Tag Archives: Guns N Roses

Best paragraph of the week: Chuck Klosterman on ‘Chinese Democracy’

From Chuck Klosterman’s great review of the new Axl Rose and Friends* album (I’m adding a paragraph break for easier reading):

But it’s actually better that Slash is not on this album. What’s cool about Chinese Democracy is that it truly does sound like a new enterprise, and I can’t imagine that being the case if Slash were dictating the sonic feel of every riff. The GNR members Rose misses more are Izzy Stradlin (who effortlessly wrote or co-wrote many of the band’s most memorable tunes) and Duff McKagan, the underappreciated bassist who made Appetite For Destruction so devastating.

Because McKagan worked in numerous Seattle-based bands before joining Guns N’ Roses, he became the de facto arranger for many of those pre-Appetite tracks, and his philosophy was always to take the path of least resistance. He pushed the songs in whatever direction felt most organic. But Rose is the complete opposite. He takes the path of most resistance. Sometimes it seems like Axl believes every single Guns N’ Roses song needs to employ every single thing that Guns N’ Roses has the capacity to do—there needs to be a soft part, a hard part, a falsetto stretch, some piano plinking, some R&B bullshit, a little Judas Priest, subhuman sound effects, a few Robert Plant yowls, dolphin squeaks, wind, overt sentimentality, and a caustic modernization of the blues. When he’s able to temporarily balance those qualities (which happens on the title track and on “I.R.S.,” the album’s two strongest rock cuts), it’s sprawling and entertaining and profoundly impressive.

Runner-up:

Throughout Chinese Democracy, the most compelling question is never, “What was Axl doing here?” but “What did Axl think he was doing here?” … On the aforementioned “Sorry,” Rose suddenly sings an otherwise innocuous line (“But I don’t want to do it”) in some bizarre, quasi-Transylvanian accent, and I cannot begin to speculate as to why. I mean, one has to assume Axl thought about all of these individual choices a minimum of a thousand times over the past 15 years. Somewhere in Los Angles, there’s gotta be 400 hours of DAT tape with nothing on it except multiple versions of the “Sorry” vocal. So why is this the one we finally hear? What finally made him decide, “You know, I’ve weighed all my options and all their potential consequences, and I’m going with the Mexican vampire accent. This is the vision I will embrace. But only on that one line! The rest of it will just be sung like a non-dead human.”

* Remember, Chinese Democrasy is NOT a Guns N’ Roses album.

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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.)