Trimming The Fat: GNR’s Use Your Illusion I & II

In an attempt to add content to this blog besides reviews, I’ve come up with a new feature. The premise? I take a double album, double release, etc., cut out the filler and present it as one wholesome, satisfying release. Welcome to the inaugural edition of…

TRIMMING THE FAT

Guns N’ RosesUse Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II are both very good releases, but were mired in filler. This is to be expected when you release 30 songs at once though.

Initially, the band was intending to release just Use Your Illusion, but as a two-disc set. The label was able to talk them out of it, so they were released as separate albums on the same day, in order to take it a bit easier on the public’s wallet. I always thought that was a bit odd decision from Geffen though. If you’re a GNR fan, you’re going to buy both, which is exactly what happened because both albums have sold 7 million copies since their September 1991 release.

I think Geffen saw the problem with with having two Illusion albums because in 1998 they issued a compilation called Use Your Illusion for U.S. release only, but they didn’t *quite* get it right because the tracks were selected with Walmart’s stringent policies in mind (no expletives).

I’ve done a little hacking and slashing of my own, so I now give you:

Guns N’ Roses – Use Your Illusion

You Could Be Mine
Perfect Crime
Back Off Bitch
Don’t Cry (Original)
Breakdown
Civil War
14 Years
Yesterdays
November Rain
Pretty Tied Up
Locomotive
Don’t Damn Me
Shotgun Blues
So Fine
Live and Let Die
Estranged
Dust ‘N’ Bones

The key to combing these two albums is balancing the more melodic nature of UYI II with the aggressive sound of UYI I. I’ve picked 17 tracks in all, which is quite a lot, in my opinion. I usually like an album to run 10-13 songs so as not to tire out the listener and also decrease the chance of filler, but out out 30 songs, knocking it down to 17 (17 great songs, IMO) is pretty darn good.

“You Could Be Mine”, “Perfect Crime” and “Back Off Bitch” were selected to open the album because I feel they some of the closest songs from the UYI sessions that resemble Appetite for Destruction-era GNR. This also would’ve been a great chance to show listeners that the band hadn’t gone soft since doing GN’R Lies.

“Don’t Cry” kicks off that unofficial trilogy (featuring itself, “November Rain” and “Estranged”), and then “Breakdown”, “Civil War”, “14 Years” and “Yesterdays” continue to set the slower pace for the pic “November Rain”.

The music picks up again with “Pretty Tied Up”, “Locomotive”, “Don’t Damn Me”, “Shotgun Blues” and then takes a breather for the very underrated Duff-ballad “So Fine”.

GNR’s epic cover of “Live and Let Die” comes next, with the even more grandiose “Estranged” to follow. I didn’t want to close the album on such a giant scale, so I threw the bluesy “Dust ‘N’ Bones” on as the closer.

What do you think? What would YOUR Use Your Illusion album look like? Or do you think both releases are great as they are?

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Posted on April 25, 2009, in Trimming The Fat and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Nice idea – particularly like the title… the thought of “Get In The Ring” banished works with me. Glad you kept “14 Years” in there too as I’ve always thought of this as a lost treasure in the GnR catalogue.

    I did a similar thing a while back with The Who’s “Odds And Sods” – seeing if I could get the CD set down to a 10 or so track corker of a release. Makes you listen more attentively doesn’t it?

    Look forward to reading more in this series.

  2. Yeah, I actually like “Get in the Ring”, but while it’s a classic Axl rant, it’s not a classic GNR song.

  3. hey great blog. we’re big supporters of anything GNR! Check out our Blog http://www.rockworldeast.blogspot.com

  4. If you waited in line at midnight the day of release like I did, and then went home and played this marathon, then you will agree that GNR should have “trimmed the fat” back in 1991! I couldn’t agree more.

    If I had to pick one to listen to it would be #2 but here’s how I would trim the fat to 15 songs:

    Civil War
    Yesterdays
    You Could Be Mine
    Estranged
    Pretty Tied Up
    Don’t Cry (original)
    November Rain
    Dust ‘N Bones
    Get In The Ring
    So Fine
    Back Off Bitch
    Bad Obsession
    Don’t Cry (alternate) — for comparison sake
    Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (cover)
    Live & Let Die (cover)

    I would make the covers and the alternate ‘Don’t Cry’ bonus tracks to the 12 song album. Maybe ‘Live & Let Die’ could be for the Japanese pressing, ‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door’ for the European pressing, and the 2nd ‘Don’t Cry’ as am iTunes only download, LOL!

    Steve
    Heavy Metal Addiction
    http://hardrockheavymetal.wordpress.com

  5. iTunes download! I love it! 😀

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