Tag Archives: Axl Rose

I Might Actually, Maybe, Possibly, Perhaps, Get to See GnR Live!

I’m still smarting from the whole Kanye West concert debacle, but news came a few days ago that Guns N’ Roses were going to hit-up a bunch of US cities not on the original leg of their Not In This Lifetime reunion tour. I remain cautiously optimistic about my chances of seeing the band, even though my native St. Louis and current home Denver are on the list of cities blessed with a tour stop. I mean, Axl Rose is no Kanye West, but he does have a reputation…if I buy a ticket for one of these shows will I be dooming my fellow concert goers?

I missed the first leg of the tour, though my parents (of all people) saw the band in Kansas City and apparently had a good time. This year has been on of many crushing defeats and moments of terrible disappointment…but I’m going to tempt fate one more time and buy a ticket to the Denver show this Friday when they go on sale.

The new tour dates are:

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Axl Rose’s Debut with AC/DC: Defensible Dreck?

Let there be…Axl? This weekend Axl Rose officially hit the stage as the fill-in lead singer of AC/DC. The band resumed their ROCK OR BUST tour in Lisbon, Portugal (I bet you think I had to look up where Lisbon was…you are correct) Saturday with a skeptical world ready to rip the band apart. I was surprised to see so many positive reviews for the show online. The general reaction online from fans has either been a resounding “meh” or a frothing “how dare they!” So when a bunch of major publications praised both the band and the new singer, I was stunned. I think that for the most part, people want Axl to succeed in “coming back.” The sad part, of course, is that Axl never really went anywhere. But with the recent announcement that Guns ‘N Roses would be getting back together it does seem like Rose has come back from the dead in terms of the popular culture.

Curious as to what this mash-up of rock titans would sound like, I was pleased to learn that the band had released some official video of the weekend’s show in Lisbon. The two clips that I saw, one of the classic “Shoot to Thrill” and the newer song “Rock or Bust,” were interesting to say the least. Axl fractured his foot (can you believe the luck?) and was forced to his awkwardly in a rock throne for the performance. It should be noted that this throne was NOT the one used by legendary rocker Dave Grohl when he hurt himself on the last Foo Fighters tour. Watching Axl bob his good leg up and down while his injured foot was propped up came off way less cool than when Grohl sat though shows. Worse, seeing the geriatric members of AC/DC run around the stage like adolescent school boys was strange. People are always saying that the younger generation just isn’t as good/tough/whatever and this visual kinda made it difficult to argue with that sentiment. Axl should have been the Spring chicken injecting life into the band…but instead he seemed older than Angus.

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Oh man, there is no beating around the bush…this sure doesn’t look very cool. 

But all this cosmetic stuff isn’t important if the band sounds great, right? The videos released didn’t have the best sound quality, but it doesn’t seem like Axl sounds right. He’s doing his usual screaming thing, which these days sounds a bit less-than-stellar if I’m honest. Also, he’s doing this weird thing where he’s singing like he’s in GNR sometimes and then at other moments kinda doing a Brian Johnson impression. I don’t think he’s succeeding in walking the fine line between honoring the sound of AC/DC while at the same time coming at these classic songs from his own unique voice. I’d love to know what exactly he’s going for with these performances. As far as these official recordings go, I think he’s generating a sloppy mess that doesn’t tickle my fancy as an Axl Rose fan nor as an AC/DC fan. That said, if I had to see AC/DC without Brian Johnson, I guess I’d want to see them with the absolutely most famous signer available. And, if I’m being honest, if a live album of this material was/is released I’d most certainly give it a careful listen (or three). This isn’t unlistenable dreck, just not as impressive or cohesive as it could be. I’m stunned that so many people are writing about how great this show was and the what a stellar job Rose did. My guess is by not totally sucking,  people are impressed. My expectations were higher than most, which is why I’m not super impressed with what’s appeared officially online.

Also, and I feel bad writing this…but if I paid a ton of money to see Guns ‘N Roses and had to watch Axl flop around in a chair I’d be pretty disappointed. This stint with AC/DC is such a train wreck that the bum foot adds an extra dimension of WTF-ness to the whole proceeding. I feel bad every time I say or write this if I were AC/DC, I think I’d finish up the tour and call it a day. There certainly is no way they are going to be able to top a seated Axl Rose. I feel like there is going to be a really interesting book or documentary about all of this one day…that interests me more than anything else about this whole situation.

