Timing your gigs and recording sessions around an unpredictable (and occasionally incarcerated) new lead singer might not seem the most auspicious start for a band. But when the singer is former Stone Temple Pilot Scott Weiland and the other musicians include Slash, Duff McKagan, and Matt Sorum--all veterans of Guns N' Roses--it's just business as usual. And these circumstances don't seem to have affected the supergroup's performance any, as evidenced by the outfit's raucous debut, CONTRABAND.
"Sucker Train Blues" roars out of the starting block, rocking like there's no tomorrow, with Weiland's seething vocals riding the six-string whirlwind generated by guitar supremo Slash and his new sidekick Dave Kushner. "Big Machine," with its doubtlessly autobiographical storyline about the pitfalls of stardom, melds the ring of truth with the voice of experience. The anthemic "Fall to Pieces" has echoes of vintage GNR, and Slash's "Sweet Child o' Mine"-like guitar intro to "Superhuman" similarly rolls back the years to his former band's late-1980s heyday. Far from being '80s-metal retreads in search of a new niche, though, the reenergized members of Velvet Revolver wipe the slate clean and rededicate themselves to take-no-prisoners rock & roll with CONTRABAND.
Rolling Stone (p.153) - Included in Rolling Stone's Top 50 Records Of 2004 - "[V]icious, unapologetic Sunset Strip glam-metal classicism..."
Entertainment Weekly (pp.79-80) - "Like a refurbished Corvette tearing down Sunset Strip, they're determined to rock, dammit, and they go about their job with a revved-up efficiency." - Grade: B-
Q (p.127) - 4 stars out of 5 - "An old-school arena rock album enlivened by Weiland's Beatles-esque melodies and chameleon delivery."
Mojo (Publisher) (p.107) - 4 stars out of 5 - "CONTRABAND is a guilty pleasure....Velvet Revolver shoots for the sky and erupts in fireworks."