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DATE: Nov. 20, 2008


Album review: Guns N' Roses' 'Chinese Democracy'

09:17 AM PT, Nov 20 2008

When Axl Rose announced in December 2006 that the new Guns N' Roses album, "Chinese Democracy," would be issued the following March -- the last false ending to a drama nearly as long-lasting as the Vietnam War and culminating today, as the hordes rush to exclusive retailer Best Buy to snap up the final version -- he briefly stepped out of the smoke-machine haze that surrounds him and feigned modesty. Vouching for the veracity and passion of his work, he seemingly aimed to lower expectations, writing, "In the end, it's just an album."

That may be the most ridiculous statement Rose has made in 17 years of whoppers. Just an album! Sure, and "Citizen Kane" was just a movie. And Brando as Don Corleone was just a mid-career acting gig.

Everyone with a passing interest in rock knows the abbreviated history of "Chinese Democracy." Recording for the album, the follow-up to Guns N' Roses' mammoth, chart-topping "Use Your Illusion" project, began in the early 1990s. Soon, though, Rose's authoritarian grip squeezed the life out of the original lineup, including his lead guitarist and artistic foil, Slash, and it went elsewhere. Out of that goo rose the post-Guns band Velvet Revolver on one side and Axl, increasingly alone, on the other.

For the next decade and a half, Rose continued to work, running through band members like so many speed dates. Some, like avant-garde guitarist Buckethead, fled; others, like longtime keyboardist Dizzy Reed, stuck. This amorphous Guns N' Roses toured with varying degrees of success and spent time recording in 14 different studios in L.A., Las Vegas, London and New York.

Meanwhile, Rose got older (he's 46 now), decided he looked good in cornrows, and spent something like $13 million on a project few thought he would complete. The powers behind the already failing music industry gave a collective bloodcurdling scream.

The wait is over

And now it's here. The album that's been referred to as a "white whale" more times than Melville's own Moby Dick has been stabbed through with a spear and brought to ground. Fourteen tracks, no blubber.

Half the songs classify loosely as ballads, while the others are more forcefully up-tempo, but nearly every one makes unexpected stylistic switches. The effect is theatrical, with voicings and arrangements often taking precedence over riffs and grooves, making "Chinese Democracy" more like the score to a rock opera than an arena-oriented assault.

Like Brando and "Kane" mastermind Orson Welles, Rose is a macho refusenik whose career path illustrates how hard it can be for an ego-driven man to separate lofty ideals from fleshly indulgences. And though it's probably too cryptic to have the impact of the masterpieces to which I've dared compare it, "Chinese Democracy" does reach that far. Rose's fight to become and remain an auteur in a pop world increasingly hostile to such individualists has become a performance in itself. "Chinese Democracy" is its finale, the explosive end to a period of silence that, in retrospect, had its own eloquence.

It isn't exactly an accessible album, though many hooks and bombastic rock moments surface within its layers. Contrary to early reports, Rose didn't plunge into the "nu metal" style industrial rock that he'd embraced a decade ago with the lone track "Oh My God." Had he done so, producing an album's worth of static-laden ravers, like the album's first single and title track, he might have embraced middle age as a respectable experimental rocker. Conversely, had he fulfilled the dreams of the rabble who can't get past "Appetite for Destruction," reconnecting with Slash at the old intersection of punk and metal, he would have roared back as the king of the charts without making much artistic progress.

Instead, making this album has transformed Rose from a hungry contrarian to a full-blown desert prophet, howling mightily in protest against a pop industry that encourages its stars to innovate only within the realm of what sells best. At the same time, he's resisted the nostalgia that would have sent him after a purer time or sound, preferring to invest in a foggy future. Purity is the opposite of what Rose seeks on "Chinese Democracy." Convolution is everything as he spirals toward a total sound even he can't quite apprehend.

"Chinese Democracy" is a test for contemporary ears, an album that turns in upon itself instead of reaching out to instantly become a ring tone. Nothing on it immediately reveals its essence. Even the songs with hooks, such as the sing-song rant "Better" and the grande olde ballad "Street of Dreams," derail themselves in subtle ways, requiring the listener to reconsider her first judgment. This will frustrate plenty of listeners; lovers of "edgy" music may find it too melodic and rooted in the blues, while fans seeking simple catharsis may rue the many shifts in tone and tempo.

