Midsummer muses

By MATT ASHARE  |  July 23, 2007

When Velvet Revolver, who play the Tweeter Center on August 14, first emerged in 2004 with Contraband (RCA), their story read like a hard-luck/hard-rock fairytale: a newly clean Weiland, abandoned by his fed-up Stone Temple Pilots bandmates, finds support among a group of caring adults who’d been through the wringer a few too many times themselves. It was a band that almost couldn’t help but form. Slash needed a frontman, Weiland needed a band, and all four guys were stuck in LA with time on their hands. As a bonus, it came with a happy ending: Contraband wasn’t quite a classic, but it performed well enough to offer hope — hope that rock-and-roll castaways like Slash, Duff, and Weiland could once again find happiness in three chords and a hook. You didn’t even have to like the characters to dig the plot. But surviving isn’t an end in itself, and if his past endeavors are any indication, Weiland’s too musically ambitious to settle for a mild comeback: STP may have started with by-the-numbers grunge, but they ended strong, delving into glam rock and Beatlesque psychedelic pop on 2001’s Shangri-La Dee Da (Atlantic).

The new Libertad (RCA) may pick up where Contraband left off, with its not-quite-cohesive mix of Slash’s trad dirty-rock riffing and Weiland’s glam-inflected melodies. But, with Weiland’s pal Brendan O’Brien producing, the band doesn’t fall into Slash’s snakepit quite as often, and there are only a couple of tracks here built primarily as a platform for a big guitar solo. The pulsing “She Mine,” with its Monday/Tuesday storyline, reins Slash in enough for it to sound like a proper follow-up to the STP hit “Days of the Week.” And even on a hard-driving rocker like “Let It Roll,” Weiland has enough wiggle room to do his thing. Best of all, the guys were feeling so loose that they covered ELO’s “Can’t Get It Out of My Head” and tacked a nice little Stones-style country number on the end of the disc as a bonus. It may not amount total rock-and-roll redemption, but it’s close enough.

VELVET REVOLVER + ALICE IN CHAINS + KILL HANNAH | Tweeter Center, 885 South Main St, Mansfield | August 14 | 617.931.2000
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