Track by track: Guns N' Roses - Use Your Illusion II (1991)

Again to talk about Guns N' Roses. You've probably seen my personal Use Your Illusion I track by track and now it's time to talk about the second chapter. Let me know what you think, in the comment section below or through social media.

1) Civil War
This was the first song recorded for the "illusions" session and we find Steven Adler on drums (it will be the only song), instead of Matt Sorum. Great acoustic opening part and one of the band's best songs, with a magnificent Slash (you don't say?) in all his solos. Great lyrics also, against the war "What's so civil about war, anyway?" 98/100

2) 14 Years
Sister of Dust N’ Bones, in the first chapter. Led by Izzy Stradlin on vocals, in my opinion, they are more or less the same level; if you like one, you will like the other one (and the other way round). 77/100

3) Yesterdays 
A classy start for a kind of classic rock song, with a big Axl imprint (and a superb arrangement). Very good lyrics, extremely personal about the person he'd become. There is a lot of variety in these two albums. 78/100

4) Knockin' On Heaven's Door
Guns repackaged Bob Dylan’s song for the soundtrack of the 1990 Tom Cruise movie Days Of Thunder and they published it here as well. A great cover, with a huge personal touch, just like Live and let die in the first chapter. N/A

5) Get In The Ring 
In Rock history, there are tons of songs against journalists but not with this anger, explicit lyrics and even names, surnames and titles of the magazines. If you like angry songs (like me) you must adore this one, extremely underrated, in my opinion. 98/100

6) Shotgun Blues 
A frantic song like many others in the first chapter (Perfect crime, Right next door to hell, Garden of Eden...). A good one with the usual very aggressive (and inspired) lyrics but probably my least favourite on this mast...erm, album. Not its fault. 70/100

7) Breakdown 
Saloon atmosphere at the beginning (and at the end) of this one, amazingly written by Axl Rose. I love the arrangement, with lots of different atmospheres and difficult to describe. Maybe overall a little too stretched in some parts but it's a very classy song. The last minute and a half is pure craziness. 77/100

8) Pretty Tied Up
The perils of Rock n' roll decadence. Crazy (and very explicit) lyrics as usual but maybe even more than usual, saloon atmospheres (again?) in the chorus, and even an electric sitar. You got to love this one. 80/100

9) Locomotive
I love the drums and the entire intro of Locomotive. Well, it's not the only aspect: the solos are great, the vocals are crazy as usual and the chorus is pure fun "ya know I'd like to shave your head and all my friends could paint it red". Also, the great finale "If love is blind I guess I'll buy myself a cane". Pure genius. 90/100

10) So Fine
Very good hard rock ballad by Duff McKagan, sharing the microphone with Axl. If you like Duff's style and voice (do you know his solo album Believe in Me?) you will like this one, with a completely different atmosphere between the chorus and verses. Do I have to mention the fact Slash's solos are amazing? 82/100

11) Estranged 
Another masterpiece by W. Axl Rose. The lyrics are amazingly written and melancholy: ‘I jumped into the river too many times to make it home/I’m out here on my own, drifting all alone,’ and the arrangement is absolutely a gem, with guitars and piano blending together magnifically. I prefer the live version but the song is a masterpiece, no doubt about it. Also, the video is a masterpiece too (with Axl really jumping into the river). Have a look. 100/100

12) You Could Be Mine 
Originally recorded for Terminator 2: Judgement Day, it ended up (luckily) in the second illusion and it's one of those songs I'm never tired of. I love the drumming, the lyrics, the bass, the catchy vocals, all the guitar parts... well I love everything about this one, even when Axl sings about a lawyer and his ridiculous demands. 92/100

13) Don't Cry (Alt. Lyrics)
Same song as the one in the first Illusion (so my opinion is basically the same) but with different vocals. Probably I prefer the first two verses of the original version, but the third verse of this one wins for sure. 92/100

14) My World
Well, it's an experimental track and overall I appreciate it, but it's not a proper song and it doesn't sound like the band but more like Axl's solo material. A strange way to close a (double) album, but I don't dislike it (and I don't know how to rate it). 

Overall rating 97/100
Giovanni Gagliano

Passionate about music I wrote my first article for "Given To Rock" in 2012, reaching now 30K global followers. I am also a musician, gigging around London.

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