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APPETITE FOR DISCUSSION
Welcome to Appetite for Discussion -- a Guns N' Roses fan forum!

Please feel free to look around the forum as a guest, I hope you will find something of interest. If you want to join the discussions or contribute in other ways then you need to become a member. We especially welcome anyone who wants to share documents for our archive or would be interested in translating or transcribing articles and interviews.

Registering is free and easy.

Cheers!
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Use Your Illusion I & II

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Post by Soulmonster Tue Feb 25, 2020 9:04 am

A review in Santa Ana County Register from November 22, 1991:

Use Your Illusion I & II - Page 2 Santa_27
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Post by Soulmonster Wed Mar 04, 2020 7:48 am

Review in Santa Fe New Mexican, October 4, 1991:

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Use Your Illusion I & II - Page 2 Santa_34



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Post by Blackstar Tue Mar 23, 2021 2:11 pm

Review in Time magazine, September 30, 1991:
Misfit Metalheads
 
To enjoy the red-hot rock ‘n’ roll of Guns N’ Roses, you have to get past their violent, sexist and racist lyrics
 
By JOE QUEENAN
 
For the original cover of their monstrously successful 1987 debut album Appetite for Destruction, Guns N’ Roses selected a painting of a sinister robotic figure towering over a ravished female with her undergarments around her knees. The album, whose leitmotivs were violent sex, drug abuse, alcoholism and insanity, featured lyrics like “Tied up, tied down, up against the wall/ Be my rubber-made baby/ An’ we can do it all.” The record sold 14 million copies.
 
Buoyed by this success, the Gunners in 1988 exhumed some archival material and released a stopgap, extended-play album with such lyrics as “I used to love her/ But I had to kill her”; “Police and niggers, that’s right, get out of my way”; and “Immigrants and faggots… come to our country and think they’ll do as they please/ Like start a mini-Iran, or spread some f____ disease.” The record sold 6 million copies.
 
Buoyed by this success, the Gunners have now made rock ‘n’ roll history by simultaneously releasing two completely different albums with virtually identical covers: Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II. This time out, the Gunners, while clinging to their trademark bitch-slapping posturing, have also introduced such engaging new subjects as bondage, the lure of homicide and the pleasures of drug-inducted comas. They offer a song called Pretty Tied Up, accompanied by a drawing in the lyric sheet of a naked, bound and blindfolded woman. They also graphically invite the editor and publisher of Spin magazine, Bob Guccione Jr., to perform oral sex on the Guns N’ Roses irrepressible lead singer, W. Axl Rose.
 
The two albums (price: $15.98 apiece on CD) went on sale at midnight last Monday in the U.S., an many large stores stayed open to accommodate crowds of buyers who had milled about for hours. Nationwide, the albums sold an estimated 500,000 copies within two hours of going on sale, and 1.5 million copies within three days. With 7.3 million records already shipped to dealers around the world, the record company, Geffen Records, has encouraged wild talk that the album could be as big as Michael Jackson’s Thriller, the top-selling record of all time (more than 40 million copies sold worldwide).
 
It would be unfair to attribute all, or even most, of Guns N’ Roses’ success to their unrelentingly sexist and uncompromisingly violent lyrics or to their forays into xenophobia, racism and sadomasochism. Rock ‘n’ roll has always been filled with sexist, violent bands, but very few of them sell 14 million copies the first time out of the chute. What sets the Gunners apart is that they are a genuinely electrifying band that neither looks nor sounds like the interchangeable Whitesnakes, Poisons and Bon Jovis that make up the drab MTV universe. What the Gunners play is very, very good. What the Gunners say is very, very bad. Of 30 songs on the new albums, 10 contain the F word. That’s why several American chains – including K Mart and Walmart – won’t stock them.
 
The Gunners stick to the serious business of rock ‘n’ roll, synthesizing the Stones and the Sex Pistols to produce Aerosmith for the ‘90s. They never drift very far from the jackhammer style that began to dominate the idiom two decades ago. This is the main reason their audience is not entirely limited to 16-year-old boys with baseball caps worn backward. Guns N’ Roses tenaciously clings to hard rock’s tradition of being loud, mean and obvious. No one alive looks more like rock stars than Rose, 29, and guitarist Slash, 26, with their tattoos, their headgear, their emotional problems (Slash has frequently used heroin, and Rose is a manic-depressive) and their we-sold-our-soul-to-rock-‘n’-roll attitudes.
 
