Tag Archives: Use Your Illusion II

Rocks In The Attic #424: Guns N’ Roses – ‘Use Your Illusion II’ (1991)

RITA#424The companion piece to Use Your Illusion I, this one was always my favourite of the two, really just because it has You Could Be Mine on it. In the early ‘90s, when I first heard this album I was already a huge movie fan, and so I knew the song like the back of my hand from its appearance in Terminator 2: Judgement Day.

Listening to the album twenty four years later, it feels more and more bloated with every listen. The record kicks off with Civil War which immediately leaves a sour taste in my mouth, being the last song that Steven Adler played drums on before he was unceremoniously kicked out of the band. When they said goodbye to Adler, they also said goodbye to the one component that brought swing to the band.

Matt Sorum may be a fine replacement, but he’s nothing special – a rock by numbers drummer, with none of the groove that Adler splashed all over Appetite For Destruction. Adler is sorely missed, and instead of sounding sleazy, the overall sound is too polished, too safe to be considered dangerous. If anything, it just made me mad that people would lap this turgid crap up by the bucketload, but only a few years later one of my favourite British rock bands, the Wildhearts, would sell a decimal point worth of records in comparison – even though everything they released was innovative, energetic and more interesting. There are more riffs in one three-minute Wildhearts song than in an eight minute GNR epic like Estranged or November Rain.

Use Your Illusion II also gives us Get In The Ring – a huge, embarrassing mess of a song aimed at the band’s rock critics. In this sickeningly jolly, uptempo number, Axl Rose embraces his southern hick sensibilities and calls out several journalists who had stuck in his craw over the years. His vocals sound like the sort of thing you’d hear in a trailer park around midnight on a Friday, before the camera crew from Cops turns up, and an overweight police officer jumps on somebody and shouts “Stop resisting!” as he employs  excessive force. Instead of sounding dangerous, Axl sounds pitiful. What a way to prove your critics right.

I’ve never owned The Spaghetti Incident? I have no reason to. After this, GNR were dead to me. And I wouldn’t even consider listening to Chinese Democracy. What a fall from grace. At one point, Guns N’ Roses were the biggest rock band in the world – but history keeps confirming that they really only had one great album.

Hit: You Could Be Mine

Hidden Gem: So Fine

Rocks In The Attic #161: Guns N’ Roses – ‘Use Your Illusion I’ (1991)

Yes, these albums are bloated and self-indulgent – but what an achievement. Well, if you like that sort of thing, that is.

The Use Your Illusion albums are generally considered to be two single albums – released on the same day in 1991 – and probably worthy of joining together and treating as a double album. But when you look at their running times, they’re double albums in their own right. The vinyl version of both albums come spread across two discs, explained by their lengthy running times – one hour and sixteen minutes for the first one, with the second one only a minute shorter. So if you stuck them together, they’d be a quadruple album (or looking at the size of the run-out grooves on some of the sides, they’d probably make them fit across three discs). I don’t know if anybody in their right minds would cope with that sort of running time.

Prior to the release of these albums, fans of Guns N’ Roses thought the sun shone out of their rock star arses. These albums prove otherwise. There’s a hell of a lot of filler on here, albeit alongside some killer singles and worthy album tracks. Yes, an accomplishment, but like most ‘double-albums’ it’s easy to see here how a single disc would have sufficed. Shit, a single disc of the best tracks here would probably rival Appetite For Destruction.

Mentioning Appetite also brings to mind one other notable downer about the Use Your Illusion albums – the sound. Production-wise, Appetite was gritty and sounded dirty as hell, but being the biggest rock band on the planet brings a curse – better equipment, better recording studios, bigger egos and an inability to self-judge in the same way that was possible when recording a debut album.

The music all sounds way too clean in comparison to Appetite – and the addition of keyboards and several other additional instruments takes the band further away from anything remotely cutting-edge or punk, and towards middle-of-the-road commercial acceptance.

Hit: November Rain

Hidden Gem: Dead Horse