Sound — 7
Guns N' Roses seems to be a factory with its members producing fairly good rock solo albums one after another. And here's another one to prove the theory -- Gilby Clarke's self-titled album. But don't be fooled by the record being self-titled. It's far not the first album by Clarke, it's just his way of avoiding the pompous greatest hits. The CD is 14 tracks of raw (and not so raw) rock 'n' roll, carefully picked by Clarke from his 6 albums. The CD was supposed to be out before his Supernova tour and there was not enough time for new material, which quite excuses the idea with the compilation. Though there is one pleasant surprise -- a new version of Black with the vocals performed by female singer Dilana. There's a pretty good share of kick-ass rock like the opener -- the song Clarke is best known for -- Cure Me Or Kill Me, this time with Slash playing on it. Apart from the scary CD art, it's not always that serious. There're quite a few happy tracks on the album -- like countryish Skin 'n' bones with a woman providing backvocals redneck style -- it draws pictures in your head of a happy farmer who retired after a long rock star career. This seems especially ridiculous with the skulls in a CD booklet. The song is followed by an almost pop Wasn't Yesterday Great. Almost stands for roaring guitars, without which it would be an all-ready hit for some boyband. If not the artist's hard rocker attitude and his terrifying screaming face on the cover, those tracks, as well as a few others boogie kind of style, are pretty decent though. The highlight of Gilby Clarke is Black, due to the catchy melody and astonishing vocals by Dilana. The album shines with great guitar work -- killer riffs and solos. But the solos are strictly one per song and not always as long as you would want them to be.
Lyrics — 8
Just like it says in the CD booklet No one understands my hell, the songs are full of bitter and anger. But only when they are not about dissolute life of a rock 'n' roll musician -- sex, drugs and everything that goes along. To match the sing-along tunes, the lyrics in the choruses are plain and easy to remember with at least two lines to be repeated. Clarke spits the words out with aggression, putting all of his anger in the harder numbers. Though when he stops yelling, it turns out he's got quite a goatish voice (like in the happy country Skin 'n' bones). Dilana, singing in Black gives a breath of fresh air among quite alike vocals by Clarke. At the same time she fits into the album's atmosphere perfectly, providing all those hoarse yelling, growling and other necessary rock attributes.
Overall Impression — 7
If it's really the best Clarke has to represent after 13 years of work, then it's pretty sad. The album sounds more like an average rock album with a few killers and a few fillers. Though the retrospective is a pretty good introduction to the artist if you haven't heard his previous records (and I bet you haven't heard much if you're not a GN'R fan). Most of the tracks are solid rock, but there are too few to remember after listening to the record. The songwriting is really good and the songs are well put together, but there are no fresh ideas that would blow your mind. It is obvious the CD was made in a rush, as some of the tracks are evidently different (not to say louder) by sound one from another.