Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Final Thoughts On Chinese Democracy

It’s been three months since Chinese Democracy was released. A lot of bloggers had the record in their top five for album of the year, with more than a couple listing it as the best album for 2008. We’ve all had time to digest the songs, really listen to the record, hear all the little nuances through our headphones and now it’s time to render a true final decision.

When I first streamed the album on Guns N Roses MySpace page, I thought it was decent. After I purchased it for myself and played it through a couple of times, I thought it was solid. Now that I’ve played it over and over for the past few months, I too believe that the record truly gets better from every spin.

Is Chinese Democracy overproduced? Absolutely.

Is it a Guns-N-Roses record? Not even close. Is it an Axl Rose solo album? Of course, but that’s okay, because it’s an incredible production.

Was it worth the fourteen year wait? I’m going to say… yes. The reason it was worth the fourteen year wait is because in that time, we, as listeners, have matured along with Axl’s melody and music writing. Let’s face it, if Chinese Democracy came out in 1995 just the way it is, I would have said to myself, “what is this crap? What happened to Guns? Axl’s totally destroyed things.” And I would have walked away. In 1995, I didn’t listen to half of the music I enjoy today. My tastes hadn’t grown that much beyond hard rock and heavy metal, and while Chinese Democracy rocks hard, it’s hardly a heavy metal album.

Now that I’ve had the chance to grow and mature, I can appreciate this record for the masterpiece that it is. Yes, I said it. I think Chinese Democracy is a masterpiece. The shame of it is there is no need for the Guns N’ Roses moniker to be on the album. This could have been released as Axl Rose’s Chinese Democracy and it would not have changed a thing, except the marketing strategy. The suits at the record company know the name Guns N’ Roses sells. Especially with the younger generation who are just stealing November Rain for their IPOD and having their first experience with Sweet Child O’ Mine These kids are putting Guns up on the same pedestal that we put Led Zeppelin when we got into them long after they disbanded.

And so, due to Axl’s greed back in the day, a few record company executives, and a marketing ploy by the sales staff, this is Guns N’ Roses, not the Axl Rose solo disc. But we know better. The real fans that have followed this story for the past umpteen years. We know the truth. And we bought the record anyway. And we’ve listened to it – a lot. And we like it. Axl, your genius has shown once again.

Axl may be nutty, reclusive, bipolar, or whatever, but he is a musical genius and Chinese Democracy is his latest effort at proving that genius. This record will entertain for many years to come, and I will be listening to this well into 2009, perhaps just as much in 2010. That’s why it’s so grand, because it holds up over time. The blended guitar melodies, the shrewd piano work, the multiple layered vocals, the intricate sound effects . . . yes, it spells overproduction, but it also spells enjoyment.

I may not have a desire to see Guns N Roses in concert, but that doesn’t mean I won’t listen to Chinese Democracy over and over again. And for a $12 investment, well, I certainly got my money’s worth. Over all the years that I waited for this record and watched this saga unfold before me, I never thought I’d say this: hats off to Axl Rose, he’s created a piece of musical brilliance which is also going to be musical history.

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