Even though I dug GN’R music back in the day, I wasn’t a huge fan, mainly because of Axl Rose who really annoyed me with his well-known and well-publicized antics. While I appreciated Slash’s playing at the time, that annoyance with Axl unfortunately made me write him off. My bad.
But lately, I’ve been revisiting GN’R. Just the other day, while driving to work, I was greeted to “Welcome to the Jungle” playing on my favorite classic rock radio station, 98.5 KFOX. I’ve always dug that song, and it has been a mainstay in my iTunes collection for years. In any case, Slash gets a couple of lead breaks during the song, and this time, I really listened to what he was playing.
No, he’s not particularly fast, he doesn’t do two-handed tapped arpeggios. But what he did in that song was so melodic and fit so well, and his tone was so definitive of Marshall “mojo” that I gained a completely new appreciation for his playing.
So I spent lots of time during work listening to the GN’R tunes I have in my library and playing GN’R and Velvet Revolver videos on YouTube; not for the bands, but to listen to Slash play.
And after that, I came to a conclusion: Of all the hard rock guitarists out there, I believe Slash is underrated. He doesn’t do anything flashy, but what he does, without fail or variance, is play exactly what fits with the song; nothing more, nothing less. To me, that’s the mark of a truly great musician. There’s so much attention paid to the great shredders out there nowadays, but I believe that Slash’s tone represents the model and epitome of a Les Paul played through a cranked up Marshall. Admittedly, that’s a tone that I’ve been really getting into lately. I love the bite and sustain of that combination of guitar and amp, and Slash simply nails the tone!
But in addition to his awesome tone, one thing that I really “got” yesterday was what a great rhythm guitarist he is. Again, he plays solely what is appropriate, but it provides a foundation for the songs he plays that are as definitive as his leads. Again, that’s musicality, and musicality at its finest.
If you’ve ever written Slash off in the past, give him a listen, and you’ll realize like me what a truly great guitarist he is!