Waiting finally over for new Guns N' Roses opus
AFP - 2 hours 56 minutes ago
LOS ANGELES (AFP) - - After 17 years, millions of dollars, and numerous false dawns, the waiting finally ends for fans of Guns N'Roses on Sunday when the rock group's long-awaited "Chinese Democracy" is released.
The US band's first album of original material since 1991's "Use Your Illusion I" and "II", the arrival of "Chinese Democracy" comes after a tortuous gestation that had become something of a running joke in the music industry.
Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose, 46, is the only member of the band's original line-up to feature on the new album, which will feature 14 tracks and is being hyped as a milestone in rock n' roll.
Founded in Los Angeles in 1985, Guns N'Roses went on to become one of the biggest bands of the late 1980s and early 1990s, their 1987 album "Appetite for Destruction" becoming a seminal work.
At the height of their fame the group were regularly selling out 80,000-seater arenas and album sales to date have topped more than 90 million.
But since the release of their last studio album in 1993 -- the controversial collection of covers "The Spaghetti Incident?" -- the music industry has changed beyond recognition.
Vinyl, in its dying days in 1993, is long gone. It's successor, compact discs, is now being overtaken by music purchased over the Internet and downloaded to Mp3 players.
The marketing of "Chinese Democracy" reflects the changing face of the music industry. The album was streamed on social networking site MySpace ahead of its formal release and one track was released via a video game. The album itself is being sold exclusively through the Best Buy electronic goods store.
In terms of time and money, "Chinese Democracy" is already exceptional. A total of 14 studios have been used to help produce its 14 tracks. The New York Times in 2005 described the album as the "most expensive album never made," estimating its cost at 13 million dollars.
Much of the excruciating development can be traced back to the notoriously difficult temperament of front-man Rose, who has had enough band members to form a soccer team, substitutes included.
"Axl Rose has shown total disregard for fans, the system, he's chosen to play by a strange set of rules that are only known to him," said Daily Variety associate editor Phil Gallo.
According to Gallo, the band remains relevant because "there's an absence of hard rock bands with star power, with very charismatic persons in front."
"Guns N'Roses still make a difference. They have lots songs that stood the test of time and get played in football stadiums and make it on to the radio, they're a key part of classic rock in the States.
"Axl Rose's celebrity has still relevance. They were a football stadium band, they could play 60-80000 people every single night."
Early reviews of "Chinese Democracy" have been mixed.
Rolling Stone described the album simply as a "great, audacious, unhinged and uncompromising hard-rock record. In other words, it sounds a lot like the Guns N' Roses you know."
But the New York Times offered a more withering assessment. While acknowledging the "bursts of remarkable musicianship," the paper described the album as the "Titanic of rock albums: the ship, not the movie."
"It's outsize, lavish, obsessive, technologically advanced and, all too clearly, the end of an era," the Times said.
"It's also a shipwreck, capsized by pretensions and top-heavy production. In its 14 songs there are glimpses of heartfelt ferocity and despair, along with bursts of remarkable musicianship.
"But they are overwhelmed by countless layers of studio diddling and a tone of curdled self-pity. The album concludes with five bombastic power ballads in a row."
Meanwhile, the release of "Chinese Democracy" has proved to be expensive for makers of the popular US soft drink Dr Pepper, who promised a free can of the soda for everyone in America if the album was released before the end of 2008.
The company has proved as good as its word, offering a free coupon on its website for a 24-hour period from Sunday.
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Axl Rose, lead singer of US band Guns N' Roses, performs in 2006. After 17 years, millions of dollars, and numerous false dawns, the waiting finally ends for fans of Guns N'Roses on Sunday when the rock group's long-awaited "Chinese Democracy" is released.
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