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Axl Rose, Chinese Democracy, and a chicken coop.

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March 7, 2005 3:25:37 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

"The Most Expensive Album Never Made" by Jeff Leeds

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/06/arts/music/06leed.htm...

Highlights:

Mr. Rose began work on the album in 1994, recording in fits and starts
with an ever-changing roster of musicians, marching through at least
three recording studios, four producers and a decade of music business
turmoil. The singer, whose management said he could not be reached for
comment for this article, went through turmoil of his own during that
period, battling lawsuits and personal demons, retreating from the
limelight only to be followed by gossip about his rumored interest in
plastic surgery and "past-life regression" therapy.

Along the way, he has racked up more than $13 million in production
costs, according to Geffen documents, ranking his unfinished masterpiece
as probably the most expensive recording never released.


In 1997 Todd Sullivan, who was then a talent executive for the company,
sent Mr. Rose a sampling of CD's produced by different people, and
encouraged him to choose one to work on "Chinese Democracy." Mr.
Sullivan says he received a call informing him that Mr. Rose had run
over the albums with a car.


So the studio technicians burned as many as five CD's per week with
various mixes of different songs, which were driven to Malibu for Mr.
Rose to study. The band's archive of recorded material swelled to
include more than 1,000 digital audio tapes and other media, according
to people who were there at the time, all elaborately labeled to chart
the progress of songs.


"In 1998 and 1999 you start getting a little bit nervous," Mr.
Rosenblatt, the executive who led the outfit after David Geffen's
departure, said delicately. "Edgar Bronfman picks up the phone more than
once. He wanted to know what was going on. You unfortunately have got to
give him the answer, you don't know. Because you don't."


In fact, Mr. Rose's visits to the studio had become so irregular,
according to several executives and musicians involved with the band,
that an engineer working with him, Billy Howerdel, and the band's
drummer, Josh Freese, found time during that period to start their own
project, the band A Perfect Circle, and to begin recording an album,
"Mer de Noms," which went on to sell 1.7 million copies.


One internal cost analysis from the period pegs the operation's monthly
tab at a staggering $244,000. It included more than $50,000 in studio
time at the Village, a more modern studio where Mr. Baker had moved the
band. It also included a combined payroll for seven band members that
exceeded $62,000, with the star players earning roughly $11,000 each.


[Axl] accompanied Buckethead on a jaunt to Disneyland when the guitarist
was drifting toward quitting, several people involved recalled; then
Buckethead announced he would be more comfortable working inside a
chicken coop, so one was built for him in the studio, from wood planks
and chicken wire.


....n the hours after their triumphant Madison Square Garden
appearance, Mr. Rose was reportedly refused entry to the Manhattan
nightclub Spa because he was wearing fur, which the club does not allow.
That killed the mood. He didn't show up for the band's next performance,
and the promoter canceled the rest of the tour.


Mr. Rose is reportedly working on the album even now in a San Fernando
Valley studio. "The 'Chinese Democracy' album is very close to being
completed," Merck Mercuriadis, the chief executive officer of Sanctuary
Group, which manages Mr. Rose, wrote in a recent statement. He added
that other artists including Peter Gabriel and Stevie Wonder "have
throughout their careers consistently taken similar periods of time
without undeserved scrutiny as the world respects that this is what it
can sometimes take to make great art."

He hasn't disappeared entirely. His voice can be heard on the latest
edition in the "Grand Theft Auto" video game series, in the character of
a grizzled 70's-style rock D.J. "Remember," he advises the radio
station's audience, "we're not outdated and neither is our music."
Anonymous
March 7, 2005 4:57:44 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

thanks for the link Stan, interesting read.

i'm quite fascinated by the whole thing. i read somewhere Axl had
actually gotten 3(!!!) albums sorted but they had to be released in
such a way as to not be too 'different' for the fans (u know, coz im
sure we'd all stop being fans if our favourite artists tried something
different). ie, album one being fairly GnR sounding, album 2 being more
industrial (but still a bit GnR) and the third being completely
industrial.

i look forward to hearing this "great art".

Luke
Anonymous
March 7, 2005 8:57:21 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

LuKeNuKuM wrote:
> thanks for the link Stan, interesting read.
>
> i'm quite fascinated by the whole thing. i read somewhere Axl had
> actually gotten 3(!!!) albums sorted but they had to be released in
> such a way as to not be too 'different' for the fans (u know, coz im
> sure we'd all stop being fans if our favourite artists tried
something
> different). ie, album one being fairly GnR sounding, album 2 being
more
> industrial (but still a bit GnR) and the third being completely
> industrial.
>
> i look forward to hearing this "great art".
>
> Luke

This is especially interesting given the current
splash that Velvet Revolver is making!

rd
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Anonymous
March 7, 2005 9:37:09 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

Would you call "Chinese Democracy" a conundrum like
"jumbo shrimp"? Or just a mythical concept like "blue
unicorn". Either way a fitting title for a non-existent
entity.
Anonymous
March 7, 2005 10:03:03 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

> This is especially interesting given the current
> splash that Velvet Revolver is making!

indeed! i'd kinda like to be a fly on the wall in the Axl household
right about now... i bet he's grinding his teeth as MTV plays in the
background... and just hoping that chinese democracy really is worth
the $13mill :D 

LuKe
March 7, 2005 11:01:13 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

this is the best part:

>[Axl] accompanied Buckethead on a jaunt to Disneyland when the guitarist
>was drifting toward quitting, several people involved recalled; then
>Buckethead announced he would be more comfortable working inside a
>chicken coop, so one was built for him in the studio, from wood planks
>and chicken wire.
Anonymous
March 7, 2005 3:09:02 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

On Mon, 07 Mar 2005 08:01:13 GMT, i@like.snow (Vin) wrote:

>this is the best part:
>
>>[Axl] accompanied Buckethead on a jaunt to Disneyland when the guitarist
>>was drifting toward quitting, several people involved recalled; then
>>Buckethead announced he would be more comfortable working inside a
>>chicken coop, so one was built for him in the studio, from wood planks
>>and chicken wire.

