Like the hard-rock equivalent of Brian Wilson’s “Smile,” Guns N’ Roses’ “Chinese Democracy” was one of the greatest records that never was–a project more fable than fact, more speculation than actualization. Created over 15 years with countless producers and musicians, the album often seemed as if it would remain forever mired in the swamps of Axl Rose’s legendarily unpredictable personality. When the disc finally did appear, the musical landscape had changed so significantly that many wondered if Rose’s fans even still cared.What the faithful got for their undying loyalty may not have been classic GnR, but it was an unquestionably powerful slice of enigmatic, genre-pushing hard rock which retained some the group’s famously rebellious attitude. Sonically, “Chinese Democracy” benefited from its long gestation period by incorporating bits of many post-“Spaghetti Incident” sub-genres, including nu-metal, electronica, new garage rock, and post-grunge. Luckily, even after all his bizarre, Michael Jackson-like personal travails, Rose lost little of his lyrical bite, shooting back at disbelievers with the fervor of a much younger and hungrier artist, leaving admirers wondering if perhaps the best was still yet to come.
“If The World” – Over a beat that sounds like it was made for Jamiriquai, Axl gets the most out of every note. This easily could sit on “Use Your Illusion” and is my favorite track on the album and gets constant plays in my iPod.
“Chinese Democracy” – Burn, baby burn from the opening licks to Axl Rose’s great vocals.
“Shackler’s Revenge” – Rose mixes up his vocals and is completely relentless. The chorus as epic as any ’80s rock hit.
“Better” – Buckcherry better be worried because the king is back and they could only wish to hold a candle to King Rose.
“Street Of Dreams” – Axl can still hit notes that not even your little sister dare take on. And even in this ballad it sounds solid. Rose knows what he is and doesn’t stray from it.
“Scraped” – Hard rock and totally bad ass. This is what GNR is made of.
“I.R.S.” – Solid rocker. Rose shows he hasn’t lost his touch.
“Madagascar”- Big and bold like the frontman.
“There Was A Time” – Not a bad song, it tries to be epic without having the right ingrediants–but it does have some poignent lyrics: “Broken glass and cigarettes/ Writing on the wall/It was a bargain for the summer/And I thought I had it all.”
“Catcher in the Rye” – This could have been left behind.
“Prostitute” – Rose has pulled out his best David Bowie impersonation.
Guns N’ Roses, or should we say Axl Rose, sounds as good as ever. It defies logic. “Chinese Democracy” took 13 years and there was no way this was going to be good. How did it happen? Who cares. It makes me want to run right to iTunes and buy up the old albums because I forgot just how great GNR were. Come back of the decade? I’d say so.