The Gunners’ success is giving the kiss of life to a moribund record industry, and has kept rock ‘n’ roll from doing what it keeps threatening to do: expire. Veering between creaking dinosaurs like the Grateful Dead (the hottest U.S. concert act of the past summer), pious scolds like Sinéad O’Connor, and mopey ‘60s retreads like R.E.M., rock ‘n’ roll is in need of the juice that only true believers like Guns N’ Roses can supply.
 
The Gunners certainly know how to stay in the news. With Rose’s brief marriage to Erin Everly, daughter of singer Don Everly, Slash’s drunken, profanity-spewed acceptance speech at the 1990 American Music Awards (carried on live TV), Rose’s annulment of his marriage, guitarist Izzy Stradlin’s arrest for urinating in an airplane galley, and Rose’s arrest last November after allegedly hitting a female neighbor on the head with a wine bottle (the charges were later dropped), you have the makings of a mythology that Keith Moon would envy.
 
On July 2 at a concert not far from St. Louis, Rose got into a fight with a camera-toting biker (cameras are banned at Guns concerts) and ended up storming off the stage, to the dismay of 20,000 fans. In the ensuing riot, 16 people were arrested, 60 were injure, and $200,000 in property damage was sustained.
 
The band’s exploits bring to mind Rob Reiner’s priceless 1984 film This Is Spinal Tap, a pseudo-rock documentary chronicling the disastrous final American tour of the world’s stupidest rock band. Surveying the Gunners’ career, one gets the impression that the band may have seen the film, entirely missed the satirical thrust, and elected to pattern themselves after Reiner’s brain-dead metalheads.
 
It’s hard, for example, not to question the intelligence of a band that uses the word niggers even though its lead guitarist, Slash, is half black. It’s hard not to be puzzled by a band that agrees to appear at a benefit for New York City’s Gay Men’s Health Crisis, only to get bounced off the program because its latest record contains the world faggots. It’s hard not to be mystified by a band that goes on a 25-city tour after a two-year absence and puts out two new albums after the tour is over. And it’s hard not to chuckle at a band whose lead guitarist spends a sizable chunk of his Rolling Stone interview discussing the death of his pet snake Clyde. (“Had he been sick for a long time?” inquired Rolling Stone, in arguably the most unforgettable rock ‘n’ roll interview question of all time. Yes, the snake had.)
 
The Use Your Illusion albums seem certain to keep selling well. Although the first album is better than the second, and although neither contains a song as memorable as Sweet Child o’ Mine or Paradise City from the Appetite for Destruction album, both are exciting, well-produced records, with plenty of catchy rockers and only a handful of outright duds. The guitars are hot, the drumming is hot, the vocals are red-hot. Anyone who can get past the offensive lyrics will be buying one of the best rock albums of the years. Or two of them.
 
Assisting the layman in getting past the lyrics will be the cottage industry of those rock critics who earn a living by explaining away the Gunners’ verbal excesses as “satire,” “parody” or a crude but sincere attempt to achieve a sort of audiophonic cinema verité. These are the same people who fashion byzantine intellectual justifications for the vicious anti-Semitism of the rap group Public Enemy or the uninterrupted verbal degradation of women that is the stock-in-trade of 2 Live Crew.
 
It is a very troubling thought that never in the history of the business has the record industry been so dependent for its financial well being on the success of such social misfits. Whereas in the past the industry has looked for a shot in the arm from the cuddly Beatles, the enigmatic Michael Jackson or the populist Bruce Springsteen, it now turns its yearning eyes to a bunch of young men who, by even their own admission, are “sociopsychotic.”
 
And whiners. Yes, one increasingly grating thing about the band is their inexhaustible capacity for self-pity. Having been coddled from birth by their record company and by MTV, and having been given a free ride by the rock press, the Gunners nevertheless cannot get off the whinemobile, as they moan about the demanding life of a rock star. According to Forbes, the Gunners will earn $25 million in 1990-91. These guys don’t know how to take yes for an answer.
 
