Chinese Democracy

Chinese Democracy

November 23, 2008 (Black Frog/Geffen)

In this guide, I give an issue date, release location, and a monetary value of what an item is worth to a collector.  This value only applies to an item that is in perfect mint condition, i.e., it has to be factory sealed.  Please refer to my Evaluation Guide for more information.

 

Track list:

 

1. Chinese Democracy*

2. Shackler's Revenge

3. Better*

4. Street of Dreams (formerly titled The Blues)*

5. If the World

6. There Was A Time*

7. Catcher In The Rye*

8. Scraped

9. Riad N' The Bedouins (formerly titled Oklahoma)*

10. Sorry

11. I.R.S.*

12. Madagascar*

13. This I Love

14. Prostitute

 

Released as a Vinyl LP and CD.

 

Anticipated tracks not on the album: Oh My God and Silkworms.  Asterisks indicate the tracks I was right about.

Promotional Material
 
New Years Eve 2001 US tour crew only T-shirt for the gig in Las Vegas. The front of this round neck, short sleeve black cotton T-shirt features the full color image of a Chinese soldier with white 'Guns N Roses' text at the top and white and red 'Live * New Years Eve * Las Vegas* 01*01*01' text along the bottom. There is a large white and red 'Chinese Democracy Starts Now' logo across the back.  This item is valued at $80.00 USD.

 

Swedish Gig Poster 2001 printed to promote a show by the band in Stockholm, Sweden on June 25,  2001, features the original proposed artwork for 'Chinese Democracy' plus a GNR logo at the top of the poster and details of the show printed at the bottom. Size - 23" x 35".  This item is valued at $28.00 USD.

 

Handbill for the Hartford Civic Center show on 12-03-02 during the 2002-2003 tour that was cancelled two days later after the show at Madison Square Garden.  This item is valued at $30.00 USD.

The Album and Music

I could be wrong, but I think the title was inspired by the book, "Chinese Democracy" by Andrew J. Nathan.  (See Reference Books guide for more information.)

"There are a lot of Chinese democracy movements, and it's something that there's a lot of talk about, and it's something that will be nice to see.  It could also just be like an ironic statement. I don't know, I just like the sound of it." - Axl interview with Kurt Loder November 8, 1999

"This next song is something new. Right before I came here [Las Vegas] when I left LA, the movie Kundun (pronounced koondoon) was on about the Dalai Lama. I kinda like the idea that we're playing the House of Blues because it's associated with that. That came about, I was at the House of Blues in Chicago when Vegas called and asked, 'do you want a gig for Reno at the House of Blues?'  And, 'Sure'. So I was getting ready to leave and the TV was on and it was at the end of the movie. The Dalai Lama's about to cross over the border.  He's being exiled for the rest of his life from his own country and he looks back at the men who helped him escape the Chinese government and he waves and they wave at him. And they show a scene where he looks back at the beginning and he sees every one of them dead because he knew that they would be killed.  They knew that in helping him they would be killed.  It's not necessarily pro or con about China. It's just that right now, China symbolizes one of the strongest, most impressive countries and governments in the world. And we are fortunate to live in a free country. And so in thinking about that it just kind of upset me and we wrote this little song called Chinese Democracy.  The emotion in this next song, that's all it's about. It's not an intelligent song. It doesn't have an answer to anything, but it's the title track of the record which God willing we will finish." -Axl during the live show at the House of Blues on January 01, 2001.

 

In 2003, punk rock band The Offspring announced that they would be naming their upcoming album Chinese Democracy as a dig on the long delayed Guns N' Roses album. The Offspring lead singer Dexter Holland elaborated that "You snooze, you lose. Axl ripped off my braids, I ripped off his album title". The Offspring renamed their album Splinter prior to its release. The band's explanation for the album name change was that once they decided to call the album "Chinese Democracy", the recording and production of their album ground to a halt - again poking fun at Axl and the delays in releasing Chinese Democracy.  However, it turned out to be an April Fools' joke and the Offspring album was eventually released under the title Splinter instead.

 

In July 2005, a band from Kansas called The Ants along with Nashville's Ole Mossy Face released a split EP titled Chinese Democracy. According to a press release, the album has "everything and nothing to do with the delayed and yet to be released Guns N' Roses album of the same name".

 

In September 2005, the Finnish band The Dogshit Boys released their fifth album, also bearing the name Chinese Democracy.

 

 May 2, 2006, New York bubble-gum punks Kitty & The Kowalskis released an album called "Chinese Democracy" on AMP Records.

