Hearing that Geffen Records has announced a November 23 release day for the new Guns N' Roses album Chinese Democracy, I guess the kneejerk response is...well, sure, November 23 sounds great--but what year? What decade? What millennium? But darned if the November Geffen means isn't the one coming up in a little over four weeks, meaning just in time for Thanksgiving. And won't we all be extremely thankful that, should this blessed event actually take place as promised, that we can all finally NOT have to keep wondering anymore if indeed there ever was a new Guns N' Roses album out there to begin with?
Of course, even calling this a "new" Guns N' Roses album is something of a leap of faith, seeing as how the only remaining official original member of this once-famous band (and to anyone born after 1991, which is the last time GNR put out an album of original material, please believe that GNR were once pretty famous) is singer Axl Rose, who for all we know may well now be good and bald underneath his old bandana.
For much of the last, oh, decade or two, Rose has been promising/ threatening/whatever-you-want-to-call-it to continue the GNR saga, which by the early 1990s had gone from the story of hard rock warriors who, if nothing else, had successfully demolished the hair metal movement of the 1980s all by their lonesomes, to that of a bunch of whiny, pampered superstars in search of whatever new excess-driven troubles they could get themselves into--an image epitomized by their last official collection, 1993's all-covers The Spaghetti Incident?, which included a composition by none other than convicted mass murderer Charles Manson.
In the meantime, the rest of the GNR crew has moved on, with lead guitarist Slash, bassist Duff McKagan, and drummer Matt Sorum plying their trade for better or worse with former Stone Temple Pilots vocalist Scott Weiland in Velvet Revolver, who if nothing else at least released two actual CDs in four years. And while Axl has gotten plenty of media attention for things he didn't d--like show up for shows, or play entire sets when he did show up--we will finally get to hear the (hopefully not too rotten) fruits of his lengthy labors when the real Chinese Democracy finally drops in one piece.
To be fair, we won't judge the tracks that have been leaked on the Web, because at this point who knows when/where they were recorded or if they'll appear on the finished product. The title track has been released to radio, and it sounds OK, though nothing to hold one's breath over--and given Axl's track record here, I still won't believe this thing exists until it really exists. All I'll say is this: If Izzy Stradlin's aboard, there may be hope. He always was the secret weapon, you know.