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13 Worthwhile Releases by Guns 'N' Roses Offshoots

It's been almost 20 years since Appetite For Destruction hit American airwaves, and it could be many more before music fans hear the anticipated Chinese Democracy. In the ten-odd years following Guns 'N' Roses' initial demise, former members scrambled to regain the fame of their glory days -- most often to no avail. However, several post-G'N'R releases are actually worth checking out...

Gilby Clarke's Pawnshop Guitars
One of the most prolific former members of G'N'R, former Kill For Thrills member Clarke has a number of great solo albums under his belt. Granted, his short stint in Guns 'N' Roses as Izzy Stradlin's replacement probably fueled label interest at first, but his talent is readily apparent on his debut, Pawnshop Guitars. This is his best, most consistent record, and his covers of The Clash's "Jail Guitar Doors" and the Stones' "Dead Flowers" are worth the purchase price on their own.

Duff McKagan's "10 Years"
Although Duff's solo debut, Believe In Me, is middle-of-the-road stuff, a few songs stand out. "10 Years" is a throwback to Duff's punk past and shows an unexpected depth of songwriting.

Izzy Stradlin & the Juju Hounds' Self-titled
The one who got out while the gettin' was good, Stradlin rejected G'N'R's success and excess early on and left the band during their heyday. His debut, an Exile On Main Street-influenced romp, was lauded for its bluesy roots-rock appeal but failed to catch on with G'N'R fans.

Slash's Snakepit's "Lower"
While Slash's first post-Guns outing was iffy at best (people wanted a G'N'R knock-off, not It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere), a handful of tracks revealed the outfit's true potential. Both "Lower" and "Neither Can I" gradually build into frenzied metal classics that deserve their place at the top of the heap.

Buckethead's Colma
A strong departure from Buckethead's days in Praxis (with experimentalist Bill Laswell) and his various Bucketheadland releases. Doing away with screaming guitars and his typical Malmsteen-esque guitar escapades, he instead opts for a stripped-down, New Agey record that's almost unbelievably slow. It's an amazing effort, and puzzles listeners who had previously pigeonholed the musician as a metal freak.

Neurotic Outsiders' Self-titled
One of the oddest line-ups since The Power Station, the short-lived Neurotic Outsiders featured Matt Sorum, Duff McKagan, former Sex Pistol Steve Jones and Duran Duran's John Taylor. Their songs were mostly juvenile anthems about sex and strippers, but as usual, a few of the songs ("Angelina", "Feelings Are Good", and "Story Of My Life") were too good to miss. Their cover of The Clash's "Janie Jones" should have been a hit.

Gilby Clarke's The Hangover
Clarke was in a glammed-out mood for this 1997 record. Songs like "Wasn't Yesterday Great", "Blue Grass Mosquito", and his cover of Bowie's "Hang On To Yourself" show the guitarist in rare form. This underrated album barely made a blip on the sales charts, but it's a treasure for rock 'n' roll fans. Clarke's cover of "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" is also worth a listen.

Loaded's Dark Days
Duff's Japan-only release marks a return to the musician's punk roots, and is a clear indication of how far his talent has progressed since his drugged-out days in Guns 'N' Roses. If you can find this one, go ahead and pick it up -- if you don't like it, you can always hock it to a Velvet Revolver fan on Ebay.

Buckethead's Electric Tears
Another mellow departure for the extraordinary guitarist. Obviously, the time Buckethead spent with Axl hasn't removed his ability to create new and beautiful music -- Electric Tears is similar to his work on Colma, but with less of an electronic/New Age bent. "Sketches Of Spain (For Miles)" is ample proof that Buckethead should be scoring films instead of taking orders from Axl on an album that may never see the light of day.

Velvet Revolver's Contraband
Okay, you knew it was on the list somewhere. Despite being loaded with radio-friendly rock anthems, Contraband has its high points -- most notably the songs you won't hear on Clear Channel stations. True, a different singer would have been better than former STP frontman Scott Weiland, but undoubtedly wouldn't have garnered the band as much attention as they've received. Their live covers, which can be found on any (hush hush) P2P network, are the best of the lot, and well worth searching for.

Col. Parker's Rock N Roll Music
Gilby Clarke and Stray Cats' Slim Jim Phantom may seem like an odd combination, but in the short-lived Col. Parker they concocted an effective mixture of garage and blues -- not a huge departure for either musician, but well-crafted stuff nonetheless. Another of those albums that critics seem to love and no one ever hears.

Izzy Stradlin's On Down The Road
This 2002 release is Stradlin's tribute to the purity of seventies rock. Part Black Crowes, part Memphis blues, part Rolling Stones (of course), the album is Stradlin's most ambitious and mature material.

Slash's Snakepit's Ain't Life Grand
"Life's Sweet Drug" alone is worth most of this one's purchase price -- and not just because the you'll almost always find this one under a quarter-inch of dust in a record store's cut-out bin. While life wasn't quite as grand for Slash back then as it is now that Velvet Revolver is all the rage, his second solo offering is criminally underrated.

-- David A. Cobb

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