GUNS N' ROSES — Use Your Illusion II (review)

GUNS N' ROSES — Use Your Illusion II album cover Album · 1991 · Hard Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
3/5 ·
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".
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Pekka wrote:
more than 2 years ago
I read a couple of Gn'R books a while ago and was surprised to learn, that much of the Illusions material was actually written years ago in the Appetite Days. For example Don't Cry and You Could Be Mine are some of their earliest songs, and Back off Bitch was written before the band was even formed. Axl even had a sketch for November Rain before at the time Appetite was being recorded. When I kept reading I learned that pretty much all my favourite Illusions material dates from the Appetite days, so it wasn't so much a surprise anymore.

Anyway, this is clearly my second favourite Gn'R album, and despite the quantity over quality way of thinking, all in all actually a great album.

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