Use Your Illusion Song by Song Thread

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Zoot Marimba, Dec 4, 2017.

  1. Zoot Marimba

    Zoot Marimba And I’m The Critic Of The Group Thread Starter

    Hello everybody and welcome to the Use Your Illusion Song by Song Thread, which was the runner up in the poll, and since Cloud Nine won't be happening for a while, this will be our thread in the meantime. Before we start, I'd like to know how you discovered this album and initial impressions.
    Use Your Illusion I is the third studio album by American rock band Guns N' Roses. It was released on September 17, 1991, the same day as its counterpart album Use Your Illusion II. Both albums were released in conjunction with the Use Your Illusion Tour. The album debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard charts, selling 685,000 copies in its first week, behind Use Your Illusion II's first week sales of 770,000.[1] Use Your Illusion I has sold 5,502,000 units in the U.S. as of 2010, according to Nielsen SoundScan.[2] Each of the Use Your Illusion albums have been certified 7× Platinum by the RIAA. It was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1992.[3]
    The Use Your Illusion albums represent a turning point in the sound of Guns N' Roses. Although the band did not abandon the aggressive hard-rock sound they had become known for with 1987's Appetite for Destruction, Use Your Illusion I demonstrated a new-found musical maturity, incorporating elements of blues, classical music, heavy metal, punk rock, and classic rock and roll. This is exemplified by the use of piano on several tracks of this album by lead singer Axl Roseand keyboardist Dizzy Reed, as well as on Use Your Illusion II. Use Your Illusion I contains two of the three songs, "November Rain" and "Don't Cry", whose videos are generally regarded by fans as a trilogy.[4] The third song, "Estranged", can be found on Use Your Illusion II.

    Another factor in the different sound to this album compared to the band's earlier work is the addition of former The Cult drummer Matt Sorum, who replaced member Steven Adler. Adler was earlier fired from the group due to a serious heroin addiction.[5][6] Guitarist Izzy Stradlin said of the change, "Adler's sense of swing was the push and pull that give the songs their feel. When that was gone, it was just... unbelievable, weird. Nothing worked. I would have preferred to continue with Steve, but we'd had two years off and we couldn't wait any longer."[7]

    A number of songs on the album were written in the band's early days. They were not included on Appetite for Destruction but can be found on the so-called 'Rumbo Tapes', a popular bootleg album of early demo tapes. "Back Off Bitch", "Bad Obsession", "Don't Cry" (referred to by Rose during the ensuing tour as 'the first song [they] ever wrote together'), "November Rain", and "The Garden" are considered part of this group. There is also a cover of Paul McCartney and Wings' "Live and Let Die".

    Besides the stylistic differences, another new aspect seen in Use Your Illusion I was longer songs. "November Rain", an epic ballad, is nearly nine minutes long, and "Coma" is more than 10 minutes long. Another change was the presence of tracks sung by other members of the band (even though certain songs from Appetite for Destruction and G N' R Lies featured other members on duet vocals): lead vocals on "Dust N' Bones", "You Ain't the First" and "Double Talkin' Jive" are performed by rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin. In addition, "14 Years" and "So Fine" from Use Your Illusion II were sung by Izzy Stradlin and Duff McKagan, respectively.

    The band had some difficulty achieving the final sound of the album, especially during the mixing stages of the production of both albums. According to a 1991 cover story by Rolling Stone magazine, after mixing 21 tracks with engineer/producer Bob Clearmountain, the band decided to scrap the mixes and start from scratch with engineer Bill Price of Sex Pistols fame.[8] Slash has stated that a great deal of the material for the album was written on acoustic guitars in a couple of nights at his house (the Walnut House), after several months of non-productivity.[9]

    Raphael, The School of Athens (detail)
    Both albums' covers are the work of Estonian-American artist Mark Kostabi.[11] They consist of detail from Raphael's painting The School of Athens. The highlighted figure, unlike many of those in the painting, has not been identified with any specific philosopher. The only difference in the artwork between the albums is the color scheme used for each album. Use Your Illusion II uses purple and blue while Use Your Illusion I uses yellow and red. The original painting was titled by Paul Kostabi as Use Your Illusion and also became the title of both albums. The album's liner notes hide the message "**** You St. Louis" amongst the thank you notes, a reference to the band's Disaster near there at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in July 1991 during the Use Your Illusion Tour.[12]

    Release and reception[edit]
    Released on midnight of September 17, 1991, the Use Your Illusion albums were among the most anticipated in rock history. Predictions in the industry were of sales reaching the likes of Michael Jackson's Thriller and Bruce Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A., this despite the fact that major stores K-Mart and Walmart refused to stock the albums due to the profanity present. Estimates suggested that over 500,000 copies of the two albums were sold in just 2 hours.[20] Both albums ultimately underperformed expectations domestically but were still commercially successful, with Use Your Illusion I selling 5,502,000 and both being certified 7x Platinum by the RIAA.[21][22] Use Your Illusion I debuted below Use Your Illusion II mainly due to the fact that the second album contained the main lead single of the two albums "You Could Be Mine".

