When New Becomes Old: The Growing Trend Of 90s Bands With New Singers

In one of the many music discussions/arguments my friend Brett and I have had in the nearly 10 years I’ve known him, one always sticks out: where 90s music fits in comparison to other decades.

Born in ’78, my first jump into music was in the late 80s and intensified as the decade turned to 1990. I went through tapes, mix tapes, the era of CDs, and our current mishmash of whatever it is you call MP3s/Spotify/Pandora/streaming everywhere.

But BMG Music, man, that’s where I really found music. You remember BMG, right? Get 11 CDs for 1 cent and just pay in full for the other? There was always supposed to be a limit per year, but by changing a family name, work address or just waiting for them to make another offer, you could load up a collection and fast.

5+1+6? What a deal!

That’s where I found what was beyond the radio and MTV in an era where that’s all you had to find out what else was out there. That’s where I found Nirvana, the Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Pearl Jam, the Wu Tang Clan, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and plenty before and after. My books got filled, my CD player ran non-stop, and life was good.

(If you’re in your mid to late 30s, you might have shaken your head yes a few times. Younger than that and you’re probably tweeting, texting and watching TV all at once.)

Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath & Everclear’s Art Alexakis in happier times.

A funny thing happened in the last two years: 90s musical acts began joining forces and going on tour. Sure, there had been previous triple bills (Counting Crows/Live/Collective Soul comes to mind), but this summer especially saw a glut of shows featuring a mix of those still hanging around and those that elicit a “They’re still alive?” response. Here’s a smattering:

- Under The Sun Tour: Sugar Ray, Smashmouth, Fastball, Gin Blossoms, Vertical Horizon

- The original members of Soundgarden reunited last year, put out a well respected new album and went touring all over the place

- Pearl Jam is back on the road this year with a new album impending. (I don’t consider them a nostalgia act by any means, but they’re on here as a tie-in.)

- Even pop bands have got into the act. 98 Degrees and Boyz II Men are supporting New Kids On The Block on their recent tour.

I’m sure I’m forgetting and leaving out some, but what spurred this blog was the Summerland tour I saw this past weekend. The brainchild of Everclear frontman Art Alexakis, he helped kick things off last year with bands like Lit, Marcy Playground, and Sugar Ray with his own group headlining. In year two, Live, Filter and Sponge joined Everclear on a fairly expansive tour that saw over 35 dates this year.

As a fan of three of the bands, it was a no-brainer, so my g/f and other good friend headed to Hampton Beach, NH, for a warm Saturday night of music that came out nearly 20 years ago. And without a doubt, the hits were there. This wasn’t a gimmick show where there’s a few songs you want to hear and you get a bunch of new tracks you’re not into. Alexakis said as much between sets in addressing the crowd. If the Summerland tour tagline was “You’ll get everything you want,” that would be apropos.

I had the fortune to tell my friend Blaine that Ed Kowalczyk was no longer the lead singer of Live as the band is in quite a dispute with their former lead singer. But as we watched their seven song co-headlining set, we both came to the realization that we didn’t care who the new frontman was — they still sounded great.

As the night went on, I couldn’t get the thought out of my mind that this is happening with more frequency to 90s alternative bands than most others that I can remember.

Ed Kowalczyk & Chad Taylor of Live in happier times. (See a trend?)

Seriously, here’s five (with an *) off the top of my head:

Live: The aforementioned Pennsylvanians are now fronted by Chris Shinn, who is best known as being the son of New Orleans Pelicans’ owner George Shinn. He is also very talented.

Stone Temple Pilots: In one of the more bizarre combos, Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington takes over for Scott Weiland who is out of the group due to tenuous circumstances. (See a trend there?)

Fuel: Lead singer Brett Scallions left Fuel in 2006 and the rumor was then-American Idol singer Chris Daughtry might take over. That never happened and after a few lead singers and other member departures later, Scallions is leading a reformed Fuel and is touring.

Alice In Chains: In one of the more discussed and eventually accepted shifts, William DuVall joined AiC in 2005, just a few years after Layne Staley’s death. They are also touring and put out one of my favorite rock discs in a few years, Black Gives Way To Blue, in ’09.

Smashing Pumpkins: This is more in reverse, but lead man Billy Corgan is the only one that remains from the original foursome. It’s been hard to recapture the magic of those discs, mainly because of Corgan’s insistence on putting out A) too much music and B) music that isn’t connecting with anyone. I saw the latest incarnation of the group perform Oceania in full and then ripped into five or so hits. What do you think got over with the crowd more?

