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Hit and miss and not a patch on Appetite.
on 4 December 2011
First up, Amazon seem to have grouped together the reviews for this CD album and the bands live video release. How they could make such an easy mistake is beyond me.
So Use Your Illusion 1 was released as the same day as 2 back in 1991. A double album and costing double the money! Not easy for any kids back in the day to own. Here we get 16 tracks of varying quality. And although a bundle of them were actually written during the Appetite era, this album doesn't feel like the same band recorded Appetitte. But hey ho, Guns got huge and this record is too over produced.
We kick off with Right Next Door to Hell which features superb lyrics and a catchy tune and a great starter for the record. Though check out Duff's bass at the beginning and you can already tell that this album sounds too clean. Dust N' Bones is sung by Izzy, and turned up loud is quite a groovy tune, always sounded appalling live though. Live and Let Die is the opposite in that it was wham bam in your face as a live song but is incredibly pedantic and flat on record. Don't Cry is a well written song, though the very original demos sounded much better and the song fails to impress because of the lavish production.
Perfect Crime is a two minute thunderbolt of a song, and one really is impressed with Axl's shotgun lyrics, even if the song was soon forgotten by the band after their US first leg tour. Indeed in any case I don't think it has been played live for 20 years. This frantic song is followed by perhaps the slowest song over the two albums, in You Ain't the First, a little ditty and kooky, but a welcome relief. Bad Obsession is one of Illusions highlights, bluesy and non generic and a great tune. Back Off Bitch does feel a little dated but it is at least sleazy rock n' roll. Now we get to a missed opportuntiy, Double Talkin' Jive. Had this songs solo been 6 mins or so we could have been looking at a classic. Some songs beg to be extended out, some don't (Oasis were always terrible at this). But DTJ should have been a lengthy masterpiece. The band somewhat corrected this for their live shows.
November Rain has been often hyped up. But apart from showing Axl's piano playing skills I have never been a fan of the song. Epic? So what. It always slowed down the live shows too. The Garden is again top form for the Gunners, and it's great to hear Alice Cooper on this track. The video is perhaps the best and more 'real' that GN'R ever did. But Garden of Eden is pap and just throwaway stuff. Don't Damn Me remains by 2014 the only track never to have been played live, a shame since it has a killer riff. But it is very vocal which would be taxing to sing, especially now for Axl. Bad Apples isn't too bad either, without being great. Dead Horse is pap- and for some reason was again played live on many times. The album ends with the 10 minute Coma, a bit hit and miss but it does contain wonderful lyrics and great solos. It is a rock classic of sorts.
All in all growing up with this band, Illusion was a come down, no two ways about it. At the time you support the record as a fan, and it's only as time goes on that you can genuinely reflect more on the album. But the whole double album thing was ill conceived. If they had taken the best tracks from 1 and 2 we could have been looking at a great rock record.