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Willie Basse - "The Money Grind" (CD)

Willie Basse - "The Money Grind" CD cover image

"The Money Grind" track listing:

1. Danger Zone (3:54)
2. Guitargasm (1:50)
3. It's Over (3:39)
4. The Money Grind (6:31)
5. U Can't Have It All (4:06)
6. (Love So) Far Away (4:51)
7. Po' Boy (4:58)
8. Yesterdaze (3:56)
9. Reasons (4:44)
10. Unloveable (4:12)
11. Avarie (3:50)
12. Don't Waste My Time (3:29)
13. Immortal (4:59)
14. You're Not There (3:02)

Reviewed by on February 9, 2009

"While there’s no question that the classically trained Willie Basse is a talented artist, until he moves past the 70’s and 80’s styled music that made Black Sheep famous, he may get lost in the long list of has-beens."

Willie Basse has been at the forefront of heavy metal since the early 80’s. As the front man for the cult favorite band Black Sheep, the metal band, not the hip hop duo, he’s worked with artists like Slash and Randy Castillo, and was at one time a popular performer on the Sunset Strip. Over the last several years, he’s run his own recording studio, and is even the founder of Rock For Recovery, a non-profit prevention and awareness organization for artists suffering from drug and alcohol abuse. Unfortunately, his solo album “The Money Grind” is evidence that this respected and talented musician has failed to change with the times.

The overall sense you get from listening to “The Money Grind” is that it could have been a demo for Guns n Roses. Basse’s vocals mirror the high-pitched screams of Axl Rose so closely that he could be an impersonator. The album is also riddled with the sleaze styled guitar riffs that Slash made famous. Therefore it’s quite possible that fans of old Guns n Roses music may like what they hear on “The Money Grind.” Aspiring sleaze guitarists in particular should enjoy “Guitargasm,” a short instrumental piece featuring a low, chugging bass and a showy riff-heavy guitar.

Another excellent choice for sleaze fans is “Unloveable,” one of the better tracks on the album, where a heavy bass drum and distorted bass meet a grinding sleaze guitar whose solo is impressive, to say the least. The best track is probably “U Can’t Have It All,” a tune that opens with a classic metal, Kiss inspired sound, with gang vocals and a little bit of melody, though the bass line is nearly identical to Ratt’s “Round And Round.” “Yesterdaze” is another Ratt-fashioned tune, with a glam guitar heavy on high-pitched shreds.

Glam sound also permeates “Reasons” and “(Love So) Far Away,” both of which sound much like the 80’s MTV favorite Dokken, though the lead vocals in “(Love So) Far Away” are painfully flat. “Averie” is another 80’s inspired tune, though calling it metal would be a huge mistake. Guitars are virtually absent during the first half of the song, which includes a Kenny G type sax, until finally an electric guitar breaks through with clear, high-pitched wails that unfortunately end too soon.

One of the mistakes Basse makes in many of the songs on “The Money Grind” is the same one Axl Rose made in “Chinese Democracy.” He takes an otherwise good song and adds funk flavored backup vocal refrains. The bad 70’s style ruins “Danger Zone” and “Don’t Waste My Time,” both of which are only mentionable because of the guitar riffs. They also come close to ruining “Po’ Boy,” a strange mix of reggae and metal with a brief glimpse of acoustics, as well as “You’re Not There,” where bongos and an acoustic guitar create a surprisingly mellow tune.

The second instrumental piece on the album is “Immortal,” which features a bass in the background plugging the melody of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” while drums and guitar tap out a repetitive tempo. “Kashmir” gets abandoned in the breakdown of guitar shreds and cymbal-happy drums, and “Immortal” ends with a drum line styled tempo complete with rim tapping.

“It’s Over” and “The Money Grind” both sound like they could be Guns n Roses garage band day tracks. The mix of sleaze and funk in the guitar and the screaming, not to be confused with screamo, vocals are nearly identical to Axl Rose. A frenzied guitar solo in “The Money Grind” possesses the kind of talent Guns n Roses fans take for granted, but the repetitive tempos in both tracks lean toward monotonous.

Though “The Money Grind” may entice some sleaze fans, it doesn’t add anything new to the genre. And while there’s no question that the classically trained Willie Basse is a talented artist, until he moves past the 70’s and 80’s styled music that made Black Sheep famous, he may get lost in the long list of has-beens. Unless, of course, Velvet Revolver regroups and wants an Axl sound-alike on lead vocals.

Highs: Solid sleaze style in “U Can’t Have It All” and “Unloveable.”

Lows: Funk-inspired backup vocals.

Bottom line: Sleaze fans may like it, but many will find the album dated.

Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls
2.5 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)