Slash - Guns N' Roses / New Wave Collapse / Historical Ranking
"Slash", the totally conspicuous, immediately recognizable, consummate hard rock guitar protégé and larger than life legend who was prophetically embraced in the 1980s, subsequently followed lock step in his predecessors trailblazing, decibel stretching tracks to educate himself, absorb and adopt the predominant mainstream vibe, and soon thereafter, without compromising a proverbial inch of musical integrity nor aggressively indignant attitude, ultimately conquered the genre specific universe while unintentionally slaying an entire sub-category of punk music and quite possibly the entire underground movement itself. "New Wave" was the primary casualty and end result of indirect consequences administered by one man merely wielding nothing more elaborate nor threatening than an exquisitely designed, artistically crafted six stringed electric work of art, a perfectly capable stack of Marshall amplifiers endowed with sweet soliloquy, and a sinfully efficient, inherent gift of melodic tendencies. He continues to this very day in an ongoing testament to his longevity by delivering distinct, contemporary musical offerings while inadvertently augmenting the construction of, and building upon, his personal legacy which will one day determine definitive placement amongst mentors, peers, and subordinates in the esteemed annals of hard rock history. We as a music craving, high energy thriving, universal community of audio addicted fans, casual observers, and unapproachable innocent bystanders, are extremely thankful for his creative proclivities, persevering song writing stamina, and of course, physical endurance. May he carry on uninterrupted and indefinitely with his soul wrenching, un-tempered song writing contributions.
There are innumerable aficionados who would say Slash is unquestionably the genre specific master template from which many aspiring guitarists, many of whom shall pursue hard rock dreams and ambitions in the future, will surely emulate. From proliferating hard rock reincarnation inducement emanating profusely from generation defining projects, all of which were nurtured and immediately released upon a patiently awaiting international audience in the mid to late 1980s, such as the masterfully assembled, orchestrated, tightly packaged and delivered quintet conglomerate "Guns n Roses", to quasi self indulgent forays into the slithering, highly toxic, viper friendly, venom injecting "Snakepit". A project which was periodically interrupted by subsequent side tracks into a moderately productive yet relatively brief, intermittent, slightly subdued and homogenized ongoing rockin' neo-melodic stint with "Velvet Revolver", in which the seasoned, finely tuned, highly complimentary vocal talents of Scott Wieland blended seamlessly with Slash's signature powerhouse guitars and secondary rhythm section. We would have to assume in retrospect, even in light of the fact that mid to latter innings of his career are still pending and have yet to be defined, Slash has apparently achieved almost all music related ambitions listed on his world domination itinerary at one point or another. His accomplishments are impressive, and as a rightfully hard earned reward, a loyal fan base had been systematically carved out and subsequently galvanized by his uncompromising commitment to writing heavy duty, window shattering songs that resonate in sync with the genre specific masses, and maintaining an unconditional loyalty to the heart, soul, and roots of hard rock. Two of his most admired qualities and attributes as expressed by peers within the industry.
