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RATE: Catcher in the Rye (1999) - Brian May Demo

RATE: CATCHER IN THE RYE  

297 members have voted

  1. 1. RATE: CATCHER IN THE RYE (BRIAN MAY)

    • GnR classic. Worthy of the original band. Feels like a lost Illusion III track. Axl ruined it with Bumblefoot.
      93
    • Love it. Not sure if it's worthy of classic GNR, but it's really good. The demo has a ton of potential.
      72
    • It's good. Nothing more, nothing less.
      28
    • Meh. Another Chinese song that is just...whatever.
      23
    • It sucks. Truly. Dizzy playing a 2 hr bongo solo is more interesting than this song.
      7
    • The final album version with Bumblefoot is way better. I like how it was changed into more of a hard rock song.
      31
    • GUNS N' ALIENS. Whether it's good or bad is irrelevant. STRADLIN'
      7


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10 hours ago, appetite4illusions said:

It was messed with from the beginning. Each individual note. Every bend, every phrase, was artificially constructed.

Brian May may have played the solo, but it was written by Sean Beaven.

This speaks to the madness of the whole production of the album; nothing was good enough. However long Axl had Brian in the studio, it wasn't enough to satisfy him. 

I knew this very well, thank you. Axl shouldn't have frankensteined a solo, hence my point.

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9 hours ago, felixGNR said:

Bumble is a better guitarist than 99% of guitar players worldwide, shame he is great writing songs nobody gives 2 shits about.

Brian in the other hand..

Well, I listen to Bumblefoot's solo music, plus his work in various bands way more than GNR's back catalogue these days.

I think he's a terrific songwriter and immensely underrated. At least he actually writes proper songs rather than Pike#2486.

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When Axl says that BBFs solo was based off of Mays in that its 'all based on one note may played in a throw away take' I think he means to say that May was playing in a certain mode. Certain notes would really highlight modal playing by how they relate to the chords. Modes are different ways to relate harmonically to the key you are playing in other then the basic scale of that key.  Catchers solo is an example of modal playing - Im just too rusty and lazy to identify which mode.  If this is the case that Axl was inspired by the mode that the single note articulated, then we have another example of how CD took so long:  Axl needed to have virtuosos come in for full recording sessions just for a lesson in intermediate music theory.  What you or I learn in 15 minutes Axl opted for a Brian May recording session to achieve.   (and still didnt bother to retain the concept of modal playing to be able to reference it in quote!)

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36 minutes ago, soon said:

When Axl says that BBFs solo was based off of Mays in that its 'all based on one note may played in a throw away take' I think he means to say that May was playing in a certain mode. Certain notes would really highlight modal playing by how they relate to the chords. Modes are different ways to relate harmonically to the key you are playing in other then the basic scale of that key.  Catchers solo is an example of modal playing - Im just too rusty and lazy to identify which mode.  If this is the case that Axl was inspired by the mode that the single note articulated, then we have another example of how CD took so long:  Axl needed to have virtuosos come in for full recording sessions just for a lesson in intermediate music theory.  What you or I learn in 15 minutes Axl opted for a Brian May recording session to achieve.   (and still didnt bother to retain the concept of modal playing to be able to reference it in quote!)

Thanks for this insight, really interesting. :thumbsup:  The overblown recording session is typical of Axl isn't it?  And kind of ties in with his obsession with guitars in general: learning guitar, turning them up so loud that even producers would tell him to turn them down, having too many of them etc...

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On October 19, 2017 at 9:42 AM, MyPrettyTiedUpMichelle said:

Thanks for this insight, really interesting. :thumbsup:  The overblown recording session is typical of Axl isn't it?  And kind of ties in with his obsession with guitars in general: learning guitar, turning them up so loud that even producers would tell him to turn them down, having too many of them etc...

Or when Slash arrived for the 96 rehearsals to a wall of state of the art rack modules, FX pedals, midi and amps.  And there were techs offering him a selection of guitars.  Slash was like 'nah, think Ill stick with my rig.'

Edit: or was that Zakk?  Back to whispers for me

Edited by soon
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On 10/20/2017 at 1:47 PM, soon said:

Or when Slash arrived for the 96 rehearsals to a wall of state of the art rack modules, FX pedals, midi and amps.  And there were techs offering him a selection of guitars.  Slash was like 'nah, think Ill stick with my rig.'

