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Chinese Democracy

By Alexander T. 'TheSlaSH' Müller-Rodic
Nov 21, 2008 11:50



On 21st July 1987 one of the greates (to me clearly THE greatest) albums of all times was released. "Appetite for Destruction" with 26m sold copies is clearly one of the most successful debut albums ever produced period. On 23rd November 2008, more than 21 years after this epic piece of art, Guns n' Roses will release their latest album called "Chinese Democracy". I had the chance to get a hold of the album early enough to share some thought on it.
So we have to go back 19 years to understand the whole story here. I was young enough to sneak into any kind of music I could get my hands on to find my very own taste. A good friend of mine at this time introduced this Hardrock band from the US to me, called Guns n' Roses. I bought the LP and that's it. Long story short, ever since Rock and Metal are my type of music. Though I enjoy other stuff as well, I simply love the combination of the classical Rock set-up.

The fascination Appetite put on me back then lasts ever since. I enjoy literaly every single note played and sung on this record and if you add on top that back then everything was produce without and digital help, it becomes even better.
Now there is this great combo of a simple rhythm provided by Steven Adler on drums and Duff Rose McKagan on bass guitar and Izzy Stradlin adding the structure with his rhythm guitar. But the absolute plus comes from lead guitarist Saul Slash Hudson and frontman and singer Axl Rose. I have found other records over the years that I love, too, but none out there is as good as Appetite is to me. Well, aynway, you can tell from my nick what influence these guys had on me.

I was spending a time in the UK, when Terminator 2 hit the theatres and with it the soundtrack was promoted heavily, including "You could be mine" from Guns. Again I was blown by a song of this band and as soon as I got a hold of the CD, all I wanted to do is "inhale" the other new track that was released with it, "Civil War". When in 1991 Use Your Illusion I and II hit the shelves, I was doing an internship and had one of my friends going to Cologne centre to buy both of them for me directly. I remember waiting for him to return so I could run home and enjoy those 30 new songs was a killer.

Luckily I was able to see them play live twice on the Use Your Illusion Tour in the early 90s. After those two records Guns played it rather slow. They released Spaghetti Incident an album with cover songs only and after that only two more singles, one for "End of days" called "Oh my god" (it is on the soundtrack) and one for "Interview with a vampire", the cover of the Stones "Sympathy for the devil". But again, that is a good 15 years ago or so.

Now let's get to the new piece I am listening to atm, "Chinese Democracy". Two years ago or so 4-5 songs leaked the internet and I had a first impression on what happened. As a matter of fact, from the old guys only Axl is with Guns still. The rest is on other projects and I doubt they will ever have a reunion. What a shame, but what can you do!

14 songs full of Axl Rose is definetely worth it. I bought the LP already before listening to it and if you know me, you will understand that I buy music at iTunes that I like. I rarely buy CDs of the music I like even better, but buying vinyl is a different story. Only the stuff I really love is going that way. As Guns has been my favourite all time, I simply had to buy the record without knowing if it was worth it.

Now surprise surprise, it is worth it. If you at some point love Axl and what he can do with his voice, you have to get your hands on this one for sure. Most of the music is so focused on him, you will enjoy it for sure. Especially "There was a time" seems epic. It is the longest track of the album and has lots of Use Your Illusion in it. Lots of instrumental underlining the song and taking it to a level close to "November Rain" and "Estranged" (which is my all time favourite of this category).

If you look at Guns development over the years, then Appetite was clearly the true album of this band. It had all the energy and genius in it this band could possibly produce without knowing it themselves. Use Your Illusion was simply great, but not as original as Appetite. They knew what they were capable of and were way more professional on this double release. Taking Spaghetti out of the equation, as it is pure cover songs only, you will have to look at Chinese Democracy next and it is kind of hard to find it's place to me. It is close to the Illusion era for sure but is it the next level from it? I don't think so. It is maybe the sound Illusion would have had if Axl was in control back in the days 100% if you know what I mean.

Still it is a great album for sure if you are willing to accept Axl as being Guns alone. To me Slash is missing for sure. Of course the guitar in there is great, but not as great as before. Izzy was replaced by Gilby Clark on the Illusion Tour, so he was out anyway. Steven Adler was replaced by Cults' Matt Sorum almost at the same time, so he is not missing, too.

Chinese Democracy is different. It is not Guns from the old days and it is not the logical next step for Guns either. It simply is a new Guns and only if you are willing to accept that you will be able to enjoy it clearly I think.
It gives me a hard time, but I am getting into it more and more. Here my recommendations if you want to follow:

1. Chinese Democracy (1st track) - obviously a powerful song you need to listen to
2. Better (3rd track) - if you want to understand where Axl has taken the Guns sound
3. Street of Dreams (4th track) - Axl and the piano, you won't get them apart and a great track to reveal Axls voice and what he can do with it
4. There was a time (6th track) - a taste of Estranged, especially at 2.35 and following, you will understand what I mean listening to it
5. Catcher in the Rye (7th track) - a mixture of Yesterdays and a song I can't tell yet, but you can help me find out. 0:49-0:54 is the part I mean, this little breakdown was used before already, I will try and find out and post in the comnments I guess
6. Sorry (10th track) - this might be the track Axl always wanted to write and sing. Nice build up from extremely calm to becoming a real song you can let your mind drift away on. Even the lead guitar makes you forget Slash is not there no more. And again, Axl provides singing from another planet in my eyes.
7. Madagascar (12th track) - very very Illusion-ballad-build-up in my eyes. It uses the same intro as Civil War did at around 3:20 combined with lots of Dr. Martin Luther King, typical Axl I would say
8. This I love (13th track) - the ballad of the album for sure. Axl on piano and singing like an opera singer to his high pithed voice. You get everything on this one

Now the remaining 6 songs are still to be defined 100% to me, which is what I like, as I want to understand the whole album of course.
Prostitute seems to be the right last track for this one for sure.

Have no fear, you won't get a blog like this one from me too often, as I doubt I will be waiting for an album to be released for such a long time again. Formerly Skid Rows' Sebastian Bach, a good friend of Axls' revealed in an interview, that Chinese Democracy is one out of three new records to be released till 2012, so we might expect Mr. William Bailey to be way more active and who knows, with Duff, Slash and Matt playing at Velvet Revolver, we might see them on stage again someday, someplace. I would go there for sure.

Hope you will at least give this one a try and explore the album yourself just to tell me ho wrong I am ;)


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