Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Guns and Roses challenge

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Three weeks ago I issued the challenge to take the two Use your illusion albums and trim it down to make one album. So you need to trim the filler and then figure out what order you wanted the tracks in. Here is what I came up with for my Use your Illusion album in it's proper order and some explanations.

Right next door to hell-They hit it right with this as the opener.

Knockin' on Heaven's door-One cover song is sufficient and I picked the one I preferred.

Pretty Tied up-I like the vocals and it moves along pretty well

November Rain-One sappy song is enough and this one is good when I am in the mood for it.

Double Talkin' Jive-I almost passed on this at the final cut, but the way it flows and the short length made me feel right about keeping it on.

Bad Apples-This one is a little silly, but it's okay to toss in some humor and I think it's a good change of pace at this point.

14 Years-I like the lyrics and the feel of this song.

Don't damn me-This would probably be the beginning of side two on vinyl. So this big riff and the energy behind it is a good way to kick off the second half of the album.

Civil War-A little more downbeat, but a well written song overall.

Dust -n- bones-Another borderline song, but repeated listenings convinced me it was a keeper. Plus I love the song title.

Dead Horse-There are only a few songs here that I truly love, but this is one of them. Extremely strong track does a lot in little time.

You could be mine-A good wake up call towards the end to keep the momentum going.

Estranged-I thought different tracks as the closer and this might be a little unusual choice, but I think it would leave an impression.

So there is my album and I am no one elses will be exactly the same. Even at it's best, the Use your illusion material wasn't close to Appetite for destruction. UYI was far more mainstream and less interesting than Appetite. However there are good songs from different styles. Maybe most importantly the band developed a sense of confidence at times that came from having toured and developed some experience.

**So what would be on your condensed one album Use your Illusion?


Blogger BeckEye said...

Wasn't sure what length we were going for (old school 10 tracks or longer) so I just went with your format of 13 songs.

Pretty Tied Up - Good rocker to open with, and it's one of my faves.

Bad Obsession - Bringing the funk.

Dust N' Bones - A sweet Izzy groove. One of the best (and most accessible) from the record.

The Garden - I always liked this one. It reminds me of a slightly evil children's song. :)

Don't Cry (original) - The requisite, sensitive ballad! I actually like it a lot, but hate the 2nd version.

So Fine - Half ballad/half rocker..and it's my man Duff!!

Yesterdays - I was between this and Knockin' on Heaven's Door. Since I'm not a big fan of cover songs, I chose this one. It's just a nice song.

14 Years - Sticking with the middle-of-the-record middle-of-the-road good ol' rock 'n roll theme. :)

Civil War - Awesome song.

Estranged - A big ol' epic that I much prefer over November Rain.

Locomotive (Complicity) - A great, driving song heading towards the end.

Dead Horse - Agree with you, this is a terrific song. I almost picked it to close things out because I thought it was appropriate, but I found a better closer.

Get in the Ring - I'm sorry, I still think this song is funny. I really do like the composition, and even though Axl's little tirades have worn thin these days, every time he sings, "I'm gonna kick your ass!" in that gleeful way that he does, I always start laughing. And followed by his own maniacal laughter, I completely lose it. Anyway, I can't think of a more Axl-ish way to end a record than with this "screw you" song.

8:47 AM  
Blogger bob_vinyl said...

When you first suggested this, I was thinking I'd be able to make one 45-50 minute album and the rest would be complete throwaways. As it turns out, I had to make a couple tough calls to get it down to 77:13. I haven't really spent a lot of time with the Use Your Illusions, because when I'm in the mood for GnR, I'm usually in the mood for Appetite. It's been a long time since I've listened to either of these all the way through. I have to say it was a pleasant surprise. Both albums have only minimal filler with a few fantastic songs and a lot of really solid stuff. By 1991, 80s hard rock was truly a low point for rock music, because everything had devolved into fitting the mold rather than breaking it. This wasn't the case with GnR. They stretched out and took chances and expanded their sound. It doesn't match the raw energy and purity of Appetite, but if a band has to get an overinflated ego, it's nice when they can back it up. By and large, the albums still sound fresh. There are some points where it gets a little bit dated, but that can be attributed to production and their insistence on including a lot of silly spoken samples. Overall, the Use Your Illusion albums have held up much better than I ever expected.

I'm pretty sold on the tracks I've chosen, but I'm not 100% sure I like the sequence. That probably would take a few listens to be sure.

Use Your Illusion:

Right Next Door to Hell - This was a good choice as an opener for UYI I. It's pretty straightforward, but has a lot of energy out of the gate.
Double Talkin' Jive - This one will rein things in a bit. The low-key vocals have an interesting cadence that gives the song good energy and a nice feel without the speed.
The Garden - This one expands the sound a bit with fluxuating energy and tinges of the psychedelic.
Civil War - Now that the music has you thinking, this gives you something to think about. It might be a bit of a sentimental choice for me, but it's nice to get a song in with a social conscience.
Locomotive - They had a number of pretty long tracks on here and this manages to stay fresh after 8 minutes without being as huge as November Rain.
Yesterdays - This one isn't a great song, but it serves to ground the album a bit with a solid, medium-paced track. Plus, I've heard this a billion times and I'm still not tired of it.
Dead Horse - The low-key start makes this a nice transition form "Yesterdays" to harder stuff.
You Could Be Mine - This picks up the pace again with a ton of energy and nice hook.
Pretty Tied Up - I like how the Eastern parts transition smoothly into a more traditional rock song. It's a little bit trippy, but in a pretty subtle way.
Breakdown - I like how this builds and builds, but the build up is actually to a mellow part. Something here makes me think of the more rock-oriented early Elton John.
So Fine - This one's a nice ballad with a nice chunk of rock in the middle before finishing mellow. IT's a nice lead-in to the album's crowning achievment.
November Rain - This song proves that GnR's delusions of grandeur weren't all delusions
Knockin' on Heaven's Door - Covers usually make better b-sides than album tracks (see "Live and Let Die"), but not here. I love the gospel backing vocals toward the end.
Garden of Eden - This great mix of groove and speed is the last blast before the album draws to a close.
You Ain't the First - This song has the feel of a good closer. It's more low-key and eases you out of the ride. I like the slide parts as well.

