More important than his years in the Guns N' Roses touring band are Gilby Clarke's days as a guitarist for Kills for Thrills. It was these years in the Los Angeles rock scene that exposed Clarke to the sort of influences that he displays on Swag, his fourth original studio album. The music here evokes all sorts of bands from that scene, from the hedonistic swagger of Faster Pussycat to the clever pop/rock of European imports Hanoi Rocks to the punk-influenced pop of Dramarama. What Clarke may lack in originality he makes up for in spirit, as he really puts in a great performance. His songwriting has grown since he first left Guns N' Roses; he now seems to be more comfortable performing edgier, less Stones-influenced material. That may be a disappointment to some fans, but hundreds of bands sound like the Rolling Stones and very few bands still sound like Hanoi Rocks. There are several excellent rockers on the album, from the dark and winding "Heart of Chrome" to the infectious post-punk of "I'm Nobody." The best song could possibly be "Alien," the excellent opener that seems right out of the Sunset Strip circa 1988, complete with guitar from L.A. Guns mainstay Tracii Guns. Appearances from former Kiss drummer Eric Singer, Candy singer Kyle Vincent, and former Blondie/Dramarama drummer Clem Burke round out the big name sidemen, while many of the other musicians here are recent additions to the Los Angeles rock scene. Clarke knows his pop/rock, and he apparently is quite adept at making it, so this is a perfect album for those who miss the clever rock bands who were buried during the hair metal explosion of the late '80s and subsequent grunge revolution. This is also a good album for those unfamiliar with the scene, as Clarke not only encompasses many of those elements, but this album is probably a lot easier to find than any Faster Pussycat albums.
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AllMusic Review by Bradley Torreano