    Reception to Use Your Illusion I was mainly positive, and it is regarded as the more hard-rocking album of the two due in part to the influence of Izzy Stradlin.[13]Critics praised the highlights of the album such as "November Rain" and "Coma", the closing track, but criticized the amount of filler on the album. Asked if the wait was worth it, David Fricke of Rolling Stone said "yes".[17]

    Track listing[edit]
    No. Title Writer(s) Length
    1. "Right Next Door to Hell" Axl Rose, Izzy Stradlin, Timo Caltia 3:02
    2. "Dust N' Bones" Slash, Stradlin, Duff McKagan 4:58
    3. "Live and Let Die" (Paul McCartney and Wings cover) Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney 3:04
    4. "Don't Cry" (Original) Rose, Stradlin 4:44
    5. "Perfect Crime" Rose, Slash, Stradlin 2:23
    6. "You Ain't the First" Stradlin 2:36
    7. "Bad Obsession" Stradlin, West Arkeen 5:28
    8. "Back Off Bitch" Rose, Paul Tobias 5:03
    9. "Double Talkin' Jive" Stradlin 3:23
    10. "November Rain" Rose 8:57
    11. "The Garden" Rose, Arkeen, Del James 5:22
    12. "Garden of Eden" Rose, Slash 2:41
    13. "Don't Damn Me" Rose, Slash, Dave Lank 5:18
    14. "Bad Apples" Rose, Slash, Stradlin, McKagan 4:28
    15. "Dead Horse" Rose 4:17
    16. "Coma" Rose, Slash 10:13
    Total length: 75:56

    Guns N' Roses

    Additional musicians

    • Shannon Hoon – backing vocals on "Live And Let Die", "November Rain" and "The Garden"; back-up vocals on "Don't Cry" and "You Ain't The First"
    • Johann Langlie – programming on "Live And Let Die", "November Rain" and "Garden Of Eden"; sound effects on "Coma"
    • Michael Monroeharmonica and saxophone on "Bad Obsession"
    • Reba Shaw – backing vocals on "November Rain"
    • Stuart Bailey – backing vocals on "November Rain"
    • Jon Thautwein – horn on "Live And Let Die"
    • Matthew McKagan – horn on "Live And Let Die"
    • Rachel West – horn on "Live And Let Die"
    • Robert Clark – horn on "Live And Let Die"
    • Tim Doyle – tambourine on "You Ain't The First"
    • Alice Cooper – co-lead vocals on "The Garden"
    • West Arkeen – acoustic guitar on "The Garden"
    • Bruce Foster – sound effects on "Coma"
    Production and design

    • Allen Abrahamson – assistant engineer
    • Buzz Burrowes – assistant engineer
    • Chris Puram – assistant engineer
    • Craig Portelis – assistant engineer
    • Ed Goodreau – assistant engineer
    • Jason Roberts – assistant engineer
    • John Aguto – assistant engineer
    • L. Stu Young – assistant engineer
    • Leon Granados – assistant engineer
    • Mike Douglass – assistant engineer
    • Talley Sherwood – assistant engineer
    kingbaz, Paulo Alm, Mr.Sean and 9 others like this.
  2. Zoot Marimba

    Zoot Marimba And I’m The Critic Of The Group Thread Starter

  3. benzo

    benzo Forum Resident

    Ft. Worth, Tx, USA
    Izzy's remarks about Steven and Matt kind of sum up that album for me..
  4. Zoot Marimba

    Zoot Marimba And I’m The Critic Of The Group Thread Starter

    Ohhhhhhh I'll get to Matt Sorum soon enough. But in the meantime, I hope you stick around.
    benzo likes this.
  5. Brenald79

    Brenald79 Forum Resident

    I first got UYU 2 on cassette few weeks after it was released and UYI 1 a few weeks later. I was 11 then and buying 2 tapes at the same time was too much of a splurge and it seemed UYI 2 was the logical one to get since it had You Could Be Mine & Civil War. I had the cassette single that was released in June. I didn't like UYI 1 as much at first except for L&LD and DC.
  6. ziagg

    ziagg Active Member

    Vienna, Austria
    Interesting point about the drummer change - I was I guess 14 years old when I discovered GNR through a friend, but back then I had no interest in (and no ear for) "nuances" like a change of drum style. It will be great revisiting the albums along with this thread and hearing things I've never paid attention to before.
    905 and Zoot Marimba like this.
  7. CrombyMouse

    CrombyMouse Forum Resident

    I always rank both UYI albums as much more superior than AFD. The later is a great record with couple of classics but comparing with scope and craft and brilliance of UYIs it sounds a bit one-dimensional.
    martinb4, telepicker97, 905 and 2 others like this.
  8. Captain Leo

    Captain Leo Well-Known Member

    Queens, New York
    Here's the thing:
    I like a lot of the songs on the UYI records. But...there's a certain raw meanness missing. And no, it's not because of the absence of Steven Adler. Go back and listen to versions of the songs done with him on drums - they're pretty much the same.

