Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Maybe the record label should have sent the Feds around to see Axl Rose instead

Last week, a couple of tracks from the mythical “Chinese Democracy” album appeared online. Within a few days, as Rolling Stone report, a pair of FBI agents called around to see California blogger Kevin Skwel and ask him about the …

Wed, Jun 25, 2008, 11:50

   

Last week, a couple of tracks from the mythical “Chinese Democracy” album appeared online. Within a few days, as Rolling Stone report, a pair of FBI agents called around to see California blogger Kevin Skwel and ask him about the tracks. While everyone else would have just went off and downloaded them, these two lads wanted to see the actual original files which Skwel had already deleted.

You couldn’t get a bigger contrast in terms of reaction times. On one side, you have Axl Rose, spending years and years either perfecting the most amazing album ever heard or, more likely, polishing a turd. The amount of money spent on this vanity project continues to rise and rise. Back in 2005, in what remains a must-read piece about how to spectacularly lose the plot, the New York Times called it “the most expensive album never made”. That was three years ago and the studio bills have probably not got any cheaper.

On the other side, you have the forces of law and order pressed into action within hours of tracks slipping into the public domain, armed with cease-and-desist letters and the threat of personal visits from the Feds. Guns N’ Roses remain a potentially lucrative franchise (just look at the huge sales for their greatest hits collection) and thus must be protected at all costs from evil fans keen to share a bunch of what were, by all accounts, dull and dreary tracks with the world.

It’s at times like this that you realise how much risk-taking still goes on in the music industry. Pandering to the ludicrous demands and out-sized ego of Rose has probably already cost around $20 million and that’s before you factor in all the other costs of getting this beast to market. Will it be as good as Guns N’ Roses of old? Will it out-sell the greatest hits set? Will there be a fan demand to go to large fields and see Axl Rose have a temper tantrum? It’s all about the gamble and no-one will be any the wiser until the bloody album comes out, Rose does a 360 deal with someone equally as mad as himself and the whole bandwagon goes back on the road. Meanwhile, think of how many new acts you could have developed with that kind of cash.