Category Archives: Guns N’ Roses

The Decline of the Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years [Album Review]

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The Decline of the Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
2011, Capitol Records
Originally Released: 1988, Capitol Records
Buy the album at Amazon

1. “Under My Wheels” – Alice Cooper w/ Guns N’ Roses
2. “Bathroom Wall” – Faster Pussycat
3. “Cradle to the Grave” – Motörhead
4. “You Can Run But You Can’t Hide” – Armored Saint
5. “Born to Be Wild” – Lizzy Borden
6. “In My Darkest Hour” – Megadeth
7. “Prophecy” – Queensrÿche
8. “The Brave” – Metal Church
9. “Foaming at the Mouth” – Rigor Mortis
10. “Colleen” – Seduce

Any metal-head worth their weight in steel is well aware of this documentary that was released in 1988. It’s a truly fascinating look at life as rocker in the 1980s. For better or worse, warts and all, it absolutely captures a time and a vibe & scene that can never truly be replicated no matter how “retro” a band may act.

As it stands, the soundtrack to The Decline of the Western Civilization Part II: The Metal Years is a solid compilation. Sure, bands like Seduce and Rigor Mortis didn’t stand the test of time but when it comes to the ’80s metal scene, you can’t really argue against the inclusion of bands like Motorhead, Lizzy Borden, Megadeth, Alice Cooper, Guns N’ Roses, Metal Church or even Faster Pussycat. It was all metal one way or another.

The documentary itself was actually what turned me on to Megadeth as they performed “In My Darkest Hour” in the film and it certainly made an impression on me.

The lack of Ozzy Osbourne, Aerosmith, Poison, KISS or W.A.S.P. is a bit odd given how their stature and appearances in the documentary but the soundtrack isn’t meant to be all encompassing. If it was, we’d be putting up with having to listen to the likes of London, Tuff and Odin, too. A few tracks either start or end with audio clips from the film.

We could argue for hours over who truly deserves to be included on a compilation of ’80s metal but this soundtrack is just a taste of what that era had to offer and is meant to tie in most closely with bands featured in the documentary. Keep that in mind and what you’ve got is a good collection of ’80s rock & metal that will fit right in with your retro denim vest.

Highlights: “Under My Wheels”, “Bathroom Wall”, “Born to Be Wild”, “In My Darkest Hour”, “Prophecy”

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GUNS N’ ROSES – The Spaghetti Incident?

Guns N’ Roses – The Spaghetti Incident? (1993, Geffen Records)

1. “Since I Don’t Have You” [The Skyliners] … 4:18
2. “New Rose” [The Damned] … 2:38
3. “Down on the Farm” [U.K. Subs] … 3:28
4. “Human Being” [New York Dolls] … 6:48
5. “Raw Power” [The Stooges] … 3:11
6. “Ain’t it Fun” [The Dead Boys] … 5:05
7. “Buick Makane/Big Dumb Sex” [T. Rex/Soundgarden] … 2:39
8. “Hair of the Dog” [Nazareth] … 3:54
9. “Attitude” [The Misfits] … 1:26
10. “Black Leather” [The Professionals] … 4:08
11. “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory” [Johnny Thunders] … 3:35
12. “I Don’t Care About You” [Fear] … 2:17
13. “Look at Your Game, Girl” [Charles Manson] … 2:34

Band:
Axl Rose – Lead Vocals, Keyboard, Kazoo
Slash – Guitar, Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals
Duff McKagan – Bass, Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals, Guitar, Drums
Gilby Clarke – Guitar
Matt Sorum – Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals
Dizzy Reed – Piano, Keyboard, Backing Vocals, Percussion

Additional Musicians:
Michael Monroe – Lead Vocals
Carlos Booy – Guitar
Mike Staggs – Guitar
Richard Duguay – Guitar
Mike Fasano – Percussion
Eddie Huletz, Stu Bailey, Eric Mills, Rikki Ratchman, Blake Stanton – Backing Vocals

Produced by: Guns N’ Roses, Mike Clink, Jim Mitchell

The last album that the so-called “real” Guns N’ Roses would ever record together was a album of covers and thus, in my opinion, a bit of a downer due to the odd collection of songs. It was meant as a placeholder (much like GN’R Lies) to keep the fans satisfied until the next original studio album arrived. Of course, that album, Chinese Democracy, arrived FIFTEEN YEARS later with only Axl & Dizzy making the trip.

