GUNS N' ROSES — Use Your Illusion II

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GUNS N' ROSES - Use Your Illusion II cover
3.56 | 44 ratings | 4 reviews
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Album · 1991

Filed under Hard Rock
By GUNS N' ROSES

Tracklist

1. Civil War (7:42)
2. 14 Years (4:21)
3. Yesterdays (3:16)
4. Knockin' on Heaven's Door (5:36)
5. Get in the Ring (5:41)
6. Shotgun Blues (3:23)
7. Breakdown (7:04)
8. Pretty Tied Up (4:47)
9. Locomotive (8:42)
10. So Fine (4:06)
11. Estranged (9:23)
12. You Could Be Mine (5:43)
13. Don't Cry (alternate lyrics) (4:44)
14. My World (1:24)

Total Time: 75:56

Line-up/Musicians

- Axl Rose / vocals, piano, rhythm guitar on "Shotgun Blues"
- Slash / guitars
- Izzy Stradlin / guitars, additional vocals, lead vocals on "14 Years", sitar on "Pretty Tied Up"
- Duff McKagan / bass, percussion, additional vocals, lead vocals on "So Fine"
- Dizzy Reed / keyboards, piano, organ, additional vocals
- Matt Sorum / drums, percussion, additional vocals

- Johann Langlie / drums, keyboard, sound effects (track 14)
- Steven Adler / drums (track 1)
- The Waters / additional vocals (track 4)
- Howard Teman / piano (track 10)
- Shannon Hoon / additional vocals (track 13)

About this release

Released September 17, 1991

Recorded A&M Studios, Record Plant Studios, Studio 56, Image Recording, Conway Studios, Metalworks Recording Studios, Skip Saylor Recording (album mixing) 1990-1991

Label: Geffen
Producer: Mike Clink, Guns N' Roses

Thanks to Time Signature, Pekka, UMUR for the updates

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GUNS N' ROSES USE YOUR ILLUSION II reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

UMUR
"Use Your Illusion II" is the 3rd full-length studio album ( I think of "Lies (1988)" as a compilation) by American hard rock/ metal act Guns N´Roses. The album was released by Geffen on the 17th of September 1991. "Use Your Illusion I" ( the band´s 2nd full-length studio album) was released the exact same day. The album features a new drummer in former The Cult drummer Matt Sorum as original drummer Steven Adler was unable to perform and was fired in July 1990 due to his struggles with cocaine and heroin addiction. Keyboardist Dizzy Reed had joined as a permanent member a few months prior to Steven Adler leaving.

The album was released as a double LP and a single CD. As all 30 tracks that are featured on "Use Your Illusion I" and "Use Your Illusion II" were written and recorded during the same sessions and only later distributed on the two albums, the style on this second part is in the same vein as on part one. We´re talking bluesy hard rock with a metal edge. Guns N´Roses stray a lot from the path though and "Use Your Illusion II" is quite the eclectic release with both hard rockers, ballads and semi-progressive rock tracks. Like the case was with part one, the material is not very consistent though and IMO there are several tracks that the band should have left off the album. Songs like "So Fine" ( with bassist Duff McKagan on lead vocals) and the short album closer "My World" are sub par material to these ears. The best tracks here are "Civil War", "Locomotive", "Get in the Ring" ( nice attitude in that one), the Bob Dylan cover "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" ( they could have left out the gospel choir if you ask me, but it´s still pretty good), the epic 9:23 minute long "Estranged" ( which starts out great but gets a bit longwinded towards the end) and of course the great "You Could Be Mine" ( which is also featured on the 1991 "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" soundtrack). "You Could Be Mine" is probably the only track on the album that I would call truly great though.

All in all "Use Your Illusion II" is quite the mixed bag just like part one and when you have so much material of such low standard among the few excellent and above standard tracks, I can´t give more than a 3 star rating. Guns N´Roses may have made the right choice commercially, but artistically it´s hard not to be extremely disappointed bearing in mind the outstanding nature of "Appetite for Destruction (1987)". The band´s clashing egos ( the "I want all of my compositions on the album" factor) really ruined what might otherwise have been a good album, had the band decided for a single or maybe a double album release ( I vote for a single album release) instead of two double album releases. I´m serious when I say that I feel that part one and two combined only feature about 40 - 50 minutes of quality music. Newcommers to Guns N´Roses are adviced to always start with "Appetite for Destruction".
Time Signature
Estranged...

