Tag Archives: Axl

CHINESE DEMOCRACY. 5 YEARS LATER.

It is time for another exercise of nostalgia. This time it has to do with the last release of my favorite band, or better said, of the current project under the name of my favorite band, Guns N’ Roses, led by Mighty (and nutter) Axl Rose. I’m talking about the infamous Chinese Democracy. The cursed album which took about 15 years to be completed, or again we could say it took Axl 15 years to feel it was ready to come out.

chinese democracy

I don’t think an album was surrounded by so much controversy as Chinese Democracy did. Fans were divided already, after the split of the band, with Axl as the only former member remaining, who acquired Guns N’ Roses rights and decided to go on like that, hiring a bunch of super musicians as his mercenaries. You know, Buckethead, Dj Ashba, Bumblefoot, Richard Fortus, Robin Finck, Josh Freese, Bryan Mantia, Tommy Stinson…and so on. Guns N’ Roses were divided into pro Axl versus pro Slash, quite supported after his revelations included in his autobiography. And then this album split opinions even more.

I don’t think Chinese Democracy has much to do with the former GN’R style. Of course Axl is there, and his unique singing style will prevail throughout the years, but the introduction of new resources, recording elements, crazy and overwhelming layering, and more industrial and electronic sounds, didn’t fulfill may people’s expectations.

Yesterday was November 23rd. 5 years ago FINALLY Chinese Democracy became a reality and it was released worldwide, even though some of us had already our copy, as in Spain, album releases are set on Tuesdays. We loved it. We loved it HARD, and to be honest I reckon if Axl had released an album with songs inspired in my hometown folk, we’d have loved it all the same. Arguments, tension in forums, excitement and emotion, it’s unbelievable such landslide of situations came from the release of an album. If you think of it, this is the greatness of Chinese Democracy. It was capable to turn the world upside down, and Axl was responsible for that.

Many would like to kill the ginger, others think he lost his mind long time ago, and his eccentricity has been blamed for destroying the last great rock band in the world. Probably everybody’s is partially right, but I love Axl just because he’s done whatever the fuck he’s wanted any time, facing fans, critics, record labels and band members. He’s never justified his acts and decisions through statements, or autobiographies for laving. And I respect him for that. He’s always doing it his own way, even though I might not follow him as closely as I used to.

Back to the release of Chinese Democracy 5 years ago, I remember that time clearly. I even arranged a DJ’n session for celebrating the final release of the album so many times we had bet  against it seeing the public light. My life was completely different back then, and my “half orange” was as excited as I was, thus the memories of those days are funny.

I hope he doesn’t get upset or something but one of the greatest things witnessed on a music forum was my later friend Joaquin creating a profile for Axl in the forum we used to participate. Rumours were saying that Axl was chatting in forums with fans, so this guy started impersonating him and addressing to his fans in English, asking what we thought of the album and stuff. It was awesome!

Now it’s the end of 2013. Axl is still performing, no video from the album was ever broadcast either, and apparently a new albums is being recorded. Hope for a reunion has vanished. And my life is completely different.

What do I think of Chinese Democracy 5 years later? I seldom listen to ir, but from time to time I like spending some time with its 14 tracks. I still like it. I love it, partly because of the good all times I enjoyed related to it, because it’s Axl’s, and finally because there are great songs included.

artwork chinese democracy

As some sort of tribute I’ve decided to write a comment on every song, to rate it accurately. Hope I don’t get you bored. It’d be awesome if you were trying the same yourselves and wrote your input here, but I know you won’t. Anyway, let’s start with the experience.

1. CHINESE DEMOCRACY

The gates of Axl’s universe open really slow, and the increasing Chinese buzz touches your ears. Everything is sort of apocalyptical, as if it as the starting of a new era. You know? It makes me think of the futuristic Blade Runner.

The opening riff, with the echo, is damn powerful, and starting Axl’s yell is so high pitched and acute I just can believe it. I adore Axl’s low voice.

Very good starter.