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Will Axl Put the “A” in AC/DC?

From the files of “Too Strange For Fiction” comes the rumor that W. Axl Rose, your friend and mine, is going to step-in as lead singer and finish AC/DC’s current tour. Excuse me, what? Seriously, this is without a doubt the weirdest story I can personally recall involving modern rock music. But let’s take a step back to see just how we got to this (really freaking weird) place.

The former-current lead singer, Brian Johnson, announced on March 7th that he would be unable to finish the last 10 dates of the band’s tour. The reason? His doctor told him that continuing to perform would cost him his hearing. Let that sink in for a moment. Brian Johnson no doubt has access to the best healthcare available to human-kind (dude is in one of the biggest rock bands in history). I’m sure there was much “are you sure?” and second-opinioning made before such a lucrative tour was essentially placed on pause. When this story first broke, I thought “damn that sucks, but that’s the price you pay for being in a rock band.” Then it came out that Johnson lost his hearing as a result of driving race cars. Could there be anything crazier than losing your hearing from race car driving? Not being in one of the biggest, hardest rocking bands of all time…no driving a really loud car did his ears in.

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Like most people (I think) yours truly thought that this was finally the end of AC/DC. I remember thinking “Damn, first they lose Malcolm Young to dementia…then kick Phil Rudd out for going bananas/plotting murder…losing their lead singer is the end of this band.” Of course, I should have known better. AC/DC is the band that deified the death of their original (and best) lead singer Bon Scott. A true hellraiser, Scott was AC/DC and yet…after his death in 1980 after basically drinking himself into a stupor. Brian Johnson joined the band, and AC/DC released BACK IN BLACK. You know, the band’s most popular album, the one that even non-fans know entirely by heart. Besides being such a huge smash and a cultural milestone, BACK IN BLACK proved that it was possible for a band to not only move on after the loss of a frontman, said band could thrive. So why wouldn’t guitarist Angus Young want the show to go on and for AC/DC to get a new lead singer?

But this is where the story starts getting…strange. On March 15th comedian Jim Breuer (yes, the stoner-ish dude from SNL) stated that his friend Brian Johnson hadn’t quit the band for health reasons: he was kicked out. Breuer claimed that Johnson was planning on defying his doctor’s orders and finishing the tour. Before he had a chance to work out plans with the band, Breuer claimed Johnson was kicked out of the band.

Brian Johnson is 8 years older than Angus, whom Breuer claims wants to continue the band “for at least another 10 years.” So a much younger lead singer would certainly help AC/DC to solider on and make that sweet, sweet touring money. But who would be cast into the role of frontman? Speculation swirled online, with several people throwing their names into the hat for consideration. My favorite of these was Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist the lead singer from The Hives (whom apparently toured with AC/DC in the past as an opening act). Another interesting person in the running (maybe?) is the Marc Storace, the lead singer of Krokus. This choice seems more likely, as he was asked to audition for AC/DC to replace Bon Scott back in the 80’s, which he famously turned down.

I’ve been trying to figure out where the rumors of Axl Rose joining AC/DC originated from, and it’s a bit tricky. Apparently, both Rose and AC/DC where in Atlanta, Georgia (of all places) at the same time…and this geographical proximity launched the rumor. At least, I thought it was just a rumor. Then late this week, Malcolm Young’s son posted twice on social media that Rose was going to take over singing duties for the band. These posts were quickly pulled down, adding further fuel the the fire that this was serious and that there are negotiations happening right now for Rose to front the band.

Would Axl be a good choice for AC/DC? From a financial and marketing perspective I would say: hell yes. Both AC/DC and Axl could use the bump in promotion. AC/DC are as popular as ever, but having the lead singer from another legendary rock band would do wonders for their bottom line. Axl Rose also stands to reap the benefit$ as well. With the Guns N’ Roses reunion looming on the horizon, anything that Axl can do to increase his visibility and prove that he’s still a great frontman will only help put asses in seats and make him money. A Guns N’ Roses reunion is a certain money maker, but promotion costs money but joining AC/DC would be one helluva marketing campaign. And it wouldn’t cost Rose anything. Hell, if this all turns out to be an elaborate hoax, the reason neither side is coming out and squashing it is no doubt due to the tremendous interest this story has caused.

