It is hard to talk about Guns N’ Roses without mentioning that this disc is some odd thirteen years overdue. Millions of dollars were spent in creating this much ballyhooed album. I don’t think anyone expects this album to meet their expectations (self included).
I for one am glad this album is finally out, and Axl Rose can finally get this King Kong sized monkey off of his back. Long before this album was released, I heard leaks of several of these tunes. I wasn’t very impressed by the the rougher versions of these songs. I must admit the final product is much better than I thought it would be.
At times, it seems as if the multitude of producers tried to help reproduce Slash’s guitar tones, in order to preserve that classic Guns N’ Roses sound. The end result is an album that won’t sound completely unfamiliar to Guns N’ Roses fans, even though Axl Rose is the only remaining member of the original band.
I have not been a huge Axl Rose fan in the past, but I have to admit it is pretty damned good to hear his distinct voice one more. It has been far too long. The opening and title track “Chinese Democracy” is a pretty rocking good way to start off this disc. Almost immediately, I thought this disc might be a lot better than expected. “Shackler’s Revenge” on the other hand left me scratching my head. This song doesn’t seem to know if wants to be hard rock, Industrial, or techno. It seems to blend elements of all three. It actually isn’t too bad, once you get past the beginning of the song.
I believe “Better” could be one of the best Guns N’ Roses songs ever. Even though this song has some unusual guitar sounds mixed through it, it still feels like a modernized G N’ R song. This is easily my favorite on Chinese Democracy.
“Street of Dreams” was completely unexpected. This is a piano driven ballad with a fairly decent guitar solo in the middle. Early in this song I thought Axl’s voice sounded odd as he was hitting some unusual low notes with his voice. His pure singing voice (thankfully) takes over quickly. What this song is missing is Slash. With Slash’s guitar playing, this could song could have been another taken to new heights. Even still, this song is pretty good, and definitely one of the better ones on “Chinese Democracy”.
Is it just me, or does “If The World” sound like a Lenny Kravitz tune? This is a pop tune with a hard edge and a rhythm with a little bit of funk in it. I wouldn’t expect to hear something like this on a hard rock record, especially a Guns N’ Roses record.
“There Was A Time” has a 70’s classic rock vibe that reminds me a bit of the Moody Blues mixed with some harder guitar parts. This is one of those songs that has the potential to grow on you if given the chance.
At this point in the album, I could have used a really hard driving song. “Catcher In the Rye” is definitely not that. This song also has a classic rock vibe about it, but it doesn’t sound like a G N’ R tune.
I really dislike the intro on “Scraped” but the rest of the song is pretty cool. There is a pretty good groove all throughout “Scraped”.
Riad N’ The Bedouins has more of that familiar Guns N’ Roses sound that I prefer. There are a lot more heavy guitar parts on this song, than on most of the tunes on Chinese Democracy.
“Sorry” sounds as if Axl was trying to channel his inner Pink Floyd. I like Pink Floyd, but I don’t want to hear it on a Guns N’ Roses album. It just sounds odd to me.
The first time I heard I.R.S. I thought the song had a heavier slant to it. This finished product adds a dated keyboard sound, which detracts from the industrial edge it had. It isn’t a bad tune, but I liked the previous versions I heard better.
I didn’t care for “Madagascar” the first time around, but after a couple of listens, I started to realize that this song is a lot better than I originally thought. This song has an epic feel to it that reminds me of “November Rain” somewhat.
Chinese Democracy closes out with two piano based numbers “This I Love” and “Prostitute”. Both songs are solid enough, but not what I would expect to hear from this band.
If you are listening to “Chinese Democracy” for the first time, and are looking for another “Appetite for Destruction” you aren’t going to find it here. This album seemingly expands on the sounds of the Use Your Illusion records, but has a much more experimental feel to it. There are moments of brilliance on “Chinese Democracy”, but those looking for a quick hard rock fix may not give this album a chance to find them.
Was this album worth the wait, and all of the hoopla? Probably not. I would recommend checking out the songs for yourself on the Guns N’ Roses myspace site.
- Chinese Democracy
- Shackler´s Revenge
- Street Of Dreams
- If The World
- There Was A Time
- Catcher In The Rye
- Riad N´ The Bedouins
- This I Love
Jason Fisher of The Gauntlet has posted his extensive video interview with Reckless Road: Guns N’ Roses and the making of Appetite for Destruction author Marc Canter. Filmed at the world famous restaurant, Canter’s in Los Angeles, CA, the interview finds the author talking about the origins of the band and their early days on the Sunset Strip. The book is available now on the Reckless Road website where each order comes with a limited edition poster of the band. There are also five different covers available, each with a different member of the classic line-up.
Spaghetti Incident? was only meant to be a stop gap in between records, not the swan song it became.
The music on this disc is outstanding, and some of the songs are so obscure, it is hard to tell they were cover tunes. The thing I immediately noticed on this disc was the huge guitar sound Slash has on it, and how big the production is. There are several instances where Duff McKagan takes over on lead vocals (New Rose, Raw Power, Attitude and You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory)
I prefer the songs sang by Axl on this disc though. Some of the stand outs include Human Being, Ain’t it Fun, Black Leather, and as much as I hate to admit it, Hair of the Dog.
Since I Don’t Have You
You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory
Ain’t It Fun
Spaghetti Incident? is still worth picking up today. It isn’t the best Guns ‘N Roses disc out there, but it does have quite a few quality tracks that are still worth discovering.
Rating: Out of 10
1. Since I Don’t Have You (The Skyliners)
2. New Rose (The Damned)
3. Down on the Farm (UK Subs)
4. Human Being (The New York Dolls)
5. Raw Power (The Stooges)
6. Ain’t It Fun (The Dead Boys)
7. Buick Makane/Big Dumb Sex medley (Buick Makane – T. Rex, Big Dumb Sex – Soundgarden)
8. Hair of the Dog (Nazareth)
9. Attitude (The Misfits)
10. Black Leather (The Professionals)
11. You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory (Johnny Thunders)
12. I Don’t Care About You (Fear)
Hidden track: Look At Your Game Girl (Charles Manson)