward lyrics.

"Monkey Chow," written by Gilby Clarke is my favorite song on this disc. Its a 4 minute, evil, up-tempo, rock song. Everyone sounds good on this track. Matt plays some good cowbell, Slash rips it up - think Alice In Chains meets The Allman Bros.
Its a mean motherfucking tune. Rock, rock, rock, rock. And Roll.

"Soma City Ward" and "Jizz da Pit" (instrumental) are a couple of throwaways, the latter being more of a studio jam than an insrtrumental song.

With "Lower," we finally get to the Alice in Chains section of the album. Slash plays some talk box guitar to accompany what Alice would sound like if Sebastian Bach were their lead singer.

"Be the Ball" is a pretty good track, it wouldn't sound out of place on Use Your Illusion, think "You Could Be Mine," but with corny lyrics.

"I Hate Everybody (But You)" has an epic feel to it. Its an appropriate song to close a set or an album, but once again, the singing and words are ... awkward.

Clearly, Eric Dover (who?) is no Axl Rose.

The album's finale, "Back and Forth Again," opens with some church organ, followed by Dover singing quietly over Slash's acoustic guitar. Once the rest of the band kicks in, they try earnestly to muster some real emotion, there's even a hook in the bridge.

But there's the problem. Hooks, or lack there of. Eric Dover and Slash apparently can't write them. Its apparent from this album that Axl, Izzy, and Duff all trump Slash in the songwriting category. The lyrics here are trite and clumsy, and there just isn't anything in this album that really sticks in one's head.

But don't worry kids, their second CD is better.


Anonymous said...

hook or not 5 o clock kicks ass , i could picture axl singing most of these songs , which were first offered to him by slash but turned them down . appetite is the greatest rock album of all time as far as i am concerned . 5 o clock is the closest I have ever heard to having that appetite sound . sometimes I wonder what the world would be like if the material had been part of a guns album ,,,Eric,,Keystone heights,FL

Anonymous said...

This album is a grower.

I've been listening to it for years and it just keeps getting better and better.

Back and forth Again, I hate everybody but you, etc.these songs have the guns sleaze without the NR and Illusions-era Dizzy Reed nonsense that destroyed the band.

Give it another listen.
J.K., Brooklyn, NY

Mack Arillo said...

You guys are right - it's a grower.