But that’s not really the question is it? Would Axl be a good fit for AC/DC in a musical sense? No, as much as I love Axl, I don’t think he’s the right guy to sing AC/DC’s songs. He’s not gruff and bluecollar enough to pull that off. Oh sure, one or two songs would be cool, but I can’t imagine he’d be able to pull of an entire setlist of songs from the band in any sort of believable way. And are they going to toss in a GNR song or two? I think that people would expect that and I don’t see Angus wanting to play any of those songs.

I feel really grateful that I had the chance to see AC/DC on the BLACK ICE tour in 2008. I’m also really grateful that I run an Axl Rose-themed blog in a year where we’re going to see a GNR reunion and a possible Rose-fronted AC/DC. Can you imagine what this is going to do to my page views?

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The Life of Pablo by Kanye West

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This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but I love Kanye West. Both the music and the man. This is a rock blog but over the past 10 years or so I’ve warmed to hip-hop, thanks largely in part to the works of Mr. West. I totally get why most people don’t like the persona of Kanye West: he’s brash, arrogant, and sexist. Defending Axl Rose has never been about Axl Rose, but instead about the artists like Rose who operate on a completely different level than 99.999% of the rest of us. These exceptional artists have a vision and spend their lives struggling to bring that vision in its pure, uncompromised, form to the masses. They push boundaries in genre and offer us a window into both the artist and ourselves. Kanye West is a genius on the same level as Brian Wilson. Do I cringe when he belittles Taylor Swift or goes on Twitter and proclaims Bill Cosby “innocent”? Hell yes I do. But Kanye doesn’t really hurt anyone but himself so I forgive him. The music is so good I can overlook his faults.

THE LIFE OF PABLO has been on my must-listen list back when it was called SWISH and WAVES.  When it came out last month, on the Jay-Z backed music streaming service Tidal, I downloaded the Tidal app and contemplated canceling my beloved Spotify subscription just so I could hear the record. I waited, with bated-fanboy breath, for Yeezus to announce when the non-Tidal world would get an opportunity to hear his latest masterpiece. Then the confusion began: the album’s physical sale was delayed and then it was scrapped. West proclaimed his album would never be fore sale on Twitter, despite the fact that he’d already given it away sort of by issuing download codes to the people who attended his NYC fashion show where the album debuted. Now there’s word that Kanye is still editing/changing the album, thus making THE LIFE OF PABLO the Star Wars of rap albums (Kanye = George Lucas).

This review has two paragraphs defending the man and giving context to the release of the album because that’s the only way to interface with Kanye’s music. One can’t like or dislike these tracks without taking the performance art piece that is Kanye West in as a whole. He’s worked (famously) with Paul McCartney and no doubt sees himself as a modern-day John Lennon, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that Kanye West is really the modern-day Yoko Ono (Ono the artist not the Beatle girlfriend).

THE LIFE OF PABLO opens with gospel “Ultralight Beam.” An epic, beautiful track that begins with West’s 4 year old daughter praising Jesus and then builds to a rapturous choir. This song, about as unconventional as a pop song could be, works on a pure emotional level. I’m 100% agnostic but by the time Chance the Rapper comes in near the end I feel like a true Believer. The album descends from the opener’s lofty heights rollercoasting up and down a few times and bottoms out on “FML.” Here is what all the Kanye haters seem to miss about him: he’s not only his own worst enemy, he’s also his biggest critic. “FML” is about how he fucks up his own life. The song is about West’s troubles with infidelity, which is also touched on in “30 Hours” where West feels jealous because he finds himself on the wrong end of an open-relationship (one that he admits he insisted on having). “Real Friends” continues the tradition of “Runaway” and paints West as a workaholic loner who lives in a cold, friendless world. “Wolves” is another somber track where West gives insight into what it’s like to be a solitary figure against the whole of the world. You can’t help but feel sorry for they guy, even when later he compares himself and Kim to Mary and Joseph (yes, that Mary and Joseph).

