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Chinese Democracy: Most Expensive Album Never Made

Sólo han transcurrido 11 años desde que el siempre ponderado Axl Rose, ejemplo de equilibrio emocional y sentido común, iniciase los trabajos de grabación del que tenía que ser el trecer LP de los Guns'n'Roses, "Chinese Democracy"

Ahora, más de una década después, y gracias a la acertada confianza de su discográfica en la pragmática sensatez del beatífico cantante, Mr. Rose ha empleado hasta el momento la modestísima suma de 13 millones de dólares (¿¿??) en gastos de producción de un disco cuya fecha de publicación ha sido pospuesta por enésima vez, causando más de un ataque de histeria en los pasillos de la compañía.

Con lo cual, el disco ya se ha convertido en la grabación más cara de la historia de la música. Y sigue sin tener pinta de que vaya a ser publicado próximamente.

El periódico New York Times le ha dedicado un extenso artículo al asunto, en el que, naturalmente, apenas se cita una pequeña parte de toda la mierda que rodea a este estrambótico asunto, y en el que a Mr. Rose se le deja casi como a un tipo centrado que sólo tiene unos ligeros cambios de humor de vez en cuando.

Pese a la blancura del artículo, es interesante comprobar cómo la absolutamente delirante historia del no nato tercer LP de lo que queda de Guns'n'Roses ha llamado la atención hasta tal punto que el propio N.Y. Times le dedica un reportaje en profundidad:

Nota del

IN the faint red light of the Rainbow Bar and Grill, Tom Zutaut sips at his drink and spills a bit of regret. It's been 19 years since he signed the then-unknown rock band Guns N' Roses to a contract with Geffen Records, where they turned into multiplatinum superstars. Back in those days, the Rainbow was their hangout of choice.

Years after he left the label, he returned in 2001 to try to coax Axl Rose, the band's magnetic leader and by then its only original member, into completing one of the most highly anticipated albums in the industry: an opus tentatively titled "Chinese Democacy." The deadline for turning in the album had passed two years earlier.

"I really thought I could get him to deliver the record," said Mr. Zutaut, who spent nine months trying. "And we got close."

He is speaking in relative terms. Mr. Zutaut is but one of a long series of executives and producers brought in over the years to try to conjure up the maddeningly elusive album - to cajole the reclusive rock star into composing, singing, recording, even just showing up. Like everyone else who had tried, or has tried since, Mr. Zutaut came away empty-handed.

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. As the production has dragged on, it has revealed one of the music industry's basic weaknesses: the more record companies rely on proven stars like Mr. Rose, the less it can control them.

It's a story that applies to the creation of almost every major album. But in the case of "Chinese Democracy," it has a stark ending: the singer who cast himself as a master of predatory Hollywood in the hit song "Welcome to the Jungle" has come to be known instead as the keeper of the industry's most notorious white elephant.

AT THE STROKE of midnight on Sept. 17, 1991, Guns N' Roses was the biggest band in the world. Hundreds of record stores had stayed open late or re-opened in order to cash in on the first sales that night of "Use Your Illusion," Vols. 1 and 2, the band's new twin albums. On the strength of that promotion - and the coattails of the band's blockbuster 1987 debut - the band set a record: for the first time in rock history, two albums from one act opened at Nos. 1 and 2 on Billboards national album sales chart. But by 1994 their fortunes had changed. After years of drug addiction, lyric controversies, onstage tantrums and occasional fan riots, their members had started to drift away, their lead singer had become bogged down in personal lawsuits, and "The Spaghetti Incident?," their collection of cover versions of classic punk songs, had been released to mixed reviews and disappointing sales.

The members of the band - what was left of it - reconvened at the Complex, a Los Angeles studio, in a massive soundstage with a pool table and a Guns N' Roses-themed pinball machine, to prepare for their next album, which Geffen executives expected to release some time the following year. But they quickly began suffering from an ailment that has proved fatal to bands from time immemorial: boredom.

"They had enough money that they didn't have to do anything," said a longtime observer of the band, one of the 30 people involved with the album who spoke for this article. He spoke on the condition of anonymity, as did many others who had signed a confidentiality agreement while working with Mr. Rose. "You couldn't get everyone in the room at the same time."

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