on 30 December 2006
This is a very different beast from "Appetite", or even UYI Vol 1. Whilst Guns always could rip it up and tear it out with the best of them (and they do so brilliantly on Vol 1's "Perfect Crime", "Right Next Door To Hell", "Bad Obsession" and so on), on this album there's a concerted effort to display musical and emotional growth. Axl was always a broader musican than Slash - a fact evident from the fact that on this moderately-paced album, Slash only has 3 or 4 writing credits. This is very much Axl's baby, although the quibbling over credits (unlike "Appetite", which is band-credited) already suggests the loss of band solidarity. This album is less of a stomping hard-rock album and more of a classic rock album, where the act is established and they can now stretch their wings. Slash has already said that the UYI albums are their equivalent of the White Album.
The songwriting is I think consistently stunning. There's more, and more varied, emotion too. God only knows why "Estranged" isn't more recognised - it's one of the pinnacles of their acheivement, a cold, disconsolate beginning, shifting (via one of Slash's finest ever lines) to a sneering, callow hauteur, then a sad, yearning instrumental, to a open and warming ending, closing on an almost desperate note. "So Fine", sung wonderfully by Duff, has shivers and sighs of pure emotion, a rock ballad of unusual exquisiteness. "Locomotion", like "Estranged", considers the end of relationships and the realisation of emotional emptiness, Axl's nasal, almost-sneering delivery suggestive of the immaturity he's singing about. "Breakdown", another song that's oddly underappreciated, again suggests a man on the edge of his tether, yearning for the innocence and certainties of younger, simpler days (note the country-style intro - similar to Axl's piece of straw in the "Welcome To The Jungle video - he was an Indiana boy after all!) - which "Yesterdays" does explicitly but with far less style. "Pretty Tied Up", a classic piece of Izzy, is typically Stones-y and also features some outstanding sitar. And so on - the album is filled with classic moments ("Civil War", "You Could Be Mine").
Some have suggested that you could make one killer album from the two volume of Use Your Illusion. I think that would miss the point. Firstly, the two albums gave them the space to stretch their wings musically, which "Appetite" being far more condensed and focused didn't. Who would have expected sitar, spanish guitar, bizarre electronica, and so on? Secondly, the two albums very much have their own character. Volume One is far more aggressive and vitriolic, Volume Two is much more reflective and sensitive. GN'R always had both sides to them - hence their name, typically Yin/Yang.
This album is almost a return to a more 60s/70s rock album and succeeds on every possible level. Treat yourself.
on 30 December 2010
After creating possibly the finest debut album in rock history, Guns N' Roses found themselves with the all-important question: How do you follow-up something like 'Appetite For Destruction'? The answer, it seems, was to do something completely different. By 1991 Guns N' Roses were a very different band to the one which exploded onto the rock scene four years earlier and that is reflected in the sound of this experimental piece of work.
Bassist Duff McKagan honestly put it; "This is a different sound. It's the sound of a different band. When we made the first album we were all living in one apartment sleeping on the floor, by the time we made the second record we all had our own houses and a million in the bank..."
The band now had time to play with their sound and do whatever they wished. 'Use Your Illusion' is the album where Guns N' Roses opened it's wings musically and soared to it's highest heights, as well as diving to it's lowest depths. In fact it is this rollercoaster nature which makes this album such a great listen. Rock critics widely report that if they had combined the finest material from 'Use Your Illusion I' & 'Use Your Illusion II' onto just one album they would have created one of the best rock records of all time. As it stands, however, we get two separate albums which feature quite a few of the best rock songs ever written scattered among b-side material. The playlist appears to have been almost chosen at random (quite odd considering the notorious perfectionism of Axl Rose) and this is the LP's major flaw as this mix & match approach doesn't allow the listener to get truly into the groove set by the great new GN'R tracks on display here, an example can be seen in that the soft So Fine (one of the album's weaker numbers) is sandwiched inbetween the riff-laden Locomotive and the epic Estranged.
'Use Your Illusion II' is not as heavy as the first installment and features some truly epic songwriting from a band at the peak of their powers. Kicking off with the charity single Civil War, an experimental number written for the Romanian Child appeal. Fans of old-school GN'R were very pleased to hear the second song on the album switch into familiar GN'R territory, the bending guitars of 14 Years showing why fans had waited four years for GN'R to re-appear with this new material. In fact one look at the songwriting credits of the album show a surprising hidden star in the band's arsenal, with the majority of 'Use Your Illusion's quality rock songs being penned by Izzy Stradlin, often referred to as the hidden guitarist for his shy nature in the background of the eccentric Axl and Slash. Izzy is responsible for many of UYI's highlights, including Dust N' Bones and Double Talkin' Jive from the first album, and the tremendous Pretty Tied Up.
