Guns N' Roses: Izzy Stradlin (vocals, acoustic, electric & coral guitars); Axl Rose (vocals, guitar, piano, keyboards, drums, sound effects); Slash (acoustic & electric guitars, banjo); Duff McKagan (bass, percussion, background vocals); Dizzy Reed (piano, organ); Matt Sorum (drums, percussion, background vocals).
Additional personnel: Howard Teman (piano); Johann Langlie (keyboards, drums, sound effects); Steven Adler (drums); Shannon Hoon, The Waters (background vocals).
Recorded at A & M Studios, Record Plant, Studio 56 and Image Recording, Hollywood, California; Conway Studios, Los Angeles, California; Metalworks Recording Studios, Toronto, Ontario.
Four years after becoming an uninvited guest at the party that is the music industry with its seminal debut, APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION, Guns N' Roses detonated a creative blast by releasing USE YOUR ILLUSION I & II. Thanks to a reckless approach toward life and music, G N' R was constantly at the center of controversy and the result was that much of it was chronicled on this two-volume project. By this time, original drummer Steven Adler had been dismissed due to alleged drug dependency problems and was replaced by the Cult's Matt Sorum. Keyboardist Dizzy Reed was also added as a member.
ILLUSION II lacks the hits of the first volume and also doesn't overflow with as much bile, aside from a couple of exceptions. Axl Rose howls at the editors of Spin, Kerrang, and Hit Parader magazines on the rollicking "Get in the Ring," and addresses the inherent pitfalls of fame on Izzy Stradlin's scathing "Pretty Tied Up (The Perils of Rock N' Roll Decadence)". Elsewhere, G'N'R tackles an old Dylan nugget ("Knockin' on Heaven's Door"), includes tracks cut for charity and soundtracks ("Civil War," "You Could Be Mine"), and an underrated masterpiece about heartbreak that manages to emote both indignation and sorrow without sounding pathetic ("Estranged").
What the critics say...
Rolling Stone (5/13/99, p.56) - Included in Rolling Stone's "Essential Recordings of the 90's."
Rolling Stone - 4 Stars - Excellent - "...the band rewards the loyal legions with fourteen songs, which range from ballad to battle, pretty to vulgar, worldly..."
Melody Maker (12/91) - Ranked #10 in Melody Maker's list of the top 30 albums of 1991
Kerrang (Magazine) (p.53) - "[A]t turns balladic, bluesy, experimental and peppered with genius."