I have a confession to make. You probably know I’m opposed to piracy. I’m especially opposed to the kind of modern large scale digital piracy which makes it pretty much impossible to make a living as a midlist band. The internet is great for giving nowhere bands a shot and it rules for creating record-breaking manufactured pop and blanketing the world with it. But it is a polarizing medium and, in the faint spotlight of the computer monitor glow, midlist bands have either rocketed to wild success or more frequently withered on the vine.
But nobody is perfect and I have committed piracy on two occasions. Ironically, the first was when The West Wing had a special episode with a fictional candidate political debate and I missed it. It was going to be at least a year before the debate came out on DVD or Instant Play on Netflix, there was no download option either on the official site or Amazon Unbox, and I wanted to watch the following episode. Technically, I was not the one who downloaded it off a torrent site, but I did knowingly receive stolen property.
The second time was when the Axl Rose project Chinese Democracy was leaked. I missed it the first time Antiquiet posted it, but I listened to it one of the times it was repeatedly re-posted in the Antiquiet comments. I could say that maybe there was some kind of justification in my head because I liked the writing style on Antiquiet. But really I took it for the same reason most people steal — I wanted it and there was not another way to get it.
I was terribly disappointed in what I heard. Appetite for Destruction changed my life and I sure didn’t hear anything life-changingly good on there. In fact, it seemed like averagely professional hard rock with a little self-indulgent wanking which might impress some musicians with its difficulty, but not with its quality. Possibly fine for a titty bar, but nothing to write home about. Of course, the fact that GNR super-fans almost couldn’t help but be disappointed with everything after Appetite, it is easy to understand why Axl Rose took 572 years to complete the album.
The FBI arrest and ensuing indictment of Kevin Skwerl is most likely being downgraded to a misdemeanor. Hopefully, if they don’t let him cop a plea, they will at least put the trial on Court TV or whatever it is called these days. I want to watch jurors rock out to a variety of different versions of the same series of hard rock ditties over and over. The various authorities who got involved in the Chinese Democracy leak i.e. lawyers, FBI, etc. asserted, among other things, that the leak was damaging because none of these songs were the final mixes. There seem to be other sites with live versions and other nonfinal versions of some of the songs still live, but the one with the best SERPS is in Vienna, so maybe nobody feels like taking it up cross-Atlantic. Whether the whole thing about nonfinal mixes was said to make sales or because it was true will be revealed. Now that the title track single “Chinese Democracy” has been released for radio airplay, I’d have to say that this song, at least, sounds like a different mix.
So, if you were a real big Scorpions fan back in the day (or are a ironic big scene Scorpions fan now), you may keep thinking you are about to hear “Rock You Like a Hurricane” on the radio, a lot in the near future. The song “Chinese Democracy” sounds a lot like a sorta modern “Rock You Like a Hurricane” meets “Mr. Brownstone”. Well, sorta modern. It sounds pretty retro, but in a likable way. On November 24, whether or not there is a Court TV broadcast, everyone will be able to decide if they’d like to check out the actually final final mixes on the long-incubated songs on Axl Rose’s debut solo project. I think Axl Rose is brilliant and I love love love his voice, but, let’s face it, GNR with just him is as much Guns N’ Roses as the current Led Zeppelin reunion where the shows will be performed by a bunch of Futurama-style preserved heads.