The last two projects, both of which were briefly mentioned above, were distinctly segregated efforts from his first major musical venture that ultimately provided somewhat diverging energies and contrasts between the interaction and periodic highly combustible chemistry of G N' R band mates and their respective styles, yet still culminated in the blueprinting of no less than a handful of lead guitar enhanced, commercially successful, high energy rock tunes which he could proudly add to his previously "AXLized" authorship. "Fall to Pieces", a hard edged, emotionally stirring song of reflection penned by the band, delivered vocally by Scott Weiland, and augmented by Slash's hauntingly piercing melodic riffs, is unquestionably a standout and possibly Velvet Revolver's best, most commercially successful work to date. After closely examining historical aspects, we discover there is not an exceedingly long nor impressive list of extremely talented cohorts of whom Slash has had the distinct pleasure of conjuring melodic mayhem with over the years, however, the rather small, compact catalogue of popular, broadly palatable, and in some cases groundbreaking songs complete with respective edgy melodies that surfaced as a result of his creative efforts, all of which were produced in large part by this amazing guitarist extraordinaire, is quite impressive and very deserving of private placement in the somewhat mal-organized and dysfunctionally operated, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
I would be unforgivably remiss if I neglected to acknowledge at the very genesis of this nostalgic tribute, "Slash's" core beginnings as a critically important key component contained within the highly combustible nucleus of the decade defining band from which he was ultimately propelled to the hard rock forefront, namely, the fabulously infamous and hugely successful "Guns N' Roses". A conglomerate of personalities out of which an apparent tumultuous relationship developed with some of the quasi maniacal members, an explosive situation which he had struggled with and endured for a considerable period of time until fate had ultimately stepped in to separate and dissolve this hugely successful juggernaut. Always a deliciously salacious target of mass media and manufactured reports, true or otherwise, stories which always suggested a somewhat turbulent yet extraordinarily creative and productive partnership with fellow G n' R "Jungle Survivalists", whom seemingly without reserve nor concern for prevailing musical fads nor fleeting highly commercialized "Character Pop Rock", aggressively carved a blockbuster album out of shear massive sound, unwavering allegiance to retro-roots, flamboyantly rough and rugged stage presence and demeanor combined seamlessly with piercing, indignant, semi psychotic close up camera stares. Camera cameos delivered in maniacal harmony apparently designed to intimidate any and all who would dare confront or stand between their mission as inadvertent saviors, and the re-igniting of an entire "Hard Rock Genre".
This ground, decibel, and eardrum breaking initial release appropriately titled "Appetite For Destruction" quickly evolved into the critically essential, eagerly anticipated catalyst that enabled all waning hard rock bands of the era, who had yet to capitulate and yield creative ground nor dominance to the commercially motivated new sound, to re-organize and ultimately retain and rally all if not the vast majority of its legions of loyal fans they had painstakingly cultivated and groomed in prior decades, and subsequently restart the natural evolutionary process. A process which allowed this somewhat polarizing genre to once again resume its inherent tendency to grow and mature, transitioning from infancy stage to adolescence, and ultimately paving the way for an awaiting new sub-genre called grunge. A movement which commenced in the early 1990s as a direct musical descendant of Slash & Company's previous "Hard Rock" salvation efforts. Slash, Axl, and Company, who in their maiden voyage video clip which aired on MTV in the mid 1980s, turned an indignant, brazen face forcefully and deliberately, with just the right hint of arrogant intent, into the lighted camera lens only to express an unwavering acceptance of the terms and conditions articulated by a music listening society made up almost entirely of a less than satisfied, hard rock disenfranchised greeting party. A congregation who had been eagerly awaiting their arrival ever since the musical landscape had shifted ever so deliberately to a more underground, radically anti social, sub-culture movement approximately one decade prior. Guns N' Roses then cordially welcomed the somewhat confused global population to join them vicariously as they proceeded to recall the humble beginnings of their "Jungle Safari". To be explored further in the following segment.
> < SLASH > < GUNS N' ROSES > < COLLAPSE of NEW WAVE > <
The passionately disturbing lyrical aggression and promiscuity, imposing, highly stylized ferocious image, perfectly massaged theatrical stage presence, raw yet solidly arranged and finely tuned foundation and underlying structure of Guns N' Roses precipitously marked the beginning of the proverbial end for the concurrently prevailing "Punk Rock" scene and its many subsequent offshoot manifestations such as watered down "New Wave". A fluffy genre which included some very appealing eclectic bands yet was still considered by the music universe as a sanitized to taste, highly polished, commercialized, and meticulously manicured version of legitimate music forged over a decade in rewind by "The Ramones", "Iggy", and "The Sex Pistols". Although many, including the highly theatrical retro throw back themed Adam & The Ants, remain a personal favorite and CD's are still included in my home collection, I'm reasonably confident most would agree it was an overly animated, popish version designed and manufactured specifically for convenient three minute audio visual bites via television media. A conscious marketing attempt to induce and support album sales and not necessarily the artist's career longevity.