2. SHACKLER’S REVENGE

Or the videogame song. I always visualize a video as some sort of arcade videogame. It sounds super artificial and industrial, with lots of special arrangements, and Axl’s voice in chorus layered thousands of times, but it’s still impressive.

Buckethead’s main solo is overwhelming and excessive.

3. BETTER

I don’t think I will ever get tired of Better. This was one of the first songs to be leaked and I’ve listened to it in all the possible ways. Verses are awesome, and lyrics talking about broken hearts are priceless “A broken heart provides the spark for my determination”.

4. STREET OF DREAMS

For many this is one of the best songs of Chine Democracy. For me it’s weird because there are parts which do not drive me crazy, but there are others I love much. it’s an in crescendo song, so by the end I always think it’s great. Axl’s falsetto is brilliant, and piano parts are very nice.

5. IF THE WORLD

On the other hand most people admit If The World is crap, but I have a huge thing for it. It really turns me on. I don’t know whether is the Spanish guitar, the exotic rhythm or the lyrics, so fateful. If the world would end today I’d see myself dancing this song naked, holding someone really tight and grabbing a bottle of something. Decadent and desperate.

6. THERE WAS A TIME

THE song of the album. Excessive, grandiloquent and HUUUUUGE. This is a song of hate, and lyrics couldn’t be sharper. Orchestral arrangements, piano, guitars… I just love it.

It’s always driven me crazy this verse:

Social class and registers, cocaine in the hall
All the way from California on the way to your next call
To those non-negotiations to stimulate a cause
For the betterment of evils and your ways around the laws
That keep you up and sitting pretty on a pedestal or bed
And now you’re sleeping like an angel near the man who you give head

Brilliant!

7. CATCHER IN THE RYE /8. SCRAPED

Catcher overrated song (same as the novel). This is probably one of the songs I like least. I don’t need it, and right now I’m changing to the next song which is Scraped and always saturates me. Next, please.

9. RIAD N’ THE BEDOUINS

It might sound contradictory that I say Scraped saturates me and immediately after I state that Riad is terrific, because it’s one of the most overproduced songs in the album, but I can’t help it, when I listen to Axl yelling “Oh my salvation, and all my frustrations, caught in the lies no one had wove as well, somewhere in time where only I could tell”, I feel up!

10. SORRY

This is a song whose greatness is inside its lyrics. Another song of Axl’s in a revengeful attitude. Probably Beta advised him to channel his anger in beautiful and calm down songs so everybody could get the message clearly.

I’ve always wondered how many times it took to Axl to record that “But I don’t want to do it”. At least 3 months.

11. I.R.S

It’s a great song that I think with the passing of the years has lost strength comparing to other songs. Chorus is still powerful, and I’m sure on stage it has to be a bomb, but at home I miss more attitude and raw sound.

12. MADAGASCAR

Another magnificent song with that orchestral intro combined with a programmed electronic base. As soon as guitars start, this song takes off and it turns into something really big. That moment with the sequence of samplers including  “What we got here is failure to communicate” and “Free at last, thank God almighty we’re free at last!” still gives me goose bumps.

13. THIS I LOVE

I don’t need This I Love when I’m aware that Prostitute comes next, so…let’s go for it.

14. PROSTITUTE

Stephanie Seymour, you really fucked Axl. Not that I blame you for it, but after the whole album and especially through this song, it’s confirmed that he didn’t take it well you eventually turn him down. Wow! You defeated WAR and it’s impressive, but you also inspired one of the most powerful love revengeful songs ever written.

Axl starts almost apologizing trying to express he tried to do well but as the song advances he starts vomiting pearls I’d really like to know how his ex swallowed things like this:

I told you when I found you if there were doubts

 You should be careful and unafraid

Now they surround you and all that amounts to

Is love you fed by perversion and fame.

It’s been said sad and anger caused by love failures are especially useful to enhance creativity. In this case it was the ignition point Axl needed to write a whole album, and it worked, and kept truly intense after 15 years of recording.

