Did the country miss something or did 2008 play host to THREE different classic rock bands releasing new albums in the span of a season? Metallica, AC-DC and Guns 'n Roses came out with new tracks all at once, after an absence of years for each. It didn't seem to be that much of a deal, even though the last one had been delayed since 1994. I guess everyone was just too caught up in the hard-rockin', head-banging intense thrill-ride that is Whatever You Like.
Axl Rose's new album (we might as well call it his since no one else from the original band is in it anymore) has set a new record as the longest album in development as well as the most expensive, due to it taking so long to come out. That kind of effort should be rewarded, especially since "Chinese Democracy" did not disappoint in the least. I could just write a simple review, but then you sorry hip-hop morons wouldn't realize what you're really missing, so I took things one step further and inserted song clips.
Some have been complaning that this album doesn't really sound like Guns 'n Roses, and of course it doesn't, since most of the "ingredients" are missing. Axl's put his own spin on the G&R name, but I think it paid off. Without further adieu, here are the highly anticipated, newly revealed songs fourteen years in the making!
1. CHINESE DEMOCRACY
click on the file to hear Chinese Democracy
In this daring experimental piece, Axl tries using instruments rarely ever heard in the hard-rock universe to create a bold new flavor sure to send ripples through the genre. The song carries a message about self-esteem that stays with you long after you've played it for the five hundredth time. It truly rests amongst his best work.
2. SHACKLER'S REVENGE
click on the file to hear Shackler's Revenge
In Shackler's Revenge, Axl speaks out against underage dating by using hard-hitting metaphors. The tune is a throwback to the swinger days of the 1950's, but it still manages to rock pretty hard, don't you think? Unfortunately I could only manage to clear the first thirty seconds of the song, but it should be enough to convince you how great Shackler's Revenge is.
click on the file to hear Better
This may be the greatest song with "Better" in its title since "Nobody Does It Better" came out in the 70's. Those fearing the entire album will sound different can rest now; this one is closer to classic G&R. Warning: they take a hard political stance throughout this song that may offend some.
4. STREET OF DREAMS
click on the file to hear Street of Dreams
Axl uses a deeper metaphor in this song than in Shackler's Revenge, and also, for some reason, a different voice. It may have been altered in post-production, but I don't know the full story. There are many streets mentioned in the song, and "dreams" may mean this is one of his deep fantasies...but the exact meaning of this song isn't entirely clear. If he ever explains it in an interview, let me know.
5. IF THE WORLD
click on the file to hear If the World
Guns 'n Roses attempts to break cultural barriers with If the World, a noble cause for our modern genocidal times. The melding of two different peoples is the subject, and the tempo hearkens back to disco. I do know that the two ethnic groups mentioned in If the World have had trouble getting along in the past. Here's hope Axl can change things.
6. THERE WAS A TIME
click on the file to hear There Was a Time
World issues seem to be a common theme in the Chinese Democracy album, startling since this band has never gone after such things before. But this is largely Axl's album, and like I stated earlier, it was inevitable it would be somewhat different. Proper nutrition is the message in this song.
7. CATCHER IN THE RYE
click on the file to hear Catcher in the Rye
A tender ballad sung between Axl and his wife of fifteen years, who I'm told is a heavy smoker.
click on the file to hear Scraped
Okay, I have to admit this one sucks. I have no idea what went wrong here; it just doesn't have the hard-hitting rockin' force of Shackler's Revenge, nor the cultural relevance of If the World.....but he can't win them all, can he? When I listen to the lyrics, though, I can't say I haven't been there.
You've now listened to over half the album, and I think you'll agree with me it was well-worth the multi-decade wait. The time and effort that went into "Chinese Democracy" is clear. -- it'll set the benchmark for rock and/or roll for millennia to come. Axl plans to release his next album in 2039, and I'm already camped out in front of the music store!
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