Friday, June 18, 2010


The Use Your Illusion albums represent a turning point in the sound of Guns N' Roses. Although they did not abandon the hard rock tendencies vivid in their first album, Appetite for Destruction, Use Your Illusion I demonstrated, for the first time, more or less, elements of blues, classical music, and country. For example, lead singer Axl Rose plays the piano on several tracks of both albums. In addition, with the Use Your Illusion Tour, both the music and stage presence of the band became more theatrical, in the tradition of progressive rock. This fact is evidenced by the numerous music videos produced in conjunction with these albums. Use Your Illusion I contains two of the three songs, "November Rain" and "Don't Cry", whose videos are generally held by fans to be part of a trilogy. The third song, "Estranged", is on Use Your Illusion II.

A number of songs on the album were written in the band's early days, but were not included on Appetite for Destruction but can be found on the popular bootlegged so-called 'Rumbo Tapes', an 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 "Live and Let Die".

Besides stylistic differences, another new aspect seen in Use Your Illusion I was longer songs. "November Rain", an epic ballad, is nearly 9 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 (on Use Your Illusion II, Stradlin' sings "14 Years" and bassist Duff McKagan sings "So Fine").

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.

Slash has stated that most of the material for the album was written on acoustics in a couple of nights at his house (the Walnut House), after several months of non-productivity.