Guns ‘n’ Roses – Use Your Illusion: The Double Album
It usually annoys me when I hear that knee-jerk response to double albums, “it would have been a great single album”. Cause it’s, you know, knee-jerk. However in the case of Use Your Illusion, the two-album simultaneous release by Guns ‘n’ Roses, it fits – sort of. In fact each of these “albums” has about a double-album worth of material on them, essentially adding up to a quadruple album. And to be honest, in principle, I have no problem with that. God bless all that try.
In G ‘n’ R’s case, though, there is a buttload of stuff that just does not work. Mostly, their attempts at epic balladry fall flat on their face, unless you count “Civil War”. I guess I appreciate the ambition, but sometimes it’s better to just leave well enough alone. For instance, I heard this acoustic demo of “November Rain” and it was a nice little song. But on Use Your Illusion, it’s grown into a monstrosity, complete with the inexplicable inclusion of synth strings – like Guns and f***ing Roses couldn’t afford an orchestra at that point?? Not that it would have helped much; the song would still be a bloated mess.
So anyway, I created my own version, a pared-down Use Your Illusion: The Double Album track list. Though I say “pared-down”, this is still a pretty sprawling and ambitious album, as it should be.
It gets rid of most of the inert and overblown epics, but there’s nothing to be done about the terrible-sounding and lurching drums, overripe production, nor the “too much Axl” syndrome that eventually led to Chinese Democracy (you really have to listen to Use Your Illusion on headphones to truly appreciate how pervasive Axl is on the album – it’s like there’s ten of him).
A few caveats: Bias may have played a part in an Izzy Stradlin’-heavy track list. For that I have no excuse; it is what it is. And I did include “So Fine” which is pretty bad actually, but something about it seems essential to me. Call me crazy. Another somewhat dubious inclusion may be “Get In The Ring” but sometimes attitude trumps taste. Also, the two epics I included, “Locomotive” and “Coma” have their faults (I even contemplated doing an edit of “Locomotive” but never got around to it), but are too cool to leave out.
1. Right Next Door To Hell
2. Dust ‘n’ Bones
3. Don’t Cry (original)
4. Bad Obsession
5. Double Talkin’ Jive
6. You Ain’t The First
7. Get In The Ring
9. Civil War
10. You Could Be Mine
11. 14 Years
12. Pretty Tied Up
13. So Fine
14. Bad Apples
I’m prepared to discuss this further.