Saturday, August 16, 2008

Gunnsunrosus go for broke

Axl Rose toasts his new Wall-Mart deal. "Screw you record store owners of America!"

Back in the late 1980’s and up to point when I realised that they were shite all along in the summer of 1992, if someone told me they had nine fresh tracks from an unreleased Guns ‘N’ Roses album, I’d have painted their house, killed their mother and raped their sheep to get my hands on them.

Earlier this year, after a widely publicised “leak”, nine Guns and Roses (or ‘Gunnsunrosus’ as they are referred to here in the midlands) tracks from their 14-years-in-the-making album "Chinese Democracy" appeared all over the internet. Anyone with even the slightest illegal download tracking skills could have found them – they were everywhere. And there was plenty of chatter that Gunnsunrosus were back! Back! Back! I had no interest in them; really and truly none at all. The world and its mother has spent over a decade reading about the tedious creation of this Axl solo disc, and even 14 years of rumour couldn’t sum up the “eagerly awaited” excitement in me. At one stage, as a smelly black tay-short wearing lad, I loved Axl and the boys but my G n’ R fixation only lasted until the bus home from Slane on May 16th 1992. They were shite that day and probably every other day. Utter, total shite. It was a gig I didn’t have to fight too long to forget about.

In fact, now that I think of it, all I remember from that day is an early morning naggin of vodka on the bus to Slane, My Little Funhouse being shit, another naggin of vodka, Faith No More being savage, the crowd throwing paper cups in the air for hours and hours and hours and hours and hours until Gunnsunrosus finally took the stage (in fact the wait was so long that a friend took up smoking such was his boredom - the poor fucker still smokes and personally blames Axl. I think I got sunstroke, and to add insult to injury I sobered up as Axl and that raggle-taggle bunch – except Matt Sorum, he was too clean – finally took the stage about 4 hours after Faith No More finished ). Of the Gunnsunrosus show itself all I can remember is the mind-numbing wankology of it all – solo after solo after solo, extended “Use Your Illusion” bombast after bombast and sweet fuck all from their one and only good album, “Appetite for Destruction”. The best song of the night was a short Axl-on-the-piano cover of Black Sabbath’s “It’s Alright” (the standout track 1976’s “Technical Ecstasy” album featuring an almighty emotional vocal from alcodrummer Bill Ward) and when it was all over I never listened to Gunnsunrosus again, even though I continued to buy their albums and CD singles. When I heard their cover of The Stones’ “Sympathy for the Devil” on the end credits to the awful “Interview with a Vampire” adaptation I thought I was going to spew. That was the official end point. Good luck, fuck off, and goodnight.

Anyway, to cut an increasingly long story short, the other day I was happily downloading a Pink Floyd gig from 1971 from a relatively harmless bootleg blog when I spotted nine allegedly "mastered, finished" tracks from Gunnsunrosus eagerly, er, awaited "Chinese Democracy" album, months after all the furore and excitement about them had died down and months after I had first saw them on th’internet.

“I wonder what the Axl Rose-led ‘band’ sound like?” I said to no one in particular, my curiosity peaked by a recent AC/DC purchase and a drunken bout of air guitaring, so I grabbed them.

And guess what? They are shit. They are so embarrassingly bad and so beyond normal standards of shit that I’d love to get Gillian McKeith in to have a rummage through them.

But shit doesn’t matter to bands like Gunnsunrosus who should, by right, be called brands. Fello brands like U2 haven’t released anything remotely interesting since “Pop” back in 1997 whilst it’s been so long since The Rolling Stones released anything decent that it’s doubtful whether there’s anyone old enough still alive to remember it.

Like all brands it is the actual release of the product that’s much more interesting than the actual product itself. Never mind all the digital prospects and new markets. Brands like Gunnsunrosus deliver to old habit creatures, so a physical release is where it’s at for these dinosaurs. According to reports from America, negotiations are well underway for "Chinese Democracy" to come out as an exclusive in Wal-Mart supermarkets only in the States. Holy Shit! What about the Salt Lake City version of Soundcellar? A deal like that makes the album title all the more pertinent doesn’t it? Democracy my ass. What about the little guy? Gunnsunrosus is now managed by big shots Front Line Management who also manage the business affairs of Christine Aguilera, Van Halen and bloody Aerosmith. They also manage that other “great” American brand The Eagles and last year they released their awful double disc MOR-fest "Long Road out of Eden" exclusively through Wal-Mart, much to the chagrin of every other merchant still left in business in the States. I’d never heard of this (sadly I heard The Eagles album) and then I read in Billboard that beloved Slane-bound veterans AC/DC are also releasing their next album exclusively through Wal-Mart. “Merchants were particularly incensed that the deal was apparently struck with the blessing of Columbia,” the report says. I bet they were.

Different or exclusive versions in different stores is nothing new, especially in America where, for example, David Gilmour’s “On an Island” had different formats for different stores, as did Bloc Party’s Grouse Lodge-recorded second album, whatever-it-was-called. And here we have Xtravision having movies for a month before others and the likes of Zavvi having different covers but this just sucks, and following other trends in the music business there’s no doubt we can expect similar things to happen in Ireland in, oh, about 40 years.

I hope people like Tommy in Soundcellar gets to stock “Chinese Democracy”. Like banks and backers needing Coldplay albums, people like Tommy in Soundceller need brands like Gunnsunrosus. I don’t, but I sure prefer to see places like Soundcellar still in business, but if you really want to hear Gunnsunrosus have a look around you’ll get those nine tracks of mp3 shite in all their glory.
Instead though, you should take a look at

It’s a short feature by Last Light Films. A nice piece of work, and they have a few more up there on YouTube. It's kind of like those business profiles you’d wished you’d written but only thought about them when the business was closed. There’s loads of them around, and now I’ve got time on my hands (book finished, back in the real world for a while, hello, hello, good to be back etc..) I’m gonna try and profile some of them as a New Years Resolution.

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