So they retreat into Guns-vs.-the-world self-pity. “Don’t damn me when I speak a piece of my mind,” sniffles Rose in the band’s most annoying new number. “Cause silence isn’t golden when I’m holding it inside.” Poor Axl. A talented vocalist and a whirling dervish of a stage performer, Rose is nonetheless one very disturbed human being, who sings, “I’m a cold heartbreaker/ Fit ta burn and I’ll rip your heart in two.” This is probably true. But even truer, and more appropriate, are the words once sung by his obvious intellectual forebear, the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz:
 
I would not be just a nuffin’,
My head all full of stuffin’,
My heart all full of pain.
And perhaps I’d deserve you
And be even worthy of you,
If I only had a brain.
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Post by Blackstar Tue Mar 23, 2021 2:13 pm

4-page ad in Billboard magazine, September 21, 1991:

Use Your Illusion I & II - Page 2 1991_047
Use Your Illusion I & II - Page 2 1991_049
Use Your Illusion I & II - Page 2 1991_048
Use Your Illusion I & II - Page 2 1991_050
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Post by Blackstar Thu Apr 08, 2021 6:34 pm

And article in Billboard Sept. 21 issue about the release of the albums:

Use Your Illusion I & II - Page 2 1991_063
Use Your Illusion I & II - Page 2 1991_062
Sticky Business Or No, GN’R’s Orders At 4 Mil
 
■ BY CHRIS MORRIS and ED CHRISTMAN
 
LOS ANGELES—Despite the fact that two of the country’s largest mass merchandisers, K mart and Wal-Mart, have decided not to carry the new Guns N’ Roses albums, Gef­fen Records has racked up advance orders totaling 4 million units for “Use Your Illusion I” and “Use Your Illusion II.”
 
Responding to other retailers’ jit­ters, Geffen has yanked a sharply worded lyric advisory sticker off of the albums and will replace it with a less abrasive version, although the original label will appear on the first commercial copies of the records.
 
The records by the L.A. hard rock hand, which are being issued simulta­neously by the label, weigh in as the top preorder entry in industry his­tory. By comparison, Michael Jackson’s “Bad,” thought to be the single­ album leader, logged more than 2 million units in initial orders.
 
Due in stores Tuesday (17), the ea­gerly awaited albums will be launched at retail with “midnight sales” on the day of release at several major chains and other special pro­motions.
 
Geffen sales chief Eddie Gilreath says that Amarillo, Texas-based rack- jobber Western Merchandisers, which is owned by Bentonville, Ark.- based Wal-Mart and counts the chain as its largest customer, “did not buy [the albums] at all,” while the Hand­leman Co. in Minneapolis is selling the albums to some accounts, but not to its K mart customers. He attri­butes the chains’ hesitancy about the albums to Guns N’ Roses’ notorious reputation and concerns about the records’ lyrical content.
 
Gilreath believes that, if K mart and Wal-Mart outlets, which total more than 3,000 stores, had handled the records, Geffen could have tallied another 1 million orders for the two albums.
 
“[The racks] are in what they call a host environment, and they tried very vigorously to convince K mart and Wal-Mart to take the project,” Gilreath says. “It was a flat ‘no’ from K mart and Wal-Mart... They would prefer to lose all that revenue based on the fear of a complaint from a par­ent. They’re doing a censorship job before they even find out if anyone has a problem with it.”
 
Executives of the Handleman Co., which racks K mart, were unavail­able for comment. In the past, howev­er, they have said that their accounts do not like to handle albums with con­troversial lyrics.
 
Western Merchandisers VP of sales Bob Cope says the rackjobber has not yet decided whether to buy the Guns N’ Roses titles, although he notes that Hastings Books, Music and Video, a sister company of West­ern Merchandisers that is not owned by Wal-Mart, will carry those albums.
 
‘FAMILY STANDARDS'
 
Cope explains that Western Mer­chandisers is not in the business of trying to censor artists, but that their material has to meet the family stan­dards set by Wal-Mart.
 
“Basically, it’s Wal-Mart’s policy not to carry albums with RIAA stick­ers and/or objectional lyrics,” Cope says. “But I have not heard or seen the albums yet. If they have stickers or objectionable lyrics, we will not carry the albums.”
 
Many of the 30 songs on “Illusion I” and “Illusion II” feature strong profanity, and 11 tracks contain the word “fuck.” While none of the new songs appears likely to excite the loud controversy ignited by “One In A Million” on the mini-album “GN’R Lies,” some—notably “Back Off Bitch” and “Pretty Tied Up”—in­clude harsh lyrics about women.
 
Anticipating objections about con­tent from some quarters, Geffen will sticker the albums with not one, but two advisories—although, in the case of one sticker, it will not be the same sort of advisory that was initially en­visioned.
 
The jewel boxes of “Illusion I” and “Illusion II” review copies delivered to writers Sept. 11 bore the droll ca­veat, “This album contains language which some listeners may find objec­tionable. They can F?!* OFF and buy something from the New Age sec­tion.” This label was covered by a conventional RIAA parental advisory on the shrink wrap.
 