The "New Wave", a relatively pristine genre which despite its softer, unassuming demeanor, was gaining significant momentum and traction with each passing "Blondie" and "Adam Ant" release looped 24/7 on MTV. Only to be literally halted in their respective tracks by "Slash" and company, who were simultaneously revisiting their hard rock roots which were originally planted and nurtured by legendary godfathers "The Who" in the early 1960s, and subsequently fined tuned to near perfection by followers such as "Deep Purple" etc in the 1970"s. "G n' R", with Slash and Axl leading the re-emergence commencement via a masterfully orchestrated, double edged vinyl block of potent song sorties', began their campaign and ultimate domination by removing the "Welcome" sign and indignantly slamming the door tightly shut on a burgeoning rebellion movement. A gathering which embraced the rise in sentiment against a literal laundry list of societal and materialistic inequalities which was originally sparked in the New York area and then shortly thereafter, migrated like an uncontrollable mutating strain unto the UK shores for a little more incubation and cultivation before flourishing worldwide. It was "I fought the Law" no more, while the musical universe once again shifted interest dramatically over to hypnotically enthralling, energetically melodic, soul ripping, mega hard rock anthems like "Sweet Child O' Mine in Paradise City".
Following extensive lifelong study, coupled with a rather generous mental data base containing pertinent archival facts related to the subject, I'm reasonably confident in suggesting that the vast majority of historians would conclude that Guns N' Roses was the revved up turbo charged vehicle, but Slash and his uniquely non-generic, attention grabbing guitar riffs, were unquestionably in the driver's seat. His masterfully engineered and delivered ax works perfectly accentuated and highlighted the rhythms, melodies, and submerged essence of the musical undertones. Without his high flying stratospheric contributions there's really no telling where the entire music realm would be positioned today, and in my opinion, that doesn't even approach the vicinity of an over statement. Sure, the entire quint lineup was extremely talented and well worthy of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame designation, however, evaluating their contributions and overall significance individually, excluding Axl Rose for a moment, it would be extremely difficult to justify any other conclusion.
Izzy Stradlin, an anchor of the rhythm section, provided solid supporting guitar work but not necessarily considered demonstrably innovative. Duff McKagan added fantastic bottom end runs and fills but not necessarily spectacular or monumental in and of themselves, until of course he embarked upon his own high octane endeavor in which he truly shined, a calling which was long overdue. Steven Adler a solid, in sync beat master, yet not a standout per-se, who was sadly removed by the balance of band mates early on in their raucous history and reportedly ended up struggling mightily with synthetic substance over indulgence issues. And finally, we have Axl's exceedingly gritty, criminally intense, piercing vocal assault which unequivocally earned him the right to his own tribute to be published in the near future. All made their respective contributions and could never be considered detriments to the overall project even by the harshest, most cynical of critics. But if you insert your choice of the first two CD's, I think it's unambiguously obvious that the musical works offered by Slash and Axl were the hyper energetic, supernova forces behind the project's brute strength, universal appeal, and ultimate commercial success.
/ "SLASH" Fast Facts /
- Real Name: Saul Hudson
- Birth Date: 7-23-1965
- Birth Place: London
- Guitar Used: Gibson "LPC"
- First Notable Band: "Guns N' Roses"
- Secondary Notable Projects: "Snakepit" / "Velvet Revolver"
<> SLASH STAGE PRESENCE <> In the not too distant past, when "Heidel-Bergensis" fortuitously breached the expansive time and space divide only to collide rather promiscuously with "Bill the Butcher" en route, the unfathomable gap between prehistoric humanoids tossing hard rocks, and cunningly brilliant yet aggressive guitar melody making was immediately bridged in the manifestation of the ancestral tree from which blossomed "SLASH" <>
> < SLASH > < HISTORICAL GUITARIST RANKING > <
Although I have no access to, nor am I in possession of, exclusive, closely held, corroborating knowledge or irrefutable primary evidence to support the following assertion, I truly believe Slash himself, this extremely talented, masterfully knowledgeable protégé, apprentice, and student of classic hard rock archives, would in all likelihood concede the fact that he is not necessarily the fastest, quickest, slickest, nor most accomplished guitarist that has ever stalked the world stage in raw, uninhibited fashion. However, his true brilliance lies within another category of uncommon natural gifts which cannot be learned, the ability to piece together an unforgettable, awe inspiring, hypnotically memorable guitar aria or song defining riff. With that said, the existence of his somewhat vast and continuously expanding repertoire of not necessarily demonstrably innovative, yet precisely composed, exceptionally arranged, melodically calibrated, and perfectly timed and launched musical contributions, should never be understated nor discounted when evaluated in the proper context of historical perspective. Fortunately, for dedicated fans such as myself, his playing abilities and sustained popularity show no significant signs of waning nor deteriorating so far, if of course this can be measured and determined solely by looking at physical appearance and live performance attendance. In addition, considering no less than a few more strikingly delicious albums and or singles are anticipated and hopefully in the offing at sporadic intervals in years to come, if this assumption is indeed correct, his legend in hard rock history has already been sealed, validated, and to be delivered at some future date certain for archival recording, publication, and public consumption.
