It’s not a bunch of demos, it’s not a load of stuff they found on the studio floor, it’s Chinese Democracy and it really exists. Even better, it’s brilliant. If you wanted to see Axl crash and burn, then move along there is nothing here for you.
The album starts with a hard rockin trio, kickin off with the single ‘Chinese Democracy’ and speeding through ‘Shacklers Revenge’ and ‘Better’ like Mike Tyson on a bender. Then it steps up a gear, Axl brings out the piano and we’re in ‘November Rain’\ territory for the beautiful ‘Street Of Dreams’ and the classic voice is back, this is A grade Guns N’ Roses. Slash, who? (oh yeah, whilst the distractors are dissing Axl, Slash is off working with Fergie…think about that.)
You want more epic Elton john inspired goodness? Look no further than ‘Catcher In The Rye’, again it’s a classic Axl vocal behind a great lyric (“If I thought that I was crazy, well I guess I’d have more fun”) and a soaring musical score. Superb. If you want a more stroppy GNR thrill, then ‘Riad N’ The Bedouins’ comes snarling out of the speakers like ‘Its So Easy’’s nastier big brother. “I don’t give a fuck bout them, cause I am crazy”, married to a classic Axl snarl and a superb Buckethead guitar track, this is destined to be a big moment in the live set.
After ‘Riad’, it’s back to ballad territory with the open-heart surgery of ‘Sorry’. Is it about Slash? Is it about Stephanie Seymour? Is it about the fans? “You know that I got under your skin, you sold your soul but I wont let you win.” Ouch. Oh and it has a massive Floyd style solo! After this ‘IRS’ sounds particularly lightweight but soon we’re back in widescreen emotive territory with ‘Madagascar’ which samples Luther King and also revisits the Cool Hand Luke sample from ‘Civil War’.
Not enough emotion for you? ‘This I Love’ is back to the piano and is like Andrew Lloyd Webber on crack. Yes, that good. “There’s noone lese could ever make me feel I’m so alive” pines Axl over a beautiful refrain. Stunning. Then the album stomps off to the sound of ‘Prostitute’, Axl’s open letter to the distractors – “Ask yourself why I would choose to prostitute myself to live with fortune and shame”. There’s no shame here, Mr Rose, Chinese Democracy is a triumph. It doesn’t send you scurrying back to Appetite, it doesn’t make you miss Slash (at all), it’s a defiant beast of a record that sits proudly next to Use Your Illusion as a band doing exactly what it wants to do when it wants to. No compromise, no eye on the chart, mission complete W Axl Rose, see you in seventeen years.