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All In Your Own Good Time Axl ....


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DATE: Aug. 5, 2008

SOURCE: The Independent.

All in your own good time, Axl

Tuesday August 05 2008

When Axl Rose and Guns N' Roses set out to record their sixth studio album back in 1993, George Bush Snr was leaving the White House, Russian troops were pulling out of Poland and Bill Gates was getting very excited about something called "The World Wide Web".

Fifteen years later and the world has moved on. But rock fans are still waiting for the "new" Gn'R album -- Chinese Democracy.

And it's not just the fans who are waiting for Axl to hurry up and finish the album that was first slated to hit record stores in 1995 (three years after Gn'R played a memorable gig at Slane).

There is a small army of record company executives, managers, musicians, accountants, lawyers and (if the rumours are true) plastic surgeons and psychiatrists with varying stakes in seeing Axl -- by now a one-man band -- finish his great project.

Careers have been ruined, record companies have gone to the wall, childhood relationships have been destroyed and the music business has buzzed with wild rumours of mental breakdown, chicken abuse and the kind of self-indulgent egomania that would have made Caligula blush.

The singer who once belted out hits like Sweet Child O'Mine and Welcome to the Jungle appeared to have had extensive "work" done to his features as former friends and band mates questioned his grip on reality.

Plastic surgery apart -- the cost so far to Axl's record company Geffen is conservatively estimated at around $15 million dollars for an opus The New York Times calls "The Most Expensive Album Never Made".

And the longest running joke in the music industry has been that there will be democracy in China before anybody gets to listen to Chinese Democracy.

However, recent weeks have seen a mysterious internet leak that offers the strongest indication yet that Axl could be about to deliver. A total of nine tracks -- purporting to be the finished product from Chinese Democracy -- were leaked on an obscure website and immediately became the hottest downloads on the Web.

Six of the tracks -- including a stunning version of the unreleased album's standout track, Madagascar -- had already been leaked as earlier, unfinished songs.

But there were also three as yet unheard (and untitled) tracks that really got the music industry buzzing. Rolling Stone magazine got into a lather, saying: "If it's just another batch of demos, then they're perhaps the most well-produced and complete demos in the history of the industry. And damn, they're really pretty good."

Axl, who been doing a fair Greta Garbo impersonation since the mid-90s, has added to the excitement by breaking his silence to confirm that he has engaged new management.

But this is the man who basically fired his old band -- leaving guitar hero Slash broken-hearted -- and then later insisted on hiring a guitarist who goes by the name of Buckethead.

As Geffen executives tore their expensive hair implants out, Mr Head would only record in the studio, with a Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket on his head, with two eyeholes cut out so he could see his guitar.

There were rumours that Axl also acceded to his request for a chicken run to be built in the studio -- with live chickens -- before firing him after two years and starting all over again.

The latest surprise leaks have prompted far more questions than answers with many wondering just who was responsible for allowing the tracks to escape out of the studio.

Could it have been somebody at the record company or in the new management team, hoping to apply a timely boot to Axl's rear? Was it Axl himself, who has been playing surprise gigs recently and looks to be revving up to re-enter the fray?

And haven't we been here before?

The huge amounts of money generated by the biggest stars of the '80s and '90s led to some very hard (and expensive lessons) for the major record companies.

Prince and George Michael both went to war with their labels, dragging them through the courts in the name of artistic freedom.

And more recently, the cold winds of reality have blown through the music industry with the likes of venture capitalist Guy Hands -- the new boss at iconic English label EMI -- warning that the industry must change or die.

Hands -- and others -- are now trying to do for the music industry what Rupert Murdoch did for newspapers back in the '80s.

And where does that leave Axl, an old-school superstar who apparently believes there will be a never-ending stream of studio time, limos and Lear Jets?

His record company are now in so deep that they must release Chinese Democracy in some form.

But it is highly unlikely that any artist -- no matter how big -- will ever be given the kind of latitude which has allowed Axl Rose to effectively take 15 years to record an album.

And it remains to be seen if Chinese Democracy will be worth the wait.

- Joe O'Shea


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