Velvet Revolver - Libertad
RCA Records
Hard Rock
14 songs (51:56)
Release year: 2007
Velvet Revolver, RCA Records
Reviewed by Goat
Archive review

As the Rock and Roll circus that is Velvet Revolver rolls on in search of a new frontman after finally having ditched Scott Weiland early in 2008, it’s worth taking a look back at the band’s generally panned second album, the follow-up to the double platinum Contraband. Libertad sold considerably less and was seen as a commercial failure for the band, lacking the instant hits of the first album like Sucker Train Blues and Slither. Yet giving them both more listens, it’s Libertad that works better as an album, fits Weiland’s whiny Punkish voice to the post-GNR Classic Rock vibes that Slash, Duff and co slide out so easily. Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of any of the musicians involved (frequent forum-goers will know of my near-hatred for Guns N’Roses) but it’s impossible to deny that all are charismatic ‘stars’, survivors of a scene long-thought passed on.

Many may accuse them of coasting by on this reputation, but as a fan of Rock in general it’s hard not to enjoy the likes of opening track Let It Roll, a defiantly backward-looking Rocker that features all the elements of a successful Hard Rock song – catchy vocal hooks, great guitar leads, killer rhythm section – and that touches on several genres, from Punk to Classic Rock, without adding the ‘modern’ influences that made Contraband such a chore at times. Listening to Libertad is almost like looking back through your Rock collection from the past ten or twenty years. The funky She Mine touches on Red Hot Chilli Peppers territory, whilst the Grungy likes of She Builds Quick Machines are more tolerant of Weiland’s Stone Temple Pilots background than you’d have thought. Softer, balladic tracks like The Last Fight and Gravedancer are well-placed and fit in well amidst the Rockier songs, and yes, whilst there are the odd filler tracks that sound a bit too much like typical American Rock (Pills, Demons & Etc, for one) they’re fewer in number and are easily ignored against the better songs. Heck, even Weiland sounds better than he did on Contraband, almost making me disappointed that he’s gone from the band. Almost.

Don’t listen expecting many experimental moments, the variation in percussion on American Man being practically the only step away from the formula. It’s worth noting how well the album flows, the drum intro to Mary Mary one smooth and effective example. Towards the end of the album things do get slightly repetitive, and yes, the ELO cover should have been left on the studio floor, but it’s easily a better album than Chinese Democracy, and should be more than enough to convince people where the songwriting talent in GNR lay. Taking For A Brother alone, the strident tribute to Weiland’s brother who died of a drug overdose, it's superior to anything from Chinese Democracy whether musically, emotionally, or however you look at it.

Detractors will accuse this album of being too laid back, too eager to coast when they should be raging, too fond of regurgitating unoriginal songs that have been done many times before, but even the tracks where this could be true like Get Out The Door and Just Sixteen are enjoyable songs nonetheless. It’s worth remembering that Velvet Revolver aren’t really a band set up to challenge Roses’ GNR for the title of the most ludicrously OTT Rock band in existence, as people seem to treat them; look at them as a simple Rock band, remove all preconceptions of what an album featuring Duff and Slash should sound like, and Libertad proves to be, if not a great album, then a pretty darn good one.

Killing Songs :
Let It Roll, She Mine, She Builds Quick Machines, The Last Fight, For A Brother
Goat quoted 79 / 100
Other albums by Velvet Revolver that we have reviewed:
Velvet Revolver - Contraband reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 79 / 100
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