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G n’ R Tracks Leak

Is Chinese Democracy finally coming out? Plus: a guide to the new tunes

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Andy Greene Aug 09, 2008
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AFP PHOTO/Bru Garcia

Nine finished-sounding songs from Guns n’ Roses’ Chinese Democracy leaked online in mid-June, increasing speculation that the perpetually-in-the-making album could be finally nearing release. Guns’ management team declined to comment, but Axl Rose’s longtime friend Sebastian Bach ”“ who has recorded backing vocals for Chinese Democracy ”“ tells Rolling Stone that the album is indeed completed and is only being held up by business negotiations. “I know for a fact it’s not Axl saying, ”˜Let’s wait,’ ” Bach says. “They’re trying to figure out the best way to put the music out. The standard way of putting a CD in the store may not be enough for a release of this magnitude.” Rose finished a tour with the current incarnation of G n’ R last July and has since been lying low. He had announced a tentative release date of March 2007 for the album.

Various versions of Chinese Democracy tracks have hit the web before, but the June 18 leak was the biggest one yet ”“ the tracks sound complete, and studio versions of three of them had never been heard before. Blogger Kevin Skwerl ”“ who used to work in Universal’s distribution department ”“ posted the songs after getting them from an anonymous tipster, who told him that they were the versions that Rose had turned in to his label. Within minutes, Skwerl received a call from “a guy from the G n’ R camp” who politely asked him to take them down. He complied.

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Still, the songs spread far enough that several radio stations nationwide began playing them. Among them was Minneapolis station 93X, which stopped after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from Rose’s attorneys. “People are really excited about these new songs,” says 93X programme director Wade Linder.

Meanwhile, according to Bach, Rose has three other albums in various stages of completion. After spending six hours listening to new music, Bach asked when one song ”“ which Rose described as a sequel to ”˜Estranged’ ”“ would come out. Recalls Bach, “Axl goes, ”˜I don’t know, 2010 or something.’ ”

The ”˜Chinese’ Leak: Track by Track
Chinese Democracy has finally arrived ”“ sort of:

”˜Rhiad and the Bedouins’
First heard: 2001

Known only from a handful of live performances in 2001-02, this pounding rocker is reminiscent of the Use Your Illusion cut ”˜You Could Be Mine.’

”˜If the World’
First heard: 2008

A weirdly funky ballad accentuated with flamenco guitar and light industrial beats. “You’re the only one I have ever loved/That ever loved me,” Axl wails.

Title Unknown
First heard: 2008

A heartbroken epic in the tradition of ”˜Civil War’ and ”˜November Rain,’ with a symphony, flashy guitar solos and a long, mellow instrumental coda. Plus: break beats!

”˜IRS’
First heard: 2003

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An early demo of this catchy, paranoid headbanger surfaced on a New York metal radio show in 2003. A complete demo hit the web in February 2006, and Rose started playing it live soon after.

”˜Better’
First heard: 2006

Rumoured to be the first single, this melodic, multi-section tune sounds like an Axl-Trent Reznor collaboration. (It’s not.) It first leaked after it was reportedly given to Harley Davidson for a television commercial that was pulled at the last minute.

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