GUNS N’ ROSES – Use Your Illusion I & II (Japan Edition) [30th Anniversary]

GUNS N' ROSES - Use Your Illusion I & II (Japan Edition) [30th Anniversary] full

Exactly thirty years ago today, September 17, GUNS N’ ROSES simultaneously released their third and fourth studio albums, ‘Use Your Illusion I‘ and ‘Use Your Illusion II‘. There isn’t a CD reissue, but we at 0dayrox celebrate the 30 years of these albums with the Japanese Edition, just because we think both are milestones in Hard Rock history. In many ways ‘Use Your Illusion I & II‘ marked the end of an era in Rock, and were the last great GUNS N’ ROSES songs.

In retrospect, the much revered “classic” lineup of Guns N’ Roses was together a relatively short time, with the first significant changes in the band coming in the early ’90s, but even with the initial alterations to the group, it was still one helluva ride the band was enjoying after monstrous success of their debut album Appetite for Destruction and the follow-up compilation Lies.

While it could have been easy to capitalize on the early successes and churn out another album quickly, the band instead chose to double down on their work and release an ambitious two-volume collection on Sept. 17, 1991, called ‘Use Your Illusion’.

Frontman Axl Rose told Rolling Stone in 1991 that the project was well thought-out and a calculated career move, choosing to challenge themselves to do something special rather than taking the easy road.
“People want something, and they want it as soon as they can get it,” Rose says. “Needy people. And I’m the same way, but I want it to be right — I don’t want it to be half-assed. Since we put out Appetite for Destruction, I’ve watched a lot of bands put out two to four albums, and who cares?
They went out, they did a big tour, they were big rock stars for that period of time. That’s what everybody’s used to now — the record companies push that. But I want no part of that. We weren’t just throwing something together to be rock stars. We wanted to put something together that meant everything to us.”

But getting there was no easy task. The band had a tumultuous split with drummer Steven Adler after his hard-partying ways became too much for the band to ignore. Adler would later file suit against the group. Guns N’ Roses also bid adieu to manager Alan Niven amongst other key members of their crew.
But as one chapter closed, another began. In 1990, keyboardist Dizzy Reed was invited to join the group. And with Adler on the way out, the group needed a new drummer and found their man in Matt Sorum, whom the band had seen drumming with The Cult.

With the new lineup intact, Guns N’ Roses started putting together the disc in January 1990, spending nearly a year on the recording. The band made use of numerous studios, including A&M, Record Plant, Studio 56, Image Recording, Conway Studios and Metalworks Recording Studios.
Ever the perfectionists, the band also mixed 21 tracks with engineer/producer Bob Clearmountain, but later scrapped the mixes, starting from scratch with Bill Price handling the mixing. But when it came down to it, Guns N’ Roses had set the bar high with their previous work and were intent of maintaining that push for excellence.

Released on Sept. 17, 1991, Use Your Illusion I and II arrived with much fanfare. The second volume opened at No. 1 on the Billboard Album Chart, with the first volume finishing second.
As for the separation of the tracks, Rose said “We didn’t actually take into consideration that people knew more songs on II than I. We thought that ‘Civil War’ and ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’ would be old news, rather than people wanting to get them in their hands. We looked at it like the first half of Use Your Illusion I was more similar to the energy on Appetite for Destruction, and would be a lot more fun to skateboard to.
We thought of it that way. We thought it would be more successful in the beginning and we’d have to work on II, but actually II took off harder so it gave us the time to work on I and also drive wide and push it.”

He added, “I’d say ‘Civil War,’ ‘Heaven’s Door,’ ‘Breakdown,’ ‘Estranged,’ ‘Locomotive,’ and the second version of ‘Don’t Cry’ are a bit deeper and more mature than some of the songs on the first side of Illusion I. Those are just as important to us, but were more fun and more raw expressions of emotions.”

The first song to arrive came from the Use Your Illusion II album. The propulsive rocker “You Could Be Mine” was used for their soundtrack of the film Terminator 2: Judgment Day after Arnold Schwarzenegger personally invited the band to dinner at his home to negotiate a deal.
The song actually had a long history with Guns N’ Roses, with guitarist Slash revealing that the earliest origins of the song dated back to the first pre-production session for Appetite for Destruction.