I love the Fade Out end of the song. When I reach the end since the very first time I listened to Chinese Democracy 5 years ago, the same thought comes to my mind and is this:

BRAVO AXL, YOU FUCKIN’ MADE IT AGAIN!

axl

GUNS N’ ROSES AND LIVE AT THE RITZ. RESPECT!

There are not many bands which have been the source of so many conversations, discussions and theories as Guns N’ Roses. Their career as a solid band was too brief, if we consider they were solid at some point, which I doubt, yet impressive. Their legacy based on Appetite for Destruction, Lies (Live Like a Suicide) and even the Use Your Illusion I&II (and The Spaghetti Incident joke, which I love) can kick many bands’ more extended discographies right away.

This post is open for discussion regarding the Illusions as probably many of you are shaking your heads in disagreement, thinking they are shitty albums or they should be reduced to one, but you won’t change my mind. Feel welcome and comment, anyway. You’d really make my day.

ritz

Back to an earlier stage, and while listening to Appetite for Destruction, which, for many who don’t know yet I must remark it’s still my favorite album, I feel like talking about one of the wildest live performances I’ve even seen, if not the best. I’m talking about the classic Live at the Ritz, directed by Scott Kalvert for MTV.

Every time I watch this killing show I wonder why MTV never released it on DVD as they did with the Unplugged sessions. It’s a shame we gotta watch ultra low quality videos on youtube or TV crappy downloads. You don’t have to be a genius to foresee a commercial blockbuster by issuing one of the most spontaneous and wildest show of Guns N’ Roses just about to become the ultimate rock band on Earth. As simple as that.

Recorded early in 1988 in NYC, GN’R were really close to their turning point in their career. They were prominent and popular, but still not as successful as they turn thanks to the explosion of Sweet Child O’ Mine caused by the massive broadcasting of the video by MTV itself.

Probably many fortunate who attended GN’R live shows in clubs won’t regard this performance in the same way as I do, but I still remember when Joe played the video back in 1994 and I was overwhelmed. I’d have sold my soul for attending that show.

Perfect setlist to remember: opening with It’s so Easy and closing with the brilliant Rocket Queen, not forgetting Mr. Brownstone, Nightrain, Outta Get Me,  Aerosmith’s Mamma Kin cover, and what became the main singles of Appetite For Destruction. In essence it was a reckless show.

slash ritz

The stage was on fire. Axl’s snakedancing at its finest, Steven Popcorn Adler totally high on cocaine smiling every time he noticed a camera was around, Duff sweating like swine in his leather jacket and ruling with backing vocals and his punk rock mean attitude on bass (love it!), Izzy smoking cigarette after cigarette in his Keith Richards pose, accompanied by a raw guitar sound, and Slash completely stoned, making mistakes when playing, confessing not being on drugs to the audience (ha! You did drugs till Velvet Revolver era according to your bio)…the atmosphere was so wild audience started to get crazy and jump onto stage to be reduced by security staff members. Insane!

 Personally what shocked and caught me the most was Axl’s aggressive attitude on stage, spreading a halo of pure violence which at some moments I identify as threatening. Never seen him like this again. Full of rage, controlling the band, you could already notice he acted as he felt like, leaving the band alone in the middle of Rocket Queen trying to go on until he decided to be back.

The band is fresh, somehow innocent, interacting with the audience, something which would cause lots of trouble afterwards when Axl became paranoid, constantly feeling harassed by fans, driving him to those weird outbursts which drove to sudden end of the shows. Having still fresh in mind the infamous St. Louis riots, Ritz is so far from that!

What happened after this show it’s already history. Labeled as the Most Dangerous Band in the World, they couldn’t cope with their fame, wealth and other pressures. Mighty Axl’s neurotic behavior were uncontrollable, massive drug abuse by several members of the band was unbearable, and 5 years after this performance, Guns n’ Roses band concept had radically changed for good. From Rags to Riches is perfectly applied to this band. What happened next, such decline and fall, it’s hard to explain. But I still love Guns N’ Roses all the same.

