Monday, April 23, 2012

OK, Back to The Grind...

Hello faithful readers! I know it's been a while. My apologies, but things have been crazy for your faithful blogger. I think, however, I'll have a good shot a keeping up with things for a while.

Quite a few things happened while I was quiet. John Carter tanked, despite my best efforts to whip up an audience. The Avengers edged ever nearer to release, and I honestly can't believe it's less than two weeks away. My countdown to the San Diego Comic-Con continues, as I try, desperately, to sock away every last possible cent for it.

However, I did want to jump back a bit and talk about how Guns N' Roses induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ultimately went down. I can't say I was surprised by who showed up, and, more importantly, who didn't. However, I was also struck by how I felt reading Axl's public statements about the induction, which, as is Mr. Rose's want, were pretty rambling and  edging toward schizophrenic.

Still, really when he issued his first real statement about the matter, on Facebook, of all places, I could help but just shake my head and say, "exactly what I expected." I don't even mean that in a bad way. I mean, Axl, and the group he has assembled under the name "Guns N' Roses" were left in a pretty awful place with this induction.

Axl owns the name "Guns N' Roses," that's pretty much uncontested. Now, how underhanded his tactics were to secure ownership of that name is debatable. I tend to believe Slash and Duff on this one, because their accounts of the events in their respective autobiographies synch up pretty well. Why Axl felt he had to do what he did is really something only he can tell us, and I doubt he'll ever really do so.

You can go around and around about it for days. Really, however, for my purposes today, it's irrelevant.

Axl put together a band of truly great players (OK, that Ashba guy strikes me as a complete poseur, but whatever, Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal is a badass player, as is Tommy Stinson) and recorded (and re-recorded, and re-recorded, and re-recorded) an album that, while not Appetite for Destruction, isn't embarrassing or a disaster, by any means. Is it too little, too late? Probably. It is sad to me that Chinese Democracy will never be able to be considered without weighing it against the fourteen years Axl spent making it, because it isn't nearly as bad as people make it out to be.

Is it a Guns N' Roses album? The pragmatic part of myself says yes. That's the name on the damn CD, and this is the band that's out touring. That said, it bears a much resemblance to Appetite for Destruction, or even the Use Your Illusion records, as the Page and Plant albums do to Led Zeppelin II. There are elements that we, as the listening public, associate with "Guns N' Roses" that just aren't there. That doesn't make it bad, but it does make it different. It really is an Axl Rose solo album, but, like it or not, legally, Axl IS Guns. He's been battling since the first tour with, essentially, this lineup in 2002, to assert this Guns, HIS Guns, as THE Guns.

I'm not judging that action, only point out that he's worked pretty hard to put that across to the public. The Hall of Fame induction, frankly, was a very dangerous thing for the Guns N' Roses Axl has been building. The last thing on Earth that the current lineup needs is to be reminded how explosively awesome the original band could be. They could also suck beyond comprehension, but that's a whole 'nother rant. The SECOND Axl steps on stage with the AFD or UYI lineups, the CD lineup is set back 10 years.

Now, why in God's name would he EVER put himself in that position? Why would anyone?

So, he wrote his open letter, and, no matter how much he wants to say it wasn't a press release, it was certainly a calculated move. Bringing up questions about the HOF selection process that play well to the hard rock fanbase is clearly a tactical decision. The wording is very careful. I'm sure 100 lawyers went over it. Although, come on, Axl...You inducted Elton John! Where were your concerns about the Hall of Fame process then?

So, he doesn't show. The crowd boos his name. Izzy Stradlin doesn't show, either, but his history of reclusiveness  makes it forgivable. Steven Adler makes an embarrassing speech, that I can forgive, because the guy's just obviously so damaged. Then Slash, Duff Mckagan, Adler and Stradlin's first replacement, Gilby Clarke, get up and play with Slash's current vocalist, Myles Kennedy, as I suspected might happen.

The night goes pretty well. The band gets to show their stuff a little bit, and then, Axl issues another non-press-release-press-release. A statement that, for all the world, sounds like the guy might juuuussst regret not going a little bit. Who knows? Only Axl really does. Never miss another chance to point out that the Hall might be a sham, however.

(Lord, I am sick of that, but, again, another rant for another time)

I do however, think that, ultimately, what happened in Cleveland was good for everyone. If nothing else, it nailed the coffin of the original lineup shut. Which is probably something that the band, and the fans, needed. There will be no reunion. It's never going to happen, and what we saw on April 14th is probably the closest you'll ever get.

I think it came off so well that everyone can put that experience to bed. Maybe even Adler. Certainly Stradlin has, and Slash and Duff have moved on to their own projects. They all seem pretty happy to let Axl carry the weight of "Guns N' Roses."

Maybe we should, too.

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