Axl Rose said in a January 2006 interview with Rolling Stone that his favorite songs on the upcoming album are Better, There Was a Time, and The Blues.  Axl has also stated that there have been about 70 new songs recorded for a total of 3 albums that will be released in the coming years, including Chinese Democracy.

In 2006, it was confirmed by Dizzy Reed that the songs Silkworms and Riyadh and the Bedouins would not be on the upcoming album.  The CD will include a tribute to John Lennon and another about child abuse.  New songs performed by the Guns N' Roses touring band from 2001-2006 include Better, Chinese Democracy, IRS, Madagascar, Oh My God, Riyadh and the Bedouins, Silkworms, The Blues and There Was a Time.  Composer Marco Beltrami worked on orchestral arrangements for tracks titled Thyme, The General, Leave Me Alone, and Seven in October 2002. Composer Paul Buckmaster did the same for Madagascar, The Blues, There Was a Time, and Prostitute.  Demos for the songs Better, Catcher in The Rye, IRS and There Was a Time were leaked online in February 2006.

In a 2007 interview, Axl Rose's close friend Sebastian Bach stated that Chinese Democracy will be the first installment in a trilogy of new albums. Bach also remarked that Rose had told him the third, as of yet untitled, album has been slated for 2012.

Brian Mantia recorded the drum parts for 30 songs in an auditorium above The Village recording studio.  Brian had to have Josh Freese's previous work transcribed onto sheet music so he could play the way Axl wanted it.  The studio rental was $2,000/day.  The album was produced by Axl Rose and Caram Costanzo.

Axl takes a pop at 'free' drink pledge by Dr Pepper

Singer long-awaited album leads to legal challenge

By Guy Adams in Los Angeles
Saturday, 29 November 2008

Axl Rose wants an apology because 'Dr Pepper abused his good name'

It has divided critics, been banned by the Chinese government and was launched in a whirlwind of chaos, acrimony and excess. Now Axl Rose's latest record has kept faith with another rock'n'roll tradition: it has spawned its first lawsuit.

The album Chinese Democracy, which Rose laboured over for more than 14 years before releasing it to his eager public on Sunday, is at the centre of an unlikely dispute between the famously-eccentric singer and the makers of Dr Pepper.

Rose is suing the soft drinks manufacturer for a public apology, and undisclosed damages, alleging that it failed to honour a bizarre promise to celebrate his record's release by giving a free serving of Dr Pepper to everyone in America.

Back in March, in a PR stunt it may now regret, the firm announced that it would hand out 20-ounce containers of its product to the entire nation, should Guns N' Roses finally keep to a deadline and complete their comeback record by the end of 2008. At the time, it looked like a safe bet: Chinese Democracy had been delayed so many times that its production had become a running joke in the music industry unless, that is, you happened to work for the record label Universal, who for a decade-and-a-half had subsidized studio fees to the tune of $13m (8.5m), or roughly $928,571 per song.

But then, the unthinkable happened: Rose managed to make good with his pledge, and finished the album in time for Christmas. Though sales figures are not available until Monday, analysts expect it to sell between 300,000 and half a million copies this week.

Dr Pepper, however, experienced trouble sticking to its pledge. The company's website was so swamped that it repeatedly crashed during the 24 hours where fans could download vouchers entitling them to free drinks.

Rose, whose carefully-cultivated misanthropic image has seen him fall out with every member of his band's original line-up, has now responded by firing a legal complaint to the Dr Pepper Snapple Group. "The redemption scheme your company clumsily implemented for this offer was an unmitigated disaster which defrauded consumers and, in the eyes of vocal fans, 'ruined' the day of Chinese Democracy's release," wrote his lawyer, Alan Gutman. "Now it is time to clean up the mess."

Rose has demanded a full-page apology in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal, together with an expanded time period for punters to redeem the soda and "an appropriate payment to our clients for the unauthorised use and abuse of their publicity and intellectual property rights".

A spokesman for Dr Pepper declined to respond to the detail of Rose's complaint, or his subsequent demands, simply saying it was "a fun giveaway" that the company was perfectly entitled to launch, and took great steps to fulfill.

The singer, a former choirboy with a troubled childhood, has never pandered to other people's agendas. In recent years, the reclusive star has worked his way through eight guitarists (including the group's iconic original member Slash, who left in the mid-1990s, and Brian May of Queen) and, for a time, installed a chicken coop in his recording studio. He has declined all requests for interviews related to this week's launch, and is yet to appear in public since the record hit shelves. He also refused to change the album's title to appease China, which promptly banned it.

In an article titled, Guns N' Roses and Chinese Whispers, Maurice Chittenden reported in the Sunday Times on 11/09/08 that "tracks were recorded in a hall that used to be a Masonic Temple."

To be continued....