Gilreath says that the “F?!* OFF” sticker is present only on initial runs of the albums, and that it will be re­placed by a more mildly worded stick­er expressing the band’s sentiments. He says the RIAA sticker will also appear on both packages.
 
“We’re trying to be sensitive to our customer,” Gilreath says. “This sec­ond sticker says the same thing, it just doesn’t say it as pointedly.”
 
A Geffen source says of the switch, “From the standpoint of the accounts, the releases were contro­versial enough. They thought the stickers might create further prob­lems.”
 
One problem, however, has been ameliorated: With the decisions of Wal-Mart and K mart not to carry the albums, the retailers’ competition has been substantially reduced, at least in the long run.
 
Even if these chains carried the al­bums, “I just can’t see a lot of Guns N’ Roses fans lining up outside the local K mart on Tuesday morning, waiting for the store to open so they can buy the album,” says Chuck Papke, VP of marketing and purchas­ing at 35-unit, Troy, Mich.-based Har­mony House. “But I think it will in­crease our sales come the fourth quarter when Mom goes out shop­ping for the holidays. K mart is all over the Detroit and the South Michi­gan area, and their not carrying the album can be nothing but a plus for our sales.”
 
Ron Phillips, director of marketing and purchasing at 57-unit, Miami­based Spec’s Music & Video, agrees with Papke. “There is no question that we benefit,” he says. “For the general consumer that buys this type of record, they will come to us if the discounters don’t carry the album. Also, the next time an album like this comes out, they won’t go to K mart and Wal-Mart, because they have ex­perienced poor customer service due to those chains not carrying the al­bum. So it will increase customer loy­alty to Spec’s.”
 
GREAT EXPECTATIONS
 
Many of the retail accounts that are carrying the Guns N’ Roses al­bums are gearing up for massive sales on the day of release.
 
A number of the largest chains in the country, including the Musicland Group, Tower Records, Hastings, the Wherehouse, Sound Warehouse, Camelot Music, Turtles Music and Video, and Trans World Music, will keep their doors open and put the GN’R albums on sale at midnight Tuesday (17). (Retailers recently fol­lowed a similar path with Elektra’s “Metallica” album.) Gilreath says a large number of independent stores will also pursue such promotions.
 
According to Gilreath, Musicland, the Minneapolis-based chain with 1,000 stores, made the single biggest order, of 500,000 units. The chain has been taking advance orders from con­sumers, guaranteeing them that they will receive the albums Tuesday and offering a discount if both records are purchased. Gilreath says the chain anticipates 100,000 discount or­ders, representing 200,000 units.
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Post by Blackstar Thu Apr 08, 2021 6:39 pm

Another article in Billboard, October 5, 1991:

Use Your Illusion I & II - Page 2 1991_129
Use Your Illusion I & II - Page 2 1991_128
GN’R Shoots To No. 1—And No. 2
 
Band Scores Coup With ‘Illusion' Debuts
 
■ BY CHRIS MORRIS
 
LOS ANGELES—Guns N’ Roses score an unprecedented coup on The Billboard 200 Top Albums chart this week, as the L.A. hard rock band’s “Use Your Illusion II” enters at No. 1 and its companion “Use Your Illusion I” enters at No. 2. The feat marks the first time in history that two albums by one band or artist have simulta­neously entered the chart at its apex.
 
Based on point-of-sale figures compiled from reporting stores, Sound- Scan estimates that the two Geffen Records albums sold a total of 1.5 million units in their first week of re­lease.
 
“This is by far the largest sales number we’ve ever seen,” says Bill­board associate director of retail re­search Geoff Mayfield. The previous one-week sales champion was Elek­tra’s “Metallica,” which sold 600,000 units to enter at No. 1 in the Aug. 31 issue.
 
Many fans are apparently buying both albums: SoundScan estimates that “Illusion 11” has sold only 75,000 units more than “Illusion 1.” "Illusion II” contains the single “You Could Be Mine” and such familiar GN’R num­bers as “Civil War” and the band’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.”
 
Geffen sales chief Eddie Gilreath says the albums shipped a total of 4.2 million units and that reorders for the albums already total 800,000.
 
Gilreath says, “[Retailers are] say­ing, ‘Eddie, it made our month. It’s going to change the way we’re going to see the fourth quarter.’”
 
Retail sales chains across the coun­try polled by Billboard are reporting the albums as their No. 1 and No. 2 sellers, with “Illusion II” running only slightly ahead.
 
“These are the biggest releases we’ve ever had in the first week of re­lease, and they show no signs of slowing down,” says Dave Roy, se­nior music buyer for the 580-store Trans World Music Corp. chain, based in Albany, N.Y.
 