Of course no review of THE LIFE OF PABLO would be complete without discussing “Famous,” the song where he throws gasoline on his feud with Taylor Swift. I don’t believe Kanye’s assertion that he “made that bitch famous,” but I do think that Swift has greatly benefited from her association with West. Just like Batman needs the Joker, Swift provides the perfect heroic foil to West’s exaggerated douchebag persona. That West has chosen to rag on America’s sweetheart and the music world’s biggest, most popular modern artist isn’t surprising. He’s jealous of her and like the third grade boy tugging his classmates ponytails; he’s picking on her because he likes her. It’s a shame West mars an otherwise perfect song with such a cringeworthy verse. Rihanna and the Sister Nancy sample are such a killer combo and balance West’s tough guy rapping.

My current favorite track, however, is probably the most-Kanye track of all-time. Title “I Love Kanye,” the song is a 43 second song that is just West with no musical accompaniment. The lyrics speak for themselves:

“I miss the old Kanye, straight from the ‘Go Kanye
Chop up the soul Kanye, set on his goals Kanye
I hate the new Kanye, the bad mood Kanye
The always rude Kanye, spaz in the news Kanye
I miss the sweet Kanye, chop up the beats Kanye
I gotta to say at that time I’d like to meet Kanye
See I invented Kanye, it wasn’t any Kanyes
And now I look and look around and there’s so many Kanyes
I used to love Kanye, I used to love Kanye
I even had the pink polo, I thought I was Kanye
What if Kanye made a song about Kanye
Called “I Miss The Old Kanye,” man that would be so Kanye
That’s all it was Kanye, we still love Kanye
And I love you like Kanye loves Kanye.”

The track ends with West laughing, and it’s a pretty good punchline, but there’s a lot of naked, personal honesty in this song. I don’t see Kanye as the arrogant asshole he’d like us to believe he his. Nor do I view him as the villain his detractors make him out to be. For me, Kanye West is a tragic figure of Shakespearean proportions. If he was an oblvious asshole even his biggest fans couldn’t forgive him (myself included). But Kanye is acutely aware of his failings and I think would genuinely like to be the good guy.

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There are no big radio-friendly tracks on THE LIFE OF PABLO. There is no “Gold Digger” or “Touch the Sky” on this record. Even if you hate Kanye and despise rap if you’re a music fan you have to respect that he’s one of the only (if not the only) mainstream artist who make albums. The album as a cohesive, artistic whole has been absent from the modern music scene for nearly 10 years (give or take). But the fact that Kanye agonizes over things like track sequences on his records makes this music fan happy. Don’t listen haphazardly to THE LIFE OF PABLO, instead take it track by track as God…I mean Kanye intended. Then when you’re done go online and seek out the endless stream of “I Love Kanye” remixes that have mushroomed all over the Internet.

I had to torrent this album, which is a real bummer. Hopefully something will change and THE LIFE OF PABLO will become commercially available in a wider-release. Though his mental state may be deteriorating, West’s ability to create intricate, interesting music is only getting stronger.

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Lemmy is dead and GnR Lives?

It’s been a crazy week in the world of rock and more than one person has asked me if/when I was going to write a post. I wish I had a good excuse for posting so infrequently, but I don’t really have one. I’m just a lazy bastard. But there were two really big news items this week, so here I am.

First, the legendary lead singer of Motorhead, Lemmy Kilmister, died this week. I wasn’t surprised by this as Motorhead had cancelled a couple of tour dates earlier this year due to Lemmy not feeling well. Like most Motorhead fans, when I heard the news I assumed Lemmy had succumbed to his addictions. Besides being a first rate hellraiser, Lemmy was what can only be described as a “power drinker.” The fact that the dude made it to 70 is really a miracle, if you ask me. When I learned it was cancer and not excess that claimed Lemmy, I was genuinely shocked. Now, did Lemmy’s boozing ways contribute to or even cause his cancer? Perhaps, but the fact remains he didn’t die of liver failure which was what I was expecting.

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Rest In Power, Lemmy.

