Velvet Revolver - Contraband 
Music Disc Reviews DualDisc
Written by Jerry Del Colliano   
Tuesday, 08 February 2005

Velvet Revolver

format: DualDisc
label: RCA/BMG
release year: 2005
1st release: 2004
performance: 9.5
sound: 7.5
reviewed by: Jerry Del Colliano

In the post-Classic Rock era, super-band Velvet Revolver has risen from the ashes of Guns N’ Roses and Stone Temple Pilots to form what many consider to be the best band in rock and roll today. Led by the tormented former Stone Temple Pilots lead singer Scott Weiland, and powered by the stellar yet sleazy guitar work of Slash from Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver is an all-star team of rock and rollers and "Contraband" contains 13 songs that prove their point.

The DualDisc release of the record is more of a mainstream release, meaning it contains music video clips and photo galleries rather than a surround sound track. There is a 20-bit stereo track on the DVD side that sounds better than the 16-bit CD on a good music playback system. The lack of a surround track is a terrible opportunity missed by BMG to give young kids and older hard rock fans a chance to hear how such a great record can be mixed into 5.1 surround. Added values on the record include a photo gallery and two music videos.

The smash hit single of the record is “Slither,” which is a deliberate hard rocker that takes its good old time building into a frenzy of rock and roll glory. Built on raw rock energy and a catchy melody for the chorus, “Slither” has all of the elements of a timeless classic song. Frontman Weiland morphs from his STP sound to a more developed persona over the course of the record. On this track, he sounds like classic STP, complete with his signature “yeap”. Slash’s solo is wonderfully filthy and an absolute message to all of the whiny-ass, sissy bands of today that real rock gods can actually play their instruments.

Not as much of a commercial hit, “Sucker Train Blues,” the lead-off track of the record, is an upbeat song that moves at a feverish pace to another catchy chorus that sucks you in and makes you love the song on the first listen. Much like what made Guns and Roses so fantastic, Velvet Revolver’s two-guitar ensemble allows them to really cover the rhythm while getting all sorts of cool fills in from a chop-master like Slash. Another scorching solo from Slash makes for a highlight on “Sucker Train Blues.”

“Fall To Pieces” is the power ballad needed to score all the chicks – a concept I can live with. In many ways, this is the best-sounding track on the record. It has more space and openness, but only takes 20 or 30 seconds to get to rocking. Deep layering, multiple guitar parts and a guitar melody that vaguely reminds me of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” makes the foundation of this hit song.

“Set Me Free” is the sleeper of the album. Kicked off by a bitchin’ riff, “Set Me Free” breaks it down to vocals, drums and bass for the first verse, which creates an openness that makes for a better audio demo. Matt Sorum’s drum sound is hard-hitting but not as liquid or deep as I would have liked to hear in a modern rock recording.

Missing a surround track for a record that was this commercially successful is shameful on the part of the label. The increased resolution of the DualDisc’s “enhanced” stereo track does warrant a side by side comparison with the 16-bit compact disc. A few things were evident in the A-B test. The CD, by CD standards, is nicely mixed. The DualDisc track, which is likely a 20-bit stereo mix, is incrementally more open. Maybe an additional one on a scale of one to ten. On the DualDisc, the highs shimmer a little more than on the CD, which sounded a little dull compared to the DualDisc. The bass sounded about the same in both formats. Given the chance to buy only one version of this record, I would definitely make it the DualDisc.

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