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Chinese Democracy - The Bring Back Glam! Review


A decade and a half in the making, Chinese Democracy is here for all the world (well, except China, but that's another story) to enjoy. The Guns n' Roses opus took nearly 15 years to produce and became the endless butt of music jokes over the years.

Today, Axl Rose is the one laughing...all the way to the bank.

A long wait usually creates controversy, and that's exactly the case with Chinese Democracy. I'll be honest: I wanted to hate the album, but I can't. I love it. I think it's basically phenomenal with amazing lyrics, great guitar work and over-the-top sonic production that just blows other modern rock releases out of the water.

Here's the track listing:

Chinese Democracy
Shackler's Revenge
Street of Dreams
If the World
There Was a Time
Catcher in the Rye
Riad n' the Bedouins
This I Love

What are my favorite tracks on Chinese Democracy?

"If the World" is easily my favorite song on the album, but I also dig the album's title track, "There Was a Time" and "This I Love." The thing about Chinese Democracy is that it is about as far from Appetite from Destruction that you can get - and I think that's a good thing. We already know and love "Sweet Child O' Mine" so maybe it's time we all grow up and learn to dig something with a modern flair. Chinese Democracy isn't an in-your-face record, either. This is the sort of album that takes several listens to really "get." There are a lot of layers here - each listen brings out a new complexity.

Now, I get the prejudice against Chinese Democracy. Quite frankly, no album should take upwards of 15 years to produce. The time wasted is one thing, the money another. Still, I think the final product is pretty damn amazing. Was it worth the wait? I'm not exactly sure. Am I glad the album is finally out and I can listen on my iPod while at work? Hell yes.

Seriously, though, Chinese Democracy is an album you need to hear for yourself. All the reviews in the world can't do it justice one way or another. This is a love it or hate it sort of situation. I love it, I already know some of you hate it - for better or worse, Guns n' Roses are back.


Reader Comments (19)

I'm still on my first go around with it, but I'm very happy with it as well. If it were not Guns 'n Roses and had not been as many years in the making, it would have been a really good album and reviewed as such. The hype is what's pulling it down, I think. After all this time, people's expectations are to the level of masterpiece.

I won't go see them if they tour, simply because I know Axl will not deliver (either by not showing, or not sounding good, or leaving early, etc.)

I'm driving to Detroit for the holiday, this disc will definitely be on rotation the entire ride.
November 24, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermom2ross
Don't forget to claim your free Dr. Pepper!

I can't give a total review as I've only listened to five or six tracks that were streaming on MySpace. I thought Axl's voice was too grating on some of the tracks. The dude can't sing on key to save his life.

I'll really be shocked if this album does well. I'm sure it will debut fairly high and have good opening week numbers, but I think most people don't care. Sure, there's a curiosity level because of the long wait, but everyone knows it's an Axl solo album. Some bands can get away with lineup changes, but GNR was the rare band that people loved as much for Slash or maybe even Duff than just Axl. By now most people who grew up with their music have moved on and I can't imagine young kids even caring. But I've been wrong before, so who knows. But I think GNR are in the same type of position that Motely or Poison are at. No one cares to hear new songs. They just want to hear their old favorites. GNR will do better than Motley because it's been so long and people are curious.
November 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGeorge
November 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterALEXX
I think ya keep missing the point Allyson. *Axl Rose* is back with a new album, but Guns n'Roses has been dead for many moons. As a GnR album, it doesn't exist. The sound is gone. The lyrics that made Appetite are from another time and place. But love him or hate him, Axl is back doing what he does best.

It took a long time for me to write that so it wouldn't come out sounding too negative, btw :P
November 24, 2008 | Unregistered Commentermissy
I grabbed it yesterday and I think it's brilliant! Axl had a vision and stuck to his GUNS!! For all the fans that want an Appetite type album, they should just forget it as this is a deeper introspective album.
November 24, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterlajustice77
I just went out and grabbed it, and I've got to say that... well I like it. I am suprised that I do. Because I like most of you had my reservations but it really is good. Fifteen years good ? I dont know...
November 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDamnp78
I wish people would stop rubbing in the point that its an axl solo album and not a GNR album. so what? that doesn't make me like it any more or less.

and it is so funny to me how everyone has a different favorite song. my favorite songs someone just said were fillers. yet, the songs I least like are other peoples' favorites. maybe I'm wierd.
November 24, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterr0ck0n
Call it GNR or call it Axl, it really doesn't matter either way. It's a good album and will be appreciated by many (though they may be a bit quieter than those who rip it to shreds).

