Duff McKagan's Loaded
I just finished reading Greg Prato’s excellent book “Grunge is Dead: The Oral History of Seattle Rock Music” and Duff McKagan is quoted liberally in the first few chapters of the book, along with the usual Pearl Jam and Nirvana crowd. Seattle native McKagan played in local faves Ten Minute Warning and the Fartz, plying his skills as a punk rocker before moving to L.A. After GNR, he moved back to Seattle and earned a finance degree from Seattle University. He's currently a financial columnist for Playboy.com and is on tour with his Seattle-based band Loaded.
Now that Velvet Revolver has imploded, Duff is back to his Seattle punk/metal roots. Sick, Loaded’s third CD, is better than McKagan’s post GNR solo CDs and a notch above the other Loaded releases. The 13 songs on Sick remind us that McKagan, along with Izzy Stradlin, were the no-frills bluesy, rocking heart of GNR. Axl added bipolar showmanship , horn sections, and psychodrama; Slash contributed guitar histrionics, but Duff and Izzy were the core of that band.
Sick is just a simple hard rock album, and that's a relief amid all the subgenre death and thrash metal that leave the basic metal fan out in the cold. Duff plays guitar, not bass, and sings lead. He’s got a raspy voice that’s fine for the material here. The tunes have heart and sleaze without going overboard in either direction. There's the obligatory heartfelt ballad IOU, an apology to his wife for putting her through rock ‘n’ roll hell, the pensive Mother's Day, and lots of songs about past encounters with skanky broads and backstabbing friends. “Sick” kicks off the CD with the line "“Well, I’m sick/Yeah, I’m sick of you/You’re like Typhoid Mary/Mixed with Asian flu.” It's safe to say Duff's lyrics won't be quoted on any Hallmark greeting cards soon. The unabashed rockin’ continues with Sleaze Factory, Blind Date Girl and Duff’s take on Use Your Illusion’s Coma, called Flatline. So all the required rocker subject matter is here.
The band’s name is officially Duff McKagan’s Loaded, at the record company’s insistence. Name brand recognition and all that. If you liked Duff’s contributions to GNR,Velvet Revolver (& the Neurotic Outsiders!), you’ll like Sick.