Monday, June 17, 2024

Slash turns the air blue on Orgy of the Damned

I began researching the early blues pioneers after noticing many songs by the likes of Gallagher and Zeppelin had started life back in the 20s and 30s. I now have an extensive collection which, although a challenging listen occasionally, truly deserves the overworked term “seminal”. Try ‘Pearline’ by Son House, the original ‘When the Levee Breaks’ by Memphis Minnie or Robert Johnson’s ‘Stones in My Passway’ to name but three. I also have innumerable covers of these early songs by many different artists – some successful, others dire… so I always approach blues cover albums with a little trepidation.

However, this latest one is masterminded by none other than Slash, and has a guest list a mile long; therefore I was looking forward to hearing his/their interpretations of some of the greatest blues songs ever written… spoiler alert: he’s succeeded with skill and panache. It also has the tantalising title Orgy Of The Damned to further whet the appetite.

Let’s start with a classic amongst classics; a song covered most memorably by Cream…Robert Johnson’s immortal ‘Crossroads’ with Gary Clark Jr adding his vocals, it’s a different and special reading of a great song. The guitar solos from Slash and Gary are measured, brilliant and totally lacking in widdle! Blues lover Paul Rodgers lends his remarkable vocal chords to the equally seminal Lightnin’ Hopkins, Lewis, Robinson song, ‘Born Under a Bad Sign.’ Again, Slash stays faithful to the original with his own unique and refreshing touch infusing this and every track. Mr Rodgers delivers his trademark vocal and adds to the genius of the overall interpretation. ‘Killing Floor’ from the pen of Howlin’ Wolf features the gravelled tonsils of Brian Johnson and, yet again, Slash puts his own mark on a classic and makes it newly old. It is a genius interpretation with Brian suitably Wolf-y and (for him) restrained with Steven Tyler blowing a mean harmonica. 

A surprising choice perhaps, is Stevie Wonder’s ‘Living for the City’ (although Gillan made a good fist of it) with Slash taking the key refrains and adding a great guitar solo as Tash Neal (a lesser-known, but significant voice) putting heart and soul into it. 

This excellent album wraps up with an original, Slash composition called (with tongue firmly in cheek) ‘Metal Chestnut.’ It ain’t metal, it’s a soaring blues rock instrumental of pure quality.

These few highlights, I hope, will encourage you to listen further and buy it. I didn’t mention Billy Gibbons, Beth Hart, Demi Lovato or Chris Robinson. They all deliver superb performances alongside Slash’s clever reworking of some great songs.

Orgy of the Damned is out now.

Tom Dixon
Tom Dixon
North East born, South West domiciled music lover - mainly heavy rock & blues but not averse to other genres. I'm fortunate to have retired early & I can now take full advantage of the 40+ years I have spent collecting, listening, watching & playing (badly) & have enjoyed researching how blues in particular has shaped the music we know & love today. Now if only I could get my Strat & Musicman to sound in reality how they do in my head!

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I began researching the early blues pioneers after noticing many songs by the likes of Gallagher and Zeppelin had started life back in the 20s and 30s. I now have an extensive collection which, although a challenging listen occasionally, truly deserves the overworked term...Slash turns the air blue on Orgy of the Damned