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2.81 | 20 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 2008

Filed under Hard Rock


1. Chinese Democracy (4:43)
2. Shackler's Revenge (3:36)
3. Better (4:58)
4. Street of Dreams (4:46)
5. If the World (4:54)
6. There Was a Time (6:41)
7. Catcher in the Rye (5:52)
8. Scraped (3:30)
9. Riad N' the Bedouins (4:10)
10. Sorry (6:14)
11. I.R.S. (4:28)
12. Madagascar (5:37)
13. This I Love (5:34)
14. Prostitute (6:15)

Total Time: 71:26


- Axl Rose / lead vocals, backing vocals, keyboards, piano, guitar
- Robin Finck / lead guitars, keyboards
- Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal / lead guitar
- Buckethead / lead guitar
- Paul Tobias / rhythm guitar, piano
- Richard Fortus / rhythm guitar
- Tommy Stinson / bass, backing vocals
- Dizzy Reed / keyboards, piano, synthesizer, backing vocals
- Chris Pitman / keyboards, programming, sub bass, backing vocals, bass, 12 string guitar, mellotron
- Bryan "Brain" Mantia / drums, percussion
- Frank Ferrer / drums, percussion
- Pete Scaturro / keyboards on track 10
- Sebastian Bach / background vocals on track 10
- Patti Hood / harp on track 13
- Caram Costanzo / sub drums on track 13
- Eric Caudieux / drum programming on track 5, sub drums on track 13
- Suzy Katayama / French horns on track 12

About this release

Geffen, 2008.

Thanks to Pekka for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

"Chinese Democracy" is the 6th full-length studio album by US glam/alternative rock/metal act Guns N' Roses. The album was released in November 2008 by Geffen. "Chinese Democracy" was recorded in the period 1998–2007 and it´s the first album featuring original material since "Use Your Illusion I" and "Use Your Illusion II" from 1991. The band did release "The Spaghetti Incident?" in 1993 but it´s a cover tunes album. Allthough not universally highly praised by neither critics nor fans, "Chinese Democracy" has sold fairly well by today´s standards and has been certified Platinum by the RIAA and has sold over one million copies in Europe.

I fail to think of another hard rock/metal album this talked about and this hyped. To understand this (most of you of course already know) you have to understand how big Guns N' Roses were in the late eighties/early nineties. They were simply THE hard rock/glam metal act of that period and sold millions of millions of albums. They were idolized like few. The succeess took a toll on their egos though and internal fighting and lack of work ethics because of a massive drug and alcohol abuse among the members, resulted in all members, but lead vocalist Axl Rose, leaving the band in 1996. So the incarnation of the band that recorded "Chinese Democracy" is basically Axl Rose plus various session members who have been involved with the band in the years 1998 - 2007.

So what do we get after 15 years of waiting for a new release? Well...first of all you get 14 tracks distributed over 71:26 minutes of playing time, so you get quantity. That´s a check. The music on the album is unmistakably the sound of Guns N' Roses allthough quite a few alternative rock/metal elements have sneaked into the sound (tracks like "Catcher in the Rye" and "Scraped" remind me quite a bit about a less metallic Avenged Sevenfold). Axl Rose has a distinct voice though and that, more than anything else, ensures that you´ll always identify the music on the album as the sound of Guns N' Roses. The material is not as sleazy or filthy hard rocking as the early material by the band but if you think about it they had already left some of the sleaze behind on the "Use Your Illusion" albums, so it´s really not that surprising. The main focus is more on epic orchestrated rockers rather than attitude filled hard rocking tracks and if you´re looking for a hard rocking album you´ve for the most part come to the wrong place. That´s not all bad though as the vocal melodies are generally pretty strong and memorable and Axl Rose delivers the goods. His performance here is actually his most diverse yet. Just take a listen to his vocal performance on "If the World". A bit odd sounding at first, but it´s nice to hear that he´s not afraid to try out new things.

Overall the album sticks in too many directions and the sterile sound production, the use of synths which at times give the tracks a new wave elements that softens the sound (don´t take the rock out of a rock band), the fact that there are few really hard rocking tracks on the album and the too long playing time results in "Chinese Democracy" not exactly being a triumphant return. I won´t join the choir that says that the album is terrible, because I partially enjoyed listening to the album and found it much more interesting than I had expected, but I won´t call it excellent either. A 2.5 - 3 star rating is fair.
This album... The album that became a universal joke years and years before its release. So much so that at one point The Offspring announced that since the Guns just can't get it done, they would release an album called Chinese Democracy instead. In the end the work-in-progress album became arguably their worst ever release under the title Splinter, and everyone everywhere was sure that when GnR finally on some decade released their version of the state of Chinese politics, it would be the worst thing released under their name.

But it most definitely is not. What was lost in a loose and lively sound between Appetite and Illusion, multiply that with the years spent recording this one and you'll get a good picture of the sound of this album. It is most definitely rock music, but sounds very programmed and honed to perfection, and admittedly on the track If the World it's pretty straight modern r n' b. But the album takes the new sound and makes it work for the songs, which are all of good quality.

Since the all-brilliant Appetite for Destruction all GnR albums have had a couple of massive peaks and then the other songs. On this album the nominees for the trophy of All Time Best Guns Song are the slow rocking Better and the absolutely brilliant ballad Street of Dreams which is the track most resembling the Illusion-era Guns. Both of them feature wonderful guitar soli from Robin Finck and Buckethead that make me wonder why some people miss that one dude with his big hair and hat. He did wonderful things when he was in the band, but he's not the only good guitarist in the world.

These two songs are head and shoulders above the rest of the material, but they're not the only thing why this is a good album. Tracks like the title track, Catcher in the Rye, Madagascar and This I Love are just as good as most of the better tracks of Illusion I, and the rest are very enjoyable as well. Despite running for over 70 minutes, it doesn't feel that long at all.

Is this the long awaited Guns N' Roses album or the debut of Axl N' the Anonymous Cast O' Nobodies? I won't take sides on that, but do check out the liner notes of the album: 13 of the 14 songs are co-written by Rose and the other band members. Don't think of this as an album by the guy who broke up one of the greatest rock bands ever, but an ordinary album of rock music. You might be positively surprised.

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