Versions of these final 14 tracks have been floating around the Internet throughout Rose's exile. Some may date from before the "Use Your Illusion" sessions. Rose kept building on them, rewriting, hiring and alienating all those producers and collaborators -- the album's credits, which include Nine Inch Nails guitarist Robin Finck and Primus drummer Bryan "Brain" Mantia, read like an Oscar night thank-you list from hell -- and trying everything from multitracking his voice to resemble a children's choir to sampling the speeches of Martin Luther King Jr.

The end result is a cyborgian blend of pop expressiveness, traditional rock bravado and Brian Wilson-style beautiful weirdness. The snake-dance-inspiring rhythms that bring Rose's libido to life occasionally dominate, as do the romantic piano runs that represent his heart. Neither overcomes the other, and sometimes both collide in the same song.

Playing the reference game with "Chinese Democracy" is a thankless task. Individual songs could be compared to everything from Queen (Rose claims that influence, though he disposed of a guitar solo Brian May gave him for one song) to My Chemical Romance, Heart, Wings, Korn, Andrew Lloyd Webber, David Bowie in his Berlin phase, U2 after "Achtung Baby!" and Curtis Mayfield circa "Freddie's Dead." Oh, and to Guns N' Roses, especially the more cracked version of that band behind "Use Your Illusion II." But rarely does a song settle anywhere. It's even difficult to declare the ballads pretty or the rockers simply ferocious.

It's also pointless to dwell too long on individual players besides Rose. Keyboardist Dizzy Reed and bassist Tommy Stinson appear on most tracks; they must have been the most successful at tolerating Rose's megalomania. As for the album's much-touted guitar army: When five different players are featured on one song, individualism becomes impossible, no matter who's soloing. Many early Guns N' Roses songs are structured as literal dialogues between Rose and Slash, with the singer's wild falsetto directly responding to and setting up the guitarist's rococo riffing. "Chinese Democracy" features no such exchanges. The real tension here is internal, and Rose's alone.

It's the same push-pull that defines everything Rose has created, including his assumed name: steely, aggressive hypermasculinity versus lush, feminine openness. Rose's music tells the saga of the mutually abusive relationship between the freight train's axle and the rose it crushes, a potentially poisonous flower that keeps growing back.

This is a central plotline in male-centered heroic tales, and it's key to the music of artists as diverse as Richard Wagner and Led Zeppelin's Robert Plant and Jimmy Page. But few artists have committed so strongly to both sides at once. Never mind the tales of childhood abuse and adult violence (often allegedly toward women) that fill out Rose's biography. All of that ugliness is right there in the music, in Rose's primal yowl and marauding metal-punk assaults. And anyone who's heard "November Rain" -- that's all of us -- knows that florid loveliness resides there too.

On "Chinese Democracy," Rose reflects on the cost of making art that fully expresses that dichotomy. This is where we return to "Citizen Kane," another story that plays out the tension between a wounded heart and an iron fist, and to Rose's soul mate Brando, who was also a brute and an aesthete, and who tragically misstepped as often as he triumphed.

Ever the enigma

Could Rose be self-aware enough to genuinely capture this life-defining conflict? He seems to be trying on "Chinese Democracy." But his lyrics, like the songs' musical twists, are hard to parse; their knottiness may be the album's ultimate downfall. It's tough to imagine anyone besides Rose connecting many of these songs to their day-to-day experiences. In "Rhiad and the Bedouins," he seems to be comparing himself to a besieged Middle Eastern state. "Catcher in the Rye" spits at mortality while nodding toward another famously blocked artist, J.D. Salinger, but its last verse devolves into incomprehensibility. "Madagascar," the one in which Rose pairs his voice with Dr. King's, is a sort of civil-rights-era- inspired retelling of Odysseus' journey across a monster-ridden sea.

At least that's what it sounds like to this listener, bringing my own history and imagination into the listening experience. Whether it's intentional or the result of Rose's addled grandiloquence, the strangeness inherent in these songs allows for an old-fashioned rock 'n' roll pleasure: the chance to grasp that album cover (OK, gaze at that image on your MP3 player screen) and make up your own solutions to its mysteries. Whether history declares it a tragedy or a farce, this is one album that's more than a pop exercise. And for that, Axl Rose can finally take a bow.