There’s a strong punk influence on the album (I bet Duff was in heaven), but punk rock has never really been a favorite genre of mine. The real standout is the album’s opener, The Skyliners’ “Since I Don’t Have You”, which itself was kind of an odd choice for an cover album made up of mostly punk bands (and Charles Manson).

The parallels to GN’R Lies continue as Axl made sure to put another controversial track on the record (although it is unlisted on the album’s track listing) — “Look at Your Game, Girl”. It was written by Charles Manson. Supposedly, the rest of the band protested, but as usual, they folded to the demands of Axl who insisted this song be included. The only GNR members to perform on the track were Axl & Dizzy. Surprise surprise!

Anyway, this album is more of a curiosity than anything essential. Sad note for the old school GNR to end on.

Highlights: “Since I Don’t Have You”, “Ain’t It Fun”, “Hair of the Dog”, “Attitude”, “I Don’t Care About You”

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Axl Speaks to Billboard

http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/feature/the-billboard-q-a-axl-rose-1003939032.story?pn=1

NOW he decides to talk? Nearly three months after the release of Chinese Democracy? Where were all these fan site & Billboard chats before the release to, y’know, actually PROMOTE it? Where was ‘Axl Rose: The Rolling Stone Interview’?

Oh well. At least he’s getting out there in the press, but he sure has a funny way of promoting an album. Perhaps sometime within the next three months he’ll announce a tour for 2010.

GUNS N’ ROSES – Chinese Democracy

Guns ‘N Roses – Chinese Democracy (2008, Geffen Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Chinese Democracy” … 4:43
2. “Shackler’s Revenge” … 3:36
3. “Better” … 4:58
4. “Street of Dreams” … 4:46
5. “If the World” … 4:54
6. “There Was a Time” … 6:41
7. “Catcher in the Rye” … 5:52
8. “Scraped” … 3:30
9. “Riad n’ the Bedouins” … 4:10
10. “Sorry” … 6:14
11. “I.R.S.” … 4:28
12. “Madagascar” … 5:37
13. “This I Love” … 5:34
14. “Prostitute” … 6:15

Band:
Axl Rose – Lead Vocals, Keyboards, Piano, Backing Vocals, Guitar
Bumblefoot – Guitar
Richard Fortus – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Tommy Stinson – Bass, Backing Vocals
Frank Ferrer – Drums
Dizzy Reed – Keyboard, Piano, Backing Vocals
Chris Pitman – Synthesizer, Keyboards, Bass, Guitar, Backing Vocals

Additional Musicians:
Buckethead – Guitar
Robin Finck – Guitar, Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Paul Tobias – Guitar, Piano
Bryan “Brain” Mantia – Drums

Um… Let’s just say the credits for the songs are like a phone book, so I’m not listing the rest!

Produced by: Axl Rose & Caram Costanzo

In 1993, Guns N’ Roses released The Spaghetti Incident?, a collection of covers. 15 years later to the day, GNR’s next studio album has finally seen the light of day as an exclusive through Best Buy.

There aren’t too many surprises here for anyone who’s had a computer and an internet connection since the leaks began way back in 2001. Various live versions, mixes and demos have been leaked to much controversy, from a legal standpoint and a listener standpoint.

GNR (Axl specifically), much like KISS and Metallica seem to be a lightning rod for die hard hate from those that profess to be the fans of the band. I don’t like change more than anyone, but it’s not 1988 and Slash, Duff and Izzy aren’t coming back to give us Appetite For Destruction, Part II. Everyone’s got opinions, but I think GNR’s new music has been unfairly criticized over the years just because of who *isn’t* in the band.

