Slash, "Slash"

He may not be Axl Rose's favorite person these days, but Slash still has plenty of friends--and he's corralled an impressive group of them on the 14 tracks of his new self-titled solo effort. Filling the gap as he prepares for Velvet Revolver's (presumed) return, the guitarist kicks out some heavy jams with the Cult's Ian Astbury ("Ghost"), Motörhead's Lemmy Kilmister ("Doctor Alibi"), Iggy Pop ("We're All Gonna Die"), Ozzy Osbourne on the goth-flavored "Crucify the Dead" and M. Shadows of Avenged Sevenfold for the speeding horror rocker "Nothing to Say." And longtime colleague Duff McKagan and Dave Grohl join Slash for the jagged-groove instrumental "Watch This." But the top hat-wearing guitarist traipses in other stylistic directions, exploring rootsy, Americana-flavored terrain with Kid Rock ("I Hold On"), melodic pop (albeit with a bluesy solo) with Maroon 5's Adam Levine ("Gotten") and a slinky "Beautiful Dangerous" that gives us Fergie as we've never heard her before. "Slash" shoots a little too wide for its own good, but the album showcases him as the guitar hero we've always known and as the songwriter we probably haven't appreciated enough.--Gary Graff

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