    You have great rock songs, but they seem to be very consciously retro rock. Rock by numbers. There is nothing as dark, or as vicious, or as shocking as Rocket Queen. There is nothing as raw and controversial as One in a Million (which, for all its racism and what have you is an amazingly composed song). There is nothing with the acerbic wit and catchy melody of Used to Love Her.

    The biggest problem with the UYI albums is that they take themselves way too seriously, and the mixing is horrible.

    You can tell these were albums made by a bunch of guys rather than a BAND sitting in a circle crafting songs together ala Appetite and Lies.

    They're not BAD albums, but they're not what could've been.

    Best songs in my book:
    Garden of Eden
    You Ain't the First
    Dust N' Bones
    Right Next Door to Hell
    14 Years
    You Could Be Mine (even that feels shallow compared to the rockers on AFD, though)
    Don't DamnMe
    The Garden
    November Rain
    Double Talkin' Jive
    Bad Obsession

    The rest I could take or leave in all honesty
  9. Silksashbash

    Silksashbash Forum Resident

    I bought both double LPs in my local record store the same week they came out, age 14. They're among my all time favourites and are records that I never get tired of playing. I have also learned to play every one of these songs on the guitar.

    I'm afraid I won't be having much time to participate. I've also found it's quite hard for me to read harsh criticism about my life-long favourite songs or artists. These songs and these albums are what they are, they may not all be perfect, but that's the way they are and I wouldn't change a thing 'cause then they wouldn't be the albums I grew up with.
    905, paulbright81 and Zoot Marimba like this.
  10. PJayBe

    PJayBe Forum Resident

    Two great albums, with (to my ears) just a couple of duff tracks. Will be a fascinating journey.
    905 and Zoot Marimba like this.
  11. Runicen

    Runicen Forum Resident

    My memory may be failing me here, but I remember getting both of these on CD via my Dad selling off a bunch of his stuff. I had first go at what he was offloading and I remember these being in the lot. It's also entirely possible that I picked them up later at a local CD Warehouse, but who's counting? The first makes for a (slightly) better story anyway. :p

    I didn't know much about GNR at the time. With these albums coming out in '92, I would have been 9 when they dropped - hardly the target audience. I'm pretty sure I got into them in my mid-teens though. Funny enough, while I liked the rockers, the songs didn't connect with me beyond that. I enjoyed "Estranged" and "November Rain" because they were dramatic and angsty. The lyrics barely penetrated. Fast forward a few years and I started to understand what they were on about.

    Overall, while I can see filler on these albums now, I stand by the opinion I had as a teenager coming from Nirvana and Pink Floyd and experiencing these albums alongside Appetite for the first time: it was a bold, scattershot attempt by a band to broaden their horizons. Not everything works, but you have to respect the attempt.
  12. PaulKTF

    PaulKTF Forum Resident

    There's a lot to like on both albums, but also a lot of mediocre and forgettable filler... but on the other hand there aren't that many songs on either album that I actively dislike. I just think the albums are too bloated for their own good.
    Zoot Marimba likes this.
  13. Standoffish

    Standoffish Don't you dare call me an ostrich!

    Lookin' forward to this thread. I hope people feel free to share thoughts both positive & negative. Makes things more interesting!

    I started my junior year in college (University) when this came out. People lined up at midnight in long lines (no internet!). IIRC the reaction was that people liked the albums, but thought GnR had done too much at once.

    I'll leave my further thoughts for once we get started...
    Runicen and Zoot Marimba like this.
  14. FourWalledWorld

    FourWalledWorld Forum Resident

    There's so much underrated stuff on both albums once you go past the hits - Dust N' Bones, 14 Years, Locomotive, Coma...I could keep going on.
  15. 3coloursbeige

    3coloursbeige Forum Resident

    Deal me in! I happen to think that the double-whammy of Perfect Crime & You Ain't the First is about as good as rock 'n' roll gets.
  16. Captain Leo

    Captain Leo Well-Known Member

    Queens, New York
    I'm not the type of guy who likes AC/DC - I do like bands to brand out and be diverse - but GN'R's career was so short that I would've preferred some intermediate album which maybe blended the darkness of AFD with these new larger than life sounds. Or something closer to Appetite II with maybe the final song offering a glimpse toward the Illusions. I mean, GN'R's career lasted only four years and they went directly from Strange Days to LA Woman. Pretty jarring leap, when you consider it, with no real "second" album to cushion the landing. At least Metallica had done like 5 records before the Load cycle.

