Guns N’ Roses – Chinese Democracy (2008)


Guns N’ Roses – Chinese Democracy (2008, Geffen)

  1. Chinese Democracy
  2. Shackler’s Revenge
  3. Better
  4. Street Of Dreams
  5. If The World
  6. There Was A Time
  7. Catcher In The Rye
  8. Scraped
  9. Riad N’ The Bedouins
  10. Sorry
  11. I.R.S.
  12. Madagascar
  13. This I Love
  14. Prostitute

Axl Rose – Vocals

*** There are so many different musicians that have been in an out of GnR during the last 13+ years of production and I am not going through the entire booklet. It’s not the original GnR, only Axl remains from that era. Go to the GnR website to see who contributed to this record and who is in the band right now.

Produced by: Axl Rose & Caram Costanzo

Total Time = 1:11:26

Guns N’ Roses official website
Guns N’ Roses MySpace page
Geffen Records

Well it’s finally here! After close to 14 years, Axl Rose has come out of his protective shell and delivered the most hyped Hard Rock album of all-time: CHINESE DEMOCRACY. It’s the first new material from Guns N’ Roses since 1991’s USE YOU ILLUSION albums with a whole new cast of bandmates surrounding the enigmatic Axl. I’ll be honest, I never thought that the album would be released and I have always thought that either the album will be the greatest album of all-time or the biggest flop, there will be no middle ground. The burning question is will anyone care? It’s been so long since the band was at the top of the charts and the music business has changed dramatically from how artists make music, to how we buy it, to how we listen to it. Is this the time to release CHINESE DEMOCRACY or was it 10 years ago?

I never bothered to listen to any of the leaked tracks that have popped up over the years so I really didn’t know what to expect. The opening title track is heavy on guitar and layered Axl vocals and it’s an obvious nod to the earlier incarnation of the band. It’s an aggressive song but it sounds like Axl is trying too hard to grab the older fans from the outset with a familiar APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION tone. I’m one of those fans who bought the debut before the band was huge so I got hooked right away. The exclusive single for the ROCK BAND 2 video game, ‘Shackler’s Revenge’, starts to show some diversity in direction with elements of Hard Rock, Techno, and Industrial combining for an interesting listen. I’m not digging the deep vocal Axl puts on this but the song picks up steam with the chorus, sounding like current Hard Rock. ‘Better’ is the actual lead single that Geffen sent to radio and it’s my favorite off the record. The song follows a melodic mid-tempo line until the chorus gets a little more aggressive and the song builds from there around the solo break. There is some good clean guitar mixed with a distorted/synth type guitar that brings the song a traditional feel while exploring different melodic tones. The first ballad arrives in ‘Street Of Dreams’ and I had to breathe a sigh of relief because I would have crucified this record if it was a cover of the Rainbow classic! The song follows a great piano melody and builds as the guitar joins in. Remember ‘November Rain’? It may not be as over the top but ‘Street Of Dreams’ does have that grand feel to it, following the Guns N’ Roses tradition of great ballads. Four songs in and I’m not disappointed at all. The songs have a diverse sound and both ‘Better’ and ‘Street Of Dreams’ would have easily fit on either USE YOUR ILLUSION albums.

The first low point comes with the mid-tempo ‘If The World’. I’m not really sure what to make of this song because I hear the guitar and the piano leading the way but it sounds like ballad with a touch of Funk, Jazz, and Latin. It’s ambitious, I wouldn’t expect this kind of musical blend to be on a Guns N’ Roses record. ‘There Was A Time’ has some interesting guitar parts but not enough to keep me interested. Add some orchestration and a dash of electronic backgrounds and the song does build up nicely, it’s just that this marks the fourth song in a row that leans more to the melodic and slower side of life. I understand Axl’s penchant for making grandiose epics but how many do we need in a row? We need another obviously because the almost six minute ‘Catcher In The Rye’ follows the same formula minus the electronics. ‘Catcher’ sounds almost like a cross between GNR and Elton John with only the guitar solo reminding you that this is technically a Hard Rock record.