The cracks of being one of the world's most popular bands were beginning to show massively in the recording of the 'Use Your Illusion' albums and they are well and truly there to be heard now looking back, most notably on Pretty Tied Up. This is a song penned by Izzy Stradlin who was on the verge of quitting the band beleiving that Axl's ego had gone out of control, and this song in particular discusses these issues to such a degree you'll wonder how he was able to get Axl to sing it without realizing it's about him ("Once there was this rock and roll band rolling on the streets / Time went by and it became a joke").
In the wake of 'Appetite For Destruction' this was a band trying to decide who they wanted to be and they needed time to make their minds up, this can be heard of Locomotive - a track with guitar work worthy of a place on 'Appetite For Destruction' which starts of a rollicking hard rocker and twists and turns into a spralling eight-minute-plus experimental piece which ends posing the reflective statement "If love is blind I guess I'll buy myself a cane.."
We get some material which is b-side quality such as the alternate version of Don't Cry and the frankly terrible My World, many fans found the sheer scope of the albums a little too difficult to swallow as they were hoping for a straightforward sequel to 'Appetite For Destruction' however the band knew they had to adapt to follow-up such an epic album and that's what they did, although it wasn't to everybody's liking (Axl even mentions this negative approach to the band's adapting sound from the media in the song Breakdown with the line "Funny how everything was roses when we held onto the guns"). The well-intentioned yet over the top cover of Knockin' On Heaven's Door was seen by many as the final nail in the coffin for the 'most dangerous band in the world' tag the band were known for and many gasped at the crudeness of Get In The Ring, a Duff McKagan rocker needlessly spoiled by Axl Rose with a rant towards media journalists. However the exceptional quality of the band when they hit their stride more than makes up for this. With GN'R you couldn't have the good without the bad, it's what made them special. What made Guns N' Roses different to any other rock band is that when they were good, they were better than anything else in the world and this elevated them head and shoulders above any of their peers. You'll be blasted with the guitar work of Locomotive, the excellent Yesterdays, the groove of 14 Years, Breakdown and Pretty Tied Up and the sheer angst of You Could Be Mine, which sees Axl and Slash combining better than they ever have before.
The album's highlight, however, comes in the hugely overlooked Estranged. This nine minute epic is quite possibly the best piece of work Axl ever wrote and stands tall among GN'R's all-time classic songs, showing that this reckless band of outlaws did indeed posses the quality no other rock band on the scene could get anywhere near.
'Use Your Illusion' cemented the band as rockstars for life and is a tremendously under-rated album from some of the most talented songwriters the rock industry has ever seen. The fact that they knew it wasn't going to last is partially what made it so special, and this album is so personal you can at times hear the strains of a band on it's way to breaking point.
on 11 May 2001
This album very much represents the pinicle of achivement for one of the greatest rock & roll bands ever. It builds upon Appetite for Destruction and Use your Illusion One in masterful style. With the exception of My World and Shotgun Blues, each track on the album is a modern masterpiece within itself. Of course the highlight of the album is the 14 minute opus, Estranged. It is hard to put into words just how much talent the track represents. Two of the most sublime guitar solos ever combine with the most heart felt lyrics to be found on any album. The use of use of constant cultural references thorughout the album in quotations, gives the album as a whole a delicious flavour of Post-Modernist angst. This is very much a thinking mans rock album. It is one of the greatest suprises of the music world that such an amazing album as this was followed by the horror that was the Spaggeti Incident, Oh well. Buy Use Your Illusion 2 today!
on 8 December 2004
What proved to be their last album was one of their finest. Having said that they only made three albums full albums of new material (Appetite, Illusion 1 & Illusion 2). Lies and Spaghetti were mere fills during major tours.
Illusion 2 gave us the newer material that the band had at the time as Illusion 1 was made up old songs that never made Appetite. I remember waiting for the albums to be released and going to Wembley Stadium the week before they were released. The new songs songed good live but I found them to be even better on record. GNR were a band of highs and lows, but when they were good they were the best on the planet at the time. Illusion 2 seemed to capture the band at the height of their powers and is an album not to be missed. Rock songs at the time had to be short and sweet with the epic's being a thing of the past. This album though changed things and people realised once again that a long song was not a bad song. Estranged, Breakdown, Pretty Tied Up, Locomotive and Civil War being the highlights. Pretty Tied Up once again showing the darker side of GNR in their lyrics. This is still an album that should be part of any rock lovers collection.
