Why Guns N’ Roses’ Chinese Democracy Deserves Another Chance


With the feedback I received from fans when I asked them about Chinese Democracy at Guns N’ Roses’ two MetLife Stadium shows, I am going to do a follow up on my thoughts of the experience.

I happen to really like Chinese Democracy. I was extremely excited when the album came out. I think the best part about it was that it didn’t sound how I expected it to. Many artists who make albums decades after their prime years tend to stick with their usual sound. This album had a unique and modern twist to it. Axl has always been big on experimenting with new technology, as heard on the Use Your Illusion albums.

While I like the majority of the album, I am going to discuss the songs that stand out most to me.

I always liked “Better,” so it was definitely exciting hearing it live at every one of their shows. I also really enjoyed the way they changed the intro when they perform it. “There Was A Time” is another track on the album I really like, almost sounding like it could’ve been on one of the Illusion albums.

“Madagascar” is one of the most powerful songs of the bunch. Axl’s assertive lyrics served as a message for everyone to back off of him and stop criticizing his decisions regarding the future of the band and the album. The use of the quote from Cool Hand Luke mixed between the Martin Luther King Jr. speech gave me feelings of nostalgia as this quote is most closely associated with “Civil War.”

“This I Love” is Axl’s time to shine on the album. He showed his listeners he is still capable of reaching the very top of his range as well as the rasp that we all know and love. Hearing this tune live has been a pleasure as well. Considering it is such a quiet song, it again gives Axl a chance to show the stadiums what he’s made of. “Prostitute” is one of my other favorites as well.

After asking several people outside of the stadium over the two days what their take on the album was, I was slightly disappointed at the amount of people who not only had never listened to it, but never knew it ever existed. It did take a long time for it to be put out, but it is surprising that anyone can say they love Axl that hadn’t been following along with what he was doing. When the one man featured at the end of the video said he loved it, I was shocked because I was happy someone finally had something to say about it.

I approached a group of people to interview them, and they (like most other people) wanted nothing to do with it. But one of the men in the group asked me if he could talk to me without being filmed. He claimed he had been a friend of Axl’s for 25 years and said, “I can guarantee you 90% of people here won’t even know it exists. I’ve hardly even heard much about it. It’s a shame right? All that work he put into it…but he still made millions off of it so he didn’t lose anything.”

In another Alternative Nation article, it was noted that Howard Stern made some comments about the tour. He wanted to see it, but did not want to hear any songs off of Chinese Democracy. My only comment on that statement is that I can’t really imagine Guns N’ Roses cares at all what Stern or anyone else wants to hear…they know all of those people are paying to see them and want to hear the classics. But they don’t only have classics, diversity keeps things interesting and I actually think it’s awesome that Slash and Duff are playing the songs at all.

In conclusion, I was baffled that so many people had not even given the album a chance. I only hope that after seeing the show and hearing some of the new songs that they will pick up a copy of it.

  • Kooler Than Jesus

    Most people see it as a solo album by Axl and not as real GnR album, that’s why a lot of people don’t really care about it and have zero interest on hearing its songs in this tour.

    • Billy

      i tend to agree. For me personally it is a very polarizing album. I really like half of it, i really don’t like the other half of it. By the time it finally came out, a lot of ppl could have cared less about it.
      If the World is my fave GnR/Axl track tho.

    • Rob Doen

      It’s just funny to see the posers say that they “love GNR”, but as the writer said, they never even heard any of it, or that it even existed. LOL

  • MichaelFortes

    It’s really a fantastic album, far more consistent in quality and easier to digest the the Illusion albums, despite those albums containing far more indelible classics. And I agree, it’s been a real treat hearing Slash and Duff put their own stamp on the songs. The song “Chinese Democracy” sounds amazing, and Slash’s playing on it is simply brilliant. And the new intro to “Better” is great, though it sounds to me like Slash hasn’t quite found his voice on that song yet. His solos on it sounded a little like he wasn’t exactly sure if he had the right approach. But I’m sure that by the next leg of the tour he’ll own that song just as strongly as “Chinese Democracy.” I’d definitely love to hear the reunited band tackle “There Was a Time,” and “Scraped” too.

  • Raj

    Lots of good songs but it is too grandiose and overproduced. Axl’s voice sounds different on some the album, not so much a voice change over the years but his breathing. Some songs are recorded in the 90’s but the songs where is voice is different were more recent on CD.

  • Go Hiomlán Mandelbrotmenge Imi

    I like it when AN posts real articles and I consider Lauryn a good writer.