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Music / Chinese Democracy

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Otherwise known as 2000 Intentions.

"To say the making of this album has been an unbearably long and incomprehensible journey would be an understatement. Overcoming the endless and seeming insanity of the obstacles faced by all involved, notwithstanding the emotional challenges endured by everyone, the fans, the band, our road crew and business team, has at many times seemed like a bad dream in which one wakes up only to find they are still in the nightmare and unfortunately this time it has been played out for over a decade in real life."
W. Axl Rose, announcing yet another delay for the album release date.note 

Chinese Democracy is the sixth studio album by Guns N' Roses. It is known primarily for featuring no members of the classic lineup (other than Axl Rose) and its tumultuous production which caused numerous delays. Completed and originally intended for release in 1999, it finally came out in 2008 after half of the band involved in making it had already left.


  1. "Chinese Democracy" (4:43)
  2. "Shackler's Revenge" (3:37)
  3. "Better" (4:58)
  4. "Street of Dreams" (4:46)
  5. "If the World" (4:54)
  6. "There Was a Time" (6:41)
  7. "Catcher in the Rye" (5:53)
  8. "Scraped" (3:30)
  9. "Riad N' the Bedouins" (4:10)
  10. "Sorry" (6:14)
  11. "I.R.S." (4:28)
  12. "Madagascar" (5:38)
  13. "This I Love" (5:34)
  14. "Prostitute" (6:15)

     Known Outtakes 
  • Oh My God - featured on the End of Days soundtrack in 1999.
  • Silkworms - played live four times in 2001, then released in 2021 as "Absurd."
  • The General
  • Atlas Shrugged - leaked in 2019.
  • Soul Monster - instrumental leaked in 2019.
  • Seven
  • Berlin - instrumental leaked in 2019.
  • Thyme - instrumental leaked in 2019.
  • Zodiac - instrumental leaked in 2019.
  • Quick Song - instrumental leaked in 2019.
  • Down by the Ocean
  • Ides of March
  • Hardschool - leaked in 2019, later re-recorded and released in 2021 under the name "Hard Skool".
  • Going Down - leaked in 2013.
  • "Tommy Demo #1" - leaked in 2019.
  • Perhaps - leaked in 2019.
  • State of Grace - leaked in 2019.
  • Eye On You - leaked in 2019.
  • Nothing - leaked in 2019.

Principal Members:

with additional contributions from:

  • Richard Fortus - Guitars
  • Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal (Ronald Blumenthal) - Guitars
  • Frank Ferrer - Drums, Percussion
  • Josh Freese - Originally the drummer, his playing does not appear anywhere on the album, though he is credited with composing several of the tracks and does appear on the track "Oh My God."

Chinese Democracy contains examples of:

  • Break Up Song: "Better", "Street of Dreams", "There Was a Time" and "This I Love".
  • B-Side: According to Axl, there were supposed to be ten after both planned records came out. Neither they nor the second record have come to fruition.
  • Darker and Edgier: There isn't a single Sex Drugs And Rock N Roll song on the record, unlike Guns' other records.
  • Distinct Double Album: Chinese Democracy was actually supposed to be three albums. One album was intended to be industrial sounding while the other would contain rockers and ballads, and a third would go in a heavier direction than either (largely due to having Buckethead as one of the key writers) with a lot of "big guns." There were also supposed to be ten B-Sides, as mentioned above; if Axl is to be believed, most of the songs performed live were intended to fall in this category. So far, only fifteen songs have been officially released, most of them having been played live before the album came out.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: "Shackler's Revenge" appeared in the setlist of Rock Band 2, which was released a few months ahead of the album. Also, "If the World" was in the credits of Body of Lies one month before the album.
  • Epic Rocking: "Sorry", "There Was a Time", and "Prostitute" all exceed six minutes. Some such as "Madagascar" are shorter, but have many different sections to retain an epic feel.
  • Fake-Out Fade-Out: Perhaps seems like it's going to end as a short track after May's solo, but after a second or two of silence the piano starts up again and the song resumes.
  • Genre Roulette: The band tackled several different genres with this record. Including the outtakes, the range becomes even broader.
  • I Am the Band: Axl is the only Appetite for Destruction member to feature on this record, and Dizzy is the only hold over from the Illusions records.
  • In the Style of: Axl says the outtake "Soul Monster" is the band's most "Black Sabbath" moment.
  • Indecipherable Lyrics: Album outtake "State of Grace".
  • Instrumental: Several discs worth leaked in 2019. Some (Me and My Elvis, Quick Song, Zodiac, Oklahoma) are said to have eventually had vocals added, though many others were never even heard of until the leaks. Whether they were fleshed out into full songs or left on the cutting room floor is currently unknown.
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Brain says that when he presented the song "The General" to Axl Rose, he thought the title was a friendly jab at Tommy Stinson for his behavior in the studio. In reality, it was called that because when the song was being written by Brain and his friends, they were eating General Tso's chicken.
  • Literary Allusion Title: "Catcher in the Rye". The outtake "Atlas Shrugged" too.
  • Location Song: Averted with "Madagascar". The name was used because it represents isolation, a prominent theme of the song.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art: The cover is just a picture of a bike somebody took in China, with the name of the band spray painted in the background.
  • Mood Whiplash: All over the place. "Catcher in the Rye", a soft ballad, is sandwiched between epic ballad "There Was a Time" and guitar and drum heavy "Scraped."
  • New Sound Album: The different musical styles in this record are a stark contrast with the rest of the band's catalog. The most proeminent sound is Industrial Metal, as Axl even brought in Nine Inch Nails guitarist Robin Finck.
  • Nobody Loves the Bassist: Although very prominent in earlier versions of the songs, Tommy's bass is buried under all the layers in the album release. He also sang lead on at least two songs, neither of which made it to the record.
  • Non-Appearing Title: Chinese Democracy, Shackler's Revenge, Scraped, Madagascar and This I Love. Additionally, the outtake songs Atlas Shrugged, Silkworms and State of Grace.
  • Officially Shortened Title: "Soul Monster" has gone through several different titles. Initially known as "Me and My Elvis", it became "Leave Me Alone", then "Elvis Presley and the Monster of Soul", and finally "Soul Monster".
  • One-Book Author: Paul Tobias played a major part in the writing of this record, but after leaving the band in 2002, he quit music and moved back to Indiana to become an accountant. The only musical projects he appears on aside from this (and the GNR cover of "Sympathy for the Devil"; he also co-wrote "Shadow of Your Love" and "Back Off Bitch") are some demos released by an old band of his and a collaboration he did with Brain.
  • One-Word Title: "Better", "Scraped", "Sorry", "Madagascar" and "Prostitute", as well as the outtakes Silkworms, Perhaps and Nothing.
  • Precision F-Strike: "Riad N' the Bedouins" opens up with one.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: Many of the songs are loosely based on Axl's relationship with Stephanie Seymour and the dissolution of the band. "Sorry" in particular seems to be aimed at Slash (as well as outtake "Hardschool") though Axl denied this at a concert in Osaka. Oklahoma (later called "Berlin") is also supposedly in part about the Oklahoma City Bombings.
  • Rearrange the Song: Half of the songs ("Chinese Democracy", "Better", "Street of Dreams", "There Was a Time", "Riad N' the Bedouins", "IRS" and "Madagascar") made their live premieres before the record came, and almost all of them had noticeable changes for the record release.
  • Record Producer: It went through several before it finally came out, finally landing on Axl Rose and Caram Costanzo.
  • Remaster: If the 2019 leaks (as well as many others) are any indication, from 1999-2002 the album had a much rawer sound, likely because it had yet to have so much production done to it and also only featured eight band members. When it was finally released in 2008 it sounded overproduced and had several unnecessary parts added by Fortus, Thal and Ferrer.
  • Remix Album: One exists, done by former drummer Brain and keyboardist Melissa Reese, long before she had joined the band. Like most things from the Chinese Democracy Sessions, it has yet to see an official release, although most of it has leaked and Brain and Melissa have played some of them live on occasion.
  • Revolving Door Band: A great recorded version of this, as indicated by how extensive the musician credits ended up. Only Axl, Robin Finck and Bumblefoot are in all tracks, and Tommy Stinson and Brain are only off one song apiece.
  • Sampling: "Madagascar" prominently features many, from movies (including the same Cool Hand Luke speech which opened "Civil War") to two Martin Luther King speeches. A sample in the opening of "Riad N' the Bedouins" also caused the band to be sued, since it was apparently used without the original composer's permission. Embarrassingly, the sample was a last minute addition.
  • Special Guest: Sebastian Bach does backing vocals on "Sorry". Brian May also plays a guitar solo on the songs "Catcher in the Rye', "Atlas Shrugged", and "Perhaps"; though, the only one of those to make it onto the record had the solo replaced by Ron Thal. Additionally, Marco Beltrami made a few orchestral arrangements, though some of them (for the songs Soul Monster, The General, Seven and Thyme) do not appear on the album.
    • For the End of Days song "Oh My God," Axl's guitar teacher and Circus of Power guitarist Gary Sunshine played some parts, and Dave Navarro played a solo.
  • Spell My Name with an S: It's not Riad and the Bedouins, it's "Riad N' the Bedouins". Additionally, an early name for the song was "Rhiad."
  • Step Up to the Microphone: Rose is the only one to sing lead on the album's final tracklisting, though Tommy is known to sing lead on at least two outtakes: Going Down, and another currently untitled song that leaked in 2019.
  • Surprisingly Gentle Song: "This I Love" is probably the most gentle song on the record, though it was initially intended to be much softer, with only Axl singing and playing piano.
  • Three Chords and the Truth: This I Love was originally meant to be featured on the film What Dreams May Come. This version, although never leaked, was described as just being Axl and a piano. It did not make it into the film however, because Axl ended the song with "I love you Stephanie," against the film scorer's wishes.
  • Title Track: The album opener, though it is a Non-Appearing Title.
  • Yoko Oh No: Paul Tobias is a non romantic example, being a friend of Axl's from Indiana that he brought on after firing Gilby Clarke, both of which were done without consulting any other member of the band. According to the other band members (aside from Dizzy) he was very hard to get along with. Many blame Slash's departure on him (Slash having been very bitter about Tobias' guitar being layered over his in the song "Sympathy for the Devil") and Matt Sorum has publicly blamed him for the dissolution of the Illusions lineup, even going so far as to call him "the Yoko Ono of GNR." Even Tommy Stinson disliked him, because he had "the Guns attitude" despite never touring or recording an album before. Funnily enough, despite being a key player in the recording process, when the album did finally drop, Paul had been out of the band for six years.

Seems like forever, and a day...