Errols Weekly Music Update.

December 2, 2008

CD Review – Chinese Democracy- Guns & Roses

Filed under: CD Reviews — Tags: , — ea0217 @ 11:16 pm

Chinese Democracy- Guns & Roses- Released Sun. Nov. 23, 2008.

If one has to wait more than 10 plus years for anything, you’re probably not going to say that it was worth the wait, once it arrives. So right off the bat, Mr. Rose had put himself in a bit of a hole. Now did he blast his way out of that hole and hit the sky? Well his aim was true and I’d have to say that it explodes and then moderately fades into oblivion. There are many sides to “Axl” on this album and I know he has purposely has done this. I have no problem with this, as most want to hear “Appetite” recycled over and over again. The one thing I noticed right away on this album is how many different vocal styles he employs in this effort. Some of them work (“This is Love”) and some of them don’t. (“Street of Dreams”) He recycles the infamous “what we got here is a failure to communicate” as well as incorporating Dr. Martin Luther King on the majestic “Madagascar.” If I have to pick the “Welcome to the Jungle” song on this album it has to be the title track and it was smart of Axl to release this song first as a single to hook you in. Overall I have to say that this album is “satisfactory”- remember those “S” letters on your report card that you’d get as a child attending school? I almost lean towards “N” for needs improvement.

As mentioned the album kicks off with the title track and the beginning sounds like what the cover looks like, you’ve stepped off your bike and you’re in a state of confusion on where you are. And then the electric guitar kicks in and you’re like “Oh yeah this is going to be great.” And it is. Axl takes a shot at himself by stating “I know that I’m a classic case, watch my disenchanted face..” The guitar solo is scorching although I’m not sure who it was as there seems to be pages and pages of credits. The blitz continues with “Shackler’s Revenge” as the guitar work along with Axl’s screeching chorus actually does take you back to “Appetite.” The first two songs are definitely “crankers”- meaning PLAY IT LOUD!! Track #3- “Better” starts off and it reminds me of something that Justin Timberlake would do, it has a “dance” feel to it; then quickly turns into rock tune and then later on the vocal style has it back to a dance song. This is one of the best tracks on the CD. The hook is infectious; there are many twists and turns that makes this song fun. Now I think I would like “Street of Dreams” if it had not been for his vocal styles, especially in the beginning of the song- it is almost painful to listen to. He seems like he is whining, then his screeching hits an all-time high (if I had a dog, he or she would be howling right now). Musically, I enjoy the piano and guitar work, especially the guitar solo, which is very solid and crisp. I almost skip over this song completely. Track #5- “If The World” is again one of the better tracks on the CD. It has a Lenny Kravtiz feel to me. The groove is funky and through out the song there are injections of heavy guitar or drums that accentuate the sound. I can picture driving on the highway with the windows down and this song blasting, definitely has a hot summer’s night feel to it.

After track 5, the CD starts to slip for me with many of the songs sounding the same and some way too long. “There Was a Time” fits the bill as a song that is way too long. It’s not a bad song but there is nothing that stands out that makes you say “I need to listen to that one again.” “Catcher in the Rye” is a decent song and is something totally different from anything Axl has ever done, in my opinion. It definitely has a “pop” sound quality to it, masked by the heavy guitar work. Dare I say that I can picture the kids in the front row of the audience on American Idol “arm waving” back and forth to this song? “Scraped” is song that I just don’t get. It has the heavy sound that brings back the rocker in Axl but again his voice borders on annoying. Sorry on to the next song-“Riad N the Bedouins”- yes I had the same expression you are having right now- “what??” Same problem for me in this song as far as Axl’s singing. “Sorry” has a slow, psychedelic feel to it and the lyrics cut straight to the bone. This has a Soundgarden feel to it and even though it is over 6 minutes long, it actually keeps my interest throughout. Then its’ on to my favorite track of the album – track # 11 “I.R.S.” Here Axl hits the cover off the ball as you will find yourself bopping your head back and forth to the beat, as well as air-guitaring. Axl again takes a shot at himself as he passionately sings “Could it be the way I carried on, like a broken record for so long..” The guitar solo is blistering and even though Axl hits the high notes, for some reason it’s not as hard on the ears as some of the other songs. “Madagascar” could have appeared on “Use Your Illusion” as it has that majestic feel to it. If I had to guess which song took the longest to “get right”- this song would have to be it. The production is top notch and could be one of those songs that Axl wants to be “the best song ever recorded.” Not saying it is the best song ever recorded- just pointing out what I think Mr. Rose is thinking. More than half way through the song, he incorporates the voice from the movie “Cool Hand Luke”, Dr. King and himself talking almost to each other and it works splendidly. “This I Love” is what you think it is- a love song. Dare I say that this is “Elton John like” because of all the piano work, along with the lyrics? This is another song that is acceptable but could easily get lost in the shuffle. The album ends with “Prostitute” and unlike the new Metallica album, you need to turn up the volume for the first minute or so to hear what’s going on. Sorry to sound like a broken record but this is another song that you will not remember in a year from now.

“Chinese Democracy” has its high points along with some low points. Axl put his best foot forward and hopefully the next one won’t take as long. Sometimes too much production kills the spontaneity and isn’t that what we loved about G&R when they first hit the scene? They were hard rock at its best because they punched first and asked questions later. I guess trying to match the bar that they unknowingly set with “Appetite” has taken a big chunk out of Axl’s career as he has set out to prove to the world that he can match the popularity of their first album. He portrays an attitude that he doesn’t care what people think about him but why has he taken so long to make this album? Because he does care. Here’s a message to Mr. Rose- move forward and make the music you want to- but do it quicker. The music world has lost out on too many years without your contributions. Chinese Democracy has some real glimpses of what the future could bring.


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