Monday, December 22, 2008

Chinese Democracy - A Casual Fan "Review"

AXL ROSE Pictures, Images and Photos

(I would have done a band photo, but don't know who is in the band...not sure they do either!)

As you’ve noticed, I bring up other things in this blog, things I’ve been thinking about or news items or music from other artists…basically completely random nothingness, meaning usually just my opinion.

I wrote about Chinese Democracy, the new Guns N’Roses release before. Guns fans have forums too and while to me they are rather virulent in their adoration of this album, I wondered what I would think of the album as a very casual fan.

So, while listening to each song I wrote what came to mind about it. This is not a “review” per se as I’m not musically knowledgeable enough to do that. I’m just a listener, someone who might hear a song on the radio, and that’s how I wrote it.

Hopefully I’ll be able to convey that I have nothing against Axl, Slash, or former or new GnR. At best, I am a very casual fan. There were a few songs I liked from the old Guns and I probably vaguely know the rest. So this opinion is offered only on behalf of myself and perhaps as an indication of others in that category.

While there are many people who are very into music such that they can recognize who is playing a guitar on a certain song because of the “style”, there are those of us who actually couldn’t tell you if it was Slash, or Buckethead, or Bumblefoot to save our lives. Scoff if you must, but I’m guessing I’m not alone in that.

Of course we also have our favorite bands and with those we can tell you their history, who’s in the band, their albums, their tours, and their music – just like Guns fans can with GnR.

IMO, with our favorite bands we are predisposed to like the music. If it’s our favorite singer doing new songs we will probably like them because it is our favorite band. That’s pretty much human nature.

Excluding our favorite bands, other musicians play and either it catches us or it doesn’t. I hear a new song on the radio – within several seconds I am either turning it up because it has “caught” me, or I’m changing the station. I’m probably not far off in imaging that a lot of you do the same.

Regarding Chinese Democracy and with the full understanding that these are just MY opinions, here are a few sound bytes.

I first heard (or got reminded) about this album from the Dr. Pepper tie-in. Saw that on Google when checking the news.

Found Guns fan boards when my curiosity got me as truthfully I didn’t pay attention whether or not GnR had not put out new music in years.

As far as expectations of what Guns N’ Roses music should sound like, I don’t think I had any. Simply not familiar enough with their stuff to HAVE expectations.

I listened to each of these songs in order and wrote what came to mind, pretending I would be hearing these for the first time on the radio.

You can listen along as well by going to Youtube and putting in the names of the songs. Look for the ones with the cover of the CD as those are off the album and not the years of leaks.


Chinese Democracy – I like that intro. Intrigued me and I wanted to hear more. Built anticipation. Seriously great when the next bit starts. Got thrown a bit with the part that sounds like “Rock You Like a Hurricane”. Heard Axl’s scream and my eyes got wide in pleased surprise. Then he started singing and I just deflated. I lost interest. The song is not bad, it’s just this huge letdown after such a great start. The only words I can really remember are “masturbation” and “precious time”.

Shackler’s Revenge – I seriously dislike this song. Started laughing out loud at hearing what sounded like an elephant. My first thought was how bloated this song sounded with the double? vocals. I was so distracted by what sounded like every instrument known to man being thrown in that when it was over I really couldn’t remember anything except “I’ve got a funny feeling” and the elephant. I HATE THIS SONG!

Better – Didn’t really care for the intro. If in a car, might have already switched the radio. Vocals are much better. This one has a real “beat” to my ear. Did start tapping my toes when Axl started singing and that kept me listening. When the “now I know you better” starts that draws me out of the song. Back in with next part. Do not like the last part of the song (I never wanted you to be…) Would probably listen to this one again.

Street of Dreams – Really liked the intro. Next part is great. First lyric made me go “what the hell is wrong with his voice”? Next one was better. Got my head bobbing. Love the guitar on this. If the parts of this song where his voice is weird were gone, I would like this. Best song so far.

If The World – Really great start! I would have been blasting this in the car. Voice starts, still blasting in the car. Love the rasp. Serious toe tapping going on. Actually starting to sing along with this one. Interesting little bit in there “da da da” – me likey! Really singing the chorus now. The flamenco guitar bit is just icing on the cake. I LOVE THIS SONG!

There Was A Time – Intriguing start, turn radio up. Voice – okay, still listening. Toes are tapping. Chorus just threw me right out. Would have changed station on that. Gets better after chorus, but I might have been done after just that. Still dislike that chorus. Improves again. Gets really good with the guitar and drums. Like that part a lot. It feels like this song is too long. Like it could have ended at around 5 mins. But it continues and the guitars are good. Really good. Funny, but I like the guitars so much I actually wish Axl weren’t singing. Ending is great. There are some great parts here, but that chorus just threw me out of that song so I probably wouldn’t be rushing to hear this one again. Shame too, because the ending is really good.

