We can all agree that Sunday's eons-delayed, punchline-defying, free-Dr.-Pepper-triggering release of Guns N' Roses' Chinese Democracy marks the death of something—some combination of the music industry, "the album" as a unit of cultural import, old-guard rock stardom, irony, sincerity, free-market capitalism, hip-hop, the spread offense, and neo-conservatism. Regardless, I feel comfortable stating that it's the last record I will ever buy just to read the liner notes. Holy shit. Do pop into Best Buy sometime this week and have a gander.
Fourteen studios in four cities. Twenty-two assistant engineers. Eight folks under the heading "Additional Pro Tools." Six more under "Logic." The phrase "initial production" re-occurring. Eleven musicians get their own personal thank-you lists; deranged mastermind Axl Rose's requires nearly three columns of tiny-ass type. (Notable names: Mickey Rourke, Donatella Versace, Izzy Stradlin.) And these are just full-album credits; all 14 songs get their own personal bibliography: "There Was a Time" has six guitarists (five is more common) and five orchestral arrangers (Axl is cited as both); "Madagascar" boasts not just French horns but synth French horns, plus clips from two Martin Luther King speeches and dialogue from Mississippi Burning, Cool Hand Luke, Braveheart, Casualties of War, and Seven. Full lyric sheet, too: Within the first minute of histrionic piano ballad "This I Love," Axl rhymes why, goodbye, I, eyes, wise, try, inside, deny, die, mine, inside, why, goodbye, inside, light, bright, night, and deny.
I look forward to re-reading these liners in Best Music Writing 2009; you will greatly prefer them, at least initially, to Chinese Democracy itself.