THE ALBUM OF THE DAY IS…
There is no album of the day; the truth is, I can’t stop listening to this new version of “Madagascar.” The band has now gotten word out this is yet another unfinished demo, so I’m not especially bothered that Axl’s vocals need a lot of work (especially at the start of the track). I suspect the finished tune will still be needlessly grandiose (sampling Braveheart, Mississippi Burning, and Martin Luther King? Really?) but so much of the music is so brilliant, it’s hard for me to care. The horns during the song’s intro and the strings that come in later were once described by MTV’s Kurt Loder as Beatles-esque, but they also owe more than a passing debt to Jon Brion (Axl did say that he really dug When the Pawn…, the Brion-produced Fiona Apple recording); and while the bass and drums get buried a bit underneath all the machinery, there’s an incredible amount of interplay between the three guitarists here. Unlike “Better,” it really seems like there are three distinct guitar parts this time- that is, that Axl has three guitarists because he’s, y’know, utilizing them all to make his music. There’s an effects-driven part doubling the orchestra underneath the mix; Richard Fortus’ main lead part (which may or may not include the solo- it sounds like Fortus to my ears but could still be Buckethead), with its sharp sustain; and Robin Finck’s second lead, which compliments Fortus’ part- usually echoing or doubling it with some slight, personality-distinguishing variations- while staying heavy on the wah for some Slash-style blues funk. It’s like Elton John and Freddie Mercury co-wrote a song and then Trent Reznor did all the production and arrangements and Axl came in and did the vocals. This is exactly what I want from Chinese Democracy: an album full of songs like “Estranged,” not some over-produced, over-analyzed stabs at remaining relevant to the current rock scene.
In other words: I really, really like this song. And I think there’s a lot to sink your teeth into.