--Ann Powers


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DATE: Nov. 20, 2008

SOURCE: The New York Times

How Axl Rose Spent All That Time

Chang W. Lee/The New York Times


Published: November 20, 2008

“ALL I’ve got is precious time,” W. Axl Rose sings in the title song of Guns N’ Roses’ new album, and he must be well aware of how that line sounds now. Mr. Rose, 46, the only remaining original member of Guns N’ Roses, needed 17 years, more than $13 million (as of 2005) and a battalion of musicians, producers and advisers to deliver “Chinese Democracy,” the first album of new Guns N’ Roses songs since 1991. It’s being released on Sunday, with CDs sold exclusively at Best Buy. (In another 21st-century fillip the album’s best song, “Shackler’s Revenge,” appeared first in a video game, Rock Band 2.)

“Chinese Democracy” (Geffen) is the Titanic of rock albums: the ship, not the movie, although like the film it’s a monumental studio production. It’s outsize, lavish, obsessive, technologically advanced and, all too clearly, the end of an era. It’s also a shipwreck, capsized by pretensions and top-heavy production. In its 14 songs there are glimpses of heartfelt ferocity and despair, along with bursts of remarkable musicianship. But they are overwhelmed by countless layers of studio diddling and a tone of curdled self-pity. The album concludes with five bombastic power ballads in a row.

“Chinese Democracy” sounds like a loud last gasp from the reign of the indulged pop star: the kind of musician whose blockbuster early success could once assure loyal audiences, bountiful royalties, escalating ambitions and dangerously open-ended deadlines. The leaner, leakier 21st-century recording business is far less likely to nurture such erratic perfectionists. (Mr. Rose did manage to outpace Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine, which re-emerged on tour this year but hasn’t yet released a successor to its 1991 masterpiece, “Loveless.”) The new rock paradigm, a throwback to the 1950s and early 1960s, is to record faster, more cheaply and more often, then head out on tour before the next YouTube sensation distracts potential fans.

“Chinese Democracy” is such an old-school event that at this point no album could easily live up to the pent-up anticipation and fascination. Over the last two decades Guns N’ Roses’ 1987 debut album, “Appetite for Destruction,” has sold 18 million copies in the United States alone. The original band, particularly the guitar team of Slash on lead and Izzy Stradlin on rhythm, collaborated to forge a scrappy combination of glam, punk and metal behind Mr. Rose’s proudly abrasive voice, which could leap from a baritone growl to a fierce screech. Singing about sex, drugs, booze and stardom, Mr. Rose was a rags-to-MTV success story for the 1980s: a self-described abused child from heartland America who got himself out of Indiana and reinvented himself as a full-fledged Hollywood rock star, charismatic and volatile, never pretending to be controllable.

Amid tours, band members’ addictions and liaisons with models, Guns N’ Roses went on to make an EP and the multimillion-selling albums “Use Your Illusion” I and II, which were released simultaneously in 1991. Those were followed by a desultory collection of punk-rock remakes, “The Spaghetti Incident?,” in 1993, before the band splintered and left Mr. Rose as the owner of the Guns N’ Roses brand. Clearly it would be a very different band, but there was little doubt that Mr. Rose had more to say.

He has been announcing the impending completion of “Chinese Democracy” since at least 1999 and has been singing many of its songs on tour since 2001. Concert bootlegs and unfinished studio versions circulating online have defused some of the surprise from the finished album. Yet meanwhile, year after year, Mr. Rose worked on and reworked the songs. The album credits list 14 studios.

For years Mr. Rose has been tagged the Howard Hughes of rock, as his manager at the time was already complaining in 2001. That didn’t have to be a bad thing; estrangement and obsession have spawned great songs. But “Chinese Democracy,” though it’s a remarkable artifact of excess, is a letdown. Mr. Rose’s version of Guns N’ Roses, with sidemen he can fire rather than partners, leaves his worst impulses unchecked.

Guns N’ Roses is still collaborative; the songs on “Chinese Democracy” are credited to Mr. Rose along with many of the musicians who have passed through the band since the mid-1990s. The guitarists Buckethead and Robin Finck, the bassist Tommy Stinson and the drummers Josh Freese and Brain pushed Mr. Rose toward rock, others toward ballads. By way of comparison with the old Guns N’ Roses, Mr. Rose’s latter-day songwriting tilts more toward the pomp of “November Rain” than the thrust of “Welcome to the Jungle” or the pealing guitar lines of “Sweet Child o’ Mine.” The one song on “Chinese Democracy” written by Mr. Rose alone, “This I Love,” is by far the album’s most maudlin track, and he hams it up further with a vibrato vocal homage to Queen’s Freddie Mercury.