Nirvana: If you follow rock music, you know the story that broke this year about Paul McCartney doing some songs with Krist Novacelic, Dave Grohl, and later member Pat Smear. Then “Cut Me Some Slack” came out, the name “Sirvana” was created, but ultimately, it hasn’t amounted to McCartney busting out Something In The Way or Rape Me on his current tour. It’s a thing, but not a full thing. (Actually, I guess they don’t belong on this list, but what the hell.)

‘Sirvana’ on SNL.

A lead singer is essentially the band’s spokeman, the one who is heard the most and pretty much represents what the audience is supposed to know, feel and relate to. That’s why they call it ‘frontman’s disease’ and not ‘bass player’s disease’. There’s a certain swagger and attention one gets from being a lead singer, which is why it seems like such a freakin’ awesome job to so many people.

But at some point, fans decided to not care anymore about who fronted these bands, but just that they started playing the music those old frontmen used to sing. It’s a weird phenomenon and one that I think gives the aforementioned Brett a leg up in our debate.

However, there are plenty of 80s bands that have decided to undergo frontman facelifts. Van Halen (who went from Dave Lee Roth to Sammy Hagar to Gary Cherone back to Hagar and then back to Roth) and Journey come to mind, while Guns ‘n’ Roses went the route of Corgan with essentially only Axl Rose calling the shots.

But imagine Pearl Jam without Eddie Vedder or the Chili Peppers without Anthony Kiedis or House Of Pain without Everlast (ok, maybe that last one doesn’t work). On the flipside, an interesting point of discussion is how revered the former two bands would be if their lead singer committed suicide instead of Kurt Cobain. Had that happened, perhaps Sir Paul would have been belting out Black or Under The Bridge on SNL this season instead.

As the summer winds down and more 90s tours emerge, I’m reminded of a sentiment I heard somewhere on a podcast: bands are becoming like blockbuster movies. The successful ones break up and eventually reboot so they can make tons of money. Perhaps this current decade of more prone to this phenomenon than others. Maybe it’s the talent or just a pure coincidence, but it’s happening and fans of this era of music don’t seem to mind.

Count me among them.

2011 MTV Video Music Awards: The Running Diary

Like last year, I return to the depths of MTV’s current culture for the Video Music Awards. Unlike in 2010, I’m a lot more familiar with this year’s crop but that doesn’t mean you will be.

If this is your first time here, I’m 33 and live in New Hampshire. I am very much into music with the 90s alternative scene being my main influence growing up. I have lived all over the music map and once was the music guy for a pro hockey team for six years. I’m still waiting for a Top 10 song of clap chants.

If this year’s show proved anything, it’s that the current philosophy of always being in the public eye is still holding true in pop music and that the Video Music Awards is anything but about music….except for a young British singer.

Adele - Josh Nason

Yep, Adele is pretty great.

9:00 PM
We kick off with a greaser-looking person doing a monologue about Lady Gaga. Except, this is Lady Gaga. I have no idea what she’s talking about, but it sounds like she’s acting as a jilted Gaga lover. Girls are screaming throughout her monologue, which kinda kills it. Eventually she sings a song. Queen’s Brian May comes out for a guitar solo. And we’re off.
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2010 MTV Video Music Awards: The Nason Running Blog

As I couldn’t watch any more Cowboys/Redskins and with next to nothing on the DVR, I turned to the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards for my Sunday night entertainment.

As a 32-year-old, I’m not who MTV goes for anymore and I don’t watch anything on the network anymore, not even Jersey Shore. So without any build-up or pretense, here’s my running blog on the proceedings and my attempt to understand just what’s happening in today’s pop music scene.

Be warned. Crotchety early 30s ramblings ahead…

9 PM: We start out with Eminem performing. Is he still relevant in today’s music scene? I guess so? I am still amazed by MTV’s expansive set designs for these shows. Seriously, how many millions do they spend on this shit?

9:03 PM: Is that Rihanna in the white dress with combat-style boots? I can’t be the only one to wonder if she’s alright, can I? Ah yes…I’ve heard this song before, so it is Rihanna. I will learn later this is a surprise of some sorts.

Apparently, it’s unrealistic to think a pop singer would appear at the VMAs. Also, let’s look at the concept of the Video Music Awards. Are videos even pertinent on TV anymore or is this just online that it’s important? These are things I must understand as I’m under the assumption MTV doesn’t play videos.