“They’ve been performing fantas­tically,” says John Ratale, buyer for the 120-store National Record Mart chain in Pittsburgh. “We’ve sold 34,800 copies, as of Monday [Sept. 23]. We’ve had the [point-of-sale] sys­tem up for four years, and these have to be the biggest numbers I’ve ever seen."
 
Tom Jacobson, head buyer for 33- store Rose Records in Bellwood, Ill., says the GN’R albums racked up “by far the biggest first-week sales I’ve seen on any record.”
 
“We’ve probably sold in excess of 80,000 units so far,” says Lew Gar­rett, VP of purchasing for the 300- store Camelot Music chain in North Canton, Ohio.
 
Tracy Donihoo, director of the pur­chasing department at Dallas-based Sound Warehouse, says the albums sold 15,000 units on the release day.
 
A number of retailers report that the Guns N’ Roses albums blew out of the box at midnight sales held Sept. 17, the day of release.
 
“I think we went through 23,000 units that night chainwide,” says Bob Delanoy, VP of retail operations for 65-store Tower Records in Sacramen­to, Calif.
 
Ratale says he visited a National Record Mart outlet in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, one of six in the chain that reopened at midnight. “I got there at 11:30, and they closed their doors at 2. The line was around the block, which was something.”
 
Some retailers believe that, after a flat year, the Guns N’ Roses albums are finally pulling people back into re­tail stores.
 
“You keep reinforcing the buyer to go back into the store,” Ratale says. “They’re getting people interested again. They’re quality records, too— there’s no buyer’s remorse.”
 
“It’s really helped our business for the week,” Jacobson says. “It’s be­ginning to feel a lot like Christmas.”
 
Garrett says, “When we opened at midnight, we sold probably another 1,000 units of the new Ozzy Os­bourne, which went on sale the same day. We definitely had some add-on sales.”
 
Some retailers remain skeptical about the pull-through ability of the GN’R albums. Donihoo says, “These are not the records that are going to make Christmas, but they could do it in combination with other superstar product.”
 
Others remain convinced that the albums will be steady sellers, as the band’s singles receive top 40 radio ex­posure.
 
“I think they’re remarkable al­bums, and I think they’ll be signifi­cant projects for us for two years,” Garrett says.
 
GUNS AROUND THE GLOBE
 
The Guns N’ Roses sales phenome­non is not restricted to the U.S. Mel Posner, who heads up Geffen’s inter­national operations, says the records shipped a total of 3.7 million units outside of America.
 
Posner reports that the "Illusion” albums entered at No. 1 and No. 2 in the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, and on Japan’s international chart, and that the albums entered the charts together in the top five in Swe­den, Germany, Austria, Norway, Spain, and Switzerland.
 
“Most of the territories on the day of release were achieving their nine­-month [sales] projections,” Posner says.
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Post by Blackstar Thu Apr 08, 2021 6:43 pm

Billboard, October 19, 1991:

Use Your Illusion I & II - Page 2 1991_130
Singapore Bans New GN’R, Prince Sets
 
Ministry Finds Material ‘Objectionable’
 
■ BY CHRISTIE LEO
 
SINGAPORE—Guns N’ Roses and Prince have had their latest releases banned by the Ministry of Informa­tion & the Arts here on the grounds of “objectionable themes and pro­fane lyrics.”
 
But while the record companies are counting their losses as a result of the government’s censorship in­tervention, many record retailers are happy as cash registers ring up sales of parallel imports of the “problem” releases.
 
Guns N’ Roses were the first ca­sualty when MITA singled out three tracks from “Use Your Illusion II” for allegedly obscene lyrics. “Use Your Illusion I” is not banned and therefore can officially be purchased locally.
 
Says Steven Tan, BMG managing director, Singapore: “Though the ministry has said we can rerelease the second volume of ‘Illusion’ if we delete the three offending tracks, we prefer to let the matter rest.
 
We’re certainly not going to edit it, so we won’t be selling it.”
 
BMG had originally imported 1,000 units of the “Illusion” albums, but withdrew them from sale a day after release when MITA an­nounced its decision to ban the songs. Dealers report brisk, though unspecified, sales of parallel im­ports.
 
Despite that territory’s even stricter censorship controls, Guns N’ Roses’ album package has been released in Malaysia. The band’s first album, “Appetite For Destruc­tion,” was also banned in Singapore by MITA, but months after its origi­nal release.
 