Like the old Guns N’ Roses albums “Chinese Democracy” whipsaws between arrogance and pain, moans and sneers. The present-day Mr. Rose presents himself as someone beleaguered on every front, a cornered character with nothing to lose. He’s tormented by inner demons and, from outside, by antagonists, lovers and users who constantly betray and exploit him. “Forgive them that tear down my soul,” he croaks in “Madagascar,” amid French horns playing a dirge. (The middle of that song inexplicably gives way to a collage of movie dialogue and speeches by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.)

All the labors of Mr. Rose and his various lineups, both inspired and overblown, come through the finished album. Mr. Rose and his co-producer, Caram Costanzo, just keep piling up the sounds. String orchestra? Toy piano plinks? Voices muttering in foreign languages? Harp? Drum machines? Choirs? “I Have a Dream”? They’re all there, along with indefatigable drums and phalanxes of guitars.

“Chinese Democracy” reveals multiple archaeological layers, including what might have been passing fascinations as the 1990s and early 2000s rolled by: the Metallica of “Enter Sandman” in the surly, self-righteous “Sorry”; the distortion effects of Nine Inch Nails in “Shackler’s Revenge”; U2’s sustained guitars and martial beat to begin “Prostitute”; a combination of Elton John piano and strings (arranged by Mr. John’s longtime associate Paul Buckmaster) with Smashing Pumpkins guitar crescendos in “Street of Dreams.”

Some of the album’s best moments are its intros. Flaunting what time and money can accomplish, there are gratuitous ear grabbers like an a cappella vocal chorale in “Scraped,” a siren matched by a siren swoop of Mr. Rose’s voice in “Chinese Democracy” and the narrow-band, filtered beginning of “Better.” That track goes on to hurtle across so much of what Guns N’ Roses does well — from steel-clawed hard-rock riffs to metallic reggae-rock to arena-anthem melodies — that it almost makes up for the whininess and lazy “-tion” rhymes of the underlying song. “If the World” opens with acoustic guitar lines suggesting a Middle Eastern oud but segues into wah-wah rhythm guitar and sustained strings fit for a blaxploitation soundtrack, while Mr. Rose unleashes something like a soul falsetto.

Is it demented? Sometimes. Does Mr. Rose care? Apparently not. “I am crazy!” he belts over the frantic guitar and tom-toms of “Riad N’ the Bedouins,” while he’s a potentially trigger-happy maniac in “Shackler’s Revenge.” In “Scraped” he’s alternately depressive and manic, warning “Don’t you try to stop us now” over a riff fit for Led Zeppelin. “Catcher in the Rye” echoes the Beatles in its melody while it alludes to Mark David Chapman, who was carrying that book when he killed John Lennon: “If I thought that I was crazy/Well I guess I’d have more fun,” he sings.

Even when he’s presumably being himself, Mr. Rose is forever overwrought. He pushes his multiply overdubbed voice every which way — rasping, sobbing, cackling, yowling — while at the same time Mr. Finck, Buckethead and Ron (Bumblefoot) Thal are playing frantic guitar solos, with a mandate to wail higher and zoom faster.

The craziness on “Chinese Democracy” isn’t the wild, brawling arrogance that the young Mr. Rose and his rowdy ’80s band mates gave the fledgling Guns N’ Roses. It’s the maniacal attention to detail that’s possible in the era of Pro Tools: the infinitude of tiny tweaks available for every instant of a track, the chance to reshape every sound and reshuffle every setting, to test every guitar solo ever played on a song — or all of them at once — and then throw on a string arrangement for good measure. That microscopic focus is obvious throughout “Chinese Democracy”; every note sounds honed, polished, aimed — and then crammed into a song that’s already brimming with other virtuosity. At points where the mix goes truly haywire, like the end of “Catcher in the Rye,” a Meat Loaf song title sums things up: “Everything Louder Than Everything Else.”

It’s easy to imagine Mr. Rose determined to outdo his own brazen youth and his old band, but with less perspective and hundreds of new tracks as each year goes by. If Guns N’ Roses had released “Chinese Democracy” in 2000, it would still have been an event, but it might also have been treated as the transitional album in a band’s continuing career. By holding it back and tinkering with it for so long, Mr. Rose has pressured himself to make it epochal — especially if, on this timetable, the next Guns N’ Roses studio album doesn’t arrive until 2025. And fans were waiting for him to defy the world again, not to do another digital edit. Sometime during the years of work, theatricality and razzle-dazzle replaced heart.

