I've long since stopped expecting anything from Axl Rose. How many years has Chinese Democracy been in the works? The guy has a great voice, but he was making more headlines with his moody antics and temper-tantrums than with his singing for what seemed like years on end. He's actually made it pretty easy not to like him. By contrast, I was thrilled for his former bandmates when they put Velvet Revolver together; they've already put out two solid records, which rock. And Slash has that cool cameo on Daughtry: What's not to like?
So I'm eating my hat a bit, having snagged Chinese Democracy and started listening to it today. I've been seeing it mentioned here and there recently, and my curiosity was piqued by its many positive reviews on Amazon.com. Could it actually be worth a go? I ordered a used copy from some vendor out west, and it arrived in the mail this afternoon. I'm only about two-thirds of the way through it, since that's the extent of the time that I've spent in my car since popping the CD in my player. But, hey, even if it goes downhill from this point on, I'll still be impressed and pleased to own it.
It hardly seems right to think of it as a Guns 'n' Roses record, since Axl is the only member left; notwithstanding that it was his band to begin with. Velvet Revolver has three or four of the original members, but I don't think of them as Guns 'n' Roses, either. The fact is, Axl sounds like Guns 'n' Roses, with or without the rest of the guys. He's apparently still got the chops, 'cause that boy can wail. Wow! Granted, it's more like Use Your Illusion than Appetite for Destruction, but there's a range of material on Chinese Democracy, which showcases Axl's versatility. I haven't read the liner notes to know who his players are, but he's put together a good band for this effort. I'm guessing it must be "Buckethead" on guitar, at least on some of the tracks; whoever it is, he knows what he's doing. There's even something vaguely reminiscent of Slash about it.
No, Chinese Democracy doesn't rock like Appetite for Destruction. But, to be fair, nothing has rocked like Appetite for Destruction since, well, since Appetite for Destruction. I still remember coming across that incredible record for the first time, in Lincoln, Nebraska, with my friend Joel. It was a bit naughty, even a little raunchy in spots, but what a seminal rock 'n' roll piece of work that thing was! I really wish that kind of creativity and raw energy didn't so often go hand-in-hand with debauchery. Even so, Appetite for Destruction was one of those rare, one-of-a-kind events, which basically redefined rock music for the coming decade or more.
That's not the case with Chinese Democracy. Nevertheless, it's a decent piece of work in its own right, and I'll give Axl his due. The wait for this puppy was more than a little extreme, but, now that I have it in hand, I'm glad it finally made it to the finish line. I'm enjoying it, and that's what popular music is for (entertainment). I suspect that my Zach might like it, too, and maybe even his rockin' little sister-in-law. Perhaps I'll snag a used copy for him, for old time's sake. He was born a year or so after Appetite for Destruction was released, and I'm sure he must have spent a fair portion of his infancy and toddlerhood listening to it with me. It didn't rot his brains or stunt his growth, so I guess all's well that ends well.