Edit: or was that Zakk?  Back to whispers for me

Well, it was both who noted all the gizmos and gadgets, but yes, it was Slash you're thinking of who said, 'Actually I've brought my own guitar, I'll play that, thanks' - words to that effect. LOL   

You know, that was one of the many decisions Axl made that I find absolutely baffling.   I mean, it's not like he didn't know Slash and his playing style, personal style and musical approach etc...did he really expect Slash to be all over the new fangled gear?  It's one thing to try and persuade Slash to try new fangled musical direction, but gear?  Just no, Axl.  That was never going to happen. :facepalm:

Is that Chinese Whispers?  Love reading up on that, too.  Such a great resource for all the Guns shenanigans over the years.  ^^

Edit: will we ever get to hear the 'scrapped' 96 sessions??  I reckon there would have been some damn fine music.

Edited by MyPrettyTiedUpMichelle

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3 hours ago, MyPrettyTiedUpMichelle said:

Well, it was both who noted all the gizmos and gadgets, but yes, it was Slash you're thinking of who said, 'Actually I've brought my own guitar, I'll play that, thanks' - words to that effect. LOL   

You know, that was one of the many decisions Axl made that I find absolutely baffling.   I mean, it's not like he didn't know Slash and his playing style, personal style and musical approach etc...did he really expect Slash to be all over the new fangled gear?  It's one thing to try and persuade Slash to try new fangled musical direction, but gear?  Just no, Axl.  That was never going to happen. :facepalm:

Is that Chinese Whispers?  Love reading up on that, too.  Such a great resource for all the Guns shenanigans over the years.  ^^

Edit: will we ever get to hear the 'scrapped' 96 sessions??  I reckon there would have been some damn fine music.

Right, both of them - and no doubt al the others too!  Yeah so weird for Axl to be so disconnected from what is a well established norm:  musicians like to play with their own gear.  

If I had to guess I wonder if Axls aim to push new high tech gear just felt like a continuation of how he'd pushed Slash on UYI.  Like stories of Slash being brought back at least three times to redo Estranged solos and such.  Songs that Slash didnt even want to do but then ended up further solidifying him as a guitar legend.  Axl talks about crying that Slash chose to be a pop guitarist for hire rather then, what Axl wanted; for him to be highly respected as an artist.  So, given that Axl had been successful for both himself and Slash by pushing Slash out of his comfort zone previously maybe Axl felt like it was part of his job to kick Slash's butt, to get him away from generic blues rock riffing?  But yeah, by forcing gear... so ridiculous.  That being said, the riff for WTTJ that Slash wrote depends on echo FX but then Slash shied away from those effects thereafter - maybe Axl saw it as a return to form?  Certainly Axl was trying to push them in a new direction, but maybe also was used to pushing Slash out of comfort zone by that point too?  

Yes, Chinese Whispers!  Love it!  Felt like I was entering the vault the first time I was turned on to it!

I really hope we get 96.  If Im not mistaken there are no Axl lyrics and possibly not even melodies?  

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1 hour ago, soon said:

Right, both of them - and no doubt al the others too!  Yeah so weird for Axl to be so disconnected from what is a well established norm:  musicians like to play with their own gear.  

If I had to guess I wonder if Axls aim to push new high tech gear just felt like a continuation of how he'd pushed Slash on UYI.  Like stories of Slash being brought back at least three times to redo Estranged solos and such.  Songs that Slash didnt even want to do but then ended up further solidifying him as a guitar legend.  Axl talks about crying that Slash chose to be a pop guitarist for hire rather then, what Axl wanted; for him to be highly respected as an artist.  So, given that Axl had been successful for both himself and Slash by pushing Slash out of his comfort zone previously maybe Axl felt like it was part of his job to kick Slash's butt, to get him away from generic blues rock riffing?  But yeah, by forcing gear... so ridiculous.  That being said, the riff for WTTJ that Slash wrote depends on echo FX but then Slash shied away from those effects thereafter - maybe Axl saw it as a return to form?  Certainly Axl was trying to push them in a new direction, but maybe also was used to pushing Slash out of comfort zone by that point too?  

Yes, Chinese Whispers!  Love it!  Felt like I was entering the vault the first time I was turned on to it!

I really hope we get 96.  If Im not mistaken there are no Axl lyrics and possibly not even melodies?  

I’m sure you’re right about all the whiz-bang gear.  Axl clearly wanted to go in a new direction – and take Slash with him.  He thought Slash was capable of progressing beyond the classic GNR sound, and I imagine he was genuinely surprised when Slash resisted his efforts to push him.  Slash wasn’t the least bit interested in leaving his comfort zone, as his solo records (up until Slash n Friends) showed.  He'd been pretty open in interviews about sticking to the classic blues infused rock sound.