As Mr. Rose bemoans the love that ended or vows to face life uncompromised and on his own, the music on “Chinese Democracy” swells and crashes all around him, frantic and nearly devoid of breathing space. It’s hard to envision him as the songs do, that besieged antihero alone against the world, when he’s sharing his bunker with a cast of thousands.


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DATE: Nov. 21, 2008

SOURCE: The Boston Herald

Hell freezes over; ‘Chinese Democracy’ released

Guns N’ Roses return is an Axl Rose coup

By Jed Gottlieb

Chinese Democracy (Geffen): A-

What are the dudes who said Guns N’ Roses doesn’t work without Slash going to do now?

First things first. “Chinese Democracy” is great - you can hear it right now as a free stream on MySpace [website] and buy it Sunday at BestBuy. It’s not “Appetite for Destruction,” but it’s way more consistent than the bloated “Use Your Illusions.”

Forget that we’ve chased the carrot of new G N’ R tunes Axl Rose has cruelly dangled before us for 17 years. Forget that this is likely the most expensive album ever made at a reported $13 million. Forget that the cast from “Appetite” is long gone. Just listen and you’ll hear the awesome opus Rose intended “Illusion” to be. Because Slash, Izzy Stradlin and the rest ruined Rose’s vision of “Illusion,” “Chinese Democracy” is defined by their absence.

“Chinese Democracy” succeeds because Slash is missing. Slash fans need to face facts: the guitarist was never right for Rose (too much Joe Perry, not enough Brian May); post-“Appetite,” he’s consistently failed to capture his early mad-hatter-run-amok fury.

The guitarists on “Chinese Democracy” - Buckethead, Bumblefoot, Richard Fortus, Robin Finck and Paul Tobias - use Slash’s dirty blues as a starting point but take it places G N’ R’s iconic axe-man could never, and would never, want to go. And the results are wicked cool.

“I.R.S.” tilts between a gentle lilt and a classic “Appetite” grind. Beneath the lilt are lyrical blues lines. Over the top of the grind are supernovas that reference Tom Morello, Yngwie Malmsteen, Vernon Reid and Slash, too. “Scraped,” “Better” and “If the World,” all vaguely electronic, use this same approach: bursts of straight, lyrical rock guitar, bursts of fast, twisted notes that sound like they’re coming from a malfunctioning cyborg.

The absence you notice most is Stradlin.. G N’ R’s second guitarist wrote the band’s straightest rock songs (“Patience,” “Mr. Brownstone,” “Think About You”). No Izzy means no good Stones’ cops. And because Rose doesn’t do simple well without Stradlin, the weakest tracks on “Chinese Democracy” are its most typical, specifically the title track and “Shackler’s Revenge.”

But no Izzy means Rose is free to write what he wants: sagas equal to his best “Illusion” experiments. Half of “Chinese Democracy” consists of big, bold, piano-driven operettas directed at his old band mates, himself and his haters.

“Sometimes I feel like the world is on top of me/breaking me down with an endless monotony,” Rose sings on “Scraped.” Then he adds, “like a daily affirmation, I am unconquerable.”

So what’s Rose retained from his past life? His Queen fascination is in full bloom. His wicked yowls, howls and growls remain intact, and his obsession with “Cool Hand Luke” has held - this time incongruously paired with Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” sound bites and Kashmir-like strings on “Madagascar.”

Oh, and there’s his ego. Now everybody knows Slash wasn’t the genius in the band.

Download the brooding, black, brilliantly un-“Appetite” tell-off, “Sorry.”


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DATE: Nov. 21, 2008


Axl has Appetite for Distraction


Published: Today

GUNS N' ROSES - Chinese Democracy


IT’S long. Very long. Fourteen tracks over 70 minutes and 58 seconds. Too bloody long in fact.

Since it’s 17 years since Axl Rose last delivered any original Guns N’ Roses’ material, I suppose we should have expected Chinese Democracy to be a beast of an album.

And, of course, it still only represents a mere four minutes of new music for each of those intervening years.

World leaders came and went (two-and-a-half terms of Blair), Oasis and Blur were formed, Liverpool failed to win the Premier League . . . and G N’ R fans waited.