Other Use Your Illusion II songs to hit included the band’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,” the power ballad “Yesterdays,” the protest song “Civil War” and the powerful “Estranged.” While most of the Use Your Illusion II songs would not become major radio hits, they did become classics within the Guns N’ Roses catalog.

Speaking of Use Your Illusion I, it had more success at radio, with the tracks “Don’t Cry,” “November Rain” and a cover of Paul McCartney’s “Live and Let Die” all commanding the airwaves. Fans also latched on to such favorites as “Garden of Eden” and “Right Next Door to Hell.”

“Don’t Cry” proved to be one of the band’s biggest hits and a key track in linking the two albums together as different versions of the song appeared on both discs.
The Use Your Illusion I track became the hit, with the Use Your Illusion II version offering alternate lyric and a slightly different melody. Also of note on “Don’t Cry” is a backing vocalist who appeared on a number of Use Your Illusion tracks — Shannon Hoon — who would later rise to fame as the vocalist for Blind Melon. Hoon and Rose both hailed from Indiana and relocated to Los Angeles to pursue music and found a common bond in their journey. Hoon also appeared in the video for the song.

“November Rain,” an epic power ballad, climbed all the way to No. 3 on the Billboard 100. It too was a long-in-the-works track, with Tracii Guns revealing that Axl had been working on it as early as 1983.

As for the touring cycle, it took it’s toll on the band. There was the incident in St. Louis when Rose was cited with inciting a riot after going into the crowd after a photographer. There was the ill-fated 1992 tour with Metallica where riots erupted.
And during the run, Izzy Stradlin tired of life in the band and eventually exited, with Gilby Clarke eventually joining the group. World Tour was really ‘world’, an endless trip around the globe.

Sadly, Guns N’ Roses would record one more album, the covers disc The Spaghetti Incident, with much of their “classic” core intact. Slash would exit in 1996, McKagan a year later, leaving Rose as the sole original member and a decade-plus process in putting together the Chinese Democracy album amidst numerous lineup changes took the band out of the spotlight for a good part of the latter ’90s and early 2000s.
But it wasn’t the same. GN’R composing great songs ended in 1991.

During the early ’90s, there weren’t many acts that could touch Guns N’ Roses and the ‘Use Your Illusion’ albums were an example of a band on top of their game pursuing something special.
Both albums would go on to be certified seven times platinum by the RIAA and the wealth of singles from the two discs remain staples in the band’s catalog to this day.


Geffen Japan MVCG~43 / 44

Use Your Illusion I
01 – Right Next Door To Hell
02 – Dust N’ Bones
03 – Live And Let Die
04 – Don’t Cry (Original)
05 – Perfect Crime
06 – You Ain’t The First
07 – Bad Obsession
08 – Back Off Bitch
09 – Double Talkin’ Jive
10 – November Rain
11 – The Garden
12 – Garden Of Eden
13 – Don’t Damn Me
14 – Bad Apples
15 – Dead Horse
16 – Coma

Use Your Illusion II
01 – Civil War
02 – 14 Years
03 – Yesterdays
04 – Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door
05 – Get In The Ring
06 – Shotgun Blues
07 – Breakdown
08 – Pretty Tied Up
09 – Locomotive
10 – So Fine
11 – Estranged
12 – You Could Be Mine
13 – Don’t Cry (Alt. Lyrics)
14 – My World

W. Axl Rose – lead vocals, piano, whistling, guitar, synths
Slash – guitars, banjo, backing vocals
Izzy Stradlin – guitars, vocals, sitar
Duff McKagan – bass, vocals, percussion
Matt Sorum – drums, backing vocals
Dizzy Reed – keyboards, backing vocals
Additional musicians;
Steven Adler – drums on “Civil War”
Johann Langlie – drums, keyboards and sound effects on “My World”
The Waters – backing vocals on “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”
Howard Teman – piano on “So Fine”
Shannon Hoon – co-lead vocals on “Don’t Cry”


out of print

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