Sunday Spin: Use Your Illusion


Our weekly celebration of classic albums lifts its lighter for the band that might have joined the pantheon of Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple if they'd only kept their shit together. They did not.

This day in 1991, Guns N' Roses' twin releases Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II debuted on the album charts in the No. 2 and No. 1 spots, respectively. Almost two decades later, we await their follow-up studio album, the comically delayed, yet still tantalizingly appealing Chinese Democracy (and no, the slapped together, band contested 1993 covers set The Spaghetti Incident does not count). After three years touring behind the surprise mega-success of Appetite For Destruction, G n' R's justifiably lauded major label debut, the band entered the studio and a year later emerged with a four vinyl record or two CD set. In the hard rock world, especially amongst bands charting in the late '80s, there was nothing as ambitious, bloated or just plain crazy happening in the mainstream, and for a brief minute many of us thought, "Hey, maybe we're seeing the beginnings of a true classic here. Maybe Guns N' Roses ARE the real deal." The feeling didn't last long, punctured by tone deaf choices, self-damaging statements, failed safaris and the snowballing actions of a band that eventually found their world tour in support of Illusion scuppered by literal riots and inner-band fisticuffs and sniping – a petty, grandiose and unnecessary end to one of the few contenders to hit heavy rock in the '80s.

Still, set aside the history, the art house style music videos, the Botox injections, the lawsuits and myriad lineup changes. Forget that nearly every dude involved with this band save for Izzy Stradlin has made music that would make their younger selves on Appetite throw an elbow to their heads. Push that stuff aside and put on this opera-sized monstrosity, and by god the music is pretty impressive. Drawing from classical and country, folk and freakout, this pair of Illusions offers a neat, visceral summation of life after the Reagan years, still managing to find some tenderness despite the profound meanness of that time. Occasionally overblown (ah hell, MOSTLY overblown), it's not as if the "Stairway To Heaven," "War Pigs," "Dream On" or any of the other cornerstones of the house they were rockin' were exactly subtle. At the time of their release, most admired G n' R's creative moxie, their unashamed hugeness, their ego (would anyone say Mick or Keith or Plant or Page are demure, self-effacing guys?) and, least acknowledged anymore, their raw talent. For all the water under the bridge – and there's plenty of it - Use Your Illusion I and II remain satisfying, lofty and fascinating albums. Credit where credit's due, and we offer it up tonight.

We fire up this mini-salute with a lengthy "Coma" from the Illusion tour in Chicago, April 9, 1992.

Despite his hyper-wattage personality, Axl Rose wasn't always the only creative force in Guns N' Roses, as evidenced by nasty chuggers like "Dust n' Bones," offered up in a live version from 1991 in Indiana.

Need proof that this young, out-of-nowhere band from Los Angeles had the world's attention? Here's Axl and Izzy joining The Rolling Stones for "Salt of the Earth."

Further evidence this band was being anointed by the established royalty - Bruce Springsteen doing The Beatles' "Come Together" with Mr. Rose at the 1994 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony for The Boss.

Here's "Civil War" in Tokyo, 1992. They really did know how to fill up big spaces, literally and figuratively.

And just 'cause we're feeling a bit nostalgic this evening, we conclude with a nod back to Appetite with a scorching "Paradise City" from the Illusion tour in Argentina. Truly rock 'n' roll that made you feel alive, incarnated, ready to raise some hell.

[Published on: 10/5/08]

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iwantstogetfunkedup Sun 10/5/2008 08:17PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

AXL looks like he injected way too much Botox these days...but I can't argue with Appetite.

jacoyle1 starstarstar Sun 10/5/2008 09:58PM
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Does every article and thing on here have to be about jam bands ? That would get pretty boring pretty fast wouldn't it ? Or do you just not like the music that influenced jam music...

schofizzl Sun 10/5/2008 10:07PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


come on guys, not this old tired back and forth again. Guns N Roses cracks me up, and laughter is good.

MidnightRider13 Sun 10/5/2008 11:10PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


When your band fails to release an album in almost 20 years, don't get down. You could always be featured on the newest Guitar Hero.

Or become a braided crazy man.

torn&treyed Mon 10/6/2008 04:47AM
+5 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

you can't talk sh*& about the illusions and appetite they are just too good and anyone who wants to can get in the ring.....LOL

Jeff Kash Mon 10/6/2008 05:28AM
Show -8 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
lovejahlive Mon 10/6/2008 06:30AM
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I'll never forget the look on Henry Rollins face when I wore my GnR Tokyo Dome shirt! He looked at me and kind of curled his lip, like he took a drink of sour milk or something! He just didn't get it.

Conjugal Burning Mon 10/6/2008 07:06AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Conjugal Burning


danthestanman Mon 10/6/2008 07:54AM
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Welcome to the jungle...

OurBandCouldBeYourLife Mon 10/6/2008 08:27AM
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That version of Salt of the Earth is awesome!

Flat5 starstarstarstarstar Mon 10/6/2008 09:45AM
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dig that live Coma! hell yea! great article dude, pretty funny stuff. Man these two albums were my soundtrack for high school!

RothburyWithCheese starstarstarstarstar Mon 10/6/2008 02:37PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


G n R is one of the great bands of all time. Best band from 87 til the Grunge movement took off. Faith No More, Metallica, G n R tour was mammoth. For all the Axl bashing the tracks I've heard off of Chinese Democracy are pretty cool. Long live Axl and the Boys....

Mr_McDankenstein Mon 10/6/2008 06:35PM
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Appetite for Destruction is great but what's even better is their version of "Knockin' On Heaven's Door", Axl's voice is spot on. makes me chuckle every time. "Knowck knowck knowckin on heaven's dowoowor hay hay hay yea"

rainydaywomen420 Mon 10/6/2008 08:43PM
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G n R is so bad its comical, slash can rip theres no denying that, but axl is the absolute worst, for one he murders one of the greatest songs of all time when they do knockin on heavens door, god damn you axl. But really i bought this potent bag of pot recently and my buddy told me he was ripped up like a pair of axl roses jeans.