There had always been a push and pull between those two, even while recording AFD, where Axl pushed an unwilling Slash (think it was My Michelle Duff mentions specifically as being a source of argument?), only for Slash (and Duff) to later acknowledge that Axl’s instincts were right.

But it’s around 94 that the strain of that push and pull really begins to cause lasting damage to their working relationship and it becomes a case of:  Axl pisses off Slash by not liking his demos and wanting him to collaborate with other guitarists, and Slash pisses off Axl by not wanting to do anything progressive and resisting Paul Tobias.  You can even piece together a sort of timeline of that push and pull (93 -96) from Chinese Whispers, but that would make this post really long. :lol:  I wonder what CD might have sounded like had Slash gone there with Axl instead of leaving? 

And no, there are no [known] lyrics or melodies from the 96 sessions.  Axl didn’t write or sing anything, that anyone could verify, from just before 93 (TIL was written before then, although conflicting reports on that) to somewhere around 2000/01 where the first CD songs start to emerge – I’m not 100% sure about that - would love it if someone out there knew when the first songs of CD were complete, I’m thinking Prostitute, TWAT, SOD.   @Blackstar? @RONIN?  Anyone?

The exception was a little song called Oklahoma, which he apparently wrote while in the midst of court proceedings (Stephanie suing him - again) in tribute to the Oklahoma bombing.  Don’t know if that was recorded or exists anywhere?

We really need a GNR History thread. There's a few of us around here who are into filling in gaps and piecing together parts of the GNR jigsaw. :lol:

Edited by MyPrettyTiedUpMichelle
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3 hours ago, MyPrettyTiedUpMichelle said:

There's a few of us around here who are into filling in gaps and piecing together parts of the GNR jigsaw. :lol:

Some of us (me) are so old we forget stuff that happened all those years ago, i wish i could have retained everything i knew from back in the day :lol:

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On 10/17/2017 at 11:28 PM, Gackt said:

I love this demo a lot more the studio version.  The final version just sounds like a loud mess, especially the outro where you can hardly make out Axl's vocals over Bumblefoot's uninspired solo.

I totally agree, to me the demo - as poor sound as it is on the audio file we have, shows a mix that has a lot more breathing room for all of the instruments and is a perfect example of "less is more"

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9 hours ago, MyPrettyTiedUpMichelle said:

 

And no, there are no [known] lyrics or melodies from the 96 sessions.  Axl didn’t write or sing anything, that anyone could verify, from just before 93 (TIL was written before then, although conflicting reports on that) to somewhere around 2000/01 where the first CD songs start to emerge – I’m not 100% sure about that - would love it if someone out there knew when the first songs of CD were complete, I’m thinking Prostitute, TWAT, SOD.   @Blackstar? @RONIN?  Anyone?

I used to know the answer to this. :lol: To the best of my recollection, I think "This I love" was the "first" new Axl song post-Illusions that was at least in demo form w/lyrics and vocals. Nobody knows if Duff and Slash ever soundchecked this with him back in the day or potentially recorded a demo during the TSI? sessions. The first batch of songs around '98-99 were iirc: Chinese Democracy, Prostitute, Madagascar, Catcher and TWAT. This I Love was dusted off around '98 and reconfigured for that Robin Williams movie, "What Dreams May Come". Totally off probably, but that's what I recall. Aside from Oh My God, my best guess is that "Prostitute" may have been one of the first songs being kicked around with the nu band. 

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On 10/19/2017 at 6:27 AM, MyPrettyTiedUpMichelle said:

Agree.  The demos are hardly representative of what Axl was trying to achieve (in my opinion anyway).  Axl's vision for the album demanded layers of sound and orchestral effects and samples and what have you.  It's not an accident that all those things ended up on the album.  They are meant to be there.  Whether people like them or not, that's a different matter.

It just irks me slightly when I see people comparing CD to AFD or Illusions, or lamenting the fact that CD doesn't sound raw or live, when it was never trying to be.  It's like, what's that saying? Judging a fish for not being able to climb a tree.  

Not sure I agree there - I suspect the demos just show the evolution of where Axl's head was at in that time period. I.e. what styles of music he was into, what sort of production or sound he was going for, etc. It's no coincidence that the demo for CITR sounds stripped down given that the producer he was working with was Sean Beavan, someone who at that time, specialized in lean, stripped down, and gritty production. In case you think that wasn't how it was intended, "Oh My God", which was released around this time, is grittier and more stripped down than anything Axl has released afterwards. That's the kind of production style Axl was into in the late 90's.