‘Scraped’ redeems my faith that Axl can make solid Hard Rock. This is an overdue guitar driven rocker that Axl shrieks all over. It’s more modern than what old GNR is like but it’s pretty cool, the intro needs to be dumped though. Same thing goes for ‘Riad N’ The Bedouins’, lose the 45 second instrumental intro and kick right into the song because it kicks things up a notch! There is more experimental guitar sounds surrounding the traditional guitar but it’s a fast tempo and there’s a tasty solo in the middle. That Axl shriek is carried over from ‘Scraped’ as well as a driving drum sound. Obviously this band can still rock so it’s a total mystery why ANOTHER mid-tempo/ballad type song has to be offered with ‘Sorry’. The song is totally experimental, Axl channelling his inner Pink Floyd to create a soundscape that sounds so out of place and outer space! I’ll give the guy his due for creating something so out of the box but if I want to hear DARK SIDE OF THE MOON I’ll put it on! There is another Industrial/Electronic influence on ‘I.R.S.’ albeit a small one. ‘I.R.S.’ is following the same formula as all the other slower songs on CHINESE DEMOCRACY: follow a simple mid-pace rhythm and build to the chorus, repeat and build to the solo. Same thing goes for ‘Madagascar’, another of these type of songs. I think trying to recreate the success of ‘Don’t Cry’ and/or ‘November Rain’ with similar epic just isn’t what the doctor ordered. I could also do without all the sampled audio during the solo too.

‘This I Love’ is a piano ballad with orchestration and not much else. The vocals are pretty good but I’m so disappointed with the lack of power on this record that it’s a small consolation. The lone bright spot on this song is the Scorpions style power ballad guitar solo. This song is just over five and a half minutes and it’s way too long. My hope was hinged on ‘Prostitute’, a  sleazy Hard Rock song title to be sure! Unfortunately, it’s another song that follows the epic formula with a piano lead, orchestration and guitars that only seem to appear when the chorus hits. At this point, I don’t need a six minute song that sounds like the rest of the album.

Bottom Line:
It’s been 14 years in the making, with millions of dollars spent on production, and CHINESE DEMOCRACY is as overblown as the hype surrounding it. The album started off promising with the first four songs but, with the exception of ‘Scraped’ and ‘Riad N’ The Bedouins’, the rest of the album sounds like different variations of the huge classic hit ‘November Rain’. Maybe I was wrong to think that a new Guns N’ Roses album would rock because only 4 out of 14 actually do. It’s as if Axl and his band are trying to recreate the USE YOUR ILLUSION era of diversity but the problem is that there were some kick ass rockers on those albums. You can only have so many epics, ballads, and mid-tempo songs before it all sounds the same. I was expecting GNR to go for the throat with at least half of the songs but only a few break out. I’m not saying that CHINESE DEMOCRACY is a bad album, it’s just not as good as it should be after the years put in and I’m disappointed.

Favorite Songs: ‘Better’, ‘Street Of Dreams’, ‘Shackler’s Revenge’, ‘Chinese Democracy’, ‘Scraped’, ‘Riad N’ The Bedouins’

New Release Sunday – Chinese Democracy & The Cosmos Rocks

Today is the big day! Guns N’ Roses finally released the long awaited CHINESE DEMOCRACY album! It’s been 17 years since the band has released new material (I’m not counting 1993’s THE SPAGHETTI INCIDENT) and at least 13+ years since Axl Rose started talking about a new GnR record. It’s finally here and I went out to Best Buy to get it…..

gnrchinesedemocracyGuns N’ Roses – Chinese Democracy (2008) – $12: Chinese Democracy is a Best Buy exclusive so I really didn’t have a choice on where to go and pick it up. Good news is that the album was on sale and that there were very prominent cardboard displays for the CD and vinyl. There were more than a few people waiting at the Best Buy door when it opened and almost everyone went straight for the CD section. I’d say there were about 20 of us there at 9am for the new album and many people bought both the CD and the vinyl. Good to see some young kids in there buying it too.

queen_the_cosmos_rocks_album_coverQueen & Paul Rodgers – The Cosmos Rocks (2008) – $14: When I got my copy of the new GnR, I decided to see if there were any bargains. Nothing is worse than looking through a Best Buy music section because there is no variety but the vinyl edition of the new Queen & Paul Rodgers album caught my eye. I totally forgot about this record when it came out in mid-October so I snatched this one up also! The concert I saw in March 2006 was a really great show and I’ve been a Queen fan since I was a kid so I took a chance.

