Fifteen years in the making. Could the latest album from the Axl Rose project possibly live up to the massive expectations? Hell, this album reminds me of the guy who begins to tell a joke/story, only to be interrupted several times. Demanding to be heard, our storyteller continues with the joke while everyone waits transfixed. Expectations rise, so that even a great joke is only average.

Except in this case, the joke has been going on for 15 years.

I bought Chinese Democracy from iTunes on Sunday. More out of morbid curiosity. After all, the title track left a lot to be desired. Sounded more like one of the few forgettable tracks from the Use Your Illusion series. By song two, I was cursing Axl for kicking out the original gang of Slash and company (Velvet Revolver at least had Slash’s trademark sound).

However, something happened on track 3 (called Better). Why, it was good. No, not good. It was excellent. Not really Guns N Roses, but hey, I was willing to keep an open mind. By the time I reached track 8, I knew this album WAS special.

Chinese Democracy is an exceptional album. 15 years worth? Probably not, but damn, it’s good. I’m not a music critic. I don’t know what makes things sound good. I can’t even tell what instrument is making what sound (I know guitar…but that’s about it). But I know that this sounds good.

You can almost hear the 15 years. Symphonies. Walls of guitars. Countless vocal tracks. It could’ve easily become a jumble of noise…but somehow he put it altogether.

When I first bought the Use Your Illusion Cds way back in university, I remember at first I was disappointed. It wasn’t Appetite for Destruction. It was different. Then, it became apparent that the Use Your Illusion Cds were something great. Why, they had grown as musicians.

The same can be said for Chinese Democracy. On several tracks, the guitars almost play second fiddle (no pun intended) to the orchestral or piano arrangements.

Axl explores, plays, and transcends what was originally Guns n Roses. I’ve never liked AC/DC. Why? Because they’ve been making the same song for 20 years. And I never really liked the original song.

U2 continues to redefine themselves. Chris Cornell is always unpredictable. I’d add the Axl Rose Project to that list.

Sadly, it comes 10 years too late. If this would’ve come out in the 90s…I really think it would’ve been hailed as a great album and sales would’ve been terrific. But considering that a 20 year old would’ve been 5 when Use Your Illusion was released…well, I don’t think they’ll really care. So I believe that Chinese Democracy will be thrown onto the scrapheap of music history — which is too bad.

It’s a fantastic album.