Category Archives: Music

Sorry, Axl, but Chinese Democracy is NOT a Guns N’ Roses album

Now that there’s a real possibility of Chinese Democracy actually being released this year — Rock Band 2, coming out in September, will feature a song from the notoriously delayed project — can we please stop referring to it as a Guns N’ Roses album?

I’m as curious as any Use Your Illusion II fan to hear what Axl Rose has been blowing his millions on for the past decade, but I’m not going to be fooled by the words “Guns N’ Roses” on the CD cover. It’s nothing more than an Axl Rose side project (or solo album, if you don’t think Axl and Slash will ever settle their differences and get back in the ring).

I realize the hype machine revs into full gear for this kind of thing (see: Jimmy Fallon’s uncontainable excitement announcing the “band” at the 2002 MTV Music Awards), but the musical papers don’t need to play along. It’s one thing for, say, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey to continue calling themselves The Who — Keith Moon is long dead, John Entwistle was part of the band until his 2002 death, and the remaining duo are just classic rock dinosaurs at this point anyway.

But Slash and Izzy Stradlin were central to GNR’s sound and success, and they shouldn’t be punished in abstentia for Axl’s craziness-slash-eccentricities. Anybody who writes about Chinese Democracy should call it what it is.

Meanwhile, I’m hoping that if I refer to Chinese Democracy as a “Guns N’ Roses” album (note the scare quotes) or an Axl Rose vanity project enough times, Axl might get so pissed off that he calls me out by name in a song.

(Incidentally, I’ve always been curious about how you can blow $13 million-plus — or twice that, if you’re Michael Jackson — making music. The last time I checked, there are no expensive CGI scenes on a CD. The figure is all the more ridiculous considering Axl must have done a lot of his Chinese Democracy noodling in the era of Pro Tools and cheap home studio setups.)

The mysterious downfall of a Prince

Prince’s generally dreadful — but copious — recent output is one of the enduring pop culture disappointments of the past 15 years. His “comeback” performances at the 2004 Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame ceremony and last year’s Super Bowl notwithstanding, Prince’s creative decline falls somewhere between post-accident Stephen King and post-sanity Michael Jackson.

My friend Eric reminds us of better Prince times in this post, where he provides links to Prince’s aborted Camille and Dream Factory projects. They’re both definitely worth downloading and listening to, and they’ve inspired me to do a more thorough re-examination of what the heck happened to Prince (short answer: ego and a misunderstanding of hip-hop). This will require a bit of listening and a rereading of the fascinating biography Possessed.

But to get the conversation started, here’s a review of the 2004 album Musicology that was supposed to run in the St. Pete Times a few years back but got lost in the shuffle. It was an attempt to counter the CW at the time (which has since been revised, I think) that Musicology was vintage Prince and a real comeback. I saw Prince live for the first time on the Musicology tour, and he was great. But the album was just as boring and lame as The Rainbow Children, Emancipation, Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic, etc.

So two views of latter-day Prince: His jaw-dropping (literally — watch Dhani Harrison) RnR Hall of Fame performance (Prince solo starts around the 3:20 mark) …

And a contemporaneous review of Musicology:

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