Wednesday, April 29, 2015

bus vibes #7 - guns n roses

hello there

today was the day that i forgot, look you see, who i planned to have a listen to. the somewhat unexpected rains we had this morning washed away my concentration and thought. as a consequence, i played it safe and went with a bit of Split Enz. but that's today and for another post. yesterday it was the turn of Guns N Roses, and so this is all my thoughts and musings on the band and their (ahem) most recent album.

yes, i went for Chinese Democracy to have a listen to, and i suspect just mentioning the album has just got my blog banned in China, if it wasn't already. hey ho.

in short? what an astonishing album; one you have to say is somewhat overlooked despite selling millions of copies - no easy thing in this day and age. if you disagree with that view, whether from hearing it or on the basis of its reputation, you are welcome to opt out of this post now.

there are many myths around this album. the top one is, of course, the one which claims it too Axl something like 15 years to record it. not quite true. it was the first new Guns N Roses release in 15 years, but that's not to say that he spent all that time recording this one. in between certain legal issues and getting rid of certain members (more on him later, if i decide to waffle), Axl, it is reported, recorded at least 2 albums, possibly 3, before this one came along. whither the other albums? they were deemed to be not good enough by his (massive ego enhanced) standards, and so got ditched. is it that people would have preferred the alternate? for Guns N Roses to release a sub-standard album just for the trivialities of time?

before i get accused of being an Axl apologist, i would say that i still stand by this post, which some 400 of you have already read.

Chinese Democracy, to get back on point, is a stunning album. each track is produced to perfection - not over produced, not under produced, just delivered to sheer perfection. the layers of music, the detail, the range of vocals that Axl gives means that one gets something new from it with every play, even now, some 7 years later. if you click the link in yellow above, you can get a copy of it for three pounds in coins of money, should you not have it.

and yes, the guitar is good. there is no Slash sized gap on this album. i don't quite get how it is that Slash managed to come out of the end of the "classic era" Guns N Roses as the good guy. Slash, i believe, was dismissed when he produced a sub-standard guitar performance on a pointless, contractually obliged cover of Sympathy For The Devil. a cover that was still going to have the name of Guns N Roses on it, and so standards were expected to be maintained. there are many that claim that Guns N Roses "ended when Slash left"; strange then that those many would seem not to buy millions of his records. and yeah, i do like Slash's solo stuff, i just don't get why he's the hard done by angel in the story of Guns N Roses.

usually putting the music of Axl Rose on the internet is a very good way of meeting the lawyers of Axl Rose in a professional capacity, but let's see if i get away with a few seconds of the greatest song on Chinese Democracy, for me at least, There Was A Time. and yes, i think the acronym is quite deliberate.

video

yeah, poor quality - please seek out a decent copy of it on CD, it is worth it.

what, then, "destroyed" Guns N Roses, in the sense that they vanished between, say, 1995 and 2008? the same thing that destroyed The Stone Roses and, arguably, didn't help save Nirvana and their troubled frontman. step forward and take a bow, Geffen Records.

Geffen Records are, or were, idealist hippies, presumably all emotional and excited about a 70s idea of music that it was all mountains of cocaine, loads of sex, dudes and ladies making music all the time and mountains of money rolling in. this is the idea one gets with their approach of sending bands off to make music "in their own time" and giving them an awful lot of money to do so, taking it as a given that absolute fortunes would roll in.

Geffen took it as a given that every artist was either Bowie or U2, with a drive and passion to make music, or that they were Jagger and the $tone$, with a wish to make as much money as possible to support Ronnie Wood's love of divorce and beyond. they lost sight of the fact that some bands quite need a Peter Grant, maybe a Brian Epstein or George Martin, or even an Ian Faith figure - that formidable, larger than life manager and mentor figure who commands fear and respect.

as a consequence, Geffen indulged Axl Rose's bizarre, egotistical wish to release two double albums, the Use Your Illusion records, on the same day. a better strategy might have been to hold on to the material and release an album every 2 - 3 years. the same thinking saw them opt to give The Stone Roses as much money and access to drugs as they liked, assuming that they would just simply make music and not twat around in Wales on quad bikes. most damningly, although i have not yet watched Montage Of Heck, there's not much evidence that the label felt that they should put some extra care, management and protection around Kurt Cobain when he was clearly a troubled soul.

yeah, after Chinese Democracy finished, i did indeed go right ahead and play some of Appetite For Destruction for the remainder of my bus travels.

any good? oh hell yes. other than filling the void left by the departure of (proper) Van Halen and fighting off the mock rock sound of Bon Jovi, it just exists as an astonishing record in its own right. nearly 30 years old and it's insanely good.

perfect album? ha ha ha, no. all too often the lyrics are a whole load of bloated, egotistical nonsense. their constant claims of people trying to knock them and bring them down - mindful of the fact that they were absolute no ones when they recorded this - are on paper as farcical, cringe-worthy and as embarrassing to sit through as New Kids On The Block's ill-fated effort to sound like the hard men of their hood on the oh my word, please say this is meant to be a comedy thing record Hangin' Tough. but that's on paper. Axl's vocal performance, of course, makes all the difference.

i've long argued the case that the world wants and needs Axl Rose, or an Axl Rose like figure, more than he particularly wants or cares for the world. we want, crave and need rock gods, and his sheer force of belief that he was the greatest ever was backed up with performances - from time to time - saying that maybe he could well have been. hey ho.

there is not a lot to be gained, despite me doing just that in this post, from mulling over what might have been with the band that was, maybe still is, Guns N Roses. probably just best to simply enjoy what we have of them instead, then. which i did, very much so.



be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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