I saw Motorhead once in the middle 2000’s in St. Louis. They played a killer show with Valient Thorr that to this day ranks in my top 10 concerts. Lemmy’s voice was gravelly and unmistakable; there was never any mistaking him for someone else. I’m not the biggest metal-head, but the metal bands I do like tend to have vocalists that sound unique. Lemmy sure was unique. He also looked like a rock ‘n roll warthog from hell. One of my favorite Lemmy memories was his cameo in 1990’s comedy AIRHEADS where he proclaims that he was “editor of the school magazine.”

His brief cameo is a fun moment made extra-meta because earlier in the movie Lemmy is mentioned by name in a pretty funny exchange with Harold Ramis:

I’ll also never forget the time in 2002 when it was reported that Lemmy was considering having his famous facial warts removed in order to sell them online. I’m not even sure how true that rumor was, but I distinctly remember it being in the news. Anyway, Motorhead is truly an excellent band and Lemmy was one of the last remaining metal gods, he will be missed.

Also this week, it was announced that the rumors were true: the original line-up of Guns N’ Roses were reuniting next year.  Although the only gig that’s been confirmed is a headlining gig at this year’s Coachella Festival in April, the word on the (proverbial) street is that GnR will be also be launching a massive 25 date stadium tour in 2016. This is a huge deal because as we all know, GnR has been steadily touring for the past 20 years but with only Axl Rose as the sole original member of the band.

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Coming to a town near you? 

Does it excite me that Axl and Slash have buried the hatchet and are going to tour? Of course it does! Now the big question: will I be interested in going to see the band play live? I saw Slash earlier this year open for Aerosmith and it was kinda…sad. Slash was perfectly fine, but it was obvious that he was yearning to return to the glory of Guns N’ Roses. The lead singer he’d recruited for his band was an obvious Axl-clone. And while it was an audience who’d shown up to see Steven Tyler and Company, the only reactions the band really got was from the GnR songs they played.

I liken a reunited Guns N’ Roses to the most recent STAR WARS movie. People are only excited about this because of the nostalgic feelings it creates inside them. Nobody really wants to see an older, bloated, graying rock band get up on stage and embarrass themselves. Well, maybe some people do, but I don’t. A reunited GnR would be a time warp to an earlier era in all GnR fans lives. An era that should probably be left in the past, if we were all being honest. I’m sure Slash and Axl could whip themselves into fine-ish form but the real question everyone should be asking is: to what end? Will this be a greatest hits cash-grab-mega-tour? I’d rather they get together and write new music and release an album than just travel across the country using Pro-Tools to mask the ravages of time and sell a couple thousand T-shirts. But that’s just me.

There a many reason I’m not going to Coachella–I’m about to be a father for the first time being just one of them–but I’d consider seeing them on tour if they came to my town. And the tickets were reasonable. And that’s the rub with reunions like this, isn’t it? These tickets are going to be insanely expensive so many long time fans are probably going to be shut out (another reason I’d prefer we just get another album).

Everyone seems to be lusting for the past everywhere I look (again, STAR WARS) and this GnR reunion just seems like another example of that trend. I’m really torn between stoked to potentially have the chance to see Guns N’ Roses live and a little disgusted that the only concerts people get excited about anymore are these Dinosaurs of Rock Reunion Showz. Don’t get me wrong, I am 100% a classic rock fan, but I wish there was a new band grabbing headlines (and dollars) like a reformed GnR.

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UPDATE: CHINESE DEMOCRACY (Possibly) Worth More Than In 2013 & 2012

Back in December of 2013 I noticed that the price of Guns ‘n Roses latest album CHINESE DEMOCRACY had gone up. Comparing the list price against a (super depressing) tweet from 2012, I saw that the album has increased in price by $1.22. The price rose, like a phoenix from the flames, from a paltry $3.66 to a robust $4.88. This was terrible-ish news for people who had not yet purchased the CD (and have very limited budgets). I, on the other hand, saw this as great news because the thought of CHINESE DEMOCRACY costing less than $4.00 feels just wrong.

