When Velvet Revolver announced in 2005 that they had plans of a second album to follow up on their multi-platinum Contraband; an album still considered one of the most successful albums released from a "super-group," and that the album was to be a concept album, had many shaking their heads.
After working with producer Rick Rubin for a time, the band realized that Rubin was not a good fit and began working with Brendan O' Brien (Core – Stone Temple Pilots, The Rising – Bruce Springsteen, Issues – Korn) in December 2006. On June 26, 2007, Velvet Revolver released a sneak peak of Libertad in its entirety and was officially released on July 3rd 2007. It debuted at number 5 on the U.S. Billboard charts selling 92,000 copies the first week.
So what about the sophomore effort by Velvet Revolver? Is it as good or better than Contraband? Worse? To me it was different. Now before you think that I am saying the musical version of "She has a nice personality," I am not. What I am saying is that like most second attempts; especially ones that follow gargantuan hits, this one could not, nor should not attempt to hit unattainable heights. Rather, Velvet Revolver has evolved into a voice that is becoming truly their own.
Yes there is still some Guns n' Roses as well as some Stone Temple Pilots, but Libertad is much more Velvet Revolver than either of the first two. They are taking on a sound and feel evolving into something new, and I personally like it.
"Let it Roll" is a perfect example. It starts off sounding a lot like a Gn'R tune, but quickly melds into the sound of VR as a band. It is the perfect opener. "She Mine" that builds in almost a grunge metal feel with a haunting refrain. This one starts like STP, but builds away, into its own tune. "Get out the Door" is a solid song, a good transition piece.
"She Builds Quick Machines" is pure Velvet Revolver. It is their first single off the album. Hard driving and punishing rock. A great tune! "The Last Fight" is another VR song evolved. It is one of my favorites on the CD. I think that it should have been the first single. "Pills, Demons & Etc" is one of the lament songs that bring this album a personal touch and the only song that drops the f* bomb and one of the few times that I think the word is necessary to convey the meaning.
Lead singer Scott Weiland's brother, Michael died of a drug overdose during the recording of Libertad and this is one of the songs that seem to be influenced by his death. It is felt in "The Last Fight" and "For a Brother" as well.
"American Man" is a song that initially I did not like the mixing on at first, but the song itself is one that grows on you the more you listen. "Mary Mary" grows on you as well where as "Just Sixteen" is good, but nothing truly memorable. A little '80s glam rock that even though it does not stand out, does show a musical progression.
I have heard others say that "Can't Get It out Of My Head" is the biggest foible on the CD, but I disagree. I think that this is one of Slash's best solo work added to Weiland's vocals make it simply great. "For a Brother" is a painful cry for brothers lost.
"Spay" is an energetic rocker that has an addictive beat, vocals and some really great lead work. "Gravedancer" is another one of my favorites. It is a ballad that makes VR really shine and show that they are gaining a personality as group and are much more than just a bunch of sleaze rockers.
"Don't Drop the Dime" is another one that shows the depth of VR. This is a honky-tonk country and western tune that tells me that these guys can do anything. It may not be what they do best, but they are not afraid to try and for what it is, it comes across well.
Finally there is a video that, at least on my equipment, only plays on computer that is called Re-Evolution where the band talks about the making of Libertad. They discus the trials and tribulations of becoming Velvet Revolver. They describe how the band grew together on the road and really became a band.
If you are looking to recapture the music of these artists' former bands, you may find some success, but you may just as easily be disappointed. I said that Libertad started off as a concept album. According to the band, the concept fell apart and the album went its own way as did the band. Some where along the path, the concept of the album became the liberty for the Velvet Revolver to become, not an incarnation of Guns n' Roses or Stone Temple Pilots, rather a band called Velvet Revolver. That is Libertad and I call that a success.
Libertad song listing
- Let It Roll (2:31)
- She Mine (3:15)
- Get Out the Door (3:14)
- She Builds Quick Machines (4:02)
- The Last Fight (4:03)
- Pills, Demons & Etc. (2:54)
- American Man (3:56)
- Mary Mary (4:34)
- Just Sixteen (3:59)
- Can't Get It Out Of My Head (3:58 – ELO cover song)
- For A Brother (3:26)
- Spay (3:06)
- Gravedancer (8:42)
– Hidden track: Don't Drop That Dime (4:43)
Re-Evolution – Making of Libertad; a video playable on your computer.