List! 3 Pretty Great Albums by Past & Present Guns N’ Roses Members

Forget Slash’s Snakepit or Duff’s albums, forget the high-profile misfire Velvet Revolver. These are three pretty great albums by members of Guns N’ Roses worthy of standing alongside the band’s best work.

1. Izzy Stradlin and the Ju Ju Hounds – Izzy Stradlin and the Ju Ju Hounds (1992)
Izzy Stradlin, one of the founding members of Guns N’ Roses and the band’s secret weapon, was the first to leave of his own volition. With GN’R, Stradlin co-wrote many of the band’s best songs (“Mr. Brownstone,” “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” “Patience,” “Don’t Cry”) and brought a quiet, cocksure attitude to the group to counter some of the other strong personalities. Since his departure, Stradlin has put out 11 albums, but his unfortunately titled debut is still the best. (Ju Ju Hounds? Goo Goo Dolls should open for them) The album is ten solid tracks of laid back, Stones-inspired rock ‘n’ roll. More than GN’R, Stradlin lets his influences shine through, but doesn’t imitate them. The single “Shuffle it All” is one of the greatest road trip songs (especially for a hot summer day with windows down).

2. Gilby Clarke – Pawnshop Guitars (1994)
Let’s face it, Gilby Clarke, Stradlin’s replacement, was a good fit for GN’R, but didn’t bring enough personality. Or at least he was never given the chance to let his personality through. Clarke toured with GN’R to support the Illusions albums, and played on The Spaghetti Incident?, but that’s really it. Clarke never had the opportunity to write with the band, and after hearing his solo debut, Pawnshop Guitars, he really could’ve been a strong addition. If we’re just going for straight comparison, and I think it’s somewhat warranted, Clarke isn’t as strong a singer as Stradlin, but he still has a knack for Stones-y rock ‘n’ roll (are we seeing a pattern here? Hey, he even covers “Dead Flowers”!). Clarke’s influences are largely the same as Stradlin’s (The Stones, The Clash – he also covers “Jail Guitar Doors”) and Pawnshop Guitars makes a good companion to the Ju Ju Hounds. Though, where Stradlin’s record is more classic sounding, Clarke’s tunes at times embrace modern rock, and some tracks would sit very comfortably next to Stone Temple Pilots. (GN’R-philes will want this album for Axl’s appearance on the “Dead Flowers” cover)

3. Tommy Stinson – Village Gorilla Head (2004)
By the time Tommy Stinson released his first solo album, the Replacements had been broken up for 13 years and he’d been the bassist for Guns N’ Roses for almost six years, despite the fact that Chinese Democracy was still four years away from being released. Interestingly, Stinson’s solo sound has much in common with other GN’R spin-offs. Like Stradlin and Clarke’s records, the Stones influence can be felt just as clearly, especially on the Exile-inspired “Hey You.” Yet, (the also unfortunately titled) Village Gorilla Head is more varied in its approach: “Not a Moment Too Soon” rivals anything in Paul Westerberg’s solo catalogue, “OK” oddly recalls The Traveling Wilburys, “Motivation” is punky Warning-era Green Day, and the title track embraces samples, loops, and atmospheric studio trickery.

*Alright, I know I started this off by saying forget Slash’s Snakepit, but they do have one absolutely great song:

About James Hrivnak
The H is silent.

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