Music Review: Guns N’ Roses, “Chinese Democracy”
It seemed the moon might smash into Earth and end all life before Axl Rose finished “Chinese Democracy,” yet here it is after 14 years, the most expensive and most labored-over rock album in history — granted, Brian Wilson took 38 years to release “SMiLE,” but he took a 35-year break. “Chinese Democracy” will make no one’s head explode in wild wonder, but Rose and his coterie of expert hired hands made a strong Guns N’ Roses record — not a great one, but a strong one.
Each track on “Chinese Democracy” is carefully thought out to the point of being science, and while early sketches of great tracks such as “Better” and “There Was a Time” leaked years ago, the final versions rock with more tension and precision than their precursors. The title song lacks any real distinction or direction, but Rose is in top vocal and lyrical form elsewhere. “Street of Dreams” and “Madagascar” — which quotes both Martin Luther King and “Cool Hand Luke,” of all things — are classically overwrought GN’R ballads, and the rapid and rabid “Scraped” reaches nearly “Appetite” levels of destruction.
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