    I mean, I listen to these records and I hear an above average rock album - but where's that magical guitar interplay that created atmospheric hellscapes (think the outro of Jungle, or the intro of Rocket Queen)? Where's the punk edge to the songs? Where's the Stonesy humor of a song like Used to Love Her? Where's the truly memorable choruses ala Paradise City or You're Crazy?

    You also have a dramatic shift in overall tone and feel. Izzy is basically absent on this record, mixed to the point of being barely audible. Steven is gone. Steven was closer to a Charlie Watts and they replaced him with a guy who was closer to Bonham or Cozy Powell. The songs all are heavier. There's no poppy punk here. There's just sludgy metal. Which I like, but which sounds like an almost different band from Appetite.

    I feel like if The Spaghetti Incident had come out between Lies and UYI, with the last song being Since I Don't Have You, it would've given been better. With something like SIHDY as the last song on their most recent record they'd be saying "expect weird things..."
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2017
    Runicen, enro99 and Zoot Marimba like this.
  17. Zoot Marimba

    Zoot Marimba And I’m The Critic Of The Group Thread Starter

    Right Next Door to Hell:

    We open the Use Your Illusion saga with Right Next Door to Hell, which Axl and Izzy wrote with Timo Calita, a Finnish guitarist who'd worked with Hanoi Rocks previously, who played the chorus riff while Stradlin was visiting him. The song is based on an altercation between Axl and a woman who lived next door, and the condo ended up being given away in an MTV special called "Evict Axl".
    The song is kicked off by Duff on a Fender Bass VI, and it's actually kind of cool. You then get a buildup with Axl coming in at :28, and he does well enough. You get a paint-by-numbers drum track by Matt Sorum, you know it ain't Adler behind the kit. This track is good enough on first listen, but fails to leave a real impact, as there's nothing to really hook you in, the solo is not bad, but not Slash's best. The track is half-baked, it sounds rushed, it's completely lacking in tension or huts-pah, this is basically a filler track.
    As you can tell, I don't like this song.
  18. Zoot Marimba

    Zoot Marimba And I’m The Critic Of The Group Thread Starter

    Here's a commercial for Evict Axl:
    enro99 likes this.
  19. Rosskolnikov

    Rosskolnikov Designated Cloud Yeller

    Wherein Axl tried to take them away from Stones/Aerosmith/Hanoi Rocks and into Queen/Elton John/Zeppelin territory. With the exception of Slash, I don't think this played to their strengths. "The Garden" was the coolest track, but it would have been better with "smaller" production and without Alice Cooper's guest vocal.
  20. Rosskolnikov

    Rosskolnikov Designated Cloud Yeller

    I think he only sings one. ;)
    daveidmarx, 905, PJayBe and 1 other person like this.
  21. Zoot Marimba

    Zoot Marimba And I’m The Critic Of The Group Thread Starter

    We will get there when we get there, but in the meantime, what do you think of Right Next Door to Hell.
  22. Rosskolnikov

    Rosskolnikov Designated Cloud Yeller

    Pretty ripping album opener, but it's a relative let-down compared to Jungle, both in terms of the riff and the melody. As in much of the album, I feel like the drums and bass don't groove the same way they did on Appetite. This is more straight-ahead . . . and isn't as interesting. Not enough two-guitar interplay. On Appetite, they often had Slash and Izzy NOT both playing on the downbeats. If Izzy was playing across Slash on this stuff, he's mixed so far back that you can't hear it.

    I remember being distinctly disappointed, but there were stronger songs found deeper on both albums. There's certainly one great album contained within the two.
    enro99 and Zoot Marimba like this.
  23. Zoot Marimba

    Zoot Marimba And I’m The Critic Of The Group Thread Starter

    I agree there's a great album in there. In fact I will create my own single album at the end of this thread And yes I agree with the rhythm thing, there's no push and pull, not only in the rhythm section, but in The guitars as well.
  24. drbryant

    drbryant Forum Resident

    As an opener, it’s pretty good. The bass intro and initial guitar licks promise more than the song ultimately delivers. It’s certainly no Jungle, but it’s tight and fast. “OK” as the opener.
  25. PJayBe

    PJayBe Forum Resident

    Great opening song, full of energy and not as polished as some of what was to follow. First appearance of Duff's awesome bass sound on the album.

Share This Page