9:05 PM: Chelsea Handler is the host?  She hosts a late night show on E and I’m stunned she’s at the MTV hosting level.She does a backstage skit with lots of black guys (and Lindsay Lohan) smacking her butt. We then cut to the stage and “Bad Romance’ by Lady Gaga comes on. The crowd pops like she’s coming out, except it’s Handler. Gaga is later shown in the crowd with another ridiculous outfit, one of many we’ll see on the night.

During the opening monologue, Handler is actually pretty funny, jumping between a lot of racial and adult jokes. I wonder if the crowd is even trying to get this, but to those that can appreciate the absurdity of today’s music scene, this is good shit.

9:15 PM: The Best Female video is first and Lady Gaga wins for “Bad Romance”. She’s wearing a giant dress with a peacock-style headdress and is crying as she thanks everyone. I feel like that song came out 8 years ago, probably because I’ve heard it played in some fashion approximately 1 billion times.

9:25 PM: The Jackass guys are back…again? A clip is shown of Bam Margera getting hit with a giant hand full of flour. Their 3rd movie is going to be the latest to cash in on the 3D craze. They are introducing Best Rock Video, but these contenstants don’t feel like rock at all.

30 Seconds To Mars wins for “Kings and Queens”. Jared Leto and group accepts, but Leto has somehow transformed into David Bowie.

9:30 PM: Justin Bieber pulls up in a red convertible and plays to an outdoor crowd of screaming young girls who are entirely too into this kid. He lip syncs and dances with a nearly entirely African American backing band and dancers. Apparently that gives him a lot of street cred.

Oh and he can play the drums as well.

9:40 PM: Usher is introduced by the bizarre Kei$sha and the guy that does Tipsy (I think). Usher then partially lip-syncs through a performance that involves scaffolding, an elaborate laser show, an awesome lighted floor and quite a bit of dancing.  Honestly, I think if someone can dance, record companies will find someone to provide the vocals Milli Vanilli style and make a star.

That being said, this was pretty awesome. They win.

9:45 PM: Katy Perry and Nikki Menage (some lady with a giant booty) come out to introduce Best Male Video. No surprise that most of this is hip-hop.  Eminem wins, but couldn’t hang around for an hour to accept as he’s on a flight back to NY. Some guy in a mouse head completely encased in video is playing DJ into breaks. Should I know who this is? I feel so out of touch.

9:50 PM: Funny backstage skits with Handler hosting a Best New Artist brunch  are pretty good.  I also just found out that the correct spelling is Nicki Minaj. How could I not know that?

9:53 PM: Florence And The Machine perform live in their VMA debut. I’ve heard of them (her?) in passing. She puts on an earthy presentation with plenty of dancers and such. She has a good voice, but there’s nothing here that would make me believe she has staying power. As we got to break, an unnamed man comes out and starts rapping a song for a minute that I’ve heard before. I later learn this via Google that this is Travie McCoy.

We then transition to NERD playing outside and a woman doing something similar to a limbo. That only lasts a few minutes, cementing my theory that our younger society is going to have an attention span almost impossible to compare anything to. We’re actually already there, but shows like this prove it.

Perhaps the best moment of the nite is Taco Bell’s new commercial that is an homage to the old Super Friends series. They are called the Super Delicious Ingredient Force and you can see them here.  We’re about halfway through the show and so far, it’s been ok but nothing pushing me toward listening to more pop music.

10:00 PM: Maybe I don’t know Handler’s (seen right) material, but apparently she is really into black guys? More jokes ensue to lead me to that conclusion.

10:05 PM: Some of the Glee peeps come out to introduce Best Pop video. Lady Gaga wins again and is on her 2nd costume change. This ie equally as giant and ridiculous with two people needing to help her get out of her chair. She acknowledges how clunky things are. (Also, isn’t all this music pop?)

10:07 PM: Taylor Swift performs and to open, she plays the video of Kanye West interuppting her is played. Aren’t we over that yet? She performs “You’re Still An Innocent” – a somewhat slower song and a stark difference than everything we’ve heard tonight. I know she’s young, but she just doesn’t seem to fit amongst all this.

10:15 PM: We get a hype video for the Video Of The Year. While there are some new faces (B.O.B., Florence And The Machine), you have to figure a big timer like Eminem or Gaga will take this home. (Am I really evaluating this?) I should mention MTV is pushing its trending on Twitter pretty hard.

Just my opinion, but I think as a communication channel, it’s eventually going to take over Facebook. It’s perfect for this generation.