The mid to late 90's sound was all about these almost "abrasive" sonic experiences with grunge and industrial bands setting that tone. Lush production at that point in time was not considered cool and Axl was a slave of trends during the 90's. He knew his pompous style was not going to go over well for 90's audiences and that's a huge part of the reason people like Sean Beavan were brought in - to help him modernize GnR for the 90's. Catcher's demo seems inspired not only by Queen, but also by some of the big 90's brit rock groups like Oasis. I don't think it's an accident that the song got transformed into a more up-tempo, hard-rock song during the mid-2000's to make it more palatable for GnR fans. 

Let's say you're right though and that all of those bells and whistles Axl piled on top of the demo might have been intended all along....well that just means that the poor guy potentially got it right even before he decided to add another 20 layers to it. Had he just stopped adding, the song would have been so much better for it. He ruined his own songs by overcooking them. A good song is a good song. Some people may prefer Estranged and November Rain to have a leaner, less over-produced sound, but those songs are still loved by a majority. But even among die hard fans of Chinese, there's a prevailing feeling that the songs were simply overproduced to their own detriment. They would simply have been better without all that extra studio crap. I'm not judging Chinese songs based on them having a slick production instead of a minimalist "live band" sound - I'm saying that the songs have lost whatever impact they may originally have had with so much over production. Like Bob Ezrin said about CD, it feels like every song had been painted over one too many times and the essence of the song itself was lost in translation. Michael Jackson's latter albums have the same sort of issues. 

Quote

 

If anything, CD suffers from Axl's uncertainty and reluctance to take the plunge and make a bloody big statement (it was Alice Cooper who suggested Axl was afraid of his work).  The album doesn't boldly go where Axl wanted it to go, which I'm guessing, would have been much more experimental and progressive than the final product.  He should have just said fuck you world and made a fuck-you-all type of album.  Instead, we have this awkward compromise where Axl has settled for being a little bit progressive/interesting here, and a little bit hard rock there, and so on, with the end result being confusion.  Somehow, he manages to make it all hang together.

It's for this reason that I love the album though.  I see it as a reflection of its creator at the time.

 

Totally agree here. That's exactly what he should have done - gone the full hog and made a balls out experimental album that was a middle finger to his critics. At least it would have felt like there was legitimate reason for breaking up the band over artistic reasons instead of the pointlessness of the last 20 years that we got. UYI was a way bigger leap forward from Appetite and Lies than Chinese was from UYI. The irony was, nu-guns was initially sold as GnR making a transformation and undergoing an experimental rebirth. 

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I've always felt there's something off about the album version.

Controversially though I don't really think it's bumble though. I liked his take on the solo - how he took the main themes of the melody from the Brian May (or Axl Splice) version and made it match the rest of Chinese's bucket/bumble shred parts.

But there's definitely something slightly soulless about the album version compared to that demo. It reminds me of when classic bands remake a new version of an old song and although it sometimes has better playing it just sounds kinda lifeless.

Not sure what it is with catcher. I think it's something other than bumble but it's hard to put the finger on what. I think a lot of it is the mix. The piano is so striking in the original and a lot of that feel seems hidden.

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Axl horribly ruined Madagascar and Catcher

Edited by Teroz

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I just do not know what drugs Rose was taking during this 'Nugnr' era. That description of the production of May and Bumblefoot's respective Catcher solos is gobbledygook, absolute twaddle. Rose just seemed to pull things out of his arse during the Chinese period, like the album being a 'trilogy' which then got reduced to a 'double' (and further reduced to the single work we possess today). Does anyone remember when Rose suddenly decided that 'Oh My God' was a 'demo'? I think he must have been on some mind altering drugs during the entire decade. 

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1 hour ago, DieselDaisy said:

I just do not know what drugs Rose was taking during this 'Nugnr' era. That description of the production of May and Bumblefoot's respective Catcher solos is gobbledygook, absolute twaddle. Rose just seemed to pull things out of his arse during the Chinese period, like the album being a 'trilogy' which then got reduced to a 'double' (and further reduced to the single work we possess today). Does anyone remember when Rose suddenly decided that 'Oh My God' was a 'demo'? I think he must have been on some mind altering drugs during the entire decade. 

Smoking weed and sitting in front of the telly eating does not mean you have a drug problem :lol:

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1 hour ago, Len Cnut said:

Smoking weed and sitting in front of the telly eating does not mean you have a drug problem :lol:

potent weed.