And controversy certainly tail­gates Prince in this region, where virtually all of his albums have been indicted for containing “objection­able” tracks. According to Warner Music here, only “Around The World In A Day” was passed with­out deletion or track amendments by the ministry.
 
Says Peter Lau, Warner Music sales director, “We took all precau­tionary measures to ensure a trou­ble-free release for Prince’s ‘Dia­monds And Pearls’ album by sub­mitting an advance sample tape and copy of the lyrics to MITA a month ago. We’d hoped for good news, but when ‘Gett Off’ was banned, we didn’t let it get to us.”
 
Now Warner plans to bring out an abridged version of the new Prince package without the lead single. Meanwhile, says Lau, the company is pushing the new single, “Cream,” to radio producers and DJs in the hope that it will stimulate sales.

Lau notes, “Controversy and dis­pute have shrouded Prince here ever since he became a major inter­national act. While he’s not a huge seller in Singapore, his full potential hasn’t yet been tested in this mar­ket.”
 
Two other acts from the Warner stable, Color Me Bad and Motley Crue, have also run into govern­ment checks on new material.
BMG’s Tan and Warner’s Lau are appealing to the ministry to take firmer measures to ensure that par­allel imports of material officially banned by the government are not allowed on sale in Singapore stores.
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Post by Soulmonster Wed Sep 01, 2021 6:38 pm

30 Years Later, We Realize Use Your Illusion Is Axl Rose's Magnum Opus

In honor of both Guns N’ Roses’ return to North Texas on Wednesday, Sept. 1, two weeks ahead of the 30th anniversary of the release of Use Your Illusion, it's worth revisiting the album that marked both the artistic peak and beginning of the end of Guns N’ Roses — and taking a closer look at the creative madman behind the album.

There’s a definite correlation between occurrences of madness as a byproduct of genius, but, if reversed there’s a case to be made that there’s a little bit of genius behind frontman Axl Rose’s definite madness.

Not many memorable albums emerged from the morally lax hairspray-and-spandex-clad Sunset Strip music scene in the mid-1980s that would be classified as “genius,” but if any artist was able to defy the odds and rise above the filth while simultaneously capitalizing on the grime, it’s Guns N’ Roses.

In Rob Tannenbaum’s 1988 Rolling Stone profile “The Hard Truth About Guns N’ Roses,” Rose discussed growing up in Indiana, a time which included being arrested “over 20 times.” Despite his high IQ, Rose said he was told by a psychiatrist that his behavior was indicative of psychosis. Well, that explains a lot.

Despite all the controversy Rose has embroiled himself in over the years, his place in the rock pantheon is as secure as Steven Tyler’s or Mick Jagger’s. Guns N’ Roses’ debut album Appetite for Destruction and its grimy no-holds-barred attitude is regularly featured on lists of greatest debut albums, greatest rock albums and greatest albums of all time.

But here’s a hot take: Use Your Illusion is much better than Appetite for Destruction.

GNR released twin albums on Sept. 17, 1991. Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II not only exceed Appetite’s scope and abilities, they’re an ambitious glimpse into the furiously creative mind of Axl Rose.

After Appetite’s runaway commercial success — topping the Billboard charts in 1988, one year after its release — Guns N’ Roses released the 33-minute mini-album G N’ R Lies, featuring one side of previously released faux live cuts and another side of acoustic material, including the hit “Patience.” But the pressure was on to release a full-length followup.

In between the release of G N’ R Lies and the recording of Use Your Illusion, founding drummer Steven Adler was fired from the band because of his rampant drug abuse and was replaced by Matt Sorum of The Cult. It’s a change that could have doomed the band, as Adler’s extraordinary feeling gives the songs on Appetite a sort of rock ‘n’ roll swing that most rock bands of the time sorely lacked. Only one song for Use Your Illusion was completed before Adler’s dismissal, the sweeping disc II opener “Civil War,” the recording of which purportedly took as many as 30 takes due to Adler’s inebriation in the studio.

Despite his essential contributions to Appetite for Destruction (supposedly he provided “Sweet Child O’ Mine” with its optimistic tempo, helping prevent it from slouching into the trappings of a conventional ballad), it’s hard to imagine Adler’s loose, feel-driven style of drumming driving the train on Use Your Illusion’s more technically intricate songs. Sorum’s heavier hand helps steer careening rockers like “Locomotive” and “Double Talkin’ Jive,” while still being able to swing when needed, such as on rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin’s bluesy vocal showcases “Dust N’ Bones” and “14 Years.”