Go ahead and check-out that first album-price post, it’s much better written. In that post I point out that prices on Amazon are always in flux so this might not actually mean anything. I also noticed (when I was halfway through writing that post) that I wasn’t comparing the price of the album at the same time of the year (October 2012 vs. December 2013). I even think I suggested that I check on the price of the CD in December 2014 to try and be more scientific about studying this trend. Of course I forgot.

I was checking on the status of a separate non-GNR related order this morning and decided to check-in and see what the price of CHINESE DEMOCRACY was currently. To my utter chagrin, the price has skyrocketed from $4.88 to $4.92. That’s an increase of $0.04! If you’d have taken my advice and purchased 100,000 copies of CHINESE DEMOCRACY back in December of 2013 you’d have made a profit of $4,000! Holy cow, I feel like the next Warren Buffet.

So for reasons that are absolutely beyond me, the price of CHINESE DEMOCRACY has continued to slowly climb. Perhaps this current jump in price is related to the “Only 8 left in stock-order soon” note, which was absent from the listing the last time I checked on the price of this album. Could it be a low supply that is driving the price up? I guess. Maybe. Sure.

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$$$

If you don’t own a copy of this masterpiece now is the time to hop to it and buy this sucker. You don’t want to have to pay $5.00 for this thing, do you?

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ROCK ‘N READ: LOVE AND OTHER B-SIDES

Romance and rock collide in novelist Lisa Peers’ Love and Other B-Sides.  Call me lame, but I’ve always been a sucker for a good love story.  Flavored with musical references and plot elements ripped from the headlines, Love and Other B-Sides reminded me of films like LOVE ACTUALLY…only good and written by Nick Hornby. Peers spins a yarn that touches on redemption, aging, find one’s true calling in life, and starting over.

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The book centers on the relationship between aging rocker Stee Walsh and Connie Rafferty, a new fan who comes to the singer’s attention via a tech-savvy super-fan Walsh meets while signing a deal with a digital music conglomerate. Using a highly intrusive computer program designed to “study” the music habits of the buying public, Walsh becomes interested in a woman half a world away who spent the better part of a year purchasing his entire catalogue one song a day.

What’s great about Love and Other B-Sides, is the way it depicts its protagonists, Peers does a fantastic job creating realistic characters.  Stee, already a complex character at the beginning of the book, deepens as he falls in love (real love) with an ordinary woman.   Connie’s character was the one that intrigued me the most, however. All too often we dismiss the partners of rock stars and other celebrities, but they’re people.  How much it feel to dwell in the shadow of a Mick Jagger or Paul McCartney? While the wealth and trappings of fame are appealing, not being taken seriously simply because of one personal relationship would be very difficult. Connie’s character is grieving the loss of an unfaithful husband and Walsh is a former fuck-up who’s sober but inhabiting the remains of a life ravaged by substance abuse. Unlike many love stories, both characters are doing the rescuing, which is refreshing.

One of the reasons I’d never attempt to write a book like Love and Other B-Sides is because I’m not sure I could come up with believable songs/song titles.  Again, Peers crafts believability into her tale by adding intricate musical details and full-song lyrics to her imagined rock stars songs.  Walsh, who musically seems like a much more fun Springsteen, is one of the world’s top rockstars—I know few people with the stones to write songs that are supposed to be world-wide chart toppers, so hats off to the author.

The book moves at a brisk pace, and the deranged computer hacking fan adds an element of unease to the books otherwise light romance. Overall, I’d say that Love and Other B-Sides is a solid debut from a promising, music-centric novelist.  I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the early Axl Rose reference (like Axl, Stee is a red-head) and a late in the story mention of Warren Zevon.  Also, the book features an amusing running gag involving the piano man himself, Mr. Billy Joel.

You can buy Love and Other B-Sides on Amazon.com and be sure to visit Lisa’s awesome blog, LP on 45.

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DEFENDING AXL ROSE: Part 2 “Shackler’s Revenge”

Welcome to part two of a fourteen part series in which I go track-by-track through CHINESE DEMOCRACY. It’s been over two years since I did the first installment on the first song…but I’m back defending Axl Rose!

