Contraband (Velvet Revolver album)

Contraband (Velvet Revolver album)
Studio album by Velvet Revolver
Released June 8, 2004
Recorded August–December 2003 at NRG and Pulse Recording, Los Angeles, California
Genre Hard rock
Length 60:19
Label RCA
Producer Josh Abraham
Velvet Revolver
Douglas Grean
Nick Raskulinecz
Velvet Revolver chronology
Alternative cover
Black album cover with a silhouette of a lady in the center and the band name on the right.
Black version of the album cover

Contraband is the debut studio album by American hard rock band Velvet Revolver, released on June 8, 2004 by RCA Records. A commercial success, Contraband debuted at number one on the American Billboard 200 chart and was certified 2x platinum by the RIAA.[1][2]


Background and recording

Velvet Revolver formed when three Guns N' Roses musicians - Slash (guitar), Duff McKagan (bass) and Matt Sorum (drums) - combined to play at a benefit concert for fellow musician Randy Castillo in 2002. They decided to form another band and recruited guitarist Dave Kushner who had previously played with Suicidal Tendencies, Wasted Youth, and Dave Navarro. Kushner had gone to school with Slash and had worked with McKagan before. The quartet was known as The Project pending the selection of a permanent name.

The quartet then set about recruiting a lead singer with the recruitment process filmed by VH1. Several lead singers auditioned including Josh Todd of Buckcherry, Kelly Shaefer of Neurotica and Travis Meeks of Days of the New but they were unsuccessful. Scott Weiland had become friends with McKagan and had played on the same bill as Kushner when Stone Temple Pilots were known as Mighty Joe Young and Kushner was in the Electric Love Hogs. Weiland heard the material and offered his services as the lead singer and the band clicked. Slash suggested the name Revolver for the project and Weiland suggested the addition of 'Black Velvet' to the title. The 'Black' was dropped.

Velvet Revolver recorded its first track "Set Me Free" for The Hulk soundtrack in 2003, along with a cover of Pink Floyd's "Money" for The Italian Job. The band played their first live gig at the El Rey in Los Angeles in July 2003. It recorded Contraband in the latter part of 2003 with recording complicated by Weiland's court appearances for drug charges and his subsequent sentencing to undertake rehabilitation.

In February 2005, RCA Records released a "Tour Edition" of the album in Europe, which included a bonus disc containing three songs: "Surrender" (originally by Cheap Trick), "No More, No More" (originally by Aerosmith), and an acoustic version of "Fall to Pieces".

The United States release of the disc uses the MediaMax CD-3 system for copy protection, while Macrovision CDS-200 is used for the European release.

Chart success

Contraband debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200, selling 256,000 copies in its first week of release.[1] Notably, this marked the best-ever debut for a new rock artist in the SoundScan era. The album would later sell over 2.9 million copies in the United States, and 4 million worldwide.

The first single, "Slither", topped a composite world modern rock chart in June, and later hit #1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart for 8 weeks. The follow-up, "Fall to Pieces", was a major crossover hit that reached #1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Chart for 11 weeks.

In 2005, Velvet Revolver won a Grammy Award for Best Hard Rock Performance, an award Weiland had previously won for the Stone Temple Pilots song "Plush" in 1994. At the ceremony, they were asked to play the music for a cover of The Beatles' "Across the Universe". The live recording was a hit on iTunes, with all proceeds going to charity. In January 2005, Velvet Revolver were also asked to play the music for a cover of Eric Clapton's "Tears in Heaven". The single was to aid victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake, with all proceeds going to Save the Children Foundation.

Critical response

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic (65/100)[3]
Review scores
Source Rating
allmusic 3/5 stars[4] 6/10 stars[5]
Blender 3/5 stars[6]
Entertainment Weekly (B-)[7]
Mojo 4/5 stars[3]
PopMatters 3/5 stars[8]
Rolling Stone 4/5 stars[3]
Stylus Magazine (D+)[9]
Ultimate Guitar Archive 8.7/10 stars[10]
Yahoo! Music 8/10 stars[11] has given Contraband an average score of 65 based on 14 reviews, indicating that the critical response has been "generally favorable".[3]

Mojo rated the album as "a perpetually guilty pleasure." (June 2004 page 107) Q magazine said it was "astonishingly good" rating it as four stars. (Jul 2004, page 127)

Rolling Stone rated it as 4 stars out of 5 said "it is a rare, fine thing: the sound of the perfect A&R sales pitch turning into a real band. Now we can find out if these guys can stay together, and go somewhere new." Best tracks: "Sucker Train Blues", "Slither", "Do It For The Kids", "Big Machine", "Fall to Pieces"[12] rated it as 3.5 stars although it said: "Contraband, the debut result of said pairing, never does transmute its elements into something new and exciting. Mostly, it sounds like no more and a little less than one might hope for from such a union." Best Tracks: "Slither", "Spectacle", "Headspace", "Superhuman"[13]