In my opinion, the music of Chinese Democracy is simply amazing. Yeah, this isn’t Appetite. So what? Guns never did anything even similar to Appetite, so why even bother comparing then and now when it’s a whole new lineup and musical direction? The only thing I could see where people could knock the music is that Axl’s voice definitely isn’t as strong as it used to be, but there are still some shining moments where we get the old Axl back.

Take the best of the Use Your Illusion albums and push it into the millennium and this is the album you get. I’ve seen it criticized as being too pompous, overproduced and orchestral, but that’s just Axl’s influences (Queen, Elton John, Bowie, etc.) shining through. It’s just an epic release.

While the whole album is very good, the ballads especially shine. “There Was A Time” is one of my favorite Guns songs EVER now, “Street of Dreams” is a wonderful piano ballad and “Madagascar” and “This I Love” are mesmerizing.

Will Chinese Democracy appreciated by the masses? Time will tell. I think it at least has a strong curiosity factor going for it and that will give it some great initial sales. According to Sebastian Bach, Axl told him this is part one of a trilogy, with the next installment to be released in 2010, but who knows. If this album bombs, I don’t think we’ll ever see Axl again unless it was at gunpoint to bring the original Guns back.

I’ll admit, for an album that’s been worked on since 1994, it’s not going to live up to the expectations of anyone. I know most people are going, “Okay, you had 14 years, this better be the greatest album ever made”. It’s not. But I think it *is* a great release and definitely the best of 2008. Axl is a genius and knows how to write great songs (though I don’t hear any hit singles here). So my hope is that people can just sit back, forget about the roster changes and the years of waiting and take the album for what it is.

Highlights: Simply one of the greatest albums in YEARS. The only song I’m not in love with is “I.R.S.”, which is okay, but seems like filler.

Will we live in a Chinese Democracy come November?

From Billboard.com:

Best Buy is set to be the exclusive retailer for Guns N’ Roses decade-plus-in-the-making new album “Chinese Democracy” before year’s end, sources close to the situation tell Billboard. Some details of the deal are still being worked out, including the release date.

ANOTHER supposedly credible, supposedly somewhat official announcement? Well, we’ll see how this goes. I gotta believe Axl would not allow “Shackler’s Revenge” on Rock Band 2 or “If the World” in the movie Body of Lies unless there was SOME plan in place for an official release by the end of the year.

The rumored release date is November 25th, but we’ve heard this story before, even from Axl’s own mouth. So, I won’t believe it until I have the CD blasting in my car stereo.

😛

Exclusive seems to be the best way to go these days for veteran acts, but if this is happening, they need to make an official announcement and start hyping the bejeezus out of this album real quick.

I’m looking foward to it though, most people seem to take the time to proclaim their hate and disinterest in the current band, but the whole album has pretty much been leaked and I think it’s great. Is it old school GNR? No, but it’s still great music, people should take the blinders off. I can’t wait to hear the final and cleaned up versions on CD.

GUNS N’ ROSES – Use Your Illusion II

Guns N’ Roses – Use Your Illusion II (1991, Geffen Records)

Track Listing:
1. “Civil War” … 7:43
2. “14 Years” … 4:21
3. “Yesterdays” … 3:16
4. “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” … 5:36
5. “Get in the Ring” … 5:41
6. “Shotgun Blues” … 3:23
7. “Breakdown” … 7:05
8. “Pretty Tied Up” … 4:48
9. “Locomotive” … 8:42
10. “So Fine” … 4:06
11. “Estranged” … 9:24
12. “You Could Be Mine” … 5:44
13. “Don’t Cry” [Alternate Version] … 4:44
14. “My World” … 1:24

Band:
Axl Rose – Vocals, Piano
Slash – Guitar
Izzy Stradlin – Guitar, Backing Vocals, Lead Vocals
Duff McKagan – Bass, Backing Vocals
Dizzy Reed – Keyboards, Organ, Piano, Backing Vocals
Matt Sorum – Drums

Additional Notable Musicians:
Steven Adler – Drums (“Civil War”)
Shannon Hoon – Vocals (“Don’t Cry”)

Produced by: Mike Clink & Guns N’ Roses

I think this album is much, much stronger than UYI I. The songs are solid all over and bit more serious and melodic, whereas the UYI I was the more angry, louder, less focused album.

