Guns N’ Roses fans in China will have to go underground to get their hands on a copy of the band’s first album in 17 years, “Chinese Democracy,” which will be released worldwide on Sunday.
The rock band’s Geffen Records label said on Friday, “It is unlikely we will be approved to release the album in Mainland China.”
China’s culture ministry has the final say on such matters, although rampant piracy makes the job difficult. Its decisions sometimes seem to lack consistency.
The title track might raise some eyebrows. Evidently addressing China’s communist leadership, singer Axl Rose says followers of the outlawed Falun Gong spiritual movement have “seen the end and you can’t hold on now.”
The artwork includes Beijing artist Shi Lifeng’s 2008 oil painting “Red Star,” which depicts the powerlessness of Chinese people in a state ruled by an iron fist. Photos of the Chinese military and the Hong Kong skyline also appear.
But the album is devoid of bad language or sexual situations. That was not the case with the band’s last release, which did slip through the net. The two “Use Your Illusion” albums from 1991 were rife with violent sexual imagery, vicious insults, cursing and homicidal thoughts. They were distributed by Beijing-based Dunhuang.
In America, the albums carried “parental advisory” labels warning consumers about explicit lyrics.
In 2003, the Chinese refused to allow the Rolling Stones to include four songs, including “Brown Sugar” and “Beast of Burden” on a hits album. But those two tracks did pass muster on a subsequent live album.