10 Reasons Why You Should Buy Chinese Democracy
(November 24, 2008)
Here we are. The Day After. And while Dr. Pepper struggles to come through on their promise, W. Axl Rose came through on his. Chinese Democracy exists and is available for purchase. Currently, it’s on my iPod, my computer, and my coffee table, yet I’m still kind of amazed to see it there, let alone hear it. I’ll leave a traditional review for the traditional press and instead list ten entirely biased reasons why you absolutely should buy this album.
10. Because the drummer from Hinder doesn’t like it. He said it “almost sounds too artsy.” He then went back to playing this song, which apparently is just artsy enough to suck.
9. Because the drummer from Hinder was asked his opinon of Chinese Democracy in the first place. You know why that is? Because there are publicists and label people out there who are desperately trying to tell us that bands like Hinder, Nickleback, Creed, Staind and 3 Doors Down are what we’re supposed to enjoy in the category of modern rock these days. Chinese Democracy is better than anything these bands will ever do. Ever. Those bands write singles. Axl wrote an album.
8. Because it sounds more like Guns N’ Roses than Velvet Revolver. I know, the math doesn’t work. Velvet has three former Gunners and Chinese only has one. And I like those two Velvet records, but at the end of the day is there anything on them that really sounds that different from Stone Temple Pilots? Sadly, no.
7. Because they’ll never get into the nickname hall of fame, but guitarists Buckethead and Bumblefoot (along with lame-names Robin Finck and Richard Fortus) are actually pretty good. The solos by Slash from his work in Guns can’t be touched. That goes without saying. But listen to the chaotic tweaky divebombs in “Shackler’s Revenge” or the smooth melodic (and “Estranged” sounding) lead in “There Was a Time.” Some cool shreddin’ going on here, Guitar Heroes.
6. Because Axl can still hit the high notes. Listen to “Riad N’ the Bedouins.” Holy crap.
5. Because the one-two punch of “There Was a Time” and “Catcher in the Rye” come at the middle of the record. Anybody with half a brain knows that what seperates a good album from a really good album is the quality of the songs after the first three or four tracks. “Paradise City” was track six on Appetite; “Sweet Child O’ Mine” was nine. Democracy has foruteen tracks and while there’s no “Sweet Child” hiding for you in the 2nd half, there’s enough good to keep you listening and excited to the end. Even when you first hear “This I love” and think “Oh my god, what is this? Musical theater?” you’ll still find yourself oddly amazed by what you’re hearing and probably end up later thinking, “I kind of want to hear that musical theater song again.” It’s okay. Nothing wrong with that…
4. Because Cool Hand Luke gets sampled again. Along with Mississippi Burning, Braveheart, Casualties of War, and Seven. All in the same song (”Madagascar”).
3. Because nobody writes about Axl like Axl. And thank goodness the lyrics are included in the liner notes. You can pick and choose at random and no doubt will find something that we can only assume is Axl answering some of those questions many of us have had regarding his sanity over this lengthy journey that has been the making of Chinese Democracy. In “Catcher in the Rye” he writes “But every time I see them makes me wish I had a gun. If I thought that I was crazy, well I guess I’d have more fun.” Intrigued, hmm? What about “Better” when he says “No one ever told me when I was alone. They just thought I’d know better.” Is he talking about us? Didn’t we all think he’d know better than to take fifteen years to make an album? Or in “I.R.S.” when he sings, “I bet you think I’m doin’ this all for my health.” Or in “Prostitute” when Axl asks “Why would they tell me to please those that laugh in my face?” That’s a good questions, isn’t it?
2. Because it’s way, way better than Phantom Menace. And you waited sixteen years for that.
1. Finally, because Axl’s already won. You can sit and stew and not buy the record or make fun of it even. You can laugh at Axl’s hair, his weight, his voice, and his decisions that make up the story behind the music. (Guilty.) You can envision some fantasy where the original lineup stayed together all these years making great album after great album that all sound like Appetite for Destruction and all those classic songs you still hear in movie trailers and at sporting events. (Guilty again.) You can somehow convince yourself that even after 20 years and the loss of 4/5 of a line up, that you know exactly how Guns N’ Roses should sound in 2008. You can tell yourself that Axl should’ve just released Chinese Democracy as a solo album. But that’s kind of missing the point. What matters at the end of the day is what the music is, not what it could’ve been, should’ve been, or anything in between. And the one thing you can take away from all of this with absolute certainty is that the music on Chinese Democracy is exactly what Axl wanted it to be. The rest is up to you (Holepuncher).