Sorum’s entry into the band was a baptism by fire. His debut with the group was a headlining performance at the Rock In Rio festival in front of 140,000 people. In addition to Sorum, the band added full-time keyboardist Dizzy Reed to add texture and color to Rose’s ever-expanding compositions. The next phase of Guns N’ Roses was around the corner.

In contrast with Appetite’s practically pure back alley filth, Use Your Illusion is an explosion of styles and sounds — the result of a band not in the midst of a turbulent lineup change, but one completely uninhibited by audience expectation, commercial expectation and personal ills. If Appetite for Destruction was an album that put Guns N’ Roses on the map by allowing them to rage against the commercial insincerity of hair metal on their own terms, who would stop them from doing it again?

Use Your Illusion is a record so overabundant in its riches that it inadvertently held fans over for 17 years until GNR released their next album of original material, 2008’s much delayed (and subsequently mythologized) Chinese Democracy. One can similarly reappraise Chinese Democracy after divorcing it from the years of hype that resulted in the album becoming a punchline, but let's leave that for another time.

The so-called “classic” era of Guns N’ Roses only made three studio albums of original material (four if the two halves of Use Your Illusion are counted separately), and while the band did release a fifth album — 1995’s The Spaghetti Incident — it was composed solely of covers.

Those three original albums yielded 50 songs and four hours of music. That’s more playing time than Creedence Clearwater Revival’s entire discography. And guess what? Two and a half hours of that — 30 of those 50 songs — are solely on Use Your Illusion.

The record is not a sterling artistic statement free of any kind of missteps or excess. Could it have been condensed to one album? Probably. That might have even helped its reputation over the years. But Use Your Illusion stands as it is, warts and all. The “ideal single-disc version” of Use Your Illusion is a debate that has likely been held in record stores and parking lots alike the world over. One of the biggest questions is whether “Get in the Ring” is worth keeping.

Rose’s impassioned rant against various specifically named music critics at the climax of “Get in the Ring” remains simultaneously amusing and embarrassing, more or less defining Illusion’s warranted overconfidence. It’s an act of pointed aggression that practically no other musician would consider immortalizing on a record. In some ways, it’s a statement of boldness and a flag of unfuckwithability that Axl planted when no one else would (or needed to).

One adversary to whom Rose challenged to “Get in the Ring” was Spin magazine founder Bob Guccione Jr., who publicly accepted Rose’s challenge, only for Rose to later back out after learning that Guccione Jr. had nine years of fight training.

Double albums often feature an overabundance of ideas: The Beatles’ White Album, Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk and the Rolling Stones’ Exile On Main St. Duality is a recurring theme across Use Your Illusion, not necessarily lyrically, but in the way the album was presented and pieced together. In addition to being recorded concurrently, released on the same day, sharing artwork and bearing the same name, Use Your Illusion’s two different colored halves mirror each other artistically in other ways: both have an 8+ minute piano-driven epic and an 8+ minute hard rock epic; each features a nearly identical recording of the ballad “Don’t Cry”; each has songs written and sung by a member of the band other than Rose (Stradlin handles the bulk of these duties, with three songs on I and one on II, along with bassist Duff McKagen’s only vocal showcase “So Fine”); and perhaps, most notably, each record features a cover of a '70s classic rock staple. Wings’ “Live and Let Die” on I, and Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” on II.

“Live and Let Die” is given a nearly identical arrangement to Paul McCartney and co.’s original version, with the string and horn parts handled by Slash and Stradlin’s guitars, keyboardist Dizzy Reed’s piano, and Rose himself playing synthesizer. “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” on the other hand, is given a grand, power ballad-like treatment that greatly expands upon Dylan’s original spare folk tune.

It would be easy to delineate the two halves of Illusion with generalities on their respective track listings — one can say I is heavier and more similar to Appetite, while II is more ambitious and eccentric — but there are enough exceptions that the entirety of the album flows cohesively and generally avoids getting stagnant. While most of the band’s forays into unorthodox instrumentation land on Use Your Illusion II (such as the banjo-and-piano-driven “Breakdown” and ominous sitar intro of “Pretty Tied Up”), it also contains two of the most straightforward and ferocious rockers the band ever recorded: “Locomotive” and the smash hit “You Could Be Mine.”

Freeing themselves up from the standard palate of rock ‘n’ roll sounds allowed Rose to expand his songwriting and further incorporate balladry alongside GNR’s usual snarl. If there’s anything that separates an Axl-penned ballad from those of his hair metal “contemporaries," it’s that most bands of the period offered up disingenuous ballads as a way to showcase a supposed emotional range.

