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Use Your Illusion II

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  • Easily tied with some other albums for “Greatest of All Time”, “Use Your Illusion II” is the one review I kept putting off, not thinking I could ever be in the proper state of mind to give this piece of music the justice and worship that words can never express. Well, I’ve obviously started typing, so let’s see what happens…(Oh first of all let’s get the “Appetite” and “My World” issues out of the way; yes, Appetite is wonderful and there’s no reason to let any sort of comparison between these two albums impede the immense praise that is deserved by both. And yes, “My World” is an example of “WTF, Axl?????”. HOWEVER, you have over 70 of the most well spent minutes of your entire existence to experience from this album before the final two minutes, so how DARE anyone let “My World” affect the reaction towards “Use Your Illusion II.”)Ok here we go. This album is epic (did I mention that?). When you are down and out, ready to give up, think all hope has gone, etc., etc….. you do NOT go to Nirvana. you do NOT go to Britney Spears. No, my friends (and enemies), you go to this album, track 11. There you will find the reason music exists. Heart and soul, blood and guts, tears, catharsis, anger, rage, emotion of the highest form, a purging of all of your demons: THAT is what will be injected into your veins when you listen to one of the greatest songs ever, “Estranged.” Unfortunately, songs like this were a major reason for the sad (and painfully slow) breaking of the fellowship that was known as the mighty original Guns. Axl was (and is) a control freak that dictatorially directed how the music was going to be. His grand schemes exhausted and frustrated his cohorts, who felt they were losing their voices in the band. As tragic as the break has been, I will offer up the condolences that if an album’s creation pays that very highest price that can be paid (short of death), atleast the album created is “Use Your Illusion II”, and atleast it contains the song “Estranged.”If you liked Guns N Roses after 1993 (such as I did), you were CRUCIFIED by the public. There’s a lot of moral wrongs in society, and I’m not going to start comparing Nirvana fans to terrorists, but I will say that the nineties gave us blatant evidence as to why not enough people are open-minded and think for themselves. The music of Guns N Roses – the very music that was irrationally chastised for being mindless, talentless and overblown – is some of the most gut-wrenching, fist-clenching, serious and thought-provoking music out there. Just LISTEN to what Axl’s actually ranting about. Just FEEL what Slash’s Les Paul is really doing to your soul. It all comes together with this album. I love the Beethoven 9th as much as the next guy, but the grand finale to “Estranged” is the most emotional music I’ve ever heard. It may be from a rock band, but the point is, it’s from THIS rock band. Learning “Estranged” on piano is what made me what I am today – instead of quitting piano, I majored in it. Instead of laying down to die in front of the door of the past decade of musical B.S., I vowed to go to my grave defending the music that really reaches out to people, trendy or not.More than the already unsurpassable amount of blessing must be given to the fact that this is not an album with just one sound. Guns pulled off the project of pure human emotion with diversity! “Estranged” itself winds around into different keys, with different themes, and different moods. A real journey of body and mind. But just about every other song is of the same ilk. “14 Years” was just as influential on me, schooling me on some serious blues rock. I’ve never felt more conviction from any band’s live performance than from the studio recording of this song! The entire band really seems to be letting off some serious steam in this one, so make sure you let it get into your blood! And speaking of letting off some steam, how about “Get in the Ring?” This is THE quintessential anger song. While a simple punk band can only really ever deal with anger in one dimension, Axl and co. really let you into a web of emotional complexity with their ability to actually PLAY their instruments (sorry, some of you might not know what that is). Granted, some of the lyrics are more blatant than a sledgehammer (“When you’re talking ’bout a vasectomy…” ), but these lines are always offset by more crafty, if intense, ones (“I sense a smell of retribution in the air”). It should be noted that if you’re one to be offended at times, the skip button was invented for the song “Get In The Ring”. Everyone else… rock on!100 paragraphs each also go to “Civil War,” “Breakdown,” and “Locomotive,” (not to mention the epic-ifying of a pretty basic Dylan tune, “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” and the alternate [better] lyrics for “Don’t Cry,” and don’t forget Arnold ["You Could Be Mine"]!!!)…but I’ve made my point and Amazon only allows 1000 words. Just imagine “Estranged” done 10 times over and you’ve got the album…the MASTERPIECE.Bottom line about the timelessness to these wonderful songs, this album is FRESH. While some bands’ music does sound dated and stale, nomatter how many times I start up “Civil War,” I feel myself taken to a new dimension. The songwriting, playing, band-chemistry, recording, mixing, timing…. it all comes together on this album better than just about any other. If you are in need of therapy, and/or if you like rock music, and/or if you are human, “Use Your Illusion II” is the all-purpose pinnacle.If you find these opinions to resemble your own, you are highly encouraged to email!

    Posted on February 24, 2010