10:22 PM: Drake w/Mary J. Blige and Swizz Beatz are up to perform. It certainly hasn’t taken long for Drake to become a name in the pop music biz.

10:28 PM: Hey, the VMAs have their own ‘Previously Handed Out Awards You’d Be Bored With” segment as well. I think some people from Tru Blood handed them out, but they didn’t announce who they were. I also am disappointed that I didn’t record this show in HD.

10:31 PM: An unidentified man who I believe is Chris Brown performs as they come back from break. Interesting. In any case, the Jersey Shore kids are introduced on a hot tub on stage as Handler subtly insults them. She then gets into the hot tub with them, which makes you realize how hard the fall from celebrity grace it’s going to be for this gang.

The hot Colombian from Modern Family introduces Best Hip Hop Video. I’m immediately surprised as Jay-Z is up for an award, but has no presence at the show. Eminem wins and she accepts for him.  Handler jumps out of the tub and “The Situation” again tries to get his catchphrase over. It doesn’t work…again.

10:42 PM: Another performance as the talented B.O.B. and Paramore’s Hayley Williams perform “Airplanes” which was a pretty big hit this summer. The two get through a few minutes before Williams walks to the back of the stage and performs a slow song with her band. She has a fantastic voice, but this is a weird segway unless it goes back to the original song.

It doesn’t. Meh.

A white girl with bleached blond hair and lots of ear piercings takes us into break. It could be pop princess Robyn, but that’ s probably not accurate at all.

10:54 PM: Bieber wins Best New Artist and apparently can’t figure out how to get up on stage. How cute.

10:55 PM: Linkin Park is at the Griffin Observatory in L.A. performing “The Catalyst.”  My DVR shows four minutes left and they haven’t announced the Video of the Year, so I’m guessing that we’re running long.

11 PM: LP wraps at 11 pm and we are promised Video Of The Year and Kanye West’s new song in 10 minutes. My DVR cuts off, so we’re done here. Lady Gaga (seen here) won the Video Of The Year for Bad Romance, by the way.

In conclusion, this was a visually spectacular show but unfortunately those would truly appreciate it aren’t in MTV’s demographic. The 12-24 demographic that the network craves comes to expect the pomp and circumstance, unappreciative of just what they’re witnessing.

At least we still have videos.

Josh Nason is a freelance journalist who has penned pieces for FIGHT! Magazine, Apollo (Australia) Magazine, Manchester Magazine and more. While he loves to write about mixed martial arts and email marketing, blogging about music and observations on life are passions as well. Follow him at Twitter.

My Musical Bucket List: Five To See Before I Die

So someone says, “Hey…you’re going to die in a year.”  Isn’t the next logical thought, “Who should I see in concert?”

On Tuesday, four of us were in an interesting conversation about music that stemmed from my outing Monday night to see Pearl Jam in Boston. The sensational and musically-inclined Brett had mentioned that he had never seen PJ before which started a discussion on what bands we’d like to see before we died, otherwise known as ‘The Bucket List” chat.

I’m not sure when the whole Bucket List phenomenon started (I’m guessing when the movie came out, but my Spidey-sense is telling  me otherwise), but the concept has given plenty of people the chance to do what seems to be inherently human: a) making lists, b) thinking about doing fun stuff that they probably will never do and c) thinking about dying.

I sat back when Brett brought up the idea of the live music Bucket List and was fascinated at this subject I never had considered. Who would make my list? I love hitting up live shows, but with most of the music I listen to, I’ve seen nearly everyone that dominates my iTunes and even those who are nowhere near it. When shows come up, I try to find someone to go and make a night of it. Luckily, I have a lot of friends who do the same thing.

I thought a lot about the question and figured my first post here in nearly eight months couldn’t have been about a better subject. For public consumption, here are my five Bucket List bands I’d like to see before I die.

(A side note? We played this game initially with ANY band ever, even if they were broken up or non-existent. For the purposes of reality, all these bands exist now…or at least are thinking about existing. That will make more sense as you read on.)

Smashing Pumpkins

This one rocketed up to the top of the  list without question. Billy Corgan’s masterpiece quartet of the 90’s was a such a huge influence on me growing up that I’m stunned and somewhat frustrated that I’ve never seen them live before.