Don't Damn Me - This is a decent song, but the pace changes are often disjointed. It was close to making the cut, but fell a little short.
Perfect Crime - This was even closer to making it. other than the rather dull solo, I don't have a particular reason for why this one was left off other than I ran out of space for a single CD.
Shotgun Blues - Despite a lot of energy, this one also narrowly missed. It might have been a tad too much New York Dolls for me.
Back Off Bitch - This wasn't a serious contender, but it isn't an awful song either. It's a bit generic compared to the other material.
Live and Let Die - Don't put a cover on the album unless you can really make it your own. GnR fails to do that. It's competent, but that doesn't cut it for an album track.
Coma - This one would be a better song if it weren't so long.
14 Years - This is on the fence between b-side and throwaway. It's just a dull song and I hate the piano part.

Don't Cry (either version) - I used to like this song, but time has not been kind. It's just a dull, generic ballad.
Dust n Bones - This just drags too much to bother with.
My World - Is this really a song? At least it's short.
Estranged - They attempted another November Rain, but this one really was a delusion. There are a few good songs in Estranged and it would have been a feat to work them together as they did in November Rain, but they didn't succeed here. Despite some good parts, it's just a disjointed mess when taken as a whole.
Get in the Ring - Does anyone really care who Axl is mad at? It certainly doesn't translate into a song.
Bad Apples - This starts out okay, but quickly degenerates into a bad Stones song (and I hate the Stones).
Bad Obsession - Second-rate Aerosmith shouldn't see the light of day.

9:54 AM  
Blogger Vince Neilstein said...

Awww man... Axl Rosenberg and I tried to do this a year or so ago over a joint. Man was it difficult. The argument over whether "14 years" should be included almost came to fists (I was in favor of its inclusion).

11:45 AM  
Blogger aXe mAn said...

It is time! I have been listening to both albums over the past weeks....
Here is my album, it is 13 songs in length:
~Use Your Illusion~
1)You Could Be Mine
2)Perfect Crime
4)November Rain
5)Dust N' Bones
6)Live And Let Die
7)Pretty Tied Up
8)Knockin' On Heaven's Door
9)Bad Obsession
10)Civil War
11)Back Off Bitch
12)Don't Cry
13)Garden Of Eden

That was harder than expected! That is the best I can come up with. I agree, it doesn't even come close to "Appetite For Destruction". Very cool topic though!

3:12 PM  
Anonymous johnny said...

My illusion

Right next door to hell
Don’t damn me
Bad apples
Dust n’ bones
Pretty tied up
Garden of Eden
You could be mine
Don’t cry (alt lyrics)
Live n’ let die
14 years
You ain't the first

This was incredibly difficult; I agonized for days over some tracks, listening to it on my mp3 player, stereo, computer, asking my kids opinions (like that helped)

Locomotive is the only track as far as I am aware that includes the line "use your illusion"

3:43 PM  
Blogger David Amulet said...

Actually, this is pretty damn close to what I would do. I'd move You Could Be Mine up to track three, though--it hits better early--and maybe drop one or two of yours to make this a decent short album (still not half of what Appetite was)!

-- david

4:02 PM  
Blogger bob_vinyl said...

"Pretty Tied Up" was a song that I'd forgotten and was pleasantly surprised by when I revisited UYI. So far, it's a non-single that everyone has chosen which leads me to believe that they may have missed the boat when they picked the singles for these albums.

3:36 AM  
Blogger Metal Mark said...

Beckeye-I considered So fine, but it didn't quite make it.

Bob-I think a lot of it has held up well. The biggest thing to remember might be not to compare it to Appetite. Appetite was a hard rock album with metal elements. The Use your illusions are far more a cross between hard rock and just rock.

Vince Neilstein-It wasn't easy and a year from now my choices might be different.

axe man-I thought about "You could be mine" as the opener.

Johnny-Interesting that your tracks 2-4 are in the same order as they appear on the album. I always liked those three a lot, but decided to break up the set and spread them out for a change.

David-It's not Appetite, but that fact that many of us think it has held up well after 16 years says something. Not everything G-n-R did was great yet in their day (87-93) they were leaders more than followers and I think that was important. It's just a shame they didn't do more.

Bob (bottom comment)-I agree. I listened to it this morning going to work. It's very tight and somewhat original. It's also included on Live Era and you can hear the huge ovation once the crowd realizes what song it is.

7:54 AM  
Blogger DPTH International said...

Good set, but I would throw in "Coma" and take out "Dust N Bones" and "14 years"

9:57 AM  

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