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Slash feat. Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators – Living The Dream album review

Iconic axeslinger Slash makes a bid for the history books with Living The Dream

Slash – Living The Dream album cover
Living The Dream

Slash - Living The Dream album cover

1. The Call Of The Wild
2. Serve You Right
3. My Antidote
4. Mind Your Manners
5. Lost Inside The Girl
6. Read Between The Lines
7. Slow Grind
8. The One You Loved Is Gone
9. Driving Rain
10. Sugar Cane
11. The Great Pretender
12. Boulevard Of Broken Hearts

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In the final scene of Christopher Nolan’s 2008 Batman epic The Dark Knight, police commissioner Jim Gordon famously tells his son that the enigmatic crime-fighter is “the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now.” Similarly, Slash’s new solo album – his first since 2014, when the prospect of him making peace with Axl Rose and embarking on a multi-year, half-a-billion-dollar-grossing world tour with Guns N’ Roses seemed like nothing more than a comic book fantasy – might not be the record we deserve, but it is apparently the one we need right now, even if we didn’t realise it.

It will be a shame, however, if people dwell on what Living The Dream isn’t, and overlook what it actually is: namely, the Aerosmith record fans have been begging that band to make for decades. Featuring a dozen impressive, well-crafted tracks that would each elevate the quality of a rock radio station’s playlist considerably, Living The Dream is a far more digestible listen than its sprawling, 77-minute predecessor, World On Fire. It’s also a scintillating flashback to an era when bands with big-voiced frontmen and their hotshot guitarist sidekicks ruled the planet, and, as songs such as Sugar Cane and Driving Rain prove, the dynamic duo of Slash and Myles Kennedy could likely hold their own against the heroes of generations past.

The record opens with the anti-technology barn-burner The Call Of The Wild, which features many of the album’s trademarks: a sneering, uptempo riff that simultaneously nods to both garage rock and funk; a memorable chorus with walls of vocal harmonies; and a seemingly effortless solo that spotlights the skills of a guitarist who, despite his iconic status, probably doesn’t get enough credit for his routinely pitch-perfect playing. There’s even some cowbell thrown in for good measure. From there, Serve You Right – the lyrics of which were reportedly inspired by a painting of a masturbating nun hanging on the bathroom wall of Slash’s recording studio – sees the guitarist do his best impression of Jimmy Page via a bluesy Britrock riff that drips with barroom bluster. It’s a fun track, but it pales in comparison to its successors, My Antidote, which recalls the unmistakable swagger of You Could Be Mine, and the AC/DC-like, balls-out boogie of Mind Your Manners. Other notable tracks include Read Between The Lines, the best song Jimi Hendrix never wrote; the long-distance love story Lost Inside The Girl, which is arguably the album’s most adventurous cut; The Great Pretender, the lyrical guitar lines of which would surely earn Slash the right to score The Godfather Part IV; and the soaring melodic ballad The One You Loved Is Gone, the type of lighter-waving anthem that made bands’ careers in the late 80s.

Considering the overwhelming success of GN’R’s Not In This Lifetime tour, there was no real need for Slash to make this album. Whether he did so out of loyalty to Myles Kennedy and his fellow Conspirators or whether he’s playing mental chess to force Axl’s next move is irrelevant, for in the end, Living The Dream is Slash’s finest moment since Snakepit. Long may it continue.