I’d heard several songs off CHINESE DEMOCRACY prior to the album’s official November 2008 release, but “Shackler’s Revenge” was the first officially-Axl-sanctioned track I heard. The song was previewed in the Harmonix rhythm game Rock Band 2, which came out a month before CHINESE DEMOCRACY was released. I remember playing the game for hours the day it came out trying to unlock the song. When I finally got a chance to play “Shackler’s Revenge” I was pretty disappointed. Unlike the rough leaked tracks I’d heard, “Shackler’s Revenge” had a gritty industrial feel. I was also taken aback by the song’s production, which was busier than most hard rock songs. This negative reaction was repeated when I bought the album a month later.

For the record: not my score, not my Xbox ID, and not screen cap.

For the record: not my score, not my Xbox ID, and not screen cap.

Five years and many listens later, I like “Shackler’s Revenge” much more than I did when I first heard it in Rock Band. That said, this track is probably the most over-stuffed/produced track on the album. Everything about “Shackler’s Revenge” is big. The song has the most credited writers of any song on the album (five in case you were wondering). The song has multiple guitar solos and multiple guitarists. And despite this largeness, the song is the second shortest track on the record, clocking in at three and a half-minutes in length.

The track is an epic, aggressive romp through burning fields of an apocalyptic hard rock landscape. The song might not have struck me as very Guns N’ Roses-like the first time I heard it, but “Shackler’s Revenge” actually has all the main ingredients of a great GNR song. The song features lead and backing vocals from Axl, where are layered on multiple tracks creating a creepy Axl-choir. “Shackler’s Revenge” is angry and defiant with an absolute killer chorus that seems to wag a finger at all of Axl’s doubters.

GNR’s songs are also known for their guitar and “Shackler’s Revenge” does not disappoint on this end. The song features interesting guitar work from the avant-garde guitarist Buckethead and the band’s other guitarist Bumblefoot. I’m not 100% sure which one of these guitarists did the solos, but they’re fantastically explosive. I also really like the dying Galaga machine-like quality of the guitar tone.

The song’s dark, apocalyptic nature recalls the band’s previous “Oh My God.” That track, which came out on the END OF DAYS soundtrack in 1999, almost seems like a proto-“Shackler’s Revenge.” Axl has publically stated that “Oh My God” was released unfinished due to time constraints relating to the release of the film End of Days. A comparison of the two tracks is a fascinating: both have an aggressive, industrial metal feel but whereas “Oh My God” seems to be an endless gushing rant, “Shackler’s Revenge” has a methodical, demonic groove. The more refined “Shackler’s Revenge” is a testament to Axl’s tireless perfectionism. I’m not a big fan of sub-genre that the song mines, but the song has grown on me over the years. That said, releasing “Shackler’s Revenge” as the album’s first single was probably a mistake. From a business perspective, it makes sense to release the shorter more dynamic track but for my money the album’s third track “Better” would have made a better single (pun intended.

But I’ll write more about that when in the next installment of my track-by-track review of CHINESE DEMOCRACY.

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CHINESE DEMOCRACY (Possibly) Worth More Than In 2012

Last night, while mining the depths of Amazon.com’s music section, I decided to check-in and see how much a brand-new copy of CHINESE DEMOCRACY was going for these days.  The last time I did this two years ago, I was horrified to see that the album was going for less than $4.00 a copy.  That was back on October 25 2012, would the album be selling for less than $2.00?

As you can see, the value of CHINESE DEMOCRACY was low in October of 2012.  This would have been the prime opportunity to "buy low"

As you can see, the value of CHINESE DEMOCRACY was low in October of 2012. This would have been the prime opportunity to “buy low”

Thankfully for Axl, the album’s value has…increased!?

$1.22 increase! A thousand shares of CHINESE DEMOCRACY could have netted you $1220 profit! That's simple rock 'n roll investing, folks

$1.22 increase! A thousand shares of CHINESE DEMOCRACY could have netted you $1220 profit! That’s simple rock ‘n roll investing, folks

I’m kicking myself for not checking the price last year and this year on October 25–not that doing that would provide a reliable barometer of the album’s value.  As most of you serious online shoppers know, the prices on Amazon.com are in a constant state of flux.