Here is an example of what I mean?

Quote

So, you'll get 18 songs, and about 10 extra tracks. And when that, when the record company feels that has run its course, then you'll get it all over again. By that time, I should be done with the third album.

He is either pulling stuff out of his arse, or, if he is relating the facts of the situation, on another planet pertaining to the production and release of music. 

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16 hours ago, RONIN said:

I used to know the answer to this. :lol: 

Don't tell me you're another old-timer with diminishing memory? :lol:  @janrichmond see what you've started?  

Quote

The first batch of songs around '98-99 were iirc: Chinese Democracy, Prostitute, Madagascar, Catcher and TWAT. This I Love was dusted off around '98 and reconfigured for that Robin Williams movie, "What Dreams May Come". Totally off probably, but that's what I recall. Aside from Oh My God, my best guess is that "Prostitute" may have been one of the first songs being kicked around with the nu band. 

Ah, ok thanks for that.  I didn't realise those particular CD songs were complete that early, was thinking more 2000.  Looks like Axl was somewhat productive at least towards the end of that decade.

 

16 hours ago, RONIN said:

Not sure I agree there - I suspect the demos just show the evolution of where Axl's head was at in that time period. I.e. what styles of music he was into, what sort of production or sound he was going for, etc. 

Where Axl's head was at was total confusion for that entire decade, and half way into the next one, hence the plethora of styles, genres and producers, so I do agree with you that the demos show the evolution of his musical tastes; they also show the evolution of his confusion and inability to know what he was doing and how – but I think we both agree on that.  Strangely enough – and you’ll laugh after my, ‘He wasn’t going to make an industrial record’ -  it seems the only time Axl was confident and inspired about a particular idea was back in 93/94 when he first broached the idea of industrial to Slash.  He really wanted to make that industrial influenced album.^_^

But yeah, let’s just say he encounters resistance to his early CD era ideas, tries to compromise, tries to make something else that’s more commercial to please producers and label execs, as you’ve already pointed out, can’t settle on anything inspiring, hence a return to the more pompous/overblown style he knows and understands = bells and whistles.  Which leads to:

Quote

Let's say you're right though and that all of those bells and whistles Axl piled on top of the demo might have been intended all along....well that just means that the poor guy potentially got it right even before he decided to add another 20 layers to it.

 That's what I'm saying.  

He got it right, or as right as he was ever going to get it in 2000.  We know this because he says he had a finished album.  Obviously, Axl has a propensity to take pompous and overblown right to the edge of what is considered tasteful, but he probably knew at that point where to draw the line.

Funny you should mention Ezrin because he’s the guy that threw a real spanner in the works, but I think I've already mentioned the negative impact of his influence.

And that’s my gripe with the label right there.

When Axl Rose says an album is finished and ready to mix, you grab that baby out of his infuriatingly perfectionist paws real quick and you never let him have it back - you just get that album out in the world.  What you don’t do, is say, ‘You sure about that Axl? You sure those songs couldn’t be improved?  Here, have our latest A&R guy Bob Ezrin help you make those songs better.’  Cue 8 years of dithering, second-guessing and yet more bells and whistles.  It was a colossal fuck up on the label’s part.  All that happened was Axl lost faith in his ability to know where to draw the line.    

Quote

"We started over, we continued adding songs, continued recording and recording." (Axl, Rock & Pop FM, 01/22/01)

When Axl said the album was ready to go, the label should have done what labels are supposed to do: support the artist, not side with the A&R guy.

I don’t disagree that the songs would have benefitted from a less is more approach.  I think that’s undeniable.  I guess you and I are always going to disagree about CD from an aesthetic/stylistic point of view? ^^  While I acknowledge certain songs aren’t allowed to shine on their own merit (Madagascar comes to mind, but not Catcher which I like as is) I personally don’t think the album suffers for it…not in the way others think it does.  Is it flawed?  Absolutely.  I like most of it.  Not all.  But most. Heck, I play it straight though very happily (with the exception of Scraped and TIL which are abominations).  I bet Ezrin didn’t like those! :lol:

Edited by MyPrettyTiedUpMichelle
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I prefer the Mays version.  But I also prefer most of the early versions as opposed to the final product. Catcher, IRS, Maddy, the Blues, CD, I like all of those better in their earlier form.

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It's great. The album version is great too. Slash's version has some lines that I love as well, and ultimately, like most CD songs, the best version to me is a mix of the demo/album/live takes. Slash plays some fills that hit that same magical note that the May version solo is built around.

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