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"99 Live" (Spitfire)
"The Hangover" (Spitfire Records)
"Rubber" (Spitfire Records)

"Swag" (Spitfire Records)

"Swag" (Spitfire Records; 2002)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

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Gilby Clarke's latest is a near perfect hard rock record. Heavily guitar-driven, "Swag" reminds me of classic Thin Lizzy and, yes, Guns N' Roses albums. It's rock'n'roll in its purest form without straying from its roots. It's the kind of record that should get lots of airplay if those behind the buttons pull their head out of their asses long enough to give it a listen. 

Clarke's guitar and vocals are impressive here but the addition of Tracii Guns's guitar on two tracks, "Alien" and "Under the Gun," brings things up another notch. Eric Singer, one of the best drummers in hard rock, also appears on a couple of tracks. 

"Swag" isn't really heavy metal, at least not by today's standards. But it is hard rock, a la the aforementioned Thin Lizzy and Guns N'Roses. Clarke's writing style keeps the pace steady and entertaining without ever pandering to the "hit-makers." The CD climaxes solidly with a rowdy, bluesy cover of David Bowie's "Diamond Dogs." 

I know that Gilby Clarke has released more solo projects than any other previous Guns N'Roses member but it wasn't until "Swag" that I started paying attention. Now I realize I'll have to go back and discover his catalog - not a bad task to endure, at all. 

Performing on "Swag" are: Gilby Clarke - guitars, vocals; Brian Tichy - drums, backing vocals; Stefan Adika - bass; Derek Sharinian - synthesizer; Tracii Guns - lead guitars; Kyle Vincent - backing vocals; Johnny Griparic - bass; Tim Karr - backing vocals; Teddy Andreadis - harmonica; David Raven - drums; Clem Burke - drums; Brent Fitz - drums; Eric Singer - drums. 

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"99 Live" (Spitfire Records; 2000)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

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This apparently intimate live performance (the audience doesn't sound very big) was recorded in 1999 in Hollywood, CA (where else?). "99 Live" captures the former Gun N' Roses guitarslinger with a terrific backing band (including Tracii Guns and Eric Singer) playing various songs from his comparatively prolific career (up to that point). It's a great cross-section of tunes, a charismatic performance, and, for the most part, features strong production throughout.

Highlights include "Black," "Kilroy Was Here," "Motorcycle Cowboys" and "Tijuana Jail," which closes out the CD with a bluesy, 10-minute jam. As always, Clarke's music is closer to the Rolling Stones than Black Sabbath, but it'll still kick your ass.

Gilby Clarke - vocals, guitar; Stefan Adika - bass, vocals; Tracii Guns - guitar, vocal; Eric Singer - drums, vocals.

"Rubber" (Spitfire Records; 1998)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

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Clarke's "Rubber" rocks a little more evenly and a little harder than its predecessor, "The Hangover." At times, it even comes close to that Gun N'Roses hard rock, especially on tracks like "The Hell's Angels" and "Saturday Disaster." Unlike "The Hangover," "Rubber" is a much more balanced album, with rockers like "Kilroy Was Here," the two previously mentioned songs and a rock solid version of Janis Joplin's "Mercedes Benz" leading the pack. This CD never droops or drags anywhere, although the final track, "Frankie's Planet," does get a little weird.

Throughout, Clarke's impressive guitar style and songwriting are apparent. From the hard rockers (see above paragraph) to the punk rockers ("Trash") to tunes that are Rolling Stones-esque ("Sorry I Can't Write a Song About You") "Rubber" rocks. The production, by the way, is crisp and clear and nearly perfect.

As mentioned elsewhere on this page, Clarke is arguably the most prolific member of the Guns 'Roses family. With albums as strong as "Rubber," that's good news.

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"The Hangover" (Spitfire Records; 1997)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

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In anticipation of the forthcoming new CD by former Guns'n'Roses guitarist Gilby Clarke, Spitfire Records has re-released several of his previous CDs. "The Hangover" was originally issued in 1997.

Clarke, arguably, is the most prolific former member of GNR. While Axl runs around trying to figure out what the new sound will be and while Slash does guest appearance after guest appearance (with an occasional stint as Snakepit), Clarke has been pumping out the CDs. 

"The Hangover" isn't a great CD, but it isn't a bad one either. It's a little uneven, with 11 songs that each sound like they could have come from a different album but it's entertaining enough. Clarke's guitar is only occasionally as sharp as it's been in the past, the songwriting isn't quite as tight and the whole thing still has a kind of 80s retro feel to it. But none of it is terminally so. The bottom line is that the CD doesn't rock as well as "Appetite for Destruction" but it's not supposed to. This isn't GNR, after all, it's Gilby Clarke. 

What really stands out about Clarke's music is that he's one of those people you recognize is rocking because he loves it, not because it's his job. Clarke obviously enjoys what he does and that enjoyment gives him a special kind of freedom that is apparent throughout. That adds to the record's listenability instantly.

Not the definitive Clarke record, but a good one "The Hangover" probably never got the recognition it deserved. Kind of like Gilby Clarke.

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Rating Guide:

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) A classic. This record will kick your ass.

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes)retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) So-so. You've heard better.

retinysaw.gif (295 bytes) Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

restinks.jpg (954 bytes) Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright 2003 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 20 Jun 2018 01:36:50 -0400.