Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Ten reasons to pick up Chinese Democracy

1. Between Appetite for Destruction, Use Your Illusion I and II and even G N' R Lies, Axl's got a pretty great track record. Sure, this album doesn't have Slash, Duff or Izzy. But even what's technically a solo album from the guy who sang and wrote "Welcome to the Jungle," "My Michelle," "November Rain," "Estranged" and a few more of the greatest songs ever is well worth checking out.

2. It's a grower. I was indifferent to "Shackler's Revenge" when it came out on Rock Band 2, but now can't get the chorus out of my head. "Catcher in the Rye's" melody has me singing along on the third listen. "Sorry" gives Wish You Were Here a Black Album twist that sounds like nothing attempted previously in Axl history, and I sincerely thought they tried everything on Use Your Illusion. The processed vocal that opens "Scraped" weirded me out at first, but now I enjoy hearing it and knowing that a mega-hooked rock n' roll song is about to kick in.

3. Stick it to the man.

4. The industrial-tinged, "No Sleep 'til Brooklyn"-tagged riff of the title track.

5. Sure, Chinese Democracy has its misfires, but even the melodramatic "This I Love" might be worth more in replay value than a lot of better songs. Hearing Motörhead, AC/DC and other metal gods reworking their reliably awesome respective formats this year aren't nearly as compelling as hearing Axl vent the sickest parts of his mind. The Third World tale of "Riad n' the Bedouins?" The bitter, spacey "Sorry?" The flamenco guitar-laden, plausible porn soundtrack "If the World?" Every single fucking thing about "Madagascar?" I'm shaping up my top five records for the year, and while Chinese Democracy won't likely be among them, it's a more fascinating listen than any of the top contenders.

6. It sounds incredible. Critics will haw that it's overblown and pieced together, but they're missing the gorgeous-sounding solos, the song-driving piano hooks and the rock-steady rhythm section. Axl's achingly versatile pipes will have you angry that he deprived us for so long, and not a note of all the orchestration, samples or sleigh-bell loops sound stifling or out of place. The mixers and sound engineers on the uber-raw new Metallica could've taken a lesson from this.

7. See how it holds up against older Guns N' Roses. Use Your Illusion I and II are some of the boldest, most challenging and flat-out best hard rock records ever released. Appetite for Destruction is as great as music gets. When was the last time you intentionally listened to "Patience?" It'll rule your morning in five minutes. Chinese Democracy is a worthy add to the legacy.

8. "Street of Dreams" has a stupid title, but the song pulls on my heartstrings just a tiny, little minuscule bit. Just a little. Just a little.

9. This matches anything you've heard for honesty and integrity. Casual fans will wish it were catchier or heavier, and others will gripe about its extravagance, but this is the record Axl wanted to make. There's nothing that latches onto the past, unlike those embarrassing David Lee Roth records. Nothing stands out as an obvious aim at MTV and radio, unlike the last 20 years of Aerosmith. For all the hype it's gotten, Axl has done nothing to promote this album. These are 14 diverse, painstakingly composed, arranged and recorded songs by one of the greatest singers in rock history. The closer, "Prostitute," is a little like Axl's "My Way" (Sid Vicious version,) and you won't be able to argue with him.

10. This album rocks. "I.R.S." will get your fist pumping, "Better" will have you banging your head and "Prostitute" will make you want to sit the whole thing through again. You may never hear a more exciting record. At least until the sequel.

Buy it.

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