Re: Rough Mixes Disc 1
Axl's biggest fault here is that he didn't tell them to go fuck themselves and force a release anyway. Which is ironic.
Do you wanna know how he could've forced it's release?
The nanosecond it hit Napster, Geffen/UMG fast tracks a release.
This to the infinite power. Think if the initial IRS leak were on Napster instead of Eddie Trunk's show. Oh what could and should have been....
Re: Rough Mixes Disc 1
Madagascar as the opening track is killer It works so much better than Chinese D in my opinion. I've always been a sucker for that opening verse, Axls voice has a haunting quality to it.
I doubt that that was the sequence of the album. Plus Oh My God is missing (or maybe they just reconsidered it when Bucket rejoined)? But the sad thing is that the label would have absolutely loved that album if Axl had presented it as a solo project. Imagine this competing with Snakepit2...
Re: Rough Mixes Disc 1
I've briefly covered the superlative mixes so let's turn to the track list and the overarching ethos.
In short, I love it.
"Madagascar" is the perfect album opener. It's a damn impressive song in it's own right and kicks things off on the right foot. Thematically, it sets the table for "Chinese Democracy" being some sort of Axl Rose redemption album and offers a tipping of the album's musical hand. It gently speaks that you, dear listener, are in for some high art alternative rock - full of epic emotions, soaring strings and soft balladry, so ready yourself as you're in for a beautiful and wondrous ride.
However Madagascar-as-opener to Chinese Democracy is not without it's flaws, as I would have gone with the more modest title "2000 Intentions" over the subversive and politically charged "Chinese Democracy". I also certainly would've gone with Brain Mantia on drums with the choice +3dB drum cut that conjures up visions of something like Axl Rose starring in Saving Private Ryan and Battleship Potemkin before finding himself back on American soil to march with Martin Luther King Jr. from Selma to Montgomery. Although this is the only place where Josh Freese stumbles as his sharp and punky drumming is the perfect complement to the punk pop smarts of The Replacements (and Duff McKagan replacement) bassist Tommy Stinson.
Instead, the finished 2008 album starts with a toothless and overlong version of "Chinese Democracy", thereby forcing a raw and respectable rocker to take center stage. The un-skippable 1-minute intro serves no narrative, artistic, or musical purpose and becomes insufferable on repeated listenings (even Axl Rose's preferred high art booklet, privy only to GN'R collectors and internet cultists, contains no translation for this Chinese gibberish). Here instead, Chinese Democracy as Track 8 along with Track 6 (Riad and the Bedouins) reward dedicated listeners with a jolt of new metal tinged hard rock by offering an amalgam of Buckethead's "Monsters and Robots", Led Zeppelin's "Zeppelin III", and Nirvana's "Nevermind". It's an interesting blend of classic rock, grunge, and new metal funk.
This track listing further succeeds by unveiling the Big Guns right out of the gate, serving up the highly esteemed "There Was A Time" as the second track and "Prostitute" as the fifth track. This contributes to the overall no-nonsense feel of this version which again contrasts starkly with the finished albums second track, "Shackler's Revenge". The Buckethead banger is a damn good dance-rocker but it begins with the most annoying sound in the world since Jim Carrey screamed in Jeff Daniels' ear in the passenger seat of the Shaggin' Wagon in the 1991 Farrelly Brother's comedy, Dumb And Dumber. It no doubt would've been a track best held off until future albums more inline with it's sonic kin. In short, between a mediocre opener and an obnoxious introduction to the second title, it's shocking anyone ever got to track three on the 2008 version of Chinese Democracy, let alone the depressive ending to "Prostitute" with a 20 second fade-to-black style outro.
The songs "Perhaps", "Atlas Shrugged", and "Catcher In The Rye", better known to both Guns and Queen fans as the Brian May trilogy, serve as light but engaging faire befitting of a nice weekend walk or cruise down Hollywood Boulevard on a sun-soaked afternoon. All feature a very whimsical vocal styling from Mr. Rose who offers new personal insights to what he was doing and thinking about from 1995 to 1999 during his "Wilderness Years" and feature beautifully melodic, Beatles-esque crooning from Axl. While the much-loved "Catcher In the Rye" is a delicious whiskey which appreciates with repeated tastings, I'm not sure it's reflective nature belongs on the first album in a supposed trilogy. It's something of a non-fit and could be adequately replaced by the entertaining synth pop aspiring Bond track "If The World" and the album would be no worse for it.
Taking center stage here is the uptempo ballad "The Blues" featuring Axl Rose pouring his heart out over a piano about a lost love (or is it lost guitar player) complete with synth lines, soaring guitars, and crashing cymbals (again, the immaculate Josh Freese). "Everywhere I go I see you, I don't know just what I will do", Rose bemoans before concluding "what I thought was beautiful don't live inside you anymore" which is perhaps the most evident hint this ballad is indeed about longtime friend and departed guitar Slash nee former beau's Everly, Seymour, et. al.
Lastly, the electronic rock experiment "Silkworms" features some sumptuous synth textures and industrial ranting but offers naught much more than passing novelty, although truth be told it's explicit lyrics are embarrassingly catchy. Instead, close the album with the obscenely singable Robin Finck "hip-hop pop" track "Better" (formerly, "Three Dollar Pyramid" and you have a recipe for leaving your audience happy and desperate for more.
In short, with this track listing, the superfine mixes on offer, and a couple of easy modifications, the proposed 2000 Intentions would've serve as a stunning introduction to the world of the New Guns N' Roses as a diverse, talented, and defiantly rebellious group of men marching down the road less travelled. It's Zeppelin III with a dash of Zeppelin II, cautioning it's listeners that there's more and meaner sections ahead, and I for one, can't wait.
What this means to me is more than I know you believe...