File this in the Holy Shit! Department . . .

Geffen Records announces release date
for Chinese Democracy
by Mike D'Ariano


 

According to Blabbermouth.net, Geffen Records has announced that November 29, 2005 will be the release date for Chinese Democracy.

What's Chinese Democracy?

Simple. Chinese Democracy is the first studio album by rock legends Guns N' Roses in more than a decade. It's actually been twelve years since GNR's last studio effort, the all-covers album, "The Spaghetti Incident?" and it's been fourteen years since "Use Your Illusion I & II", the last album(s) that contained ANY original material. Ironically, Use Your Illusion II contained the song "14 Years" complete with the lyrics:

"It's been 14 years of silence, it's been 14 years of pain, it's been 14 years that are gone forever and I'll never have again."

Fitting.

There's one thing you should know . . .

Chinese Democracy, the new Guns N' Roses album, features only one original member of Guns N' Roses along with the guy that played keyboards on their last three albums.

Huh?

Yeah. Guns N' Roses as it stands now is made up of singer/best front man in the history of rock n roll (actually he's officially tied with Jagger) W. Axl Rose, keyboardist Dizzy Reed, and four to six other guys that never had anything to do with the Guns N' Roses of legend. I say four to six guys because Axl has hired and fired so many musicians since the project began in 1995, including all of the remaining original members. . At this point in time, nobody really knows who the hell is in the band, or who plays what on the album.


The original Guns N' Roses band

Now in any other case, I would think this scenario was pretty lame, but there are three things going on here that change that.

1. It's par for the course with GNR. Only 50% of the band's line up on the tour for Use Your Illusion I & II and in the studio for the Spaghetti Incident? were actually in the group during the Appetite For Destruction/GNR Lies era.

2. I saw one of the most recent incarnations of Guns N' Roses at Madison Square Garden three years ago. Although things fell apart and the tour was literally cancelled the next day, the show at the Garden was one of the best, if not THE best, concerts I've ever attended, and I've seen something like 1,000 bands. Why was it so good
?

3. Axl Rose. The most enigmatic, dangerous, mad genius, riot-inciting, rock & roll front man of all time. Yeah, he's probably just crazy, but it's entirely possible that it really did take twelve years and countless producers and musicians to get this thing right. It just may turn out to be the greatest album of all time.

So who the hell is in the band?

Well, it seems like the current and seemingly final line-up of the retooled band looks something like this:

Vocals – Axl Rose
Keyboards – Dizzy Reed
Keyboards and "Sound Effects" – Chris Pitman
Lead Guitar – Robin Finck
Rhythm Guitar – Richard Fortus
Bass – Tommy Stinson
Drums – Brian Mantia a.k.a. Brain

That line up, plus a second lead guitar player in the form of Buckethead, was the one I saw at MSG in 2002. Buckethead quit the band last year, but it seems like the rest of the line up is intact.

Axl Rose Dizzy Reed Chris Pitman Robin Finck
Richard Fortus Tommy Stinson Brian Mantia Buckethead

There's a good chance you recognize a few of those names. Robin Finck was in Nine Inch Nails, Brain was in Primus and now plays in C2B3, Tommy Stinson was in The Replacements, and Richard Fortus has played with the Psychedelic Furs, Ben Folds Five, Gravity Kills, and has done session work for – get this – N'Sync! Hey, if Slash can play poppy crap with Michael Jackson, why can't the new Guns N' Roses guitarist moonlight with Justin Timberlake?

What's on the album?

No one knows for sure. It seems likely that the song "Oh My God" which is the only official release by GNR in the last 10 years (It was on a soundtrack in 1999) will make the cut. Even though, three of the musicians on that track, Paul Tobias, Dave Navarro, and Gary Sunshine are no longer with the band.

It's also probable that the few new songs the band were playing on their ill-fated tour will be included. The most exciting of that bunch is one called "Madagascar" which is an epic "November Rain"-style song that really blew everyone away when they played it live. Other songs that have actually been played on stage include "Chinese Democracy," "The Blues," "Silkworms," and "Rhiad and the Bedouins," which was formally called "Oklahoma."

Also, New York Mets catcher, Mike Piazza allowed local DJ Eddie Trunk to play a tape of a song called "I.R.S." on his radio show in 2003. Trunk supposedly played the song two times before getting a cease and desist order from Axl's attorneys. Piazza claimed he got the tape in the mail from an anonymous fan.

Finally, there's a whole slew of potential titles that have popped up in various publications over the years including Rolling Stone and Spin. Some of those titles include: "Prostitute," "No Love Remains," "Suckerpunched," "Catcher In The Rye," "Today Tomorrow Forever," "Strange Disease," and "Twat."

Will it actually come out?

Again, no one knows for sure. The album has been rumored to be coming out "this year" every year for the past five or six. But even with the new tune on the End of Days soundtrack, and the (didn't quite make it around the) World Tour, there has never been an official release date announced. Now there is one. But anyone who remembers waiting around a decade and a half ago for the Use Your Illusion albums, as they repeatedly got pushed back regardless of announced release dates, knows that nothing should be taken for granted. I guess we'll just have to wait and see.

For more info on what the original Guns N' Roses guys have been up to since leaving the band, be sure to check out this month's installment of Mike's Mix Tape.