In 1987, Duff McKagan arrived on the music scene as the bassist for Guns N' Roses. The band absolutely exploded and their debut stands as one of the greatest hard rock albums ever. Unfortunately, all good things come to an end and, by the time the mid-1990's rolled around, Guns as we knew them were all but disintegrated.
During the latter half of the decade Duff formed a project called Loaded, releasing a couple of under-the-radar albums before reuniting with Guns-mate Slash in Velvet Revolver, which put him back in the spotlight. With that project seemingly on hold, Duff is now back with Loaded and an album of new tunes.
This time out Duff trades in his four-string for a sixer and steps up to the microphone as the band's frontman. Joining him are guitarist Mike Squires, drummer Geoff Reading, and bassist Jeff Rouse. These guys come together as a solid unit, delivering the goods on Sick.
The music is bluesy hard rock that occasionally borders on the punk side of the coin. It is simultaneously slick and raw, yet it lacks the power and fury of old school Guns N' Roses or the full-on force of Velvet Revolver. Regardless, there is something decidedly infectious in its stripped-down nature.
This is not an album that takes itself too seriously and neither should you. And while it does seem to play it safe most of the time, once you turn it on, you will be hard pressed to turn off this solid collection of tunes.
More in line with old school GNR than the current incarnation of Guns N' Roses, Loaded loads up with thirteen infectious cuts that feature grooves to get into, vocals that will hold your attention, and enough sleaze to recall the glory days.
Sick opens with a pair of catchy rockers in the title track and "Sleaze Factory." The pace is then kept solid through the first six tracks. Fuzzed guitars, a constant sense of forward momentum, as well as Duff's experience and focus guide these rockers. The songs may not be the greatest, but there is an inviting quality about them that encourages listeners to just rock along for the ride.
On track seven the pace slows down, revealing a much quieter, introspective side of Duff with "Mother's Day." The song is a bit of a downer and could threaten to draw a tear from even the hardest of souls. With a steady bass line behind him, there is something about the way Duff's voice turns somber that really hits home.
The pace picks right back up with "I See Through You" as the band begins charging through the album's second half, which is highlighted particularly by "No Shame" and the just-plain-fun cut, "Blind Date Girl."
I like this album. Everyone involved in Loaded hits the right note here, giving off a feeling of experience grounded by youthful energy. Sick is definitely one to check out if you enjoy bluesy hard rock, or even if you want to catch up with what Duff has been up to. It is well worth your time.