“Estranged” nearly matches the epic “November Rain”. I remember when I first heard it, it was playing in the background at a friend’s house as we were playing video games. I initially thought it was two different songs (liking them both). At one point I said to my friend, “Is this the same song?!” “YUP!”

Though the Illusion sessions show GNR in a different light, they managed to crank out a few good rockers like the Appetite-esque “You Could Be Mine”, “Pretty Tied Up” and “Locomotive”. “So Fine” is a great ballad by Duff.

The inclusion of “Don’t Cry” (this time with some different lyrics) is a bit odd. It’s neither better nor worse than the original version, I don’t see the point of including it. Something like that would’ve been better saved for a b-side or a compilation.

The album’s closer, “My World”, stuck out like a sore thumb to me and my friend. We used to play it and laugh at how much it “sucked” and didn’t sound like GNR, I actually like it today though. At the time, I couldn’t understand why they would put this song on the album until a few years later when I discovered Axl was getting heavily into industrial acts like Nine Inch Nails long before anyone else was. It would be a sign of things to come…

Highlights: “Civil War”, “14 Years”, “Yesterdays”, “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”, “Breakdown”, “Pretty Tied Up”, “Locomotive”, “So Fine”, “Estranged”, “You Could Be Mine”, “Don’t Cry”

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GUNS N’ ROSES – Use Your Illusion I

Guns N’ Roses – Use Your Illusion I (1991, Geffen Records)

Track Listing:
1.  “Right Next Door to Hell” … 3:02
2.  “Dust N’ Bones” … 4:59
3.  “Live and Let Die” … 3:03
4.  “Don’t Cry” [Original Version] … 4:44
5.  “Perfect Crime” … 2:23
6.  “You Ain’t the First” … 2:37
7.  “Bad Obsession” … 5:28
8.  “Back off Bitch” … 5:04
9.  “Double Talkin’ Jive” … 3:22
10.  “November Rain” … 8:59
11.  “The Garden” … 5:21
12.  “Garden of Eden” … 2:41
13.  “Don’t Damn Me” … 5:19
14.  “Bad Apples” … 4:28
15.  “Dead Horse” … 4:18
16.  “Coma Rose” … 10:16

Band:
Axl Rose – Lead Vocals, Piano, Keyboard
Slash – Guitar
Izzy Stradlin – Guitar, Backing Vocals, Lead Vocals
Duff McKagan – Bass, Backing Vocals
Dizzy Reed – Keyboards, Piano, Organ, Clavinet, Backing Vocals
Matt Sorum – Drums

Additional Notable Musicians:
Alice Cooper – Vocals (“The Garden”)
Michael Monroe – Harmonica, Saxophone
Shannon Hoon – Vocals (“Don’t Cry”)
West Arkeen – Guitar

Produced by: Mike Clink & Guns N’ Roses

Talk about your excess! SIXTEEN tracks! That’s a bit too much for me. There’s just no way a band can get away with that many tracks and not have SOME filler, even Guns N’ Roses. It’s always best to leave’em wanting more and the perfect number of tracks, for me, would be 10-13 (and you certainly don’t release two albums simultaneously).

And the filler indeed is present. Most of the tracks I don’t list below as highlights are the very definition of filler – nothing too bad, nothing too good… It’s just there. Did we really need two Garden songs? Back to back? C’mon, guys, at least put one on UYI II. But the thing is, the highlights are so great that they make this album as must have, in my opinion.

Their cover of “Live and Let Die”, “Don’t Cry”, “Coma”, and of course “November Rain” are great epics and I really believe “November Rain” to be one of the greatest rock songs ever written.

People say that, by this point, GNR (and Axl specifically) were too full of themselves and became too grandiose for their own good. Well, I can’t necessarily agree with that. Sure, GNR as a group/production/tour was becoming way too excessive, but how can you knock something that gave us “November Rain”?

