Guns N' Roses

2 Classic Albums Under Review: Use Your Illusion 1 & 2

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The Guns N' Roses story is a fascinating one, as the band launched so high and so fast they should have remained in the upper echelon where Aerosmith still remain. Indeed, when they opened for Aerosmith in Boston during the 1988 tour they pretty much upstaged them, and this DVD does a pretty good job of trying to figure out what happened, as it focuses on Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II in a way that is more intriguing than some of the pedestrian "under review" DVDs that merely scratch the surface. And there are tons of people to talk to -- Tim Yasui and Lizzie Grey of Spiders & Snakes, merchandiser Howard Teman, who played piano on these albums, studio owner Skip Saylor, Teddy Andreadis, who toured with Guns N' Roses behind these two discs, Tracey Amos, who was backing vocalist on that same tour, and a number of rock writers and personalities who add to the mix in a positive way. Tony Pomfret does the very professional voiceover on the 90-minute or so exploration of the group and its rise and "decline." As usual there are the snippets of concert footage from Axl and the boys helping bridge the narration and the commentary from the critics and musicians. This particular disc captures the power and the glory, and works not only as a historical look at the group, but as a study of the music industry in general. To have an artist sell as many discs as Guns N' Roses did, only to see the industry fragment and those opportunities dissolve somewhat, says something about that age-old problem, the "major labels" unable to build a sanctuary for the artists who made them so much cash. There's a familiar clip of McCartney and Wings performing "Live & Let Die" as well as on-stage appearances of Axl Rose with Elton John, two clips in particular including their duet on "Bohemian Rhapsody." The covers album, The Spaghetti Incident?, is explained in a good way, how the group was truly into that music, but how the disc fulfilled the contractual obligation and helped them "tread water" to find their bearings. Guns N' Roses has a stack of DVDs available, and Chrome Dreams/Sexy Intellectual clearly knows the market still exists and that this band is still relevant. Unlike the fawning over a U2 on that band's "under review" discussions, this investigation does a good job of entertaining and giving some history that the masses might have missed.