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Chinese Democracy reviewed

June 20, 2008 @ 9:33pm

Someone near me at a Starbucks was playing all of these "leaked" downloaded tracks today. Yeah, that's my story. Here is my take on what I heard, track by track:

New Song #1
It sounded like a Queensrÿche song. I stopped listening to Queensrÿche a long time ago. I even saw them open for someone last year at Jones Beach and I didn't listen. Not a good omen for the rest of the album.

New Song #2
The music here was straight Linkin Park. I heard strings. Okay, I swear Axl got replaced by Queensrÿche's Geoff Tate at some point during the decade long recording process. Towards the end it became an Evanescence song. Without the male vocal parts.

New Song #3
The music sounded like a slow No Doubt or Maroon 5 song. There were a couple of little Spanish guitar solos. The vocals started out sounding like Axl and then drifted back to Queensrÿche. Why?

Chinese Democracy
This song started out like a song from Operation Mindcrime — not a very good sign. Then, unbelievably, Axl himself started singing! It rocked. This might be a top ten Guns N' Roses song. Maybe there is hope for this album. One rumor I heard is that some of these are throwaway tracks that won't appear on the real release. Hopefully they keep this one since it's the best track so far (and because the album is called Chinese Democracy).

Madagascar opened with some horns. It was either a military funeral or a Beatles song. The vocals were pure Axl. No one can wail like this. Then MLK started talking. Oh no. "What we've got here is...failure to communicate." Really? I didn't like when Robert Plant sampled Led Zeppelin. Sampling a sample you already previously sampled? Well, it was a nice interlude. Way more forgivable than if he looped in the opening riff from Sweet Child O' Mine. Good song.

There Was A Time
The first two minutes sound like a Bob Dylan song or Modest Mouse's Missed The Boat. The final two and a half minutes are their own animal. Sweeping arrangements, like November Rain or Layla. Another good song. Dear Axl, definitely put this one on the album. Skip those three untitled ones. Thanks.

Queensrÿche reared its ugly head on this one and then Axl and some guitars suddenly appeared in the studio and beat them into submission. Then Queensrÿche came back. Finally — with me cheering Axl and those guitars on — Queensrÿche was beaten into submission again. It was a great victory for rock and roll!

This one would have made a great car commercial soundtrack like that Kelly Clarkson song Go until Axl started singing. Or rapping. It's hard to tell. Then the rapping ended and a Judas Priest song broke out. Another good song.

The Blues
The piano opening was pure Counting Crows from A Long December. The vocals sounded like a mashup of Silent Lucidity and Paradise City. It's not a bad song — somewhere in the middle of the pack here.

There are some good songs in here. I'm not sure if it was worth waiting a decade for this, but I'm glad I didn't have to wait another ten years to listen to these tracks.

The bottom line? Queensrÿche fans won't be disappointed, but fans of Slash's soaring guitar solos might be. There are a couple of tracks that measure up to later Guns N' Roses albums, but nothing that would fit onto Appetite For Destruction.

The good news is that Scott Weiland left Velvet Revolver behind for a Stone Temple Pilots reunion and the rest of Axl's old band is conveniently available for a GNR reunion tour. The bad news is that I could see them reforming the original line up just to go back into the studio for a few dozen years to rework these tracks to death.

Newer: EZ Street has been nominated for a Harvey Award

Older: Congratulations Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett