Yes, but what does General Tso think about Chinese Democracy?

Was it worth the wait?

That, really, is the ultimate question surrounding Chinese Democracy, the new Guns N’ Roses album by the new Guns N’ Roses, which only counts Axl Roses from its original members.


So, was it worth it?

It’s hard to say. On its own terms Chinese Democracy is very, very good, while on GnR terms it is completely better than expected.

It’s still too early in the process for me to unleash full thoughts on the album, but I can say that it is immensely listenable and some tracks are flat-out masterpieces (I’m thinking in particular “Better,” “Street of Dreams,” “Sorry” and “Madagascar”). The title track has grown on me, as Axl Rose starts off with that familiar howl (reminiscent of “Welcome to the Jungle”) to quickly establish this is, in fact, Guns N’ Roses. A quick little guitar burst early on, though, just as quickly establishes this is, in fact, not a Guns N’ Roses that Slash has participated in.

Chinese Democracy is perhaps a bit too polished for GnR, a band that is built on being scuzzy, dirty and probably contagious. As much as I’m enjoying this record, I have to say it makes me wonder what might have happened if Axl had had his old bandmates Slash, Izzy, Duff and Matt along side, ripping out the blues rock that would make this record more Guns and less Roses.

Cory suggested an excellent point in that it’s interesting to lisen to Chinese Democracy and see what Axl’s influences where at each point in the writing process. This record is almost two decades in the making, so it’s less of an album as it is a time capsule of rock music since 1991. That in and of itself makes it a fascinating listen, if only to see Axl’s musical map.

It’s also worth noting that while Chinese Democracy cannot in any shape, fashion or form be compared to previous GnR albums, it stands on its own as a fantastic piece of rock in 2008. Today’s bands like Nickelback or Hinder claim to “rock,” but as a friend recently pointed out, Nickelback has a lyric in the popular song “Photograph” that says “What the hell is on Joey’s head?” which is about as far from rock as it can get.

In a world that has been pretty much neutered by rock radio forcing bands to conform to an unacceptable level of mediocrity, Chinese Democracy stands high, showing the other bands what rock can actually sound like in a modern world.

Unfortunately, to true Guns N’ Roses fans, we remember music’s past more than we honor the present. I hold Chinese Democracy and think about what used to be and what might have been.

My hunger for new Guns N’ Roses music has been satiated, but my appetite for destruction remains unfulfilled.


7 thoughts on “Yes, but what does General Tso think about Chinese Democracy?

  1. The title track is really good. I’ve not heard the rest of the album.

    As far as modern rock being mediocre, you can blame Nirvarna for that. It’s amazing how much damage those freaks did to music in such a short span of time.

  2. I’ve not listened to it enough to know if I like it or not, so I may not be the best critic. However, I have to disagree with the blogger. I feel that few to none of the songs are masterpieces. Maybe it was because I’ve been hyped to hear this album for almost 20 years and when it finally came out, meh. There are some good songs on there, and it’s good to hear that Axl can still hold his own with his trademark growl, but this album sounds like a bunch of songs versus and album. I will say, like the author, that it is a welcome record considering all of the mediocre crap that is considered rock these days. I do agree with this remark, however…

    “My hunger for new Guns N’ Roses music has been satiated, but my appetite for destruction remains unfulfilled.”

    I couldn’t ask for more, but want so much better. With Axl being the only original member of GnR, I doubt I’ll get it. However, I might just to see if it’ll grow on me, like, say, Nirvana’s “Nevermind.”

  3. I have mixed feelings about this album.

    I was lured in by hearing Chinese Democracy, it rocks pretty solid. However I feel that the album was a bit more mellow that I care for.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like mellow songs but I don’t know. I have been waiting more than a decade for the GnR to kick my eardrums in, and I thought they were, but…meh.

    Street of Dreams is a great song, and my favorite mellow (I need to find a syllabus) song but just a bit too much of it on the album as a whole.

    The single kicks ass. Better is probably in a tie with the single for best song on the album, in my opinion. The chorus on Better kills.

    But let me get to Shackler’s Revenge. I have never felt more like I was going to get raped by a song in my life. I’m assaulted by the devil’s alarm clock at the beginning of the song and then Pedophilia Axl Voice kicks in.

    “I’ve got a funny feeling, there’s something wrong today.

    I’ve got a funny feeling, and it won’t go away.”

    Really, they make creams for that. Don’t scratch it.

    Anyways, I recover, then I listen to If The World and it feels as though Axl is sorry for scaring me and is now trying to seduce me. Again, meh. I never thought I would hear a “bow chicka wow” sound effect on a GnR album…”the circle is now complete” indeed.

    Weird stuff.

    Anyways, it has some great songs on it but overall I have to say that, given how long this album has been worked on, it is somewhat disappointing.

    Perhaps my expectations were too high.

    Perhaps I am being too critical.

    Perhaps the album cover needed more robots and boobs. (I mean, when are they NOT warranted)

    Perhaps I used my syllabus to start a fire when my heat was shut off.

    Perhaps I will close with this:

    The notion of Chinese Democracy had me beaming. But after hearing it, I feel like I’ve been left out in the cold November Rain.

  4. Sorry, over commenting here but you make a good point that I didn’t address.

    Compared to almost ANYTHING else that is being released these days as rock this album destroys the landscape.

    I can’t stand Hinder nor Nickelback so…perhaps I should be more lenient?

    I just hold Axl to a higher standard, which is unfair because god knows what I expect from bands like “Daughtry”.

  5. Apparently many of you have heard an alternate version of Chinese Democracy than the one to which I was unfortunately subjected. Where can I get the good one? The Chiense Democracy I heard was complete, utter, wall to wall, shit. It stunk like a sackful of dead baby hamsters.

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