Saturday, September 10, 2011
CD Review: Use Your Illusion II, by Guns N' Roses (1991)
Significantly better than the co-released Use Your Illusion I, the second volume contain a higher proportion of sharper, memorable material. The bloat factor is still there, however, and a good three to four tracks could have been easily eliminated to elevate the enjoyment quotient of Use Your Illusion II.
Much better are the two centrepiece tracks: Civil War and Knockin' On Heaven's Door. Civil War is likely the best eight minutes on the entire two-volume set. The opening features the classic "what we've got here is...failure to communicate" speech from Cool Hand Luke melding into an Ennio Morricone-style whistled melody, while the rest of the song is a rare example of Axl and Slash hitting their peak on the same composition. Equally memorable is Knockin' On Heaven's Door, Guns N' Roses transforming the Bob Dylan classic into a fine power metal ballad, with a stirring Axl at his emotively nasal best.
Use Your Illusion II gets its additional bite from a solidly enjoyable series of compact high energy tunes. The maniacal Get In The Ring, once it gets going, all of a sudden re-inserts insane danger as the band's middle name; Pretty Tied Up features fine experimentation with an alluring eastern tinge; Locomotive lives up to its name with a chugging riff that is all power and fury thundering down a single track. And You Could Be Mine again unites an inspired Slash with Axl at his sleazy best.
Use Your Illusion I and II contain a grand total of 30 tracks, a mammoth simultaneous output equivalent to two old-fashioned double albums. Unfortunately only about half the material is worth remembering, and Guns N' Roses' inability to distinguish the good from the boring was symptomatic of a band descending into fragmented chaos just as quickly as it shot to unexpected superstardom.
Matt Sorum - Drums
Duff McKagan - Bass
Izzy Stradlin - Guitar
Axl Rose - Vocals
Slash - Guitar
Keyboards - Dizzy Reed
Songlist (ratings out of 10):
1. Civil War - 10
2. 14 Years - 7
3. Yesterdays - 6
4. Knockin' On Heaven's Door - 10
5. Get In The Ring - 9
6. Shotgun Blues - 6
7. Breakdown - 6
8. Pretty Tied Up - 8
9. Locomotive - 9
10. So Fine - 7
11. Estranged - 7
12. You Could Be Mine - 9
13. Don't Cry (Alt. Lyrics) - 8
14. My World - n/a (short track)
Produced by Mike Clink and Guns N' Roses.
Engineered by Mike Clink. Mixed by Bill Price. Mastered by George Marino.
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