Laura Barton on the long wait for the 'new' Guns N' Roses album

Laura Barton: Dr Pepper promised a free can of pop to every American if GN'R could just see their way to releasing the album this year. But still no official release date

The year 1993 was a time of such fresh-faced optimism: the world wide web was born, the European Union was formally established, Bill Clinton arrived in the White House and we all honestly believed that the next Guns N' Roses album would be with us any moment soon.

Fifteen years, a collection of live recordings and a greatest hits album have done little to remove the lingering disappointment of The Spaghetti Incident?, GN'R's last official album, a hotch-potch of punk and glam-rock covers. Still, for the band's devotees, there was always the sweet promise of their next full record of new material, Chinese Democracy, the recording of which began in 1994.

The years went by, line-ups changed, dates were set and missed, tours passed, haircuts altered and £6.5m of recording costs were allegedly spent. Dr Pepper promised a free can of pop to every American if GN'R could just see their way to releasing the album this year. But still no official release date.

Then, last week, nine of its tracks were leaked on the internet. The source has yet to be ascertained, but it began on an American blog, Antiquiet, where a poster named Skwerl uploaded the tracks claiming that they were both "mastered and finished". Six had been leaked before: Better, The Blues, the title track, Madagascar, IRS and There Was a Time.

This time, they were more polished, and there were three new songs, including Rhiad and the Bedouins, which Billboard magazine describes as "a pounding rocker with a trademark down-and-dirty main guitar riff and a flashy solo" and If the World, apparently a "blend of flamenco guitar, industrial synth tones, bluesy piano licks and Axl Rose at the top of his vocal register".

It is, though, hard to remain optimistic about an album that has taken 14 years, and marries flashy guitar solos, industrial synths, flamenco and blues. Other sources have spoken of the album's "grandiosity", while Rose himself has stated that Chinese Democracy is "a very complex record".

One is put in mind of the tale of the Emperor's New Clothes, so opulently described, but which ultimately transpired to not exist. With the record company still refusing to comment on a release date, let's hope that can of Dr Pepper is the only thing the band's patient fans miss out on.


Laura Barton

The GuardianTramp

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