For this week’s album of the week, I decided to choose an album from Guns N Roses considering all of the buzz that is going around as far as the reunion is concerned. I have already covered Use Your Illusion 1 from the band and now it’s time to finish that off today. Just like the first one, the album Use Your Illusion II was also released on September 17, 1991 and despite both albums released on the same day, this one did a lot better. The album once again featured Axl Rose (Vocals), Slash (Guitars), Izzy Stradlin (Guitars), Duff McKagan (Bass), Dizzy Reed (Keys), and Matt Sorum (Drums) along with one track featuring original drummer Steven Adler on drums. Just in it’s first week alone, the album sold 770,000 copies to Use Your Illusion 1’s 685,000 landing this album at number one on it’s debut. The album alone has sold over seven million copies making it go seven times platinum. The album also went number one on the Billboard End Of Decade Charts (1990-1999) which is pretty amazing given the albums released in the 90’s.
1. Civil War– In an interview with Rockline, Duff McKagan explained how the protest track came about, “Basically it was a riff that we would do at sound-checks. Axl came up with a couple of lines at the beginning. And… I went in a peace march, when I was a little kid, with my mom. I was like four years old. For Martin Luther King. And that’s when: “Did you wear the black arm band when they shot the man who said: ‘Peace could last forever’?” It’s just true-life experiences, really.” This seven plus minute epic described that all war was civil and what a powerful statement this song was. This is also the only track on the album that features former drummer Steven Adler. 5/5
2. 14 Years– One of the only songs on the album sung entirely by Izzy Stradlin with Axl singing the chorus. The song is supposedly about Stradlin and Rose’s friendship which was about 14 years by the time the song was written, but it more than likely has to do with a guy and his relationship dealing with a girl for so long. 4.5/5
3. Yesterdays– My favorite song on the whole album that is a power ballad, but it’s lyrical content is so powerful in my opinion. The song’s lyrics deal with forgetting about all the things that have happened in the past or things that you didn’t get to do because yesterday’s got nothing for me. 5/5
4. Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door– Both albums had a cover song and this Bob Dylan cover was the one for this album. 5/5
5. Get In The Ring– Is a very controversial song that sees Axl firing back at all of his critics for the bad reviews they gave him. Critics like Andy Secher (Hit Parader), Circus, Mick Wall (Kerrang!), and Bob Guccione, Jr. (Spin). 4/5
6. Shotgun Blues– an in your face rock track from the band that has some punk attitude to it and some very aggressive lyrics. 4/5
7. Breakdown– a track that features Slash playing Banjo on the song. According to Slash, this was the most difficult song on the album to record. It’s not all banjos and pianos as this track turns into a bad ass rock song. 4/5
8. Pretty Tied Up– Izzy Stradlin once descibed the lyrics of the song and it’s content saying, “My Mexican friend Tony took me to meet this woman named Margot at her house. She gave us some tequila or something and she goes in the bedroom and we walk in and there’s this big fat naked guy with an onion in his mouth. He’s wearing women’s underwear and high heels and he’s tied up with duct tape against the wall. Me and Tony were like, What the fuck is going on here? Cracking up laughing. She was this dominatrix chick.” I love the Sitar in the beginning of this bad ass rock song that just shreds. 5/5
9. Locomotive (Complicity)– This is the band’s adventure into Funk Metal probably influenced by Faith No More. The track features a cool piano part towards the end of it 4.5/5
10. So Fine– A track that was written in memory of Johnny Thunders by Duff McKagan who also sang lead vocals on the track. 4.5/5
11. Estranged– This nine minute guitar/piano epic is one of the best songs on the album and it’s also the second longest GNR track ever recorded. 5/5
12. You Could Be Mine– This was the lead single off the album and it’s one of the coolest rock songs the band has ever written in my opinion because it has balls. The song is supposedly about Izzy’s failed relationship with his ex-girlfriend Angela Nicoletti. 5/5
13. Don’t Cry (Alternate Lyrics)– This is the alternate lyrics version of the ballad that appeared on this album. 5/5
14. My World– it’s only 1:24 long, but the industrial tinged track was written while the band was high on shrooms according to Axl. 4/5
My Final Thoughts– These two albums showcased the writing talent that was behind Guns N Roses. It was the band evolving into what they could have been later on had they all continued together. You can guarantee that a lot of the tracks on this album will be played live on their 21 city reunion tour and I cannot wait. I am going to give the album 4.7 stars out of five for a final grade.