This is one of the highlights from one of the all time great rock bands.
I have often read (possibly a hundred times over in fact) that Guns N' Roses' debut Appetite For Destruction is one of best rock albums ever made, and yes, it is indeed a classic, probably the defining rock record of the 1980s, but personally, I believe 1991's 'Use Your Illusion II', to be even better, with much more variety and complexity. As far as I'm concerned, it's the greatest rock album of the '90s, and one of the best albums of any musical genre
I wasn't sure all that sure how I could pick out a few of the highlights, when I have a soft spot for all of these songs. Well, all apart from the final track 'My World' that is, which is best to just ignore and forget even existed, why let one dud spoil such an otherwise flawless release?
The epic and powerful 'Civil War', really is a masterpiece (which is not a word I frequently use when describing a song), and a strong contender for the title of my favourite Guns n' Roses' song. The superior cover of Bob Dylan's 'Knockin' on Heaven's Door' is the best version of this timeless song I know, and 'Don't Cry', an excellent original, is beautiful. On a personal note, this song, of which there are two versions (the other which appears on the 'Use Your Illusion I' album, with alternative lyrics) has the ability to comfort me when times are tough. Here's a tip, you'll love what you hear on record, but do look at the music video for this track, which is a real work of art. 'Estranged', which runs just under ten minutes, contains some of Slash's best guitar melodies, and Axl's most remarkable lyrics. The hilarious rant that is 'Get in the Ring', a direct dig at those music critics (named and shamed nonetheless!) who gave the band negative reviews due to their on stage antics, never fails too make me grin, and the big hit single 'You Could Be Mine', is as close to heavy metal as the album gets.
'Use Your Illusion II' is definitely an album that any self-respecting rock music fan should own in their collections, right alongside 'Appetite For Destruction', but deserves a place in the hearts of those less fond of the genre as well. These are simply just timeless songs, with some of the best musical arrangements, and emotional lyrics ever written. Buy it, and you'll want to keep it for life.
I caught the bus into town, right after school, on the Monday that this was released (along with this) back in 1991, such was my teenage anticipation. Everyone was looking forward to these two albums! The great thing about life pre-internet was that you only heard maybe a single or two, and read about the other songs, and didn`t know what you were going to get, and it really helped build the excitement.
Back in `91 I thought UYI 1 was the better album - more accessible, more rock `n` roll, more...dumb? A few years have passed of course, and I probably went maybe ten years without listening to them. Having gone back to them now, I can tell that UYI 2 has stood the time test best. This is Axl`s album (the other being Slash`s), and consequently the one with more complexity and more depth. Axl certain doesn`t lack complexity. But the result of those traits are songs like "Estranged", "Civil War" and "Locomotion (Complicity)". I think that "Estranged" is the finest thing Guns `n` Roses have done, and you can certainly link "Chinese Democracy" with this song more easily than you can with anything from Appetite For Destruction. It`s almost like a play in three acts, but it really defies such a simple explanation. It`s a masterful song from a band at the top of their game, and a million miles from their LA glam-scene beginnings. Similar skills are displayed on the other two songs I`ve mentioned, lengthy pieces which allow Axl and Slash to show the full range of their abilities. They really are the standouts - but there are plenty of other strong songs too, "14 Years", "Breakdown" and "So Fine" for example. "Get In The Ring" should probably have ended on the cutting room floor - there`s just no way my parents ever approved of that one! "My World" closes things of in a distinctly non-G`n`R way, it`s very Axl, very weird.
In summary though, it`s a really great record. I won`t listen to it from beginning to end very often, but I listen to the highlights a lot - they are highlights of the entire genre, not just of one band!
on 10 August 2009
With this being part two of a double album, there is of course a considerable amount of filler contained within. Some have suggested combining parts 1 and 2, but shorn of "14 Years" (mundane at best), "Knocking on Heaven's Door" (sacrelige and mistaken), "Get In The Ring" (ludicrous to anyone older than 12), "So Fine" (tiring), "Don't Cry (alt vrsn)" (pointless alternative), and "My World" (bizarre, irritating non-sense) 'Use Your Illusion II' could stand alone as a great heavy rock record.
