Single-Disc Use Your Illusion

(I’m on my way home from the Nevada desert today. Until I get back, here’s one more installment of my 2006 double-album series.)

If not being able to edit an album down to a single vinyl disc of about 45 minutes is self-indulgent, then what’s not being able to able to edit down to a single CD? Excessive? Ridiculous? Loopy?

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Guns N’ Roses. Their 1991 release Use Your Illusion was sold as two separate discs but was clearly one big album. Oddly, this was debated at the time. (The tipoff: calling the discs Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II.) Use Your Illusion was one of the longest albums ever released by a major rock act: its total running time of about three hours even beat out famously excessive triple-disc efforts such as Sandinista! or All Things Must Pass.

Since vinyl albums had become pretty much vestigial by the early ’90s—collectors could special-order them, but that was about it—we’ve boiled down a playlist that fits on one compact disc, without worrying about those old-fashioned “sides.” To uncover the great lost Guns N’ Roses album, it turns out you don’t need to use your illusion—just your iTunes software.

1. Civil War
2. Dust N’ Bones
3. Bad Obsession
4. Don’t Cry (Original)
5. Right Next Door to Hell
6. Bad Apples
7. November Rain
8. You Could Be Mine
9. Yesterdays
10. Pretty Tied Up
11. Garden of Eden
12. Estranged

(total running time: 65:37)

posted 2 September 2008 in Tasty Bits and tagged , . 8 comments

8 Comments on Single-Disc Use Your Illusion

  1. Chris M. Says:

    I am resurrecting this post, because it’s the 20th anniversary of Use Your Illusion (take that, Nevermind nostaglists!), and last night my friend/editor Maura and I were discussing her own efforts to create a single-disc, ultimate Illusion.

    Hers—which I think she’s planning to post online this week—will likely differ greatly from yours. Not least in her plan to eliminate the poorly-aged single “Don’t Cry” (I support her in this fully) and her controversial decision to include only one megalong track, and to possibly favor “Estranged” over “November Rain.” We’ll see where she comes out.

  2. Gavin Says:

    Surely she’s not thinking of cutting “Civil War”?

    My main regret with this edit is that I wanted to come up with a running order that better showcased “Bad Apples,” which I think is the underappreciated jewel in the GNR canon, and couldn’t find a way to do it. Maybe Maura will do better….

  3. Chris M. Says:

    Believe it or not, she might. She was arguing to me that Illusion was weighed down by too many old singles from previous projects (“Civil War” from a 1990 charity album; “You Could Be Mine” from the T2 soundtrack) and that she’d rather showcase the stuff that was clearly conceived by Axl & co. for the album, mélange though it was.

    I was playing the two Illusion discs today for the first time in a long time, and for the first time I saw her point, at least where “You Could Be Mine” is concerned. It’s probably the best straight-up pop single GnR ever recorded (“Sweet Child” is something more than a pop song to me; I mean that “YCBM,” sans guitars and with a bit of rearranging, could have been recorded by a new-jack ’80s pop group like the New Kids)—but it really sticks out on the album like this other, shiny thing, totally out of step with the rest of the record(s). It could be removed, not because it sucks, but because its awesomeness is as a standalone single, a one-off.

    “Civil War” I still like, a lot, and I think it fits Illusion tonally. It would make my cut no matter what. But I’m curious to see what she does with it.

  4. Chris M. Says:

    Oh, also: too many covers on Illusion, saith Maura. But you and she (and I) clearly agree there. We’d all dump “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” and “Live and Let Die.”

  5. Gavin Says:

    I actually don’t think of “Civil War” as being from a previous project (the way “Fight the Power” felt on Fear of a Black Planet)–the band was working on a new record, and it was going slowly (because Adler was in bad shape), so they released something to show they weren’t dead or defunct.

  6. Chris M. Says:

    Et voilà:

  7. Rule Forty Two - » Choose Your Delusion II Says:

    […] any honoring of the fifteenth anniversary on my part was purely accidental). You can compare my 16-song mix with Maura’s 12-cut selection: we have a surprisingly low amount of overlap (just six […]

  8. Julian Says:

    I dug out the UYI 1.5 disc I made many years ago, and it’s surprisingly close to yours. (Loses Right Next Door and Pretty Tied Up, gains Don’t Damn Me, 14 Years, and Locomotive.)

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