Highlights: “Dust N’ Bones”, “Live and Let Die”, “Don’t Cry”, “Perfect Crime”, “Back Off Bitch”, “November Rain”, “Don’t Damn Me”, “Bad Apples”, “Dead Horse”, “Coma”

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GUNS N’ ROSES – Appetite for Destruction

Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction (1987, Geffen Records)

Track Listing:
1.  “Welcome to the Jungle” … 4:32
2.  “It’s So Easy” … 3:21
3.  “Nightrain” … 4:26
4.  “Out Ta Get Me” … 4:20
5.  “Mr. Brownstone” … 3:46
6.  “Paradise City” … 6:45
7.  “My Michelle” … 3:38
8.  “Think About You” … 3:49
9.  “Sweet Child O’ Mine” … 5:54
10.  “You’re Crazy” … 3:16
11.  “Anything Goes” … 3:25
12.  “Rocket Queen” … 6:14

Band:
Axl Rose – Vocals
Slash – Guitar
Izzy Stradlin – Guitar
Duff McKagan – Bass
Steven Adler – Drums

Produced by: Mike Clink

The album that set loose Axl and his band of decadent men upon the world! What a classic. Has there ever been a better debut album?

It was pretty hard to ignore massive MTV & radio hits like “Sweet Child O’ Mine”, “Paradise City” and “Welcome the the Jungle” when they first were released, but I wasn’t exposed to the whole album until (*GASP*) 1997 or so when a friend gave me his old cassette because he had just bought it on CD. I used to play it every day on my walk home from high school in my cassette player (yes, CASSETTE PLAYER).

Of course, the album is so amazingly awesome, in little time I bought the CD myself. I actually played it so much I got sick of the album for awhile and then while playing it while out cruising with my best friend a few years back, I fell in love with it again. Although GNR has done tons of great things since (and continues to do so with Axl only, IMO), they’ve never done anything as consistent or as balanced as Appetite.

ESSENTIAL for any rock ‘n’ roll fan.

Highlights: It’s freakin’ Appetite for Destruction. It’s nothing BUT highlights.

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GUNS N’ ROSES – GN’R Lies


Guns N’ Roses – GN’R Lies (1989, Geffen Records)

Tracklisting:
1. “Reckless Life” [3:20]
2. “Nice Boys” [3:03]
3. “Move to the City” [3:42]
4. “Mama Kin” [3:57]
5. “Patience” [5:56]
6. “Used to Love Her” [3:13]
7. “You’re Crazy” [4:10]
8. “One in a Million” [6:10]

Band:
Axl Rose – Vocals
Slash – Guitars
Izzy Stradlin – Guitars
Duff McKagan – Bass
Steven Adler – Drums

Features the infamous “One in a Million” track, which gained Axl and the band tons of negative publicity. I don’t believe the band has ever attempted to play it live (and rightfully so). At this point, I don’t even think Axl will even talk about the song, because he got so tired of having to defend it and himself. It’s actually a really good song musically and one of the best on the album.

I think the public’s reaction was blown out of proportion. If you actually listen to Axl’s explanation, you’ll see what he means in the song. I think he went about the wrong way with how he puts it across in the lyrics, but I understand what he was *trying* to say and I don’t believe he’s racist or homophobic. Besides, the words he used are nothing that you don’t hear in rap songs everyday. The only exception is that a white male said it this time and that’s why, I think, everyone got upset about it.

There’s a stellar version of “You’re Crazy” here, which was originally on Appetite for Destruction, but the acoustic version here is actually the original version of the song (and the superior version as well). And of course, the classic “Patience” is here as well.

GN’R Lies was a decent effort, combining a supposed “live” EP plus four brand new acoustic songs. It’s really only the acoustic songs that stand out to me. The first four tracks are missing something, although “Reckless Life” shows a bit of spark.

Highlights: “Patience”, “Used to Love Her”, “You’re Crazy”, “One in a Million” (yes, I’m going there)

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