05 December 2006
Izzy Stradlin – Like a Dog (iTunes download)
Rock and roll. While often derided as a one-dimensional and tired genre, there can be few things to match it at its sleazy, life-affirming best. And rock ‘n’ roll is rarely better, or sleazier, than on that legendary debut album of Guns N’ Roses, Appetite for Destruction.
Depending on to whom one listens, the primary instrumental architect for that classic was one Izzy Stradlin. Stradlin who, due to the band’s infinite personal conflicts, was replaced by Gilby Clarke in 1991, has since embarked on a lengthy solo career.
The most recent chapter in this career is Like a Dog, recorded in 2003, though it didn’t see the light of day until a 2005 online petition resulted in internet availability. And, as one would expect from a rocker who was mainstream before Grunge was, this is the kind of good time rock ‘n’ roll that makes me wish I still drank whiskey. And not the proper, single malt stuff, either: this music is pure Jack Daniels.
So this is a workout in post-Punk (though obviously not Post Punk), pre-Grunge rock, wherein the songs have that pace and bite of any self-respecting rocker who grew up while The Ramones were doing the rounds. Granted, Stradlin was more on the traditional Stones/Led Zep/Alice Cooper side of things, but the Punk osmosis is clear from the attack of Appetite for Destruction.
Often, I criticise music for not pushing things forward enough, for being too retro-for-the-sake-of-it. Or, in the words of Maynard James Keenan, ‘fuck retro anything’. I dunno, though. I have a soft spot for Izzy.
Quite apart from being a primary cog in my favourite album of the 1980s, his style of rock is really quite ageless. Based in a time after the Punk explosion made most older rock sound positively prehistoric (though clearly not all of it – even bands the punks hated, like Led Zep and Sabbath, had punk-as-fuck ‘Communication Breakdown’s and ‘Paranoid’s), but before capturing the zeitgeist made you look silly a few years later (Ratt? Coal Chamber? Orgy?!), this is essentially distilled rock essence.
It’s not going to change my life anytime soon, nor am I going to declare Izzy the best thing ever. However, this album really entertains me for its duration and, in this age in which poseurs are more prevalent in rock than any time since at least the early 90s, there is something to be said for authenticity. Why is this above the High On Fire album? Doesn’t numb me like that one does by about track seven.