[Album Review] "Use Your Illusion II" – Guns N Roses

Use Your Illusion II - Guns N RosesAlbum Title: Use Your Illusion II
Artist: Guns N Roses
Year: 1991
Running Time: 75m 57s

Track listing: 1 Civil War; 2 14 Years; 3 Yesterdays; 4 Knockin On Heavens Door; 5 Get in the Ring; 6 Shtogun Blues; 7 Breakdown; 8 Pretty Tied Up; 9 Locomotive; 10 So Fine; 11 Estranged; 12 You Could Be Mine; 13 Don’t Cry (Alt Lyrics); 14 My World

If “Use Your Illusion I” was the ‘greatest hits’, then “Use Your Illusion II” was the B’-sides and other rarities’ collection. Although it eventually featured three hit singles in ‘Yesterdays’, ‘You Could be Mine’ and ‘Knockin on Heavens Door’, “Use Your Illusion II” packed a lot less of a punch overall than it’s ‘predecessor’.

Examples of how mediocre things get are the live version of antagonistic ‘Get in the Ring’ where Axl basically attacks anyone who gave the band a bad reviews, ‘Breakdown’, the repetitive ‘Locomotive’ and ludicrous sample-fest of ‘My World’.

‘So Fine’, featuring Duff sharing vocal duties with Axl, is interesting in an off-the-wall type way while ‘Pretty Tied Up’ is strong in parts, mainly thanks to Izzy’s foot-tapping rhythm. ‘Estranged’ is epic in length if not in execution while ‘Shotgun Blues’ is fast and focused – it just doesn’t focus on anything in particular.

‘Civil War’ is worth a listen, but it does plod along rather mundanely, and hardly gets the blood flowing – ‘we don’t need your civil war/feeds the rich while It burys the poor’. Certainly very different to his ranting on ‘One In A Million’.

This isn’t a dead loss but it pales to the first collection of tunes. If this was packed in with UYII, then I would have little complaint, but as a standalone album, it’s very weak. Worth getting for the singles and a couple of isloated tunes, but unless you are a massive fan, this is probably best skipped until it hits mid-price.

2star

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[Album Review] "Use Your Illusion I" – Guns N'Roses

Use Your Illusion I - Guns N RosesAlbum Title: Use Your Illusion I
Artist: Guns N Roses
Year: 1991
Running Time: 76m 4s

Track listing: 1 Right Next Door to Hell; 2 Dust N Bones; 3 Live and Let Die; 4 Don’t Cry (Original); 5 Perfect Crime; 6 You Ain’t the First; 7 Bad Obsession; 8 Back Off Bitch; 9 Double Talkin’ Jive; 10 November Rain; 11 The Garden; 12 Garden of Eden; 13 Don’t Damn Me; 14 Bad Apples; 15 Dead Horse; 16 Coma

With a cast of thousands (one of which was Matt Sorum, who replaced Steven Adler after the drummers well publicised drug problems), and a fanfare that would have made you think that Elvis was back, Guns N Roses launched an ambitious two pronged assault in 1991. Thirty tracks split between two new releases called “Use Your Illusion I” and “Use Your Illusion II” propelled Guns N Roses back to the top of the charts. And here is the first of them.

After the straight-laced rock/metal appeal of “Appetite for Destruction”, Rose and the band made a concious decision to investigate more corridors this time around. I mean there is still plenty of hard-edged and gritty rock music here – ‘Right Next Door to Hell’, ‘Perfect Crime’, ‘Back off Bitch’, ‘Garden of Eden’ – but this time we experience slight variations on the theme as well as downright new directions altogether.

‘Dust N Bones’ might rock pretty hard but you can’t help noticing the subtle jaunt of the ivories which was a rare instrument used by G n R. Likewise, the harmonica-drenched ‘Bad Obsession’ almost took on a blues-rock mantle that the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith and, more recently, the Black Crowes, had made their own. ‘The Garden’, featuring Alice Cooper on vocals and a wonderful Slash solo, lulls you with it’s “flower-power”-style verse but wakes you with it’s suitably nefarious chrous. ‘Coma’ is also that little bit different complete with metal-riffs and ER overdub and ‘Double Talkin’ Jive’ is obnoxious enough and noteworthy due to featuring Izzy on lead vocals.

‘Live and Let Die’ was an interesting cover version. Not the most outstanding song originally, Axl does his best to liven things up. Ultimately though it just doesn’t suit the band. However, band classic ‘November Rain’, one of the first tracks Axl wrote, finally gets its stuido release in full nine minute form, while beautiful ballad ‘Don’t Cry’ shows Rose at his more sensitive.

Elsewhere, there is some filler material – country-ballad ‘You Ain’t the First’ is forgettable, ‘Bad Apples’ does nothing much while ‘Don’t Damn Me’ and ‘Dead Horse’ ooze potential but deliver only moderately.

The best of the two “Illusion” albums, this is not too far behind “Appetite for Destruction” in terms of essential GnR.

3halfstar