Review: “Chinese Democracy,” Guns N’ Roses

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Can this really be the most anticipated rock album of all time?  Chinese Democracy, fifteen years in the making and delayed many times, finally arrives (exclusively at Best Buy stores) this weekend.  And the $64,000 question: is it any good?  Well, it ain’t bad.  The title song kicks off the album and after a buildup of nearly a minute’s worth of people babbling in Chinese and siren sound effects, the guitars kick in.  Guns N’ Roses frontman/mastermind Axl Rose is back with his trademark yowl, and “Chinese Democracy” is a standout rock tune.  “Shackler’s Revenge” continues the rock ride with some nice distorted guitar soloing Tom Morello-style.  “Better” is the album’s second single (after the title song) and it wouldn’t be out of place on, say, Use Your Illusion I.   

The rest of the album is all over the place – there are choirs, string sections, wild solos from about 30,000 guitarists (I tried to count how many different guitar players are credited but I kept losing count – and yeah, that Buckethead guy is here).  Chinese Democracy has more than its share of WTF? moments: “Madagascar,” while not a bad song, has some clips from Martin Luther King Jr. speeches as well as sound bites from movies like Cool Hand Luke and Mississippi Burning.  Huh?  “Street Of Dreams” (also known as “The Blues” to you downloaders) is a rough ballad that begins with a piano solo straight out of the Elton John songbook.  

But there are also certainly some moments of rock grandeur: “There Was A Time” has an epic feel to it, as its guitars shred against a synth orchestra backing, while “IRS” and “Riad N’ The Bedouins” benefit from their lean, relatively stripped-down approaches.  Certainly this is an ambitious album – it could be Axl Rose’s Pet Sounds – but it ultimately can’t live up to the hype.  What could?  Nevertheless, Chinese Democracy is a listenable album, one that rock fans shouldn’t mind seeing under the tree this Christmas.   

Stream the entire album here (Guns N’ Roses MySpace page)

Guns N’ Roses official website

One Response to “Review: “Chinese Democracy,” Guns N’ Roses”

  1. […] bet Guns and Roses and The Police wish they had chosen Wal-Mart over Best Buy to sell their latest […]

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