Part of the reason was my locale growing up: the thriving metropolis of the Oxford Hills, a part of Maine  known for mountains, country music and my dad’s killer curve horseshoe throw. Rock shows never came close to us,  save for Portland which was about an hour away. My first live show was in my freshman year of college, so up until 1996, I simply had never been to a concert. The Pumpkins’ heyday was from 1992-1997 so I was already behind.

Of course, the original Pumpkins would be my first choice but I don’t see that reunion happening ever. I’d gladly go see them now, but I almost feel like it would have an asterisk next to it. This isn’t the group that created Gish, Siamese Dream and what could have been the greatest album of all time if they just didn’t make a damn double disc in Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness. It’s now a slightly above-average alternative band who is giving away almost 50 new tracks for free this year.

But that doesn’t stop  my desire to see Corgan and crew rock out live. It’ll happen someday, even if it will be a far cry from the starting roster that helped dominate the 90’s alternative scene.

Guns ‘n’ Roses

I’m not ashamed to admit that I still love G’n’R despite what you might think of Axl W. Rose. I told you that Chinese Democracy deserved your respect and haven’t backed off that statement yet. Take that one to heart.

Like the Pumpkins above, this isn’t the classic Axl and Slash duo that brought us unforgettable albums and created anthems for late nights in bars across the world (Sweet Child O’Mine, anyone? Yeah, you know you’ve been that guy or girl swaying at 2 am after too many Amstel Lights) and in arenas across the world (my hockey job ruined my previous love of Welcome To The Jungle. I somewhat recoil and twitch Humpty Dance-style whenever I hear the first few chords.)

But you know what? I don’t care. As long as Axl is belting it out, isn’t that what matters? Actually, now that I think of it, fulfilling a full slate of tour dates should actually matter more, then Axl, then finding my old acid wash jeans and bandanna collection.

Rage Against The Machine

If you talk to any New England Rage fan that was alive in 2000, they probably will tell you they had tickets to the infamous 2000 tour stop in Foxboro with the Beastie Boys; the same one that got canceled after the Beasties’ Mike D got hurt in A FREAKING BICYCLE ACCIDENT which caused the tour to be canceled. By the time he was better, Rage had broken up. Thanks, Mike. Thanks a lot.

Now that it’s been more than a decade later, Rage has begun playing some dates again and it’s looking like a full-on reunion is very, very possible. They are playing a slew of European dates this year and hopefully, that will lead to them returning to U.S. soil in true touring band fashion.

There’s no doubt that as a 32-year-old, the 90’s were my formative years in music. With their brand of hard rock, RATM was a fusion of everything I liked at the time: aggression, a message, unique style and dreadlocks. I first saw ‘Freedom’ on MTV on Christmas morning in 1994 and never stopped being enthralled. Now that RATM is nearing the point of being an official band again, it’s time to prepare for the inevitable.

Hopefully this time, their opening act can stay off the two-wheeler.

The Who

At last count, I have just one Who song in my iTunes (The Seeker, inspired by my classic rendition/tribute on Rock Band) and even as I write this, I don’t know how that is possible. While I loved The Doors and admired the Stones and Zeppelin growing up, I really began to delve into Pete Townsend and Roger Daltry’s band over the past five years. The more I listen to, the more I like. Where are all my songs then?

If there was a group I’d be willing to spend big money to go see, it would be The Who. I was awestruck at their Super Bowl halftime show this year and thought the entire layout was just awesome. Their body of work will hold up against anyone’s and that style of rock has influenced many of my faves today, including Pearl Jam who routinely cover Reign O’er Me (including Monday night).

There have been rumblings about a tour this year which would be a must-see and likely hella pricey but sometimes you gotta pay for the quality, baby. Right after this, I’m going to go download a ton of their stuff so I can begin preparation in earnest. I can’t wait.

Blink-182

This was by far the hardest choice because I’ve seen all of my other favorites. From PJ to Incubus to Tool to Taproot to Deftones to Green Day to Linkin Park to Coldplay to Kid Rock to Eminem and dozens of others, I’ve experienced live shows for nearly everyone I care about.  Others like The Doors, Nirvana or Johnny Cash just aren’t happening for obvious reasons. Scanning through my music collection tonight, the one that really stood out was Blink-182.

Mostly thanks to Green Day, I really got into the pop punk sound and latched onto Blink-182, a trio out of California that sang 3-minute songs about a variety of immature subjects that were fairly radio friendly. Listening to these guys wasn’t exactly a night at the opera in terms of sophistication, but c’mon now: aren’t we all allowed to like who we like, regardless of what others might think when the windows are rolled down? (Except for Yanni or Matchbox 20….I can’t get with that.)

