I never thought this day would come, to be honest. After waiting nearly 17 years for a full studio album from Guns N Roses, coupled with all the delays over the years, it seemed like it would never come to fruition. 2 years ago, Axl Rose announced that the album was going to come out, only to later announce more delays. It became a pathetic joke really. So when I heard that the album was coming out in November 2008 I said “suuuuuuuuurrrrrre”.
Only this time, Best Buy was actually selling pre-orders for it. I figured what the heck, I’ll order it. I was a big fan of the original Guns N Roses and despite the fact that it’s basically just Axl Rose and a plethora of guitarists, drummers, etc who’ve joined and quit the band over the last 17 years, I was really in the mood for some new music. The album actually releases on Monday but it arrived in my mailbox today and I set aside some time to listen to it start to finish. So here’s my take so far:
When I buy a new album and first listen to it, I usually scan through the first few seconds of each song to see if that initial hook is there to catch my ear. I told myself I wouldn’t do that this time. After 17 years, why not listen to it all the way through, right?.
I also told myself that I wasn’t going to judge the music based on whether or not I agree with the way Axl Rose has handled things over the years. Just listen to the music and let it speak for itself. My hope was that I would come away with at least a few songs that I would know right away would be future favorites. I can honestly say that I definitely have. So let me share some of my initial feelings about the album with you.
The first track, Chinese Democracy, has already made it across the airwaves for over a month now. I’ve heard it several times on the radio and it has grown on me. It has the signature GNR feel to it. I am fairly sure that Buckethead did the lead guitars on this track and he did an excellent job – of sounding like Slash. I have no idea, but I would guess that this song was written and recorded in the 90′s because it is the only track on this album that, in my opinion, could fit right in with the Use Your Illusion albums, albeit slightly progressed.
After that, the album takes you places that certainly no GNR album has gone before. I recall a quote from Axl from a couple years ago in which he said:
”I’m trying to do something different. Some of the arrangements are kind of like Queen. Some people are going to say, ‘It doesn’t sound like Axl Rose, it doesn’t sound like Guns N’ Roses.’ But you’ll like at least a few songs on there”
After listening to the entire album, I completely agree with what he said. And I have to say that I like it. It’s definitely no “Appetite for Destruction”. Nor would it compare to the Use Your Illusion albums really. It’s just too different for that.
If you take the album for what it is then I think you will find it to be enjoyable. You’ll really have to let go of some of the expectations. Yes the album took 17 years to finish. And I will be honest, there are still some filler tracks on there. An album that took that long probably shouldn’t have filler, but who am I to say? Regardless, I really like a few of the tracks even after just 1 listen. So let me share them with you:
My favorite track so far is named “If the World”. It’s nothing like any GNR song before it, with the exception of Axl’s vocals, but I love it. Next favorite track is “This I Love”. This is the rock ballad we’ve not had for many many years – I predict that rock ballads could make a comeback once this one really takes off. “Better” is another track that is definitely growing on me. I’m quite surprised because none of these songs, except maybe “This I Love” is anything like the GNR of old – and that’s okay.
Axl does take his vocals to some places he’s not taken them before. This pays off in a couple of tracks, but I will admit that there are also some tracks in which this just doesn’t work -”Street of Dreams” comes to mind, even though I like the song overall. But kudos to him for taking a chance. I mean, the guy couldn’t have asked for more pressure on his shoulders than he has now, releasing this album after all the hype and broken promises over the years.
So if you’re a bit unsure as to whether or not you should give this album, and Axl, a chance, don’t fret. Just go to http://www.myspace.com/gunsnroses and you can actually listen to the entire album. All you’ll be out is some time. And whether you like what you hear or not, make sure you go to Dr Pepper’s website on Sunday November 23rd to get your FREE Dr Pepper! They promised that everyone would get a free Dr Pepper if Chinese Democracy was released in 2008. I guess they didn’t believe it would ever come out either.
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