And even taking Amazon’s pricing system out of the equation, CHINESE DEMOCRACY has a couple of things working against it in terms of it’s price/value.  Firstly, the album was sadly panned by many critics and ignored by the public.  But bad reviews and a lack of singles doesn’t necessarily make a cut-out-bin record.  Even after all these years the name Guns N’ Roses as a brand still has remarkable value.

Secondly, and the biggest reason CHINESE DEMOCRACY’s value is so low is the fact that Axl twisted Best Buy’s arm and made them buy a bajillion copies in advance so they would have exclusive rights to the infamous album’s initial release.  It’s a smart move on his part, because the albums Best Buy bought to sell were counted as “sold” albums, thus making the album appear to be a bigger hit than it was.  AC/DC did a similar deal with Wal-Mart when they released BLACK ICE back in 2008.  But there’s a downside, much the same way a Chevy Impala don’t have much re-sale value because they’re used so much as fleet cars–Axl prematurely saturated the market with albums. Thus, an abundance of unsold albums means the price is gonna drop.  I can understand why bands do these store-exclusive releases, but I really dislike them.  CHINESE DEMOCRACY was probably one of the last new CD’s I bought at Best Buy because I dislike the store so much.

The album’s going for just under $5.00, which isn’t great but it is higher.  Of course, beyond the Amazon price-fluxing, this higher price could be due to inflation or some other over-reaching economic force I’m too stupid to understand.  I’m going to definitely try to keep an eye on the album’s price for future music-geek research.

That said, at less than $5.00 there’s no excuse for you to not own this album.  I’m going to pick-up where I left off on my track-by-track review of CHINESE DEMOCRACY soon-ish because I really do feel like it’s an amazing, underrated album. The merger of Industrial rock and tender piano ballads is just too incredible.

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The GnR Poster Too Risqué For Las Vegas

The Hard Rock Hotel & Casino has yanked down a city-wide ad for the historic (sorta) Guns ‘N Roses concerts taking place in Las Vegas this month after a bunch of anger/complaints from the citizens of Las Vegas.  The poster, which incorporates artwork from painter Robert Williams* bizarre sci-fi painting titled “Appetite for Destruction,” has a lecherous robot in a compromising position with a defenseless, splayed woman.  Oh, and her shirt is ripped open and her panties are around her ankles.  You know, typical Disney stuff.

This is not the first time that the band’s use of this painting has caused controversy.  Back in 1987, retailers refused to stock GNR’s debut album APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION because Axl & Company wanted to use it as the cover art.  In the end, the band fell to label pressure and alternate artwork was used.  The painting is more batshit-stupid than rocking.  At least, that’s my opinion.  I don’t understand GNR’s continued insistence on using it to represent themselves, to be honest.

I’m astounded that the bean counters over at the Hard Rock actually agreed to run the ads.  What better way to convince people that your brand is fun for the whole family than a leering, rape-y robot?  To be clear, I hate this painting and I wish GNR/Axl would get over their massive hard-on for it...however Las Vegas is known the world-over as “Sin City.”  We’re not talking about Orlando, Florida or Branson, Missouri.  We’re talking about the smutty-ist, gambling capital of the country. A place where shady looking dudes hand out flyers of chicks you can legally pay to know (like in the Biblical sense).

I can’t imagine the ad was the most misogynistic thing the fanny-pack wearing masses of Las Vegas are being subjected to in a city where selling women is mostly legal.  I was recently in Times Square and that place was stuffed to the gills with super-porny clothing ads.  I know it’s not the same because none of the Gap ads were violent, but as we all know sex sells and this shit is everywhere these days.  Again, I’m not saying I think this ad should be plastered at the airport, welcoming families to Las Vegas (which it was), but I think Las Vegas needs to check itself.  I mean, this is Las Vegas we’re talking about.  And this poster is a drawing.  It doesn’t depict actual human beings, unlike the prostitute ads.

In the end, I can’t help but think that this is just a publicity stunt.  This controversy was not only foreseen  but wanted, I suppose to generate interest in the concerts and get us all talking–in which case: mission accomplished. Las Vegas should take a long look in the mirror and GNR should put “Appetite for Destruction” (the painting) to rest.

Lovely.

*Not that Robert Williams

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