Catcher In The Rye – Okay start. Good vocals. Gets better. Chorus just loses me. It’s not good, not bad, just meh. I would have changed the radio station. Instrumental part is nice. Like the “nah nah nah” part. Guitar is good. Chorus again – just ugh. This song seems to go on forever. I would have definitely changed the radio. Just waiting for this song to end. It lost me ages ago. Ending not bad, but I wouldn’t have made it that far.

Scraped – Intriguing beginning. Radio is up. Voice starts, losing me. Radio is changed. Not toe tapping, making a face. Don’t like this one. Bloated again. Guitar is good moving into great. Head bobbing a little. Voice again – wham! I’m out. Glad this is a short song.

Riad n’ The Bedouins – Great start. Voice starts, still listening. Radio is up. Decent, not great. Not tapping. Like when he stresses words such as “all”, “lies”, “time”. Not bad, not great. Solo not grabbing me on this one. I might listen to this again but wouldn’t seek out. Could live if I never heard it again.

Sorry – LOVE the intro! Radio is UP! Vocals good and I’m actually trying to hear the words. “I don’t want to do it” made me laugh. Brought me out of the song a bit. Sounds like two different singers. Like the “I’m sorry for you” part. If I hadn’t read that this was a slam against Slash and maybe Guns fans, I would have thought it was a bitter love song. Love the solo, LOVE IT! “…kicked your ass…” brought me up short. It would have made me realize this isn’t a love song and that takes away a little bit for me. Don’t really like near the end. This is an intriguing song and I would listen at least once more.

I.R.S. – CRANK THAT RADIO! Cool intro! Still listening. Can tell right away it’s Axl and that’s a plus here. Wait. Can hardly understand a word. “…well it’s true…” sounds good. Chorus is clearer and pretty good. Solo bits are great. Way over the screaming though. Still can hardly understand what he’s saying so that takes away from the song. I hear “call president, private eye” stuff, but the rest, have no real clue what he’s saying so song is not grabbing me. On a car radio this would be even less clear. Damn! Great start but then it just lost me.

Madagascar – First few seconds would not have grabbed me if on the radio. Voice starts and then the grab hits. Really like his voice in this one, like the beat, the music. Again, can tell this is Axl and that is a plus. “Forgive them that tear down my soul…” great lines! Like the additions in the song, such as Martin Luther King – makes it more interesting and I probably would have made it that far on the radio. Can’t understand the other voice/s, only King, so starting to get confused now. I would have listened to hear the end if I was hearing this on the radio for the first time, but that’s about it. It’s pretty good, but in the end doesn’t hook me. I would listen again though.

This I Love – Beginning would have caught me. When voice starts I have no clue who is singing. Now asking myself “Is that Axl? Nah.” Not grabbing. High voice is irritating. Just music part is good, but I would have been gone. Definitely not listening to this in the car. Just realized I’m only 2:30 into this song and wishing it was over. Guitar/s starting and pretty good moving towards really good. Guitar just got seriously great but I would never have heard them. Sorry but when vocals start again, want more guitar. Turning speakers down. Song seems over, but goes on. Vocals better and song starts improving. THIS part I would have listened to! Guitar/s and those last several seconds not worth having to listen again to the rest.

Prostitute – Good start, radio up. Vocals intriguing, love the long notes. Damn! Again the chorus loses me! There goes the station. Still love the voice on those notes he holds. I’m not getting hooked on this song. Listening right now and can’t remember a single word. I won’t think about this when it’s over. Guitar goes whiney now – annoying. Radio down cause I’m already annoyed. The last minute is good and I want it to continue, but I never would have heard it as I would have changed the station a long time ago.

So, of all the songs, If The World is the only song I really want to hear again. Street of Dreams is decent and so is Better, in that order. The rest are already forgotten. Except for Shackler’s. I don’t ever want to hear that again. As a very casual fan I would order If The World on iTunes (and did!) and possibly Street of Dreams, but that’s it. I would not buy the album.

Just putting this into a little perspective, I’m 47 and grew up with these type of bands, during the early MTV days when you had it on all the time to watch videos. Today, well, can’t remember the last new video I saw.

If you’ve bought this album or heard any of the songs, I would love to know what you thought. Leave a comment or drop me a line at


CelticCross said...

bought it, listened, tried to take it back for a refund but no joy there. It's a shit album by someone who used to be great. I think the dreadlocks give the story away about how cracked up he's become. I went to see GnR in the early nineties at Milton Keynes and they were fantastic. Didn't even notice that it was pissing down for the entire show they were that good but this load of drivel? Not even worth being shredded and used as cat litter.


Where Are You?