A few months back Japer and I compiled a list of our 5 favourite albums of 2008. At the top of mine was Chinese Democracy, the first studio album of original material from Guns N Roses in 17 years. I loved the amazing production, the dense layers, the memorable musicianship, and the sheer ambition of Axl Rose, who is the sole original member of the band. I kept Chinese Democracy in my car stereo for weeks, just listening to it on repeat. While many reviled the album for what it wasn’t and it quickly fell of the charts, I’m of the mind that if people would just get a chance to hear it without the baggage, they may actually think it’s a solid piece of work.
Enter Rock Band.
Today Chinese Democracy was released as a download for Rock Band. And while it had been some time since I’d played that particular game, when it was announced just about a week or so ago that Axl opus’ was going to be available, I have to admit I was psyched. So when I got home from work today, I flipped on the Xbox 360 and made my download (1600 xbox points, by the way). From there I proceeded to spend a solid hour playing Chinese Democracy all the way through (minus Shakler’s Revenge, which I have yet to unlock in Rock Band 2). Not only was the experience as good as I hoped it would, it was significantly better.
In an interview with Billboard a few months ago, Axl Rose talked about the process the creators of Rock Band were going through to bring the album to the game. According to Rose, “they felt the record-based on the nature and complexity of the depth of instrumentation-deserved a bit more attention and some more involved elements than they’ve generally dealt with.” Believe it or not, you can feel the depth of the music when playing the game. Various songs seem to have been remixed to bring up certain guitars (the majority of tunes all feature layered instrumentations); in the case of Madagascar, the various film clips that are part of the songs middle section have been excised, likely for rights issues. But this actually works to the player’s advantage because we’re given another guitar solo to master.
I played through Chinese Democracy on guitar and did pretty well for myself, I must say. I truly felt a part of the music (you can call me Buckethead) and found my appreciation for Chinese Democracy continue to grow. The question is, will other people who may have dismissed the album upon its initial release finally discover it? There’s a better chance than not. Even in today’s declining musical climate, new music is getting noticed in the various rhythm games like Rock Band and Guitar Hero everyday. With the complexity and sound of Guns N Roses latest album, a plastic guitar and drum kit may just be the way to spread democracy to the masses.