I like Guns n’ Roses more than perhaps I should. Have a strange fondness for and identification with Axl Rose. And, more subconsciously than not, was awaiting this album for over a decade, increasingly skeptical it would ever be released. So when it actually was, I felt compelled to write a review. Clearly, this review is miscategorized. I have no intention of rating more music, so I include it here.

 

Key: 
[ X ] – don’t like
[ ~ ] – okay 
[ * ] – like

 

1. Chinese Democracy  ~
2. Shackler’s Revenge  ~ 
3. Better  ~/*
4. Street of Dreams  *
5. If the World  *
6. There Was a Time  *
7. Catcher in the Rye  * – the first two-thirds of the song is decent, the last third good
8. Scraped  ~
9. Riad n’ the Bedouins  X
10. Sorry  ~
11. IRS  ~ 
12. Madagascar  * – the middle section containing voiceovers, a patchwork dialogue or de facto poem, is far too long musically, but from a literary perspective probably contains the most poignant lyrics on the album 
13. This I Love  * – horribly maudlin, yet a catchy melody, and surprisingly poignant
14. Prostitute  X/~

 

Overall technique/style:  B+/A- (would be higher if the album weren’t so overproduced) 
Overall substance/poignancy:  B-/B
Lyrics: neutral to poor

 

Overall grade:  B+

Final thoughts: In spite of how overproduced and convoluted this album is, there is something of the obsessive, daemonic, and genius in it that somehow prevents the flaws from being utterly unworkable, and even uses some of them to the album’s advantage. Does the album bear repeated listens? Yes. One can listen to it periodically year after year, and this is a hallmark of ‘art.’ It likely would have done better commercially if it had been split into two cds— ‘Official Album’ (best songs), and ‘B Sides’ (weaker songs)— and if a good song drawing directly on Guns n’ Roses fans’ pent up nostalgia, for instance, There Was a Time, had been released as the first single rather than the mediocre and incongruous Chinese Democracy.


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