Genre: hard rock / power ballads

"Use Your Illusion II" is the second part of the double-disc album that served as the long awaited follow-up to "Appetetite for Destruction". I remember feeling even more ambiguous about "Use Your Illusion" when it came out than I did about the predecessor. There are a lot of good tracks on "Use Your Illusion", but also a lot of really uninspired pompous ballads and pointless fillers. Axl's vocals are annoying as ever, but thankfully Izzy and Duff take up vocal duties on a couple of songs, and there are also guest performances by other vocalists, such as Alice Cooper himself.

Now to "Use Your Illusion II".

The opening track "Civil War", which is a kind of power ballad, very much sets the tone: this second part of "Use Your Illusion" is going to be softer than the first part. "Civil War" is actually not bad, and I've always liked it. "14 Years", while a bit more uptempo, carries on in the same vain, as do "Yesteryears" (not as good as "Civil War" and "14 Years", though) and the subpar cover version of "Knockin' on Heaven's Door". A couple of hard rockers follow these "softies". Firstly, there is "Get in the Ring", which, musically is quite good, but lyrically it's basically just a childish tantrum thrown at the music press. Secondly, there's "Shotgun Blues" which is a dirty, almost punky, hard rocker, which I've always enjoyed listening to. The same cannot be said about the ghastly cheese-rocker "Breakdown". "Pretty Tied Up" and "Locomotive" are much better and count as some the highlights of this album. They're followed by the melancholic and slightly cheesy ballad "So Fine".

What's next?

The terrible and super cheesy "Estranged", which is, if possible, even worse and pompous than "November Rain" from "Use Your Illusion I". Guns 'n' Roses make use of all the heavy artillery and ammunition of successful power ballads here, and miss the target completely. Eech!

Thank heaven for "You Could Be Mine", which is the last highlight of the album before it descends into another version of "Don't Cry" and a complete timewasting "My Worlds".

This album will probably appeal to fans of hard rock and glam and pop metal. And, it does have its moments, but enjoying these really requires one to ignore Axl's wailing and his stupid lyrics (granted, the lyrical content on this release seems a bit more mature than on "Use Your Illusion I" and "Appetite for Destruction").
Stephen
The second part is much better now. The usage of the blue-ish color at the cover represents a relaxing, bluesy, and laid-back tunes, but looks like the gang still kept the anger and hatred on couple tracks, "Get In The Ring" and "Shotgun Blues".

The Terminator soundtracks, "Civil War" and "You Could Be Mine" are two spontaneous love at first listen. "Yesterday" is a light rock with a passionate vocal and delirious rhythm. The rendition of Dylan's classic, "Knockin' On Heaven's Door" is another instant hit, made a good stadium chant in every concert they held. "Estranged", the last section of the ballad trilogy, is one of their masterpiece, featuring a captivating voice and a breathtaking solo by the Axl Rose-Slash duo. The closer, "My World", is blatantly their worst creation and an unnecessary filler, but to be honest, not many songs I hate here, an enjoyable disc packed with many good songs, if I have to pick one, I chose blue over yellow.
Pekka
Part 2 of the "We're the biggest rock band in the world, we can do what we want" album of Guns N' Roses. Usually when a band decides to split the overpouring material onto two albums, the first one gets the gems and the less than stellar material is saved for the second release, but this time things are different.

Steven Adler managed to record only one drum track for the entire double album before being kicked out for excessive drug usage, and legend says that that one track was glued together from 60 different takes. What that track was used for, though, might just be the finest GnR song ever recorded: Civil War, an atmospheric, heavy ballad mainly about power and greed. Another epic ballad that belongs among the finest tunes of the album is Estranged, penned by Axl Rose but owing much of its greatness, as the liner notes of the album say, to Slash's "killer guitar melodies".

More rocking highlights mainly include the bondage anthem Pretty Tied Up, the epic powerhouse called Locomotive and the brilliant You Could Be Mine. The style and feel of the album is very much similar to Illusion I, only the highlights are higher and the "filler" tracks fuller. The only real let down is the end of the album, with a redundantly re-lyricized Don't Cry and the hideous electronica experiment My World, which Axl wrote and recorded while "on mushrooms" and Slash apparently became aware of when he was listening to the finished album for the first time.

This album with its counterpart shows that GnR had ambition way beyond the basic riff rock format. Sometimes they pull it off wonderfully, sometimes less. On this album most of the time wonderfully.

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