Axl Rose’s ballads never really feel like they are, though they are ballads by definition due to their musical scope and slower tempos. “Estranged” does not evoke the lighter-swaying schlock of Poison's “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” but feels anguished and calamitous. In “Estranged,” Slash’s guitar playing is massive, evoking the weeping, restrained playing of Michael Schenker on UFO’s “Love To Love” (one of the reasons GNR picked producer Mike Clink to helm Appetite and eventually Use Your Illusion was due to his work engineering UFO’s live album Strangers in the Night). Slash’s contribution to the song is so crucial that in the album’s liner notes, he is thanked personally for “the killer guitar melodies.”

Of course, the most notable ballad in the Guns N’ Roses oeuvre is the nine-minute mini-symphony “November Rain,” which remains the longest song in history to enter the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 chart (peaking at no. 3). Putting aside its opulent video, “November Rain” is sort of the power ballad to end all power ballads. It’s longer, grander, and much more commercially successful than nearly any song that would land on a “That’s What I Call Power Ballads” CD. The song’s defining orchestration was arranged and performed by Rose himself, using what is described in the album’s liner notes as a “keyboard orchestra.” Most of the piano playing across the entire album was handled by Rose as well.

Despite having written “November Rain” well before the days of Appetite, Rose realized that including those songs on the band’s debut would interfere with their mission statement and smartly left them off. The closest thing to a “ballad” on Appetite is “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” which easily could've slipped into sappy lighter-waving territory but is elevated by the band’s steady groove and galvanized by Axl’s childlike sincerity, resulting in one of the most iconic rock songs of all times. Whenever tempted with the conventional option, Axl and co. go above and beyond.

“November Rain” is so far and beyond GNR’s typical ambitions that one can argue that one of the biggest missteps on the entirety of Use Your Illusion is that the song doesn’t close the record but is tucked halfway on disc I. It feels like a misuse of the song’s climactic emotional heft.

Despite (or perhaps because of) Use Your Illusion’s unrestrained explosion of creativity and ambition, some moments on the album feel redundant and/or repetitive. “Garden of Eden” and “Perfect Crime” are essentially the same song, “Don’t Damn Me” feels like an impatient run-through of “You Could Be Mine,” the alternate version of “Don’t Cry” feels like an unnecessary interruption of the album’s final leg, and the chugging riff of “Pretty Tied Up” is perfected on the very next track as the massive, seemingly unstoppable runaway engine of “Locomotive.”

Like other groups whose peak recorded output was cut short — Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles — GNR's place among the greats is cemented. Fortunately for them, it was a feat accomplished without being forced to bear the weight of tragedy as those other bands.

The album’s actual closing track doesn’t quite stick the landing either. The minute-and-a-half industrial bark “My World” is a cast-off experiment that should've been between tracks on any other place on the record, but for some reason ended up being Illusion’s closing argument, after the alternate lyric version of “Don’t Cry” (little did we know that “My World” clumsily foreshadowed the improved industrial sounds that would reappear on Chinese Democracy 17 years later). It’s almost like Axl Rose was so preoccupied with simply releasing the wealth of material that he forgot to order it in a manner that would aid in the listening experience.

The cracks were already beginning to show.

While GNR’s forefathers the Rolling Stones and Aerosmith suffered from combustible personalities and practically unlimited access to illicit substances, neither group was operating at the sheer horsepower — in performance and lifestyle abuse — as Guns N’ Roses.

On Nov. 7, 1991, less than two months after Use Your Illusion’s release, Stradlin abruptly quit the band after Rose nearly incited another riot mirroring his infamous incident in St. Louis in which he beat up a fan for filming the show. By tour’s end in 1993, Guns N’ Roses had played its final show of the millennium, and by 1997, Slash, McKagen and Sorum had departed as well.

As we all know, Rose spent the next two decades attempting to move GNR out of the shadow of its departed members with little success. After he finally buried the hatchet with McKagen and Slash in 2016, three out of five of Guns N’ Roses’ classic lineup reunited to return to their deserved stadium rock glory.

Like other groups whose peak recorded output was cut short — Nirvana, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles — GNR's place among the greats is cemented. Fortunately for them, it was a feat accomplished without being forced to bear the weight of tragedy as those other bands. Guns N’ Roses were eventually able to set aside their differences and celebrate the beauty of their body of work by sharing it with their fans in concert more than two decades later. The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Nirvana were never able to do that.

After all, nothing lasts forever, even cold November rain.
Source: https://www.dallasobserver.com/music/use-your-illusion-is-guns-n-roses-greatest-album-fight-us-12320175
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