Review: Guns N Roses - Chinese Democracy
Released: November 23, 2008
Chinese Democracy is an album almost a decade and a half in the making. For this album alone, Axl Rose and his revolving door of musicians that make up what he still calls Guns N Roses have been at it longer than most bands take for an entire career. The Beatles changed the face of rock music in (considerably) less time. The cost of recording the album approaches the GNP of a small country. Throw in the promise of a free Dr Pepper for everyone in America (minus Buckethead and Slash, of course) and perhaps no album in history has had more hype. Frankly, I really thought democracy would come to China before Chinese Democracy would come to stores and it seemed like Axl had let it become so much larger than a rock album that he couldn't win by releasing it. It had become a joke.
As it turns out though, the album is not a joke at all. Unlike so may recent hard rock albums that have come out after long layoffs, this one actually shows that he's been up to something all this time. The album takes some chances and incorporates new sounds without losing sight of what GnR really is. That was particularly surprising, because most of GnR is in Velvet Revolver now. Nonetheless, Axl has stayed true to GnR's core without becoming stagnant. He wears a lot of his influences on his sleeve of course. His love for Elton John's over-the-top piano rock is no secret and it's in fine form here. The addition (at least at times) of NIN touring guitarist Robin Finck shows prevalently. Not every chance he takes works of course and after over a decade, the missteps should have been resolved. However, take the time and money out of the equation and Chinese Democracy is a very good record when compared to something recorded for a normal price and in a normal timeframe.
I have to say that I'm a bit disappointed in Chinese Democracy though. I was hoping that the joke it had become would play out nicely in a train wreck and provide at least a few more weeks of laughing at Axl's expense. But the joke's over. The album is solid, interesting and a bit adventurous and I guess that's better than the joke anyway.
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