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Things kick off promisingly enough with the Stonesy rant "Ain't It a Bitch" but quickly regress from there. And even when a decent number does come along ("Here Before You," the title track, and the instrumental "Grunt"), its worth is inflated in relation to the other material. Here, Stradlin's studio sidekicks include ex-members of the Georgia Satellites, the Reverend Horton Heat and even former Gunner Duff McKagan, but they never really click as a tight unit.

Still, some of the blame can be attributed to Stradlin's mumbled, incoherent vocals, which make Dylan sound like Henry Higgins by comparison. And at least Dylan had a way with a lyric; Stradlin's hackneyed prose is frequently embarrassing. The mostly generic bar-band riffs are far from adequate compensation. Obviously, Stradlin isn't kidding when he sings, "Ain't that a bitch / It's all your mess." Hope you clean it up a little next time, Izz. (**)

-- Bob Ruggiero

Press Ratings
***** Historic
**** Great
*** Worthy
** So-so
* Lame

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