The last album we look at for #GnRWeek is Chinese Democracy. This came out in 2008 and I’ll be honest, I had only listened to it once before this week. I just didn’t think I had heard hugely good things about it and in my own head I didn’t really classify it as Guns N’ Roses. I think I was a bit angry towards Axl for pushing the rest of the band out and I kind of just viewed this as his GnR tribute act.

But in the spirit of GnRWeek I’ve given it another go, and you know what? I actually really like it. There are some great tracks on here. It doesn’t sound very authentic Guns N’ Roses, but it sounds good. It sounds very Axl. He must have loved making this, because a lot of the songs are exactly the kind of epic, dramatic, often piano-driven songs that he liked to do, although actually it kept getting delayed and was the most expensive rock album ever made, at $13million. It was recorded over a span of 10 years and in 14 different studios. It sounds like it was a nightmare in terms of delays and Axl wasting money trying to keep perfecting the album.

But there really are some great songs on there, and Axl’s voice sounds amazing in places. He also seems to use various different singing styles which I hadn’t really heard before on GnR tracks.

Chinese Democracy

Former band’s members opinions from Wikipedia
As ever, I love how the past GnR band members show solidarity and don’t hold resentment towards Axl (apart from Steven) and praise him on how the album sounds…

Duff McKagan praised the album, saying that “Axl sounds amazing” and “I think Axl’s finally made the record he always wanted to”. Slash reacted positively to the title track, stating “That sounds cool. It’s good to hear Axl’s voice again, y’know?” When the album was released, Slash responded by saying “It’s a really good record. It’s very different from what the original Guns N’ Roses sounded like, but it’s a great statement by Axl… It’s a record that the original Guns N’ Roses could never possibly make. And at the same time it just shows you how brilliant Axl is.” In a later interview, Slash stated the album was “exactly what I thought it would sound like,” with many synthesizers and digital augmentations. Izzy Stradlin, soon after the album was released, said “I have listened to some tracks off the record and I enjoyed them” and “I like what I’ve heard.” Steven Adler said he “didn’t like the album, not one bit.” Gilby Clarke stated “I think it’s a really good record – I honestly do. I think it’s a great record… Knowing what I know what direction he wanted to take the band, I think he hit the nail on the head; I think he did a great job” Matt Sorum called the album a ‘toe-tapper’. Early Guns N’ Roses guitarist Tracii Guns said he thought the album was “over-indulgent, sterile and not that exciting.”

14. Catcher In The Rye – Nice little melody in places but it doesn’t grab me.
13. Scraped – It’s weird that he’s almost doing a duet with himself. Like Gollum singing a song or something. Split personality. His voice is great, but the song doesn’t reach the top half of my list.
12. If The World – Interesting. It’s a rock song but it has a bit more ‘swing’ to it. Perhaps trying to recapture a bit of Adler? Sadly I don’t find it a great song though. It just feels like it’s lacking something.
11. Shackler’s Revenge – The start sounds a bit like The Prodigy or something. Very electric and synthy. I’m never a fan when Axl does weird stuff with his voice, but the song quite quickly becomes more rocky. Not bad at all.
10. Riad N’ The Bedouins – I really like this one. It’s pretty hard and no-nonsense but has some nice melodic bits within it and funky guitar riffs.
9. Sorry – Good song. Quite a lot of depth to it. I can imagine this would be a grower if I listened to it more.
8. This I Love – This is Axl through and through. You can just tell that this type of song is where he’s happiest and he probably wasn’t able to do enough like this with the original lineup.
7. Chinese Democracy – I really like the guitar start of this track. It doesn’t sound particularly Guns N’ Roses, but it sounds good! It’s a pretty catchy tune this one. Would be great to hear it live.
6. Street of Dreams – Axl’s voice sounds really weird in some bits, when he kind of tries to sing normally, but amazing in other bits when he sings in his usual rock voice.
5. There Was A Time – Something about this one reminds me of a Use Your Illusion track, but I’m not sure which one. I’m not a huge fan of the first half of this track. The last two and a half minutes are great though and totally save the song.
4. Prostitute – Exciting, explosive, dramatic, tuneful, dramatic. This track pretty much sums up the album. Good stuff.
3. Madagascar – Axl has so many voices he can use. This one again uses a different style. Very throaty and rough. I like this song. It almost sounds like it could be a Bond theme song, with its strings and horns.
2. I.R.S. – Mean and meaty. Fantastic song. One of the tracks that sounds most like the Use Your Illusion albums. But his voice is great on this track. Some tracks on this album he switches between a weird voice and his usual great raspy voice. But his alternate voice on this track is a fantastic variation that I don’t think I’ve heard before. A kind of soulful high pitched singing style.
1. Better – This is a fantastic song. I love Axl’s voice in this. The verses are great, although the chorus loses a bit of melody strangely. Very, very cool song indeed, and the main one from Chinese Democracy that I find myself humming often.