Just got back from JB Hi Fi on Melbourne’s Bourke Street, where I picked up a copy of Guns N’ Roses Chinese Democracy for a mere $18.99. The official release date is listed as November 24. I won’t get a chance to give the album a spin until later tonight, but I’ll give it a good flogging and post a review tomorrow, specially geared towards guitarists, since there are probably a lot of reviews out there already.
Track 2, ‘Traffic,’ would work equally well as an electric rock song, but as an acoustic track it comes across as bluesy, soulful and groovy. There’s an earthy honestness about the playing, whether Miller is blasting out a speedy hammer-on lick or locking in with the band for an unstoppable funk grove. It’s that kind of alternating rhythm/lead playing that Stevie Ray Vaughan was so great at.
The mood cools down a little on the third track, ‘Straight Forward,’ with a cool ascending bassline and bluesy rhythm fills before taking off on a harmonized melody which reminds me of Jeff Beck’s Blow By Blow, recontextualized as an acoustic album.
Track 4 shows the first signs of slowing down, with the tender ‘Finding Home.’ Again Miller gets great mileage out of combining melody and chordal accompaniment. The mood stays quiet for the ethereal ‘Rushing In,’ before things get funky yet spacious on ‘Dinosaurs.’ ‘Out Of My Hands’ hits hyperspeed with fast hammer-on/pull-of licks and a level of energy not often heard in acoustic music. ‘Holding Hearts’ returns to the cool bass and brushed drums of ‘Finding Home,’ and ‘Frankie’ is a quiet guitar/piano duet which reminds me of ‘Follow One Hope’ from Eric Johnson’s ‘Venus Isle’ album.
The CD wraps up with ‘All I Need,’ which suddenly breaks into a tasty, Tommy Emmanuel-like electric guitar solo, with a warm buttery tone and upbeat melodies. It’s a very unpredictable ending to the album, but it works very well.
Miller plays his Cole Clark Angel acoustic guitar on all tracks, and the guitar is always presented clearly and cleanly in the mix. You can hear every little string noise, every finger scrape, like the band is playing right in your living room.
Here are a few teasers.
Monte’s ‘Could’ve Loved You Better’ from the recording sessions for the new album:
A cover of Hendrix’s ‘Little Wing.’