Ebay Madness – Vulture, Guns N’ Roses, Roxxi, Dirty Looks, Metallica, Saxon

I love Ebay! There is no better place to find obscure albums while sitting in front of your stereo spinning discs. Unfortunately, the current economy has stopped my rare CD buying but it hasn’t stopped everybody! There are still fans and collectors willing to pay a premium price for a CD that may or may not be rare, is a promo, or an international edition. I have to admit, I’m one of those people but I have limits……it’s good to see that there are still people out there with more money than sense!

vulture-fatal-gamesVulture – Fatal Games (1990) = $321

Seller – vilainshadows
Staring Price = $9.99
Bids = 5

Vulture is a Thrash Metal band from Holland and FATAL GAMES is their debut full-length album. I’ve seen this Vulture album on Ebay before but not at this high a price. Personally, I would have been wary of this auction because of the CD’s location…..Greece. A lot of bootlegs of “rare” discs have come from Greece over the last few years and I usually avoid these sellers but this particular seller describes the CD as an original pressing on Overdrive Records, not a reissue, and from his own collection. I’ve checked the current auctions and there is another original pressing located in Houston, TX but it is a BUY IT NOW for $350. Looks like the market price has been set!

roxxi-drive-it-to-ya-hardRoxxi – Drive It To Ya Hard! (1990) = $209.50

Seller – hinomoto1
Staring Price = 99 cents
Bids = 7

Roxxi is one of those U.S. Hard Rock bands that tried to make a dent in the Metal scene just as the decline started in the early ’90s. The only reason I know this album is because the video for the title track actually got some airplay on MTV in 1990. I saw the video again when VH-1 Classic came to our digital cable provider a couple of years ago but never again. This Japanese pressing has different cover art than the U.S. release and I can vouch for the seller because I have bought a number of Japanese pressings from him in the past. When I was searching Ebay what I found interesting is that the same exact CD was up for auction 10 hours earlier from a seller in the U.K. That CD ended at $69 and then a bidding war started for this CD later in the day! Also, you can get a cassette copy anytime on Ebay for about $15-$20. Here’s the video for the title cut…..

Roxxi – ‘Drive It To Ya Hard!’

dirty-looks-live-in-san-diegoDirty Looks – Live In San Diego (2005) = $202.50

Seller – opd1991
Starting Price = $19.99
Bids = 8

LIVE IN SAN DIEGO was released in 2005 by Dirty Looks vocalist Henrik Ostergaard through the Dirty Looks website. Turns out that this is a CDR of a live recording from the band’s tour in 1994 and is now out of print. There is another auction out there with a higher starting price of $99.99 (BUY IT NOW for $150). I’m not sure if a CDR is worth a couple hundred dollars but there are passionate Dirty Looks fans out there! My question is if it is a CDR then why doesn’t the band print up more?

guns-n-roses-better-singleGuns N’ Roses – ‘Better’ (2008, CD single) = $200

Seller – musick2004
Starting Price = $200 (Buy It Now)
Bids = 1

The hype machine is in full effect for the new GNR album CHINESE DEMOCRACY and these promo CD single for ‘Better’ have been fetching anywhere from $50-$175 at auction. This is the highest price I’ve seen paid so far for this single. Remember, it’s $200 for one song! There are plenty up for grabs right now but you could also wait and drop $15 at Best Buy this coming Sunday.


Metallica – Death Magnetic (2008) promo disc from Uruguay = $153.50

Seller – u2only
Starting Price = $50 
Bids = 14

Collecting can be a niche thing for many people. I know some collectors that will only buy Japanese pressings and some that will only buy original pressings. Other people I know will only collect a certain band or genre. Who really needs a promo disc from Uruguay of the new Metallica disc? Probably only the most diehard of Metallica collectors. It’s the same album, same songs, just with different promo artwork in Spanish. I think the music might be the same no matter if the pressing is from North America, Europe, Japan and Uruguay.

saxon-innocence-is-no-excuseSaxon – Innocence Is No Excuse (1985) = $151.12

Seller – kingdom_of_rock
Starting Price = $6.50
Bids = 10

I have this CD! About 10 years ago, I picked up a bunch of Saxon CDs in this little record store I found 20 minutes from my house. All the Saxon CDs were part of the BURRN! Magazine reissue series and they are long out of print. I think I paid about $18 for this import and I haven’t come across another one in my travels. I’ve bought from this seller before so I know that he gets really good out of print Japanese pressings. Remember the Roxxi auction above? This is the seller that sold his copy of the Roxxi album for $69 10 hours before it spiked to $200+.

Guns N’ Roses – Chinese Democracy release is 7 days away!

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It’s been over 10 years and we are finally going to get Guns N’ Roses highly anticipated new album CHINESE DEMOCRACY on Sunday November 23.

I don’t know about the rest of you but I am of the opinion that this will either be the greatest album of all-time or the biggest bust…..there will be no in between, no middle ground. I haven’t heard any leaks, any samples, or any downloadable tracks that have circulated in the last few years, I just haven’t been interested. Now the release is really happening so I will be at Best Buy to get my copy just to hear if 10+ years and close to $15 Million makes a great record.