Entertainment Weekly rated it as 67 saying "Even at its best, Contraband feels secondhand, and much of it is also hobbled by a disconnect between band and singer."[14]

Allmusic rated it as 3 stars out of 5 saying "With Contraband, Velvet Revolver has pulled off something tidy, fashioning music that manages both hedonism and maturity. It upholds legacies while grading a new route." Best tracks: "Big Machine", "Fall to Pieces" "Slither"[15]

Blender said it was "A showcase for Weiland's vocals" (#27, page 148). Playlouder rated it as three candles out of five saying it sounded more like Stone Temple Pilots and "anyone who'd hoped for Guns N' Roses mark II (or III) will be very seriously disappointed." Best track "Fall to Pieces"[16]

Track listing

All songs were written by Velvet Revolver, except "Dirty Little Thing" by Velvet Revolver and Keith Nelson.[17]

  1. "Sucker Train Blues" – 4:28
  2. "Do It for the Kids" – 3:56
  3. "Big Machine" – 4:26
  4. "Illegal i Song" – 4:18
  5. "Spectacle" – 3:42
  6. "Fall to Pieces" – 4:30
  7. "Headspace" – 3:43
  8. "Superhuman" – 4:16
  9. "Set Me Free" – 4:08
  10. "You Got No Right" – 5:35
  11. "Slither" – 4:08
  12. "Dirty Little Thing" – 3:58
  13. "Loving the Alien" – 5:49


Album - Billboard (North America)

Year Chart Position
2004 Billboard 200[1] 1
Top Canadian Albums 1
Top Internet Albums 1

Singles - Billboard (North America)

Year Single Chart Position
2004 "Slither" Mainstream Rock Tracks 1
Modern Rock Tracks 1
The Billboard Hot 100 56
"Fall to Pieces" Mainstream Rock Tracks 1
Modern Rock Tracks 2
The Billboard Hot 100 67
"Dirty Little Thing" Mainstream Rock Tracks 8
2005 Modern Rock Tracks 18
"Fall to Pieces" Adult Top 40 25


Velvet Revolver
Additional personnel
  • Robin C. Hendrickson – art direction
  • Brett Kilroe – art direction
  • Dan Winters – photography
Production personnel
  • Josh Abraham – production
  • Douglas Grean – keyboards on tracks 6, 10 and 13, vocal production, engineering, associate producer of "Set Me Free"
  • Nick Raskulinecz – production on "Set Me Free"
  • Andy Wallacemixing
  • Chris Young – mixing assistance
  • Ryan Williams – engineering
  • Brandon Belsky – engineering assistance
  • Rocco Guarino – engineering assistance
  • George Marino – mastering


  1. ^ a b c "Velvet Revolver Shoots Straight to No. 1". June 16, 2004.
  2. ^ "Gold and Platinum Database Search". Retrieved 2009-11-23. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Critic Reviews for Contraband". Metacritic. Retrieved November 17, 2010. 
  4. ^ Loftus, Johnny. "Contraband Review". Allmusic. Retrieved November 17, 2010. 
  5. ^ Kaye, Don. "Velvet Revolver - Contraband (RCA)". Retrieved November 17, 2010. 
  6. ^ Collis, Clark. "Contraband Review". Blender. Retrieved November 17, 2010. 
  7. ^ Browne, David (June 4, 2004). "Contraband Review". Entertainment Weekly.,,643204,00.html. 
  8. ^ Powell, David (June 30, 2004). "Velvet Revolver: Contraband". Pop Matters. 
  9. ^ Ross, R.S. (June 30, 2004). "Velvet Revolver - Contraband - Review". Stylus Magazine. Archived from the original on December 10, 2007. 
  10. ^ "Contraband Review". Ultimate Guitar Archive. February 13, 2008. 
  11. ^ Gennoe, Dan (June 24, 2004). "Velvet Revolver - Contraband". Yahoo! Music. 
  12. ^ CD Reviews : Rolling Stone
  13. ^ Velvet Revolver: Contraband [2004] Shaking Music: Review
  14. ^ [4 June 2004, page 79]
  15. ^ allmusic ((( Contraband > Overview )))
  16. ^ Playlouder - Latest
  17. ^ (2004) Album notes for Contraband by Velvet Revolver [CD booklet]. RCA Records.
Preceded by
Confessions by Usher
Billboard 200 number-one album
June 20, 2004 - June 26, 2004
Succeeded by
To the 5 Boroughs by Beastie Boys

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