But just as Blink-182 evolved and put out an incredibly awesome and musically advanced self-titled album in 2003, bassist/vocalist Tom DeLonge left the group and formed Angels And Airwaves. leaving guitarist Mark Hoppus and drummer Travis Barker to form +44.  After Barker got in a near-fatal plane accident in September 2008, all three began talking about the future and decided to reform. Who knows what this version will bring, but if it’s anything like what I heard on that last album, I can’t wait to check them out live.

So that’s my top five of bands I’d like to see before I jump six feet under. I know you want to tell me who’re you’re dying to see, pun fully intended.

Josh Nason is a freelance journalist who has penned pieces for FIGHT! Magazine, Apollo (Australia) Magazine, Manchester Magazine and more. While he loves to write about mixed martial arts, blogging about music and observations on life are passions as well. Follow him at Twitter.

Why Chinese Democracy is a better Guns N’Roses disc than you think

gnr“Sorry, Chinese Democracy barely qualifies as GnR.”

While I was traveling on the T last month in Boston, I started listening to Guns N’ Roses’ latest effort, Chinese Democracy. If you haven’t heard of this disc or any of the production drama behind said disc, chances are that you probably aren’t into rock music, lived in Antarctica or simply decided to erase the thought of Axl Rose from your conscious being at some point over the past decade.

I had heard from some friends that they really liked it, but I was prepared to be less than blown away. I had purchased Democracy months ago and only briefly skipped through some tracks, never really fully embracing what I was hearing. But I made the commitment and focused into what Rose and his group of mostly non-original Gunners had to tell my ears and mind and I gotta tell you…I really liked what I heard.

“That album mostly sucks. I gave it three tries.”

I’m not a mega-fan of the band, but like many other white guys in their early 30s, I had the Appetite for Destruction tape that spun repeatedly in my yellow Walkman and participated in the debate over what Use Your Illusion disc I liked better (for the record, the blue one). While my musical taste has grown over the years, I still looked forward to hearing this new cd eventually – even if the path to get there took way too long to begin with.

What I heard was fantastic. From the title track to songs like Better, Madagascar and my personal favorite Shackler’s Revenge, this is a great disc. Totaling 14 tracks in all, you can throw this on and just listen to it from start-to-finish. While there is no Sweet Child O’Mine, Patience or even You Could Be Mine, the release of Democracy has added some good music to the G N’R catalog – even if a vocal group won’t allow these songs to enter the conversation.

“Sorry Josh, that was not worth the wait.”

But as you can see by the italicized comments throughout this blog, my opinion apparently is in the minority. Unfortunately for the band, they were in a no-win situation with the CD for several reasons:

- The on-again, off-again release of the disc over the last decade became a running pop culture joke. There was more stops and false starts than a ’85 Ford Escort with no oil so when the impending launch became very real, people didn’t take it seriously. I was in a Best Buy and saw a display that helped spark my memory. Marketers and fans just got burned out from the entire game and thus, killed a lot of buzz for the November release. Strike 1.

- This isn’t the original crew. A cop-out from some critics has been that Slash isn’t in the group and thus, it really axl-roseisn’t Guns. I can see where they are coming from because Axl and Slash were like a well-tuned WWF tag team of the 80s. But bands evolve and change and while this version has been bastardized over the last 10 years, it’s still Axl’s voice and I think that should count for something.

Being Axl is obviously its own curse as he’s one of the most polarizing figures in rock, even when he was holed up somewhere in the desert working on Democracy. Easy to overcome? For some, yes. For many others, not so much. Ah, the curse of a frontman that believes too many of his own clippings. Strike 2.

- If this disc was put out by someone other than Guns, it would have been hailed as one of 2008’s top rock discs. When you factor in all of the above, it would have taken a miracle for this to get the credit it truly deserved. Just out of spite alone, I feel that critics would never give Chinese Democracy a fair shake. It was either Appetite for Destruction II or bust and I don’t think that’s fair. If any number of bands had released this under a different name, there would be a huge buzz but because it was Guns N’Roses, the disc was seen as average at best.

Yes, they are a better band with Slash…but he’s not coming back. Yes, it shouldn’t have taken a decade to get this on the shelves…but it did, so deal with it. Yes, they should be touring to help support this…which I actually don’t understand at all but that’s beside the point.

Let go of your prejudices and give Chinese Democracy a shot. G N’R got you through the late 80s and 90s – you owe Axl that much.