During the middle leg of 1991’s Use Your Illusion tour, Guns N’ Roses guitarist Izzy Stradlin, sick of arena-rock hi-jinks and tired of his band’s prima donna frontman, bolted from Axl & Co. in favor of some much needed solace. Isolated from the rest of his noisy mates, Stradlin’s strength—shown first with post-GNR garage band the Ju Ju Hounds and now as a bona fide solo artist—has proved to be last-call rock ‘n’ roll, the kind of jangly, fill-in-the-blanks swagger that goes best with rail booze and lack of sleep. With bump ‘n’ grind blues numbers like “Ain’t It a Bitch,” “Bleedin,” and “Grunt” on the new 117°, you realize you’ve entered Thorogood country. But Stradlin’s competent backing band, which includes fellow GNR-expat bassist Duff McKagan, sneers through 44 minutes of dingy-saloon soundtrack with enough bad-boy panache to save 117° from the cutout bin. Most of the 14 tracks concern the stereotypical girl gone bad (“Gotta Say,” “Good Enough”), but Stradlin does allow the occasional glimpse at his boozy salad days spent sharing a bus with Slash (“Old Hat”). There’s nothing groundbreaking on 117°, and Stradlin’s guitar work certainly falls short of being virtuosic, but there are worse things to listen to when you’re killing brain cells from dusk ’til dawn.

—Sean Daly

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