Chinese Democracy: The Bollocks! Review Part I

gnr_chinesedemocracy 0613091905

I said, a while back, that if a legit copy of Chinese Democracy ever fell into my lap, I’d give it a fair hearing right here on Bollocks! Well, my pal Jacques threw down the gauntlet this Christmas when he gave me 4 tall bottles of Ninkasi beer and promised a copy of Axl Rose’s magnum dopus to go with ’em. Well, the disc got lost for a while and the Ninkasis helped me through the new Chris Cornell album. And then the disc was found. So I decided to recruit four new beers and keep to the spirit of my Christmas gift. So tonight, I’m gonna drink my way through Chinese Democracy and tell you all what I think of it. If you read the Chris Cornell review, you know what you’re in for. Don’t worry, friends: I’m drinking plenty of water tonight as well.

8:16PM: First Beer, First Impressions: The first beer of the night is a saucy little variation on the wheat beer, a Rogue invention called Morimoto Ale, made from soba wheat. It’s a cool, crisp customer and it’ll ease me into what is sure to be a long night with the new Guns N’ Roses album. Incidentally, I’m gonna rant for a minute on the way Axl apostrophizes his “N” there. See, it’s supposed to be short for “and”. So if you took away the letters that aren’t “N”, you’d be better off abbreviating it like so: Guns ‘N’ Roses. Doing otherwise doesn’t make you unconventional, it makes you a fucking moron.

Am I stalling? Maybe I am. I’ve listened through this album once already, and I’m going to plow through it mostly track by track here tonight, but I need to pace myself. This monster is 14 tracks, most of which run well past the four minute mark. Also, I know I’ve bitched about it before, but I feel like I have to remind you that the first strike against Chinese Democracy is Axl’s exclusive deal to sell it through Best Buy. I’m glad it didn’t sell for shit, but I’d like to say (probably not for last time tonight) a big fuck you to Axl on that point anyway.

8:23PM: These Are the Lyrics that Took 17 Years to Write? I like that the album starts off with its title track, but I don’t like the nearly full minute of bullshit that leads up to the slickly produced guitar lick that starts it off. Axl banshee-wails, “It don’t really matter/ Gonna find out for yourself” and then he makes a reference to the relatively new practice of Falun Gong. Is this a song about democracy in China? It wouldn’t seem to be. It seems to be about nothing, like Axl’s other pseudo-political song, “Civil War,” which is one of the most meaningless songs ever recorded. The guitars on this song album are overproduced, and annoying. They squall here and there and add nothing to the song at all. This is what you get with (reportedly) $13 million and five fucking guitarists on one song?

The second song is called “Shackler’s Revenge” and it, like its predecessor, is a lyrically ambiguous affair wherein Axl doesn’t want someone to tell him that they care for him. Well, Axl, I don’t. So we’re even. I just think, you know, if you take a decade and a half to record an album, you might come up with lyrics that are a little less… “prosaic,” would be a charitable term. “Shitty” is the term I’ll use.  “Shackler’s Revenge” starts with a riff that is right out of Your Favorite Korn Song or latter day (read: bad) Marilyn Manson and then, by the final chorus, there’s some noodly, Eddie Van Halen-aping bullshit. If you wanna know how I feel about that, read the last sentence again.

8:31PM Now We All Know Better: “Better” starts like a teen pop song and only gets worse. Axl “should have known you’re crazy” on this song and bridges his way into the chorus with “All I wanted was” followed by the line “Now I know you better.” I’m confused. Did he want Now I Know You Better? Is that a product of some kind. Perhaps the booklet has a misprint and he means he wants Now I Know You, Butter – which I can only assume is some kind of luxury brand of butter that you get at the Whole Foods or something. Rose’s delivery is as histrionic as ever – you either love it or hate (I kinda cringe when I hear it) but the lyrics are incomprehensible at best and insufferable at worst.

“Street of Dreams” follows “Better” and, so far, it features Axl’s worst singing of the album (and it’s the one where his voice sounds the least processed, oddly enough). Also, it starts like an REO Speedwagon song. Lyrical gems include “But that’s not stardust on my feet/ It leaves a taste that’s bitter sweet/ that’s called the blues.” So Axl stepped in something – not stardust, I guess – and then tasted it. And apparently, he stepped in the blues.  I’ve never been a big fan of Axl’s singing, but when he strives for soul on “Street of Dreams,” he ends up sounding whiny and strident. So he ends the song by doing that a lot. Oh good.

8:41PM: Look at Me, I’m Worldly: “If the World” starts with this Spanish guitar style thing, which is in keeping with what Axl has tried to do with this album: his adorer(s?) will tell you he’s innovating and proving his worldliness or some shit, but the international-sounding flourishes on Chinese Democracy are, so far, completely incidental to the songs in which they appear. They feel tacked on. Still, I like the intro to “If the World” much better than Axl’s high-pitched squealing. I guess this is a love song, because Axl sings, “You’re the only one/ I’ve ever loved that has ever loved me”. That’s a big theme on Chinese Democracy, kids: loving Axl Rose.

Stay tuned for more live blogging of the Bollocks! Chinese Democracy review. In Part II, we’ll hear a few more tracks and drink another beer while trying to parse Axl’s “poetry”: “Nothing’s impossible/ I am inconquerable” (the word should be “unconquerable”, Mr. Rose. Can this asshole even read?)

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One thought on “Chinese Democracy: The Bollocks! Review Part I

  1. you are a waste of life

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