Guns N’ Roses long-awaited album Chinese Democracy comes out in a few days (free Dr. Peppers all around!). This in and of itself doesn’t mean much to me, but as a fan of Chuck Klosterman, I’m excited.
If you’ve read Klosterman at all, you’re aware of his preoccupation with GNR, Axl, and this project in particular. Now that it’s out, The Onion got him to do a review of the album, which he describes is “like reviewing a unicorn.”
One passage that sticks out to me (but if you enjoy Klosterman at all, read the whole thing) is his view on what Chinese Democracy represents in terms of musical production.
For one thing, Chinese Democracy is (pretty much) the last Old Media album we’ll ever contemplate in this context—it’s the last album that will be marketed as a collection of autonomous-but-connected songs, the last album that will be absorbed as a static manifestation of who the band supposedly is, and the last album that will matter more as a physical object than as an Internet sound file. This is the end of that.
Given all the hullabaloo as to how/when/why/etc. this record would be made, you might expect old Chucky to be disappointed. But you would be wrong.
Still, I find myself impressed by how close Chinese Democracy comes to fulfilling the absurdly impossible expectation it self-generated, and I not-so-secretly wish this had actually been a triple album. I’ve maintained a decent living by making easy jokes about Axl Rose for the past 10 years, but what’s the final truth? The final truth is this: He makes the best songs. They sound the way I want songs to sound. A few of them seem idiotic at the beginning, but I love the way they end. Axl Rose put so much time and effort into proving that he was super-talented that the rest of humanity forgot he always had been. And that will hurt him. This record may tank commercially. Some people will slaughter Chinese Democracy, and for all the reasons you expect. But he did a good thing here.
Stereogum links to the band’s myspace page, which has the album up streaming. And just in time for your end-of-year Best Album consideration!
Oh, and Chuck’s turning his book Killing Yourself to Live into a movie. Busy guy.