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Duff McKagan's Loaded - "The Taking" (CD)

Duff McKagan's Loaded - "The Taking" CD cover image

"The Taking" track listing:

1. Lords Of Abbadon
2. Executioner's Song
3. Dead Skin
4. We Win
5. Easier Lying
6. She's An Anchor
7. Indian Summer
8. Wrecking Ball
9. King Of The World
10. Cocaine
11. Your Name
12. Follow Me To hell

Reviewed by on May 9, 2011

"Whether you're a fan of Guns N' Roses, Velvet Revolver or just plain ol' no-frills hard rock, you're going to be taken with 'The Taking' by Duff McKagan's Loaded. "

Being in one of the best bands of all time can be a double-edged sword. Sure, the fame, fortune and recognition are great, but it's a long fall from the top. Such was definitely the case with Guns N' Roses, which redefined the hard rock genre in the late '80s and early 1990s, before imploding in a hail of drugs and ego.

GNR's declining years and breakup came with a host of unremarkable solo projects, ranging from rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin's stint with the Juju Hounds to Slash's decidedly non-venomous Snakepit albums. Heck, even short-timer Gilby Clarke has been releasing solo discs. Axl Rose's Slash-Duff-and-Izzy-free "new" Guns N' Roses lineup's "Chinese Democracy" was a trainwreck, and the reunion of Slash, Duff and drummer Matt Sorum in Velvet Revolver proved to be as unstable in its own way.

So it was with great trepidation that I opened "The Taking," the latest disc from Duff McKagan's Loaded β€” and it was with mild surprise that I enjoyed it as much as I did. No, it isn't the sleazy, sweaty genius that GNR was, but it's an excellent little hard rocker nonetheless.

As he has on all of his solo discs, McKagan switches from bass to guitar here, with decent results. He's stated that Sex Pistols ax-slinger Steve Jones was his inspiration to pick up the guitar, and that's shown here in the punk-fueled "Follow Me To Hell" and "Indian Summer." McKagan has definitely improved as a vocalist since the Guns days, with a few moments in "Indian Summer" and "Wrecking Ball" that are actually a little reminiscent of Axl Rose's mid-range work.

The rest of the band puts in a more-than-admirable effort, with Mike Squires' guitar solos on tracks like "Lords Of Abaddon" and "Cocaine" especially standing out. Drummer Isaac Carpenter has a swinging, almost poppy style that works well on "King Of The World." "Dead Skin" is the best synthesis of the entire band, with an excellent chorus to boot.

There's not a lot to criticize here, save for a couple of filler tracks ("Your Name" and "We Win") that I could take or leave.

Whether you're a fan of Guns N' Roses, Velvet Revolver or just plain ol' no-frills hard rock, you're going to be taken with "The Taking" by Duff McKagan's Loaded.

Highs: "Dead Skin," "Lords Of Abaddon" and "Indian Summer"

Lows: A couple take-it-or-leave-it tracks ("We Win" and "Your Name)

Bottom line: An excellent hard-rocker from one of the men who redefined the genre.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)