 

YOU’RE ONE IN A MILLION

Today’s William Bruce Bailey’s birthday. Under that name I’m positive many of you don’t know who I’m talking about. What if I say today Axl Rose is 51? Now you know, huh?

Every year when I update my organizer with birthdays and remarkable dates I add some of my personal heroes’ birthdays and anniversaries too. I already told you that. I never forget Axl’s despite the rough times he’s forcing all GN’R fans to go through.

We could discuss about him for hours, days, weeks and even months, and the only conclusion we would reach is that he’s one in a million.

Those who think his bizarre behavior was caused by GN’R’s meteoric ascent to stardom, and a rough comprehension of their situation, are wrong. Axl was a freak from the very beginning, partly due to all the family issues, child abuse and other traumas he had to go through at early age, and also because of his explosive nature.

I remember one of the funniest episodes of Axl’s outbursts and unexpected reactions Slash narrated in his autobiography. The guitarist always reckoned he had to treat his bandmate with “kid gloves” due to his unpredictable temper. To make it simple, Axl’s never taken criticism very well.

slash and axl

For a short period of time Axl was crushing  at Slash’s basement  because he had no other place to stay at. However he had an argument with Slash’s grandmother when he was politely requested to move off a sofa he had passed out on. His reaction was quiet rude and Slash was immediately reported and advised to put things in order with his guest.

Let me quote this passage from the biography, so you will get the picture:

One morning, I took off to work, and in the afternoon I guess he woke up and passed out on my grandmother’s couch.
“I came home from work and my mom said, `You know, that guy Axl, I came home and he was asleep on the couch and grandma had nowhere to sit.’
“I told him he had to get up and whatnot, so he went downstairs.’ I thought I had to confront this issue.
“So we got in the car and I very delicately put it that that was sort of rude. His reaction was to jump out of the car at about 35, 40 miles per hour on Santa Monica Boulevard. I realised what I’d said to him had offended him.

As far as I can remember, Axl didn’t show up at rehearsals for few days, and he acted as  if nothing had happened, and Slash didn’t have the guts to bring out the subject. By the way, Axl didn’t come back to the basement as you can imagine.

Thus, as you can see, this is Axl Rose, an unpredictable freak with a dreaded personality. Take him or leave him. I chose first, long time ago. At the end of the day he’s the last greatest rockstar on Earth, pretentious, diva like, willful, with a defiant attitude. He’s so beyond good and evil it took him 15 years to have Chinese Democracy ready to see the public light, and hasn’t recorded any video single up to date. All his decisions have been questioned, but at the end of the day, no matter his personal guru, the pressure coming from bands, nor the record companies and other parts, he’s always had very clear which address to take, and has always done whatever the fuck he’s wanted. Guess this is the reason why I love Axl. He’s constantly defying the world.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY W.A.R!

A bit late, but still February the 6th in the US, I couldn’t miss the opportunity to wish a happy 50 birthday to one of the main icons in my personal universe, and quite a character, Mr. William Axl Rose, aka W.A.R, aka William Bruce Bailey…

Yeah! The last greatest frontman, that ginger guy who used to be the most dangerous guy in the world, a genius, a nutter, histrionic, hysteric, a divo, beyond good and evil, has turned 50 today.

Times of the Ritz and Appetite for Destruction are long gone, still he’s managed to survive, and still receive very remarkable  attention and media coverage, and we, the diehard fans, to enjoy our fix of Axl.

Despite all the redlocks, controversy generated, fights and other stuff, Axl is one in a million, and I will keep on writing down his birthday in the calendar year after year. He and Guns n’ Roses changed my life, and for that, I owe him respect, regardless.

Happy Birthday Axl! Keep on Snake Dancing with Miss Brownstone!

Guns N’ Roses HEARTBREAK HOTEL

This discovery is one of the little things that cheer me up in days like this.

I was trying to link a video of Elvis singing Heartbreak Hotel, and all of a sudden I’ve found this. Unfortunately edition is quite poor and more photos would have been necessary, but listening to Mighty Axl in his good ol’ days shouting is enough for me.

Hope you like it!