Yowza! That GN’R bus is picking up speed, huh?  Has it got you reaching for your copies of the big ol’ bloated Use Your Illusion?  Well, put it down!  Take a step back!  Open up your browsers and open up Discogs / Amazon / Spotify / YouTube (delete where applicable).

Not that I’m anti-Guns N’ Roses or anything, but forget about ‘The Most Dangerous Band In the World’ (© GN’R 1986) …

Izzy Stradlin – 117°
Geffen Records, 1998

izzy

Rumour has it that Izzy left a Ju Ju Hounds recording session at some point in 1993 to go get some smokes.  Never returned.  Next we hear is two years later he’s jamming with ex-Gunner Duff, Ju Ju-er Rick Richards, and Taz Bentley.  Another three years later and he’s cut his hair and thrown out 117°, which also features a few tracks recorded by the Ju Ju Hounds prior to their split.

While much sharper and urgent, Izzy’s music remains a reaction to the bloated stadium rock monster he created.  The influence of The Rolling Stones (particularly Keith on Gotta Say, Good Enough) and The Clash is still there; however, there are elements of rockabilly and surf (the incredible Surf Roach and Grunt are full of subtle – and not so subtle – Dick Dale-isms).  Meshed with his punk influences, Izzy hit his stride and 117° is, I dare say, a more diverse record than the Ju Ju Hounds … in fact, it’s a pretty perfect Americana record.  The album’s highlights are a blistering version of Chuck Berry’s Memphis (heavy guitar lines and thunderous playing from his ex-Hounds), Izzy original Here Before You, and the roaring Up Jumped The Devil.

Despite a lukewarm score of 3, Allmusic wrote: “117 Degrees rocks harder than most roots-rock albums of the late ’90s. And Stradlin is a roots-rocker by this point. None of his contemporaries are even trying for this kind of unassuming, straightforward, well-crafted hard rock, and by pursuing this direction so doggedly (he even covers Berry’s “Memphis”), he sounds like a throwback to another era, much like all the Americana bands of the late ’90s. His music sounds fresher than many of those roots-rockers because he just wants to play, not preserve heritage, but the ironic thing is when he’s on, he’s a better songwriter than almost any of them.”  I wouldn’t disagree with that.  Only I’d give it a solid 5.

Unfortunately, this would be the last of Izzy’s albums to be easily obtained.  Following the Geffen / Interscope merger, Izzy found himself without a label.

Part 1 – 10 Minute Warning (1998)
Part 2 – Izzy Stradlin & The Ju Ju Hounds (1992)

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10 thoughts on “An Alternative to Guns N’ Roses: Part 3 – Izzy Stradlin – 117°

  1. Nice little write up Mr J! Rick Richards honed his chops with the great Georgia Satallites back in the 80s! Izzy well wasn’t he the one who had a million dollar cheque crinkled up in his pocket and didn’t realize it back when he was in Guns!? Hahaha….
    Axl mentions that story in Pretty Tied Up from the Bloated Illusions Albums!

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  2. I was in the 8th grade when Appetite For Destruction came out and that album blew the top of my head off. As a fledgling guitarist at the time Slash was the best of both worlds; he was a guitar slinger in his own right, AND he played in a killer band that was a mix of metal, punk, and classic rock. Every song on that album was a monster and felt so incredibly inappropriate for a 14 year old to be listening to(all the more reason to listen, ehh?) I dug G n R ‘Lies’, too. But by the time Use Your Illusion came out I was pretty much done. Still am, even though I still think Slash is a grade A killer guitarist.

    I remember when this Izzy album came out and I recall really liking it, but lost track of it. I may need to dig into this one this week. See what happens.

    *I do have to say that I was also a fan of LA Gunns. That second album was pretty top notch pop metal. “Never Enough” was pure good times metal and pop.

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    1. Sorry! Seems I lost track of this comment during the ‘move’. Your experience of GN’R is similar to mine (though Appetite was a discovery for me when I was heading into 1st Year or so and Use Your Illusion was already in my Walkman) … I got on the bus late and got off after a while waiting on what would end up being Chinese Democracy. Still, the members all had great projects going on … some appealing more than others … some remaining with me throughout the years (like this one and a few others that I’m revisiting here).

      … anyway … where was I? … oh yeah! I recommend digging back into this one (if you haven’t already!). It’s pretty swell. Let me know what you reckon!

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  3. I recognize this album cover from a music club monthly magazine (did you guys have those CD promos in Scotland, get 7 CDs for 1 cent, then buy 5 more over the next year at $20/each?) – foolishly never invested though, I guess I’d already gotten those introductory 7 CDs and wasn’t willing to pay a $20 for it!
    Sounds like it would have provided a solid return on that investment though – I’m digging this series J!

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    1. Ah! I missed a few comments during the ‘move’ – apologies, Geoff!

      We had those promos here – In fact, it’s how I snagged the Use Your Illusion albums! Think I got one album after that – only cause I never sent back the form to say I wasn’t interested! Dang!

      But yeah, if you see this I would recommend it … and I’m glad you dig this series. It’s been fun revisiting some of the ol’ GN’R related projects!

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