Monday, December 01, 2008

Charty Democracy

So I was awoken by my alarm this morning at some ludicrously early hour, I always ignore my alarm but it's good to have a routine.

Ok. Yes. I am one of those freaks who like to be woken up massively in advance of when he has to be woken up just to have the satisfaction of knowing I don't need to be awake for ages and can go back to sleep. And yes on a normal day and for reasons best know to itself, my brain wakes up about 2 minutes before that alarm goes off no matter when I set it for.

After the first false alarm alarm, at 7:30am the radio kicks in. It's far enough away for me to have to actually move about in order to get to it, so usually I leave it on and gradually wake up enough to be in what I like to call the 'post-asleep, pre-11am/4 cups of coffee' state. I'm working on something snappier, but I am the literal sort so it’s not easy.

Anyway, I kind of went past the bit where I could do a seamless segway into the point of this post. The radio comes on at 7:30am just as 6Music News starts. Today, once they'd got past all the unimportant stuff to do with terrorist attacks in Mumbai and Thai airports and suchlike, they moved onto the important business of the Billboard charts. Apparently the Killer album beat Guns 'N' Roses Chinese Democracy to the number 1 spot. Apparently pundits had expected it the other way around, some bollox about in hard times people listen to hard music.

Fairly certain there wasn't too much thrash jazz about in during the Wall Street crash, but I am assuming that by allowing them to make these kinds of studies, we are keeping these idiots and their highly flammable beards, corduroys and pony tails away from naked flames. Not so much for their own safety but for the sake of preventing substantial property damage.

Anyway, I digress (again). A more likely indicator that Axl 'I'm taking my football home' Rose's latest endeavour would enjoy chart success is the fact that both AC/DC and Metallica's latest offerings both debuted at number one.

Now, here's the thing... Oh shut up! You knew there was going to be a thing; it's your own fault for reading this far!

The thing. Metallica, biggest metal band of the last however many years. Newest offering? Awe-some. Seriously awesome. After some of the shit they have produced over the last 15 years, I can't tell you how good this album is if metal/hard rock is your thang. They also had the benefit of having their last album be utterly without redemption, a truly awful piece of crap that had no idea what it was or where it was going. Which, rather than losing them sales this time around, led to a 'Well, it's going to be better than St.Anger - even if they just somehow manage to make some kind of audible syphilis infection, it'll be better than St.Anger' feeling around this release. Couple that with the gap between albums and tours, the more awesomeness of Death Magnetic, the general return to form and the fact that they have a monumentally huge fan base - this was never not going to be number one in a LOT of countries.

AC/DC. Not buying the new AC/DC album at some point (I have a few copies on order) if you're a rock/metal fan is not an option. Angus Young is God. I don't give a toss that all their albums sound the same after Back in Black. I refer you to Angus Young and rest my case. Also see 'Army of loyal fans'. Number one in a LOT of countries. But for a different reason, this isn't a 'return to form'. It's AC/DC, they are awesome and they rock. They've always rocked; even when it wasn't fashionable to rock (hang your heads in shame Metallica! You may have rocked at gigs, but your albums? They did not rock.). This is a loyalty 'Fuck you, I'm 103 years old and AC/DC are getting to number 1 because immortality wins every time bitch!'

OK, maybe not. Maybe they are just both really good albums, metal and hard rock seems to be back in fashion without the necessity of sub-categories like Emo (rebranded Goths with better make-up) or Nu-Metal (E-chords and the rap/melody combo). It'll stop being in fashion again fairly soon I am sure, but it won't stop being awesome and populated with some of the world's most talented musicians.

Chinese Democracy. I have a few problems with this offering:

1) Fifteen years in the making! - Bullshit. 15 years of Axl Rose in and out of rehab, hiring and firing musicians like some kind of demented genius but without the genius part. They probably knocked this thing out in 6 months all told.

2) Bandwagon jumping - You really get the impression they wanted to get this out around the time of the other two releases, I'm sorry but G'N'R, sorry, Axl Rose stopped being relevant about a decade or so ago.

3) Appetite For Destruction - The band, in whatever its form, has never written anything that comes close to the awesomeness of this first album. Use your Illusion was cool, great pair of albums but not a speck on AFD. The Spaghetti Incident was laughable...and this, well. See below

4) Was it worth the wait? - No. Fucking. Way. I heard some of the tracks on My Space. They are not BAD tracks, but there's nothing new here. This album basically sank Geffen Records as an independent entity, and saw the walk-outs of numerous music execs, producers, musicians, tea ladies, basically anyone who had any contact with Axl Rose. Fine if it was a symphony of metal or crescendo of hard-rock the likes of which the world has never seen before. But this REALLY isn't. This leads me on to point 5....

5) You're not AC/DC - AC/DC make the music they make because that's what makes them happy, and hard-core AC/DC fans don't like change. Or nurses (they keep stealing their clothes). But mainly, they don't like change. They WANT to keep making the same song, and their fans WANT to keep hearing the same song. Guns N' Roses were a pioneering band once - original, talented and volatile. Now?

6) You're not even Guns N' Roses - You're just Axl Rose working, essentially, with session musicians who fucking hate you. The rest of your crew are off doing their own thing over in Velvet Revolver and have been for years, in fact they have 2 albums. They are looking for a new lead singer right now, but don't be waiting by the phone.

So. Not a bad album from what I've heard of it and I will end up owning it as the first track is certainly pretty good. What it isn’t is 15 years and the livelihoods of those left in the wake of Axl Rose's ego.

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