Confidential to rock critics: It is no longer necessary to discuss any new recording project from Sir Paul or King Mick. Neither are able to succeed or fail, regardless of what they do, so really, what’s the point?
That said, I hereby declare Axl Rose to be the greatest living rocker still attempting to make music. To back up my declaration I present to you Chinese Democracy. Holy crap, what the hell is this? A goddamn disaster is what it is. Out now for a year, I’m finally getting around to listening to it and hey, what can I say, he made me wait 15 years, and I’m sure the world’s been fine for 12 months without my opinion on the record. Or if not fine, since it kind of seems like it stinks, then at least my lack of review has not been a part of the problem.
Now, the truth be told I guess I really only liked Appetite for Destruction. It’s not that G N’ R Lies didn’t have its moments, but you can’t go home again, so they say, and for supremely great rock moments it’s true.
Chinese Democracy doesn’t so much try to go home, rather than build something new and better. It reminds me of Ford and Dodge trying to remake the Mustang and Charger. The new versions are reminiscent of the old muscles, yes, but ultimately they just kind of suck.
That’s a bit unfair to the album though, because it doesn’t just kind of suck, it sucks really bad. I won’t quote Homer Simpson and say it’s the suckiest suck suck that ever sucked,” but at least it tried and damn if that ain’t something. I’m in awe of its terribleness. It makes me weak and trembly. It is absolutely impossible for most of our beloved rock icons to have created this (maybe Neil Young or Lou Reed – keep your chins up boys!) Nothing like this could have been phoned in from a hillside house outside of Palo Alto. This is as real as a television exploding out of a 7th story hotel window. 15 years and this is what we get. Songs about the I.R.S. and Catcher in the Rye? Moments of rock and disco? Messy, infantile, without a moment of cohesion. Maybe after 15 years he was just done with it all. Clearly Chinese Democracy is a giant white whale, but why I love Axl, if not his latest album, is that I believe he thinks he totally slayed it. Rock is dead. Long live rock.
Post Scriptus ~I am thoroughly unqualified to review anything Guns N’ Roses. I was reading a hilarious piece on the band by James Parker and truly thought he was writing for the sake of absurdity during the section about guitarist Buckethead. How could I have been so wrong? Rock is dead. Long live rock.