Guns N' Roses release long-delayed album

LOS ANGELES (Reuters Life!) - Guns N’ Roses, the rock band whose appetite for self-destruction has left it with only one original member, will release its first album of new material in more than 17 years on November 23, its label said on Wednesday.

Axel Rose, lead singer for the band Guns N' Roses, performs during a concert in Budapest June 1, 2006. REUTERS/Karoly Arvai

With the group’s early-‘90s heyday now only a distant memory, volatile singer Axl Rose has gone through a revolving cast of musicians as work proceeded at a snail’s pace on the album “Chinese Democracy.”

Over the years, Rose has promised multiple release plans and then delays but this time, it really seems to be on its way.

The group’s Geffen Records label will release the album exclusively in the United States through consumer electronics chain Best Buy Co Inc, and it will be available through traditional music retailers elsewhere internationally.

In the United States, tie-ups with individual chains are becoming more common. Australian hard rock band AC/DC released its new album through Wal-Mart Stores Inc on Tuesday.

Paradoxically, most of the 14 tracks on “Chinese Democracy” have already been released in one form or another, thanks largely to Internet piracy.

Earlier this week, a Los Angeles man pleaded innocent in federal court to violating copyright law by allegedly posting nine of the tracks on a Web site.

The title track was officially released to U.S. radio outlets earlier on Wednesday. Additionally, the track “Shackler’s Revenge” debuted in the “Rock Band 2” videogame last month, and a portion of “If The World” can be heard over the closing credits of the new film “Body Of Lies.”

The last collection of new Guns N’ Roses material came out in September 1991, when the group released a pair of albums, “Use Your Illusion 1” and “Use Your Illusion 2,” the follow-ups to their smash 1987 debut “Appetite for Destruction.”

The “Illusion” albums debuted in the top two spots on the U.S. album chart, and the band toured the world relentlessly.

A year after the 1993 release of the covers album “The Spaghetti Incident?” -- which was notable for the controversial inclusion of a song written by mass murderer Charles Manson -- the band began tentative work on new material.

However, long simmering band tensions eventually led to the departure of guitarist Slash, bass player Duff McKagan and drummer Matt Sorum. They went on to form the Grammy-winning band Velvet Revolver, which released two albums.

Rose, holed up at his Malibu home, continued working on “Chinese Democracy” with various musicians, spending millions of dollars in the process, and launched a few tours.

Over the years, the term “Chinese Democracy” became a byword for costly artistic indulgence, and wags joked that democracy would come to China before the album ever came out.

For their part, Rose’s former bandmates say the new Guns N’ Roses is a mere knock-off of the real thing, the hard-living band that sold more than 90 million records worldwide.

But Geffen said in a statement that it was “incredibly excited” about the new album, while co-manager Irving Azoff said the album’s release “marks a historic moment in rock ‘n’ roll.”

Editing by Belinda Goldsmith