Duff McKagan

Believe in Me

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For his solo debut, Guns N' Roses bassist Duff McKagan eschewed the elaborate studio perfectionism of his day job by recording the album virtually as a one-man band. He wrote or co-wrote all the songs and played almost all the instruments, although his GN'R bandmates Slash and Gilby Clarke, as well as Lenny Kravitz, guitar legend Jeff Beck, and Skid Row's Sebastian Bach and Snake Sabo make appearances. What's more, he obviously did not allow anyone to restrict him in any way -- clearly, nobody told him that "Fuck You," an ill-considered attempt at rap-rock, is unlistenable, or that his ballads are soppy enough to land squarely in Poison territory. Luckily, those are the album's only flaws. Though McKagan's reedy punk rock snarl sometimes hampers his emotional range, his singing fits the music and the songs are mostly focused blasts of bluesy hard rock. "Man in the Meadow" is the standout track, a moving elegy to his late friend Todd Crew of Jetboy, while "Beyond Belief" is a grinding funk track that shows McKagan's oft-stated love of Prince. Though GN'R fans will most likely get the most out of this record, listeners looking for concise, well-played hard rock should give this a listen.

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