I agree that it should have been released as an Axl Rose record...just like I think Van Halen should have changed their name when Sammy came on board, and Skid Row isn't really Skid Row without Sebastian Bach. But legally, Axl owns the name and can release as much as he wants to and call it GNR. You know it, and I know it...Slash is not in the band.

That's how I approached listening to the disc, as an Axl Rose release. And listening to it with that outlook, I really really really really liked it. Sure there are some tracks that would have been better left unheard, but overall I think it is a really good album. My favorite song is "Sorry," but that's far from the only song I will listen to repeatedly.

Rock on Allyson.
November 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterJT
I really thought it should be considered an Axl Rose solo album too, but after hearing it, I think it picks up where they left off. It's more ambitious than the Velvet Revolver stuff, but also more erratic. There's no way it was worth the amount of time and money to make, but that aside, it's an interesting album which is more than can be said for a lot of other albums that have come out after long layoffs. At least it shows that Axl was actually doing something (albeit not all of it good) and trying to move forward (albeit slowly).

I reviewed the album at my site too:

And I ordered it on vinyl, so I guess that means I liked it overall.
November 24, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterbob.vinyl
I dig it even though it took a while
November 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMotleyCrue666
That one song that sounds like he is taken over by the ghost of Marvin Gay is kind of odd. It sounds like an album made by a singer. some of the songs are ok but overall it lacks balls.
November 24, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMonte
It is a very deep, emotional album. Axl wears his heart on his sleeve like few other lyricists these days. Especially the song "This I Love", you can just hear the desperation of someone who's heart is breaking.
That said, what's missing seems to be the rebellion and angst of the old stuff. But maybe Axl has just grown up, you have to give him credit for remaining true to himself.
Overall, it is not comparable to the old songs but a very good collection of songs to stand on their own.

...and the production is completely over the top, but in a good and very interesting way. There are so many things going on... you need to listen to it through some good speakers.
November 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMike
Does anyone else find it completely mindblowing that in the world we live in today, where EVERYTHING is so completely media driven, a record can get so much publicity without the band itself doing one single promotional interview/radio show/tv interview? Axl Rose is simply nothing short of pure genious. HOWEVER, I'm not jumping on the bandwagon and buying the record. I have no respect for Axl b/c he has no respect for his fans, genious or not.
November 25, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterkari
For 20+ years I've thought that AFD is one of the best pure rocn n roll albums ever recorded. Chi Dem is not another AFD... it is something different entirely. But yes, it is good. Very good. With all of the bashing of Axl, Guns and Chinese Democracy over the past several years I can't help but wonder... If GnR had released 4 or 5 albums and had gone through various lineup changes over the past 15 years or so and wound up where we are today, would people still seem so negative towards the band and album? I mean, from the way I see it and hear it, Guns has evolved over all these years. The difference being that we just didn't get to hear and see the evolution process. Chinese Democracy is very different from AFD and it should be, Axl has grown (insert **snicker** here), the band has changed. Give it a shot.
November 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterEddieLongHair
the more i listen to it... the MORE i like it. It's not the gnr of old but neither were the any of the later albums. I say two thumbs up !
November 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterDamnp78
Wanna know something pathetic. Guess who Chinese Democracy sponsored the day of its release? The CFL Grey Cup, which, in case you didn't know, is the Superbowl of Canadian pro football. It's kinda sad, every time they played a video from the game, thee was a song from ChiDem playing in the background. Really Axl, the CFL? If you're gonna make it the sponsor of something, make it something that will be seen outside the borders of... Canada.

I don't think it's true that young people won't be interested in a new GNR album. I'm 15, and I bought it today. Yup, came with two coasters. Honestly, I haven't listened to it, but the odor of the booklet on the inside is really bad. That's my review!
November 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMichael
overall, I think the record rates a 6 out of 10. Nothing special. I hope the record does not do well more so because Axl does not respect the fans. I've seen GNR in the heyday....5 times from 86 to 88..and once in I know the greatness of the orginal band..but Axl has never respected the fans in recent years..late to shows, lying about release dates, and the list goes on and on....
November 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterGene
I bet they're hoping they didn't unintentionally include 3 coasters with the package! lol!
November 25, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMike
i neither love nor hate this, it just does absolutely nothing for me. the time spent on it doesn't matter either. it's just a mish-mash of styles from various time periods. there are way too many guitar notes crammed into small spaces and i'm not a fan of that stuff. axl's voice at times grates on me because he is going out of tune and yet it still made it on the record. i assume that was done on purpose. to be honest i did not like the direction gnr were taking with "use your illusions" and on some songs it seems he tried to carry it on but it just doesn't work for me. my money was better spent on ac/dc and tesla.
November 25, 2008 | Unregistered Commenterdon

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