Dizzy Reed is best known as one of the members of Guns ‘n’ Roses ‘part two’, so to speak: joining the band after it’s seismic shift in 1990, he is actually the second-longest standing member, after Axl Rose. In actuality, he is far more than that, having worked on several projects with a plethora of musicians, including recently rejoined GnR legends Duff McKagan and Slash, the Dead Daisies, and his own band, the pithily named Hookers and Blow. Evidently, he is a man who likes to stay busy, as he will release his debut solo album Rock ‘n’ Roll Ain’t Easy, on February 16th through Golden Robot Records.

The album pins its colours to the mast with its opening track, lead single ‘This Don’t Look Like Vegas’ and it becomes immediately apparent that Reed’s musical taste, broadly, is ‘Sunset Strip hard rock’ crossed with ‘good ol’ honky-tonk blues’ – a mighty combination, indeed. Toe-tappingly catchy with a driving hard rock beat and bluesy piano, it certainly blows the cobwebs away, as well as being an excellent gauge for what’s to come.

What follows is an uplifting and brilliant lesson in how the blues segued into rock ‘n’ roll all those years ago, and how they can still come together to make proper, classic rock. There’s a real Eighties vibe to some of the tracks, such as ‘Understanding’; urgently fierce album highlight ‘Crestfallen’; and the rollicking ‘Reparations’. There’s also shades of Nineties indie and grunge – take a listen to ‘Mystery in Exile’, ‘I Celebrate’ and the mature sounding, heartfelt ‘Fragile Water’.

There’s also, of course, the odd Guns ‘n’ Roses snippet, such as the sexy, bluesy ‘Dirty Bomb’ and the “beware of the evil woman”-themed ‘Understanding’. Not that the whole album takes its inspiration from the past, though: ‘Cheers 2 R Oblivion’, with its pleasingly throaty vocals and rather Hothouse Flowers vibe has a great modern rock sound (and very modern, text-speak title…), and the title track, which closes the album, would comfortably fit on any rock album old or new.

While Reed certainly hasn’t reinvented the wheel here, he’s taken his influences and wealth of experience and created a well-crafted, highly entertaining hard rock album. Perfect for bellowing along to in your car with the window rolled down, as well as being a fascinating peek into the mind of a musician who’s been on the frontline of American hard rock for decades. If you’re a rocker of any age, Rock ‘n’ Roll Ain’t Easy is definitely worth the purchase.


Review by Melanie Brehaut

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