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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

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.

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