Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Rose by any other name

Am I the only person alive who just doesn't care about Chinese Democracy? The long, long, long-awaited Guns N Roses album is finally a reality, and it seems as though many people want to think this is some kind of watershed event in the history of music. I think there were maybe two or three years, back in the early 90s, where I would have cared. I remember saving up my babysitting money so I could purchase Use Your Illusion I & II when they hit stores in 1991, when I was 13. I loved those albums, so I can safely assume that for the next two years, there was a certain amount of anticipation for The Spaghetti Incident?, which proved, in 1993, to be one of the worst albums ever made. By anyone. Being a forgiving kind of fan, I allowed for the possibility that this album was an anomaly, and better things were to come. The same way I chose not to hop off the Green Bay bandwagon when the Packers went 4-12 in 2005.

I don't recall, as it was about 15 years ago, but I can only assume that although my enthusiasm for the upcoming Chinese Democracy album was dampened by The Spaghetti Incident?, I was still anticipating something good until about 1995. And then I moved on, discovering all kinds of other music and forgetting entirely about Guns N Roses, except to remember them, fondly, as a classic band that had once done some great things. Like Buffalo Springfield, or the 13th Floor Elevators. Slash went off into his Snakepit, and I did not care. Axl Rose recruited a guy with a KFC bucket on his head, and I cared even less. Nor was I interested in Velvet Revolver or any number of other, tangentially, quasi-Guns N Roses-related products over the next few years.

Because Guns N Roses was dead. Done. Finished. And, in point of fact, as far as I'm concerned, they are still finished. Oreo Pizza is neither Oreo, nor pizza, and Chinese Democracy is the Oreo pizza of music. It is no more a Guns N Roses album than Steven Seagal's album Mojo Priest is the soundtrack to Under Siege. It is an Axl Rose album, and he just happens to be associated with Guns N Roses. And maintain control over the name. But because I hold no personal animosity toward Axl Rose, I wanted to hear the new song we began playing yesterday, "Chinese Democracy". And it confirmed what I have long believed. Chinese Democracy is not a Guns N Roses album. GNR was great because of Slash and his massive brilliant riffs, and because of Axl Rose's inhuman voice. Take away Slash, and you have a decent guitar player playing a decent riff. Take away Axl Rose's incredible voice, and you have "Chinese Democracy".

His voice, I can only assume, is gone. When this happened is anyone's guess. One of two things took place here - either it was gone in 1995, when the album should have been released. And the reason it took so long to actually come out is that they were waiting until the technology existed to bury that voice under layers of overdubs and digital processing. Or, his voice disappeared in the last two years, which makes the fact that he waited so long to release this album that much more disappointing. Either way, the past seventeen years haven't seen me sitting on the edge of my seat in anticipation, and the next month won't see me doing that either.

1 comment:

  1. If axl could carry a tune more than 3 feet or 3 seconds it would be a wonder. No one should support the new release after all the times he's left fans sitting at a concert then pulled the old no-show. That's what Robin Harper should do for the march down Bank St.