Chinese Democracy looks set to be the most delayed and expensive album in history: a rumoured $US13 million recording budget, 5 guitarists, 14 studios and a horde of Pro Tools digital editors. I’m not exactly a Guns n’ Roses fan but I bought the album anyway for the CD booklet: a list of production credits for the massively overrun project. For the project’s background see Wikipedia’s CD history page and Jeff Leeds’ article “The Most Expensive Album Never Made” (New York Times, 6th March 2005).
Interesting that Axl Rose augmented the Best Buy-only release with a MySpace streaming strategy and that Amazon.com’s top search today for “Chinese Democracy” is Metallica‘s Death Magnetic (Elektra, 2008) . . . Rose’s CD is ninth on the search algorithm’s list.
I’m saving most of my thoughts on Chinese Democracy for a journal article.
Former Gn’R co-founder Slash in his autobiography Slash (HarperEntertainment, New York, 2007), co-written with Anthony Bozza, has a prescient and interesting anecdote (p. 371) on Rose’s decision to use Pro Tools in the recording studio:
There were rows and rows
of Pro Tools servers and gear. Which was a clear indication that Axl
and I had very different ideas of how to do this record. I was open to
using Pro Tools, to trying new things–but everyone had to be on the
same page and in the same room to explore new ideas. The band managed
to do a little bit of jamming and come up with some things. A couple
of the ideas I had come up with Axl apparently liked and they were
recorded onto Pro Tools and stored for him to work on later.
We’d show up at different times every evening, but by eight p.m.
generally everyone in the band would be there. Then we’d wait for Axl,
who, when he did come, arrived much, much later. That was the norm; it
was a dark, miserable atmosphere that lacked direction of any kind. I
hung out for a bit; but after a few days I chose to spend my evenings
at the strip bar around the corner, with orders for the engineers to
call me if Axl decided to arrive.