This is the eleventh of the “50 Albums of Note” series.
Jeffrey Dean Isabelle is not known for embracing the limelight. When he was enrolled into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012 with his former band, he simply wrote a note thanking all involved for the “acknowledgement of our works over the years” and stayed at home. When said band was at the height of its power in 1991, half the band were going down the road to Mr Brownstone’s and he decided to sober up and leave, seeing nothing he liked in touring with the self-styled “Most Dangerous Band in the World”. And yes, our dear Mr Isabelle held down the rhythm in Guns n Roses as Izzy Stradlin.
So what do you do when the pressure is off? How do you follow three of the biggest selling albums of all-time in Appetite for Destruction and the two Use Your Illusions? By going smaller and more intimate, by showing how good your blues-drenched rock can be on its own when it’s sat on the back porch at the end of the day with a beer. Because that’s what the Juju Hounds record is (song of two halves Pressure Drop aside). Stradlin’s raspy vocals recall Keith Richards, Rod Stewart or Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow if your prefer and the former’s band inform the album’s songs as well, down even to the “intermission” in our back porch session of a train speeding down the tracks in the middle.
Ju Ju Hounds is not a complete turning of the back on the GNR high energy rock. You can hear it in the core of every track, but it’s way more relaxed and easy to enjoy.