Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Slash's Autobiography

Slash - by Slash with Anthony Bozza

Yet another rock star autobiography, huge sections of which are probably ghost-written by some dude. In this case, the dude is Anthony Bozza, who also "helped" Tommy Lee write "Tommyland".

Slash is best known for being the lead guitar player of Guns'N'Roses, but also for having recorded with Michael Jackson ("Give In To Me" and "Black And White") and for his two post-GnR band incarnations - Slash's Snakepit and Velvet Revolver. The latter is basically Guns'N'Roses sans Axl, as it includes drummer Matt Sorum and bass player Duff McKagan. Whether or not that's a good thing depends entirely on whether you think the vocals are the strong point of GnR or not. At any rate, if you're a Guns fan, Velvet Revolver is pretty much where it's at for record releases though, because "Chinese Democracy" has been a long time coming, and there's no realistic release date in sight.

As can be expected, most of the book is about Saul Hudson's time in Guns'N Roses. Luckily for me, this entails more than just tales of drug use, groupies and overall debauchery, as songwriting, recording and even auditioning new members is dealt with extensively. The latter is what I really enjoy reading about, but I'm also a sucker for any description of the mythical Hollywood/Sunset Boulevard scene of the 80's.

Being the autobiography of a rock star with a sizeable ego, "Slash" contains plenty of sections dealing with how he's an awesome guitar player and how other guitarists suck, and how GnR was not at all like the glam scene back at Sunset, but rather not being caught up in all that hair metal nonsense. Quite early in the book, Slash describes how he used to play guitar in a band which at one point had featured shredder extraordinaire Paul Gilbert. According to Slash, he could also play fast like Yngwie and Paul Gilbert, but he didn't want to, 'cause it wasn't his thing. Right. This, buy the way, is written some two chapter prior to him describing how it took a really long time for him to be able to nail the lead riff in "Sweet Child O' Mine" without messing it up live. Axl also gets high praise as "by far the best singer in LA during the 80's". Moreover, the other LA bands (with the exception of Mötley Crüe) also played out of tune and generally sucked. This is quite funny considering that the two things which have always stood out to me whenever I hear a live recording of guns are i) guitars are out of tune, and ii) Axl rose sings off-key. Compare this to live recordings of, say, Poison - which are relentlessly belittled in this book - and you'll find that Bret Michaels doesn't sing off-key, and CC DeVille, although quite limited from a guitar-technical standpoint, stays in tune more often than Slash/Izzy. Funny how rose-tinted the vision of days gone by can appear. Slash's oft-repeated contempt for the hair spray and make-up of the general 80's hair metal band also appears somewhat hypocritical if you take a look at pretty much any band photo of Guns - especially Axl and Duff.

Overall I really enjoyed this book, despite the fact that it's obviously written by Anthony Bozza. I don't see high-school drop-out Saul Hudson using words like "sartorial" and "wherewithal" that often. I've certainly never seen him use them in any interviews.

What would be really interesting is an Axl Rose autobiography......


Anders said...

which are probably ghost-written by some dude

Ghost-written book goes really well with ghost-buildt Les Pauls...

I don't see high-school drop-out Saul Hudson using words like "sartorial" and "wherewithal" that often. I've certainly never seen him use them in any interviews.

Maybe not in interviews, but he uses it a lot in his lyrics. On top of my head, it goes something like:
"Take me down to sartorial city
wherewithal is green
and the girls are pretty
Oh, please take home"

Wilhelm said...

Gold, Chief