Wonder what the budget was for the chicken coop, couldn't have been
too much.

Al
Anonymous
March 7, 2005 3:09:48 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

On 7 Mar 2005 05:57:21 -0800, "RD Jones" <annonn@juno.com> wrote:

>
>LuKeNuKuM wrote:
>> thanks for the link Stan, interesting read.
>>
>> i'm quite fascinated by the whole thing. i read somewhere Axl had
>> actually gotten 3(!!!) albums sorted but they had to be released in
>> such a way as to not be too 'different' for the fans (u know, coz im
>> sure we'd all stop being fans if our favourite artists tried
>something
>> different). ie, album one being fairly GnR sounding, album 2 being
>more
>> industrial (but still a bit GnR) and the third being completely
>> industrial.
>>
>> i look forward to hearing this "great art".
>>
>> Luke
>
>This is especially interesting given the current
>splash that Velvet Revolver is making!

Are they selling any records? I didn't think they were that exciting
after seeing them perform a couple of times on TV.

Al
Anonymous
March 7, 2005 5:43:48 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

Stan wrote:

> "The Most Expensive Album Never Made" by Jeff Leeds

Who cares what he does with other peoples money? They don't, why should you
or I?

PapaNate
Anonymous
March 7, 2005 5:47:51 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

Stan wrote:

> "The Most Expensive Album Never Made" by Jeff Leeds

Who cares what he does with other peoples money? They don't, why should
you
or I?

PapaNate
Anonymous
March 7, 2005 9:02:39 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

I saw the PBS special on the music industry
(rather disturbing) and VR was the act that
ended up being "successful" based mostly
on shipping well out of the gate.
I saw them on one of the Late Night shows and
I agree that the performance was lackluster.
I think it may have been NewYears Eve (?)
But we all know that once you 'make it' all you
need to do is show up for the gig, and you can
get away with whatever else you do or don't do.

rd
Anonymous
March 8, 2005 12:07:10 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

Yeah the vibe I got was that this was a sort of super-group that
sounded better on paper than it did live... it just didn't seem like
there was any real chemistry happening.

Al

On 7 Mar 2005 18:02:39 -0800, "RD Jones" <annonn@juno.com> wrote:

>I saw the PBS special on the music industry
>(rather disturbing) and VR was the act that
>ended up being "successful" based mostly
>on shipping well out of the gate.
>I saw them on one of the Late Night shows and
>I agree that the performance was lackluster.
>I think it may have been NewYears Eve (?)
>But we all know that once you 'make it' all you
>need to do is show up for the gig, and you can
>get away with whatever else you do or don't do.
>
>rd
Anonymous
March 8, 2005 12:11:54 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

Vin wrote:

> this is the best part:
>
> >[Axl] accompanied Buckethead on a jaunt to Disneyland when the guitarist
> >was drifting toward quitting, several people involved recalled; then
> >Buckethead announced he would be more comfortable working inside a
> >chicken coop, so one was built for him in the studio, from wood planks
> >and chicken wire.

Yeah, dude, just try building a decent chicken coop in your bedroom! <g>

--
ha
Anonymous
March 8, 2005 1:19:21 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

play on wrote:
> Yeah the vibe I got was that this was a sort of super-group that
> sounded better on paper than it did live... it just didn't seem like
> there was any real chemistry happening.
>
> Al
>
> On 7 Mar 2005 18:02:39 -0800, "RD Jones" <annonn@juno.com> wrote:
>
> >I saw the PBS special on the music industry
> >(rather disturbing) and VR was the act that
> >ended up being "successful" based mostly
> >on shipping well out of the gate.
> >I saw them on one of the Late Night shows and
> >I agree that the performance was lackluster.
> >I think it may have been NewYears Eve (?)
> >But we all know that once you 'make it' all you
> >need to do is show up for the gig, and you can
> >get away with whatever else you do or don't do.
> >
> >rd

Yeah, and the super-group that sounds good on paper is
exactly the formula the record company uses to 'ship gold'.
There may be some big head/hair/hat syndrome
going on there too.
And in the PBS documentary it was said that as long as
Weiland can stay straight they had a good chance.

Hey wait-a-minute ...
wasn't VR playing in what looked like a chicken coop
on New years Eve ??????????
What's going on here ?
The mystery deepens.

rd
Anonymous
March 8, 2005 4:40:23 AM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

i went to see VR in january play in cardiff (uk) and really enjoyed it.
compared with the sound of the support act (the datsuns who sounded
very good first) their sound was awesome - very big and super-group
like. its got to be one of the best sound setups i've heard at a gig,
nothing was 'muffled' or 'lost' and i did move around the venue quite a
bit.

but back to the chemistry, their wasnt much hugging or snogging the mic
at the same time going on :-)

LuKe
Anonymous
March 8, 2005 5:49:14 PM

Archived from groups: rec.audio.pro (More info?)

That's an oxymoron!

Tom
"Richard Crowley" <rcrowley7@xprt.net> wrote in message
news:112opoo9k6015cd@corp.supernews.com...
> Would you call "Chinese Democracy" a conundrum like
> "jumbo shrimp"? Or just a mythical concept like "blue
> unicorn". Either way a fitting title for a non-existent
> entity.
!