When Guns n'Roses last released their own material, it was an event of not inconsiderable cultural significance. I remember the excitement at school as everyone rushed out to spend what was to us a small fortune on the two CDs, one red and orange, one black and blue. Stores opened specially for the release of Use Your Illusion I and II in 1991 - these days, only computer games or new IKEA stores warrant that kind of obsession. What's more, you couldn't imagine something so preposterous as that grand statement being allowed in the current state of the music industry. Yet Chinese Democracy has managed to make itself an event, with speculation as to when it might appear dominating the press for years, and Dr Pepper foolhardy offering a can of pop to every American if the record saw light of day in 2008. Other media more pompous than the Quietus (that's you Gigwise and the Guardian Guide) have seen fit to compile crass lists of notable events that have happened since GNR's last release. I had a great shit on March 21st 1998, as it happens, but I don't see what it has to do with this piece. So after all the waiting, the speculation, the hype, the press releases that are more about marketing campaigns than the record, will the new Guns n'Roses album actually be any good? Or will the legendarily nuts Axl Rose, without Slash and co behind him, have disappeared into bloated irrelevance? I headed down to Universal Records in Kensington to find out.
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