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Use Your Illusion, Vol. 1

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Album Review

The "difficult second album" is one of the perennial rock & roll clichés, but few second albums ever were as difficult as Use Your Illusion. Not really conceived as a double album but impossible to separate as individual works, Use Your Illusion is a shining example of a suddenly successful band getting it all wrong and letting its ambitions run wild. Taking nearly three years to complete, the recording of the album was clearly difficult, and tensions between Slash, Izzy Stradlin, and Axl Rose are evident from the start. The two guitarists, particularly Stradlin, are trying to keep the group closer to its hard rock roots, but Rose has pretensions of being Queen and Elton John, which is particularly odd for a notoriously homophobic Midwestern boy. Conceivably, the two aspirations could have been divided between the two records, but instead they are just thrown into the blender — it's just a coincidence that Use Your Illusion I is a harder-rocking record than II. Stradlin has a stronger presence on I, contributing three of the best songs — "Dust n' Bones," "You Ain't the First," and "Double Talkin' Jive" — which help keep the album in Stonesy Aerosmith territory. On the whole, the album is stronger than II, even though there's a fair amount of filler, including a dippy psychedelic collaboration with Alice Cooper and a song that takes its title from the Osmonds' biggest hit. But it also has two ambitious set pieces, "November Rain" and "Coma," which find Rose fulfilling his ambitions, as well as the ferocious, metallic "Perfect Crime" and the original version of the power ballad "Don't Cry." Still, it can be a chore to find the highlights on the record amid the overblown production and endless amounts of filler. [Geffen issued a clean version of the album in 1998.]

Customer Reviews


ok not as good as appetite but just take a moment to look at wot they done here remakes that better the originals "live and let die" "knocking on heavens door" then the classics "dont cry" "november rain" now ask yourself was this a bad album? NO! just over shadowed by its predessesor.

Awe Inspiring!

All I can say is... if you don't have this album in your collection yet... Why not?

Hit and Miss

The Illusion albums are a difficult selection to review mainly because of the disjointed selection of songs. One gets the feeling Axl was trying to prove a point to the music press by deciding to release two double albums on the same day. He failed miserably. Of the thirty songs across both albums only sixteen work for me. At times they seem over-produced compared to the stripped down sound of Appetite... and there is way too much filler for these ears. Estranged, alongside Rocket Queen, is the single greatest song GnR ever recorded, a monster epic, and is in my top ten greatest rock songs off all time, You Could Be Mine rocks like a beast and Bad Obsession is classic low down n dirty blues. But there is no need at all for Get In The Ring. Its nothing but bile inflected paranoid nonsense. These are clearly Axl's albums and looking back now it seems Izzy sensed what was coming and got out at just the right time, before Axl's monster ego would destroy the band. If both these albums had been condensed into one double i may well have been reviewing another GnR classic album. But alas it wasn't to be. An opportunity missed.


Formed: 1985 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

At a time when pop was dominated by dance music and pop-metal, Guns N' Roses brought raw, ugly rock & roll crashing back into the charts. They were not nice boys; nice boys don't play rock & roll. They were ugly, misogynistic, and violent; they were also funny, vulnerable, and occasionally sensitive, as their breakthrough hit, "Sweet Child O' Mine," showed. While Slash and Izzy Stradlin ferociously spit out dueling guitar riffs worthy of Aerosmith or the Stones, Axl Rose screeched out his tales of...
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