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Boston Herald “Chinese Democracy” succeeds because Slash is missing.

Boston Herald "Chinese Democracy" succeeds because Slash is missing.


"Slash fans need to face facts: the guitarist was never right for Rose…"

What are the dudes who said Guns N’ Roses doesn’t work without Slash going to do now?

First things first. “Chinese Democracy” is great – you can hear it right now as a free stream on MySpace [website] and buy it Sunday at BestBuy. It’s not “Appetite for Destruction,” but it’s way more consistent than the bloated “Use Your Illusions.”

Forget that we’ve chased the carrot of new G N’ R tunes Axl Rose has cruelly dangled before us for 17 years. Forget that this is likely the most expensive album ever made at a reported $13 million. Forget that the cast from “Appetite” is long gone. Just listen and you’ll hear the awesome opus Rose intended “Illusion” to be. Because Slash, Izzy Stradlin and the rest ruined Rose’s vision of “Illusion,” “Chinese Democracy” is defined by their absence.

“Chinese Democracy” succeeds because Slash is missing. Slash fans need to face facts: the guitarist was never right for Rose (too much Joe Perry, not enough Brian May); post-“Appetite,” he’s consistently failed to capture his early mad-hatter-run-amok fury.

The guitarists on “Chinese Democracy” – Buckethead, Bumblefoot, Richard Fortus, Robin Finck and Paul Tobias – use Slash’s dirty blues as a starting point but take it places G N’ R’s iconic axe-man could never, and would never, want to go. And the results are wicked cool.

“I.R.S.” tilts between a gentle lilt and a classic “Appetite” grind. Beneath the lilt are lyrical blues lines. Over the top of the grind are supernovas that reference Tom Morello, Yngwie Malmsteen, Vernon Reid and Slash, too. “Scraped,” “Better” and “If the World,” all vaguely electronic, use this same approach: bursts of straight, lyrical rock guitar, bursts of fast, twisted notes that sound like they’re coming from a malfunctioning cyborg.

The absence you notice most is Stradlin.. G N’ R’s second guitarist wrote the band’s straightest rock songs (“Patience,” “Mr. Brownstone,” “Think About You”). No Izzy means no good Stones’ cops. And because Rose doesn’t do simple well without Stradlin, the weakest tracks on “Chinese Democracy” are its most typical, specifically the title track and “Shackler’s Revenge.”

But no Izzy means Rose is free to write what he wants: sagas equal to his best “Illusion” experiments. Half of “Chinese Democracy” consists of big, bold, piano-driven operettas directed at his old band mates, himself and his haters.

“Sometimes I feel like the world is on top of me/breaking me down with an endless monotony,” Rose sings on “Scraped.” Then he adds, “like a daily affirmation, I am unconquerable.”

So what’s Rose retained from his past life? His Queen fascination is in full bloom. His wicked yowls, howls and growls remain intact, and his obsession with “Cool Hand Luke” has held – this time incongruously paired with Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream” sound bites and Kashmir-like strings on “Madagascar.”

Oh, and there’s his ego. Now everybody knows Slash wasn’t the genius in the band.

Download the brooding, black, brilliantly un-“Appetite” tell-off, “Sorry.”

Courtesy of Boston Herald.com >HERE<

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