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Still Shooting Strong After Guns

Gilby Clarke - Swag
(Spitfire Records)
3 Stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: January 12, 2002

Gilby Clarke

By Tony Bonyata

With all the drunken blues-rock bravura of his former band Guns 'n' Roses, guitarist Gilby Clarke's forth solo effort entitled Swag is a welcome return to good old-fashioned dirt-under-the-soles hard rock.
Despite an overall lack of inventiveness - blues-rock in the vein of mid-era Stones, Aerosmith, as well as a plethora of less interesting acts to follow, Clarke's inspired, passionate guitar work along with his surprisingly strong vocals, a tight little stable of musicians, not to mention some well-written melodies and choruses, make Swag an unadulterated rocking good time.
Clarke wastes little time in setting the momentum for the album as he blasts into the pounding rocker "Alien," before ripping off stinging leads and fierce riffs that leave deeply embedded teeth marks (no doubt the reason he originally caught the ears of Slash and Axl) on the numbers "Under The Gun," "Beware of the Dog" and a jackknifed version of David Bowie's "Diamond Dogs." Revisiting the menacing Jim Beam and nicotine-stained swagger of his former band, Clarke wallows in the deliciously sinful blues-rock number "Broken Down Car."
Breaking out of the quintessential L.A. Whiskey sound that this one-time motorcycle cowboy from Cleveland is known for, Clarke throws in a couple other interesting elements, such as the Latin-flavored "Margarita" and the power-pop bubblegum gem "I'm Nobody." With a hungry guitar line and snarling vocals that creep into the beginning of "Crocodile," the song soon turns, again, into a juicy slice of near perfect pop.
While his lyrics presented here aren't his strongest asset, his stranglehold approach to his six-strings, along with the bump-and-grind glam-rock rhythms and powerful, upbeat vocals makes Swag a pleasing effort from a gifted sideman with the talents to take it all the way up front.

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