Poor them. Chinese Democracy is a sprawling, indulgent mish-mash, remarkable for its mythical status but unremarkable when you actually hear it.

There are flashes of the old G N’ R — a thrilling solo here, a towering vocal there — but it gets bogged down with lumpen beats, clichéd lyrics and dated ideas. Perhaps rock music needs spontaneity to be fresh and vital.

The story of Chinese Democracy, the band’s sixth studio album, is one of rumour, counter rumour, bust-ups, egos out of control and mind-boggling expense — the one constant factor being singer Rose, now 46.

In March 2005, The New York Times suggested it had cost $13million to make, though that was denied (by a manager who was later fired).

Whatever it cost, it’s certainly the most expensive album in history. With it finally, finally seeing the light of day next week after at least ten years of speculation, excited noises have been coming out of the States.

“The release of Chinese Democracy marks a historic moment in rock ’n’ roll,” say Irving Azoff and Andy Gould, the band’s co-managers.

“Guns N’ Roses fans have every reason to celebrate, for this is only the beginning.” (It’s been reported that album is the first part of a trilogy with the final part slated for release in 2012.)


The songs are nearer in kinship to 1991’s rambling but decent pair Use Your Illusion I and II but there’s little evidence of the metal-meets-pop brilliance of early hits Sweet Child O’ Mine and Paradise City from debut Appetite For Destruction.

Long gone are guitar hero Slash, bassist Duff McKagan and rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin of the classic line-up, all there when the seeds of Chinese Democracy were first sown in 1994, but soon to depart. Slash famously blamed Rose for “acting like a dictator”.

Since then, numerous players, producers and managers entered the fray and then left. Recent tours have seen the band adopt a more settled feel.

In 2006, Rose told Rolling Stone magazine: “It’s a very complex record. I’m trying to do something different. Some of the arrangements are like Queen.

“Some people are going to say, ‘It doesn’t sound like Axl Rose, it doesn’t sound like Guns N’ Roses’. But you’ll like at least a few songs on there.”

It’s an honest way of looking at it, as if Rose himself was trying to lift the burden of expectation.

So what of the songs? It kicks off with the title track, the irony of the phrase “Chinese Democracy” a little lost, probably because we’ve known it for years. The song is actually one of the album’s more respectable efforts, beginning hushed, then cut through with staccato flashes of guitar before a surging rocker yields to an extravagant solo. Rose’s voice sounds lower, more controlled than the Robert Plant-like falsetto hysterics of yore.

It quickly descends into the histrionics of Shackler’s Revenge, an overblown piece of nonsense with Rose alternately growling and wailing.

The grinding menace of Better makes it one of the more coherent songs, a nod perhaps to fellow West Coast rock titans Nine Inch Nails.

But it’s songs like Street Of Dreams that make you despair of this album. Rose might have got away with a power ballad like this in the Eighties with its piano, orchestrations, Queen-style guitar solo and cringey lyrics. Thankfully, music has moved on from this type of mush.


If The World finds a slinky R&B groove, Spanish guitar, moaning electric licks and one of Rose’s best, most measured vocal performances, let down a bit by a chorus of “if the world would end today”.

There Was A Time, with strings, mellotron and full choir, veers to the wrong side of excess.

Somewhere inside Catcher In The Rye is a decent song waiting to get out but, with the singer trying to sound meaningful, he’s crowded out by the wall-of-sound chucked at the arrangement.

You can’t help but admire the way Rose belts out “all things are possible/I am unstoppable” on Scraped. It shows the sort of self belief on which all great rock bands are built, from The Stones onwards.

Next up is the strangely titled Riad N’ The Bedouins, a sub-Led Zep racket that struggles to get going. You’d think we were on the home stretch by now but there are still five tracks and a good 25 minutes to go.

Sorry takes the mood down, a confessional lyric over a slow liquid tune. As it progresses, the early promise is replaced by plodding dirge.

I.R.S., named after the Internal Revenue Service, America’s equivalent of the Inland Revenue, at least digs up some of the Rose’s paranoia but Madagascar, with funereal horns and strings, again courses into familiar rock territory, and the whole thing’s beyond a joke by the time we get to This I Love.

And what about the finale Prostitute? “It seemed like forever and a day,” moans Rose. Is he talking about the album? Frankly, I found it a relief when it ended.

So, there we have it... the most anticipated, most expensive album in history and, sadly, one of the most disappointing.


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