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Guns N' Roses
Chinese Democracy
Geffen Records
www.geffen.com
Page 4


Ask yourself
Why I would choose
To prostitute myself
To live with fortune and shame

In the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, the actual Chinese Democracy movement played a central role, but declined in the '90s to the point where it no longer posed a threat to the Chinese government. Similarly, Guns N' Roses may no longer be as relevant as it once was, but Axl and his hired hands have returned with an unapologetic, career-defining record, even if it's not the overwhelming masterpiece that most of us secretly wanted it to be. An original concept album (as the title almost suggests) would have made it more epic and climactic, but the truth is that with this kind of wait, there's really no way a Guns N' Roses album - however good - could exceed its already lofty ambitions. There are just too many natural limitations, be it Rose's voice, narcissism, or the lack of an organic recording process.

But despite the colossal undertaking, even Rose admitted to fans in 2006 that "In the end, it's just an album." And really, Chinese Democracy isn't so much about its music as it is its maker. Rose didn't spend 13 years reinventing the wheel - just obsessively laboring over the next batch of Guns N' Roses songs. But he took the time to make the album he wanted to make at his own freedom and expense, and has finally put some phantoms to rest.

In the end, Chinese Democracy does what any good, respectable rock album does: kicks ass and begs to be heard more. And for that, it's a success. Because when the smoke settles, Rose doesn't change the world with Chinese Democracy, but he walks away triumphantly nonetheless, middle finger raised behind him.

-Ken Devine

Download: "Better", "Street Of Dreams", "There Was A Time", "Madagascar", "Prostitute"

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