Album Title: Use Your Illusion I
Artist: Guns N Roses
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.