OK, that seems like quite a change but think about this running order:
1. "Civil War". Often cited as the albums' masterpiece, the song showcases Axl's ability to lace his poetry seemingly effortlessly into Slash's riffing. Epic.
2. "Yesterdays". Along a similar vein to Civil War, just not as good.
3. "Shotgun Blues". A punk-esque blitz of a song, it's tight and fast, breaking up the pace of the album, varying the epic ballad theme.
4. "Breakdown". Classic Axl. A vast array of instruments, an eclectic mix of styles, an epic storyline, yet all cajoled into an intoxicating driving anthem.
5. "Pretty Tied Up". Awesome heavy blues riff, synching perfectly with an aggresive Axl rasping through the lyrics. Perhaps Izzy Sradlin's greatest moment?
6. "Locomotive". Guns n' Roses' crowning achievement! Axl's vocals and Slash's funky riff perfectly harmonise as each one wrestles the initiative from the other. Magnificent and furious, the song races through six minutes before closing with a beautiful piano-led outro.
7. "Estranged". Conspicuously absent from "G N' R" best of lists, Axl's grandiose love epic is another masterpiece. From the chilling opening lines, this is spine-tingling stuff. Borderline pretentious, but it is always kept in line by Slash's guitar 'til the epic piano outro.
8. "You Could Be Mine". Taken from the Termintor 2 soundtrack, this track is the most reminiscent of 'Appetite..' on the album (it had been written prior to it's release). Here Axl is snarling infront of a driving crescendo of rock n roll vitriol. Classic G N' R. Should have been the album closer.
Now that would have been a magnificent album!
Despite the over-abundance of epic's, Axl's obsession with layers and layers of vocal tracks, a ridiculous array of instrumentation and the generally pompous over-production, Use Your Illusion II has enough gems on it to make it a worthwile listen even for people outside the hard-rock fraternity.
The fact that W. Axl Rose almost pulls this album off is testament to his undeniable genius, and songs like "My World" testament to his flaws. Depsite the fact that the man is a gigantic phallus with an ego of galactic proportions, at times during Use Your Illusion 2, you just have to doff your cap.
on 10 March 2001
After the fantastic "Appetite for Destruction", it's hard to imagine how this fantastic band could ever equal that achievement. Although not as hard-core as "Appetite...", this is still an amazing collection of songs nonetheless. Songs like "Civil War" and "Pretty Tied Up" will make you think, but then other songs such as "Locomotive" and "You Could Be Mine" are great for air guitar accompaniments!! Having said that there are one or two disappointments, namely the punky "Shotgun Blues", and the very strange "My World". However, these are easily forgotten about once you listen to the rest of the album, including a fantastic cover of "Knockin' on Heaven's Door", and my personal favourite Guns N' Roses offering, the excellent "Estranged", for anyone who knows what it's like to have their heart broken. Overall, there is a good range of music on this album, showing that the band have a tender side to their notoriously tough exterior, and this is one collection of songs which no music lover should be without. Buy it!!!!!
on 13 March 2001
Yeah, it's good. But it's pathetic for Guns n' Roses! There are some 'good' songs; 'You could be mine' is a great rock song, ditto with 'Locomotive', 'Get in the Ring' is possibly the most offensive song you will ever hear, and 'Estranged'is slightly more creative. In fact, there is only one 'bad' song on the album (My World), but compared to Appetite For Destruction and Use Your Illusion 1, this is a rather poor attempt. If I could take this down half a star, believe me I would.
on 29 May 2011
This DVD features Guns N'Roses in 1992 during their massive world wide Use Your Illusion tour.
I am a big Guns N' Roses fan and saw them at the end of the Use Your Illusion tour in may 1993 at Milton Keynes. The reason I'm giving this DVD three stars and not Five is for two reasons.
Firstly they were so much better when I saw them play at the concert In Milton Keynes, and they were better on a gig I saw on a different video tape in the mid 90's. The tape was of them performing in France and was superior in terms of band performance and overall quality. I don't know why this Tokyo gig was chosen for DVD rather than the French concert or a recording of another such as the one I was at where Izzy Stradlin temporalily came back to the band for some gigs due to Gilby clarke being injured. It would have been great if the DVD had featured Stradlins return.
Secondly, like when they released this concert on videotape well over a decade ago, they've made it that you have to buy two seperate items to get the one concert. With DVD you can't make the excuse it would not have all fit on one tape, one disc could hold the whole concert. Again you need to buy both.
However if you're a fan of the band this is one of the only official DvDs out there so in that sense it's essential.