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CD Reviews:
Listening Room: Velvet Revolver, Kelly Rowland and more...

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Sunday, July 1, 2007

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Velvet Revolver, “Libertad” (RCA) ***

We can all be forgiven a bit of skepticism about whether there’d ever be a second Velvet Revolver album. For starters, “supergroups” of this nature are always volatile concerns. Then take into account that three members come from the notoriously unsteady Guns N’ Roses and that the frontman — former Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland — has his own notorious history of selfdestruction and, well, it was just safe not to expect too much. But sometimes they surprise you, and “Libertad” is not only a fine follow-up to 2004’s “Contraband” but also a sophomore album that builds on its predecessor’s strengths and give us enough fresh with the familiar to establish a newly definitive standard for the band. The quintet’s stock-in-trade is still in muscular, big-chorus riff rockers such as “Get Out the Door” (more cowbell alert!), “Just Sixteen,” the Stoogeslike “Let It Roll” and the first single, “She Builds Big Machines,” all vehicles for plenty of flash ’n’ trash from guitarists Slash and David Kushner. But on “Libertad,” Velvet Revolver pushes itself into soul (“The Last Fight”), vintage garage rock (“American Man”) and the Eastern flavors of “She Mine.” The closing “Grave Dancer” offers a trippier take on the “Fall to Pieces” school of power ballads, although a rocked-up cover of Electric Light Orchestra’s “Can’t Get It Out of My Head” should be removed from yours as quickly as possible. That, however, is a lone mistake on an otherwise satisfying second effort — one that even gets us excited for what the group will do on its third outing.


Kelly Rowland, “Ms. Kelly” (Columbia) **1/2

Because, as she tells us, she is “not reminiscent” and is “living in this moment,” Kelly Rowland has been strangely out of sight since Destiny’s

Child bid farewell last resculpting the second solo album she started working on in 2004 into something “now.” So “Ms. Kelly” has a kickin’ kick-off with the hip-hop beats of “Like This” (with Eve), with Rowland declaring that “y’all didn’t think I could bump like this,” and “Comeback.” But the 12-song set quickly finds its Destiny in the more familiar strains of “Work,” “Every Thought is You” and “Still in Love With My Ex” as Rowland wrings her way through one lost-love paean after another. It’s more varied and assured than 2004’s “Simply Deep,” and her vocal performances on “Love,” “This is Love” and opposite Tank on “The Show” remind us that Destiny’s Child wasn’t just Beyoncé’s domain.


Asylum Street Spankers, “Hot Lunch” (Yellow Dog) — The second album from the Austin, Texas, pickers ’n’ grinners takes a Nirvana lead on the track “Smells Like Thirty-Something.”

Andre “3000” Benjamin, “Class of 3000: Music Volume 1” (Zomba) — A first set of songs from the OutKast member’s animated TV series.

Circus Diablo, “Circus Diablo” (Koch) — Billy Duffy of the Cult leads this all-star troupe of fellow headbangers from Fuel, Camp Freddy, the Almighty and Slunt.

Damien Dempsey, “To Hell or Barbados” (United For Opportunity) — The Irish singer-songwriter’s fourth album includes stories about drug dealers, ancient tribal ethics and his home town of Dublin.

The Magic Numbers, “Those the Brokes” (Astralwerks) — The sophomore album from the rootsy British sibling band (a modern-day Mamas and the Papas) rolls out on these shores after a November release across the pond.

Pastor Troy, “Tool Muziq” (SMC Recordings) — The crunk pioneer originally wanted to call this album “Saddam Hussein” but was persuaded to change it when several major chains said they wouldn’t carry it with that title.

Queensrÿche, “Mindcrime at the Moore” (Rhino) — The whole “Operation: Mindcrime” saga in concert before a partisan crowd in the group’s home town of Seattle.

Silverstein, “Arrivals & Departures” (Victory) — The end of a seven-year relationship gave frontman Shane Told plenty to write about on the Canadian group’s third album.

T.I., “T.I. vs. T.I.P.” (Atlantic) — The Atlanta rapper goes the you’renever-alone-with-a-schizophrenic route as his personas do battle with help from Eminem, Jay-Z, Andre 3000, Justin Timberlake, Timbaland, Ciara and Wyclef Jean.

Twiztid, “Independent’s Day” (Psychopathic) — The Detroit rap duo’s latest includes team-ups with fellow juggalos Insane Clown Posse and Blaze, rockers (hed) p.e., the Dayton Family and a track with the late Proof of D12.

Widespread Panic, “Choice Cuts: The Capricorn Years 1991-1999” (Volcano) — An overview of the jam band’s early recording years, when it was more committed to the stage as its primary musicmaking vehicle.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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