The holiday is a desert for new releases and ironically, wrong usage, I actually have free time to write. So instead of doing a title I really have no interest in I will once again steal an idea from a podcast. Dig Me Out is a terrific podcast that focuses on lesser known releases of the 90’s. While they mainly stick to alternative, hard rock and metal occasionally sneaks in. Recently they celebrated their 200th episode and to commensurate the big achievement the episode was dedicated to Guns N Roses Use Your Illusion I & II. It was a fascinating episode with lots of info and ideas. One of my favorite tidbits was that “November Rain” was originally a 20+ minute song that had to be trimmed down.
During the course of conversation they addressed the elephant in room, should this have been 2 albums released simultaneously? One suggestion was to release several EP’s that collected similar songs together. Epic songs, bluesy songs, etc. In theory that sounds good but I think they knew that the band was on borrowed time with all the drug problems the various members had. Plus, who knew what the music climate would be by the time EP #4 came out. In truth the music world of 1991 when this was released and in 3 years later 1994 were totally different. You could have released one and then another 12-18 months later but you if #2 sells way less than #1 the media will go bananas. Plus this was the time when record releases were a big deal. Fans would line up and pack stores for midnight releases. A couple years later with grunge killing the rock star and the internet changing the industry, big releases were not the same.
The spark for this article was them mentioning about cherry picking the two albums and creating the ultimate Use Your Illusion. This idea really intrigued me with a combined 29 songs between the two, only counting “Don’t Cry” once, and deciding on what 10 songs would make the best album is a fun idea.
So the following are my 10 songs plus the order they should be on the album. I think that can be an overlooked aspect to a release and it is VERY evident on the two Use Your Illusions. I is alright but having “The Garden” followed by “The Garden of Eden” is just lazy. It gives the impression that the two tracks are tied together. II is just a mess. “Civil War” is a great song but not an opener. All the fast energetic songs are in the middle and the big single “You could Be Mine” is track 12.
With all that said, let’s kick this pig.
Scott’s Ultimate Use Your Illusion
Track 1-”You Could Be Mine”-This is the perfect album opener. Upbeat, already popular from the Terminator 2 soundtrack, listeners will be on board from the jump.
Track 2-”Garden of Eden”-Want to keep up the tempo from the 1st track. Plus it sounds like it could come from Appetite.
Track 3-”Civil War”-after those two rockers, this serves as a bridge from what they were to what they want to be.
Track 4-”Live and Let Die”-This is such a good cover that I don’t want to bury it on the back of the album. Plus the bombast of it leads perfectly into…
Track 5-”November Rain”-The opening piano note is a perfect segue from Track 4. The midway point is perfect this song.
Track 6-”The Garden”-It follows “November Rain” on I and I think it works. Coming off the grandiose-ness of the previous track you need to something different but not vanilla. The soft/heavy flux of this track and the Alice Cooper guest vocals work perfectly. I know the Dig Me Out guys didn’t like this song but I really do.
Track 7-”Dust N’ Bones”-One of the few songs where Izzy sang. Great song showing the bands roots.
Track 8-”Estranged”-The other big epic song. If I only hear this song once every 6 months, it’s my favorite off these albums. Slash’s guitar sound is just nasty and that simple 4 note riff is killer. I do wish that they had a big name producer on this album that would’ve cut about 90 seconds out of the middle and this song would be legendary. I think you have to have it far enough away from “November Rain “ to give listeners a chance to recover.
Track 9-”Pretty Tied Up”– I like the jangliness of the song and after “Estranged” you need some normalcy. Plus it leads right into…
Track 10-”You Ain’t The First”– I love the acoustic sound of this, very Stones/Aerosmith plus it echoes the Lies EP. I think this is the perfect ending,
I realize I left off “Don’t Cry”and the reason why is you already have 2 “kind of” ballads on here. I could cheat and say that it is a Japanese Bonus track along with “So Fine”. Nowadays, people do not remember how big a deal it was getting UK or Japan import of a release just for the bonus tracks. Plus, after seeing Shannon Hoon on the video and hearing that he sang on it I was excited to hear Blind Melon. Then when I actually heard it, it made me wish that God did not give us ears. Horrible.
I am pretty solid on the song choices I made, the only argument would be on the order but my reasoning for tempo and feel will stay.
One of the other favorite tracks mentioned on the podcast was “Coma”. The track is alright but with 2 other long songs that I think are better, this album is better served without it. “Bad Obsession” was the one song that was a tough cut. Honestly I had that in the Track 7 slot and then heard “Dust N’ Bones” again and made the switch. With the success and notoriety of “November Rain”, “Estranged”, and “Civil War”, I think people overlook how many good rock songs are on here.
Along with making up two new words, I believe I laid out solid reasons of what I think would make the best single disc version of Use Your Illusion. Am I right on or way off base?
Just let me know.