Slash's inherent ability to physically engage his Les Paul and manipulate the instrument with unbridled, domineering intent, enhanced by precisely administered underlying technical artistry until the instrument succumbs to his persuasive overtures by reluctantly releasing the audible remnants of an intensely edgy, slicing, yet exceedingly melodic and commercially palatable opening solo prelude as exemplified in "Sweet Child O' Mine", which ironically was a poetic offering tied nicely to a Slash composed melody for presentation to Axl's then girlfriend, is stand alone testament to his iconic stature and additional snippets of corroborating evidence need not be presented to those of whom exercise a reasonable degree of common sense when evaluating historical placement. Or, his ability to conjure a searingly crunchy, ear catching rhythm that could carry the underlying structure of a song without mishap from beginning to ultimate conclusion, is another cornerstone of his enviable god given abilities. Natural talents which are not necessarily rare, yet very difficult to come by, and presumably would be welcomed by any group of highly acclaimed supporting players.
In conclusion, after touching briefly upon his past, present, and hopefully future contributions to the yet untamed nor adequately explored universe of hard rock, only one more relevant question remains to be asked in the context of this tribute oriented piece. And a difficult one indeed to try to answer in the relatively limited time and space allotted however, it would be phrased as follows. "How will Slash be defined in historical perspective?" An evaluation based upon partial, incomplete data is the best we can possible do at this point in time so an offering with this conditional premise in mind will be forthcoming. An opinion in which takes into consideration a moderately extensive three decades of musical contributions can indeed be sufficiently yet briefly examined, quantified, characterized, and defined in a few short, descriptive words, with the understanding that we as writers reserve the exclusive, unconditional right to augment and or amend our tributes accordingly as careers continue to progress.
Here's my brief historical guitarist ranking summation with the above agreed upon elements in mind - Slash exhibits an evenly distributed, hybridized playing style which combines the best attributes of Tony Iommi, Ritchie Blackmore, and Joe Perry, with consistent spurts of original genius intermittently piercing through the overcast layer via original arrangement, stinging note bending intricacies, and overall exemplary lead guitar engineering. This in my opinion would be one way to describe his actual playing style. An exceedingly competent creator / composer of melodic, song defining guitar riffs, powerfully enduring rhythms, and just shy of masterful hard rock song writing abilities. I have always refrained from attaching actual numbers to rate human beings, so the following will have to suffice. Slash's actual "Talent Ranking" would unquestionably be at par with the aforementioned "Godfathers" yet not quite up to the same technical level as supremely accomplished masters of mentor-ship such as Joe Satriani or Steve Vai, who are teachers of Eddie Van Halen et al, yet his soulful translation compensates nicely for this negligible shortcoming. A rather soft landing somewhere in between Ritchie Blackmore and Joe Satriani is an overall placement I'm reasonably confident would make any hard rock guitarist that I personally know of, extremely satisfied if not fully content. Thus concludes the tribute.
>< QUICK FACT - Slash's imposing appearance personified, and his neo-retro guitar licks exemplified, the re-emerging essence of Hard Rock in the mid to late 1980's ><
<> T H A N K S - FOR - V I S I T I N G <>
>< I sincerely hope you've enjoyed the "T R I B U T E" & Recognition of "SlasHistory" ><
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