#516: Use Your Illusion

GETTING MORE TALE #516: Use Your Illusion

25 years ago on this day, millions of fans used their illusions.

1991:  First year of university, and I was hard at work on some reading.  My sister and my mom were out shopping at the mall.  The record store I eventually worked at opened up just that summer.  Unbeknownst to me, they popped in on my behalf and returned with a present.

“Mike!” yelled my sister excitedly as they returned home.  The dog barked loudly in shrill Schnauzer barks as she talked.  “Did you know Guns N’ Roses have TWO NEW ALBUMS OUT?”

I sure did!  Use Your Illusion I and II were the long-awaited true followups to Appetite for Destruction.  With 30 brand new songs, Guns released the music as two separate but complimentary albums.  My sister eagerly handed me a gift:  a new cassette copy of Use Your Illusion II!

Why she chose II, I don’t know and it doesn’t matter.  For this fan, II was the first.  I had it a whole week before I caught up and bought Illusion I (again, at the same store I would work at only three years later).  It was $10.99.  Perhaps because I had the second album a week ahead of the first, I still really prefer II over I.  Songs such as “Breakdown”, “Pretty Tied Up”, and “Locomotive” are three of the strongest and most ambitious rock songs on an already strong set.  They stand up today as my personal favourites.

The Use Your Illusion albums spawned a combined eight singles:  “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”, “Civil War”, “You Could Be Mine”, “Don’t Cry”, “Live and Let Die”, “November Rain”, “Yesterdays” and “Estranged”.  Additionally, music videos were made for the tracks “Garden of Eden”, “The Garden”, and “Dead Horse”.  Guns N’ Roses assaulted all formats as they trounced the world in a two year long world tour, with acts such as Skid Row, Metallica and Faith No More.  They even suffered their most devastating lineup change right at the very start of it.  Chief songwriter Izzy Stradlin departed in November of 1991, to be replaced shortly after by Gilby Clarke.  Although he has made numerous guest appearances since, Izzy has never rejoined Guns N’ Roses.

Did you buy Use Your Illusion I and II 25 years ago today?  Do you have a favourite?

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43 comments

  1. I didn’t get them until a few years later – but I remember voting for November Rain in MuchMusic’s Combat des Clips!
    These are glorious messes – I love a good sprawling double though so it suits me just fine.
    I’m with HMO, UYI gets more airtime ’round here, but the highs of UYI2 (Civil War, Estranged among others) are sensational.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Although I never bought the albums I picked up the single “You Could Be Mine” for the obvious reason that it was associated with Terminator 2. The second cut on the CD single (Yep those were a thing) was “Civil War”. For my final project for ‘Broadcasting’ at Conestoga College, I did a music video using two songs. “Dreaming While You Sleep” by Genesis and “Civil War”. Dreaming While You Sleep used original footage that I shot and edited the Civil War portion of the video used news footage of the day and other footage. It was kind of a demo of what I could do as a shooter/editor. The video was quite well received and won a “Master craft Award” as best video from my class.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have that single too. No need to have it other than having Arnie on a single cover. Justifies it to me! Bought that in summer ’91 at Sam the Record Man on a trip there with highschool buddy Danesh. First time I had walked to Sam’s that I can remember.

      I still have an old video of yours. The don’t drink and drive video starring Bob Schipper as the dead victim.

      “He’s too drunk to drive. I should be driving HIM home!”

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      1. I’m not sure. The Rolling Stones were in Tokyo at the same time…and Ron Wood came onto the Guns N Roses stage for one song as a surprise guest.

        The concert started at the time it was scheduled to end because Axl was two hours late. That was irritating…other than that, it was a good show!

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  3. I skipped first period oac economics at bluevale to stand in line at HMV Waterloo the second they opened and bought both on CD together. Still have them, and yes…I prefer illusions II.
    Crazy that was 25 years today…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I got em either 2002, or 2003, but that’s just because of my age.
    Favourite was always II, but I’m leaning more towards I these days when I can skip the songs I don’t like.

    I wish they didn’t have the cover songs, had only one version of Don’t Cry, didn’t have my world, and structured them slightly differently… but that’s just nitpicking. I really, really like them when I’m in the right mood.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah man, I think the covers (even though they were HUGE hits) could have been held back for their covers album, which they knew they were going to do anyway. Axl announced from stage many times they were going to do the covers album.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This!

        Also, could they not play them live, them or the long solos.

        Why have a terrible piano or guitar solo playing some movie theme, when you could have some of the best songs in rock history, like Back Off Bitch or Double Talkin Jive ?

        I would pay an extra £30 to the price of a ticket if it would stop them playing covers or solos. Its like they don’t know how crazily good their own songs are or something.

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  5. It’s such a great gift to fans when bands do that. Those are some great singles that you mentioned but I must say that I have always hated their version of Knockin on Heavens Door especially the bang bang bang.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, and when they do it live — “Gimme some Reggae!” I had a friend at the Record Store who had NEVER heard Guns’ version of the song. She wondered why, any time somebody sang Heaven’s Door at karaoke, they would sing that “hay, hay, hay hay yeah.” part. She’d never heard it, ever.

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  6. I saw Guns N Roses when the opened for Motley Crue. After about 2-3 songs, Axel started yelling at someone in the audience and then jumped off stage and got into a fight. He was arrested and that was the end of their show. As a result, I was pissed and didn’t get UYI 1 or 2 until a couple years ago. They were both really good. I hated I waited so long, but I was angry and held a grudge for awhile.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I don’t blame you man. Axl pissed off a LOT of people on that tour. He was a different Axl then. In Canada we had the infamous Montreal riot.

      Metallica was opening, and they had to leave, because James got burned by pyro. Remember when James had the burns on his arms that summer?

      Guns came out late (of course) and then Axl left when somebody started throwing shit. Then all the rich kids in the auditorium had a riot.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. It should be! He is older and hopefully grateful that he is still getting paid to do what he does. I still haven’t heard anything that he has done with AC/DC. I probably should check out YouTube and watch some of the videos from the shows.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Rock journalist Mitch Lafon posted today, “Every time I hear an AC/DC song now, I want to hear it with Axl singing.” People are really impressed with him! He sounds to be in great voice too. Not always the case in 1992-1993.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. I rushed out and bought them at 9:02 on the day they came out from Woolworths in Carmarthen – I’d loved to have lived somewhere big enough that day to have had shops that opened at midnight to sell copies of it.

    I remember being totally overwhelmed by how amazing ‘Coma’ was, just playing it over and over again.

    I still wish they had better covers though – they never did it for me at all.

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  8. I liked what SOAD did, releasing LPs recorded at the same time, with a bit of a gap between them so people would hear them properly and not get overwhelmed – I guess Geffen were desperate to recoup though.

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  9. It’s mental thinking about these being 25 years old. I was a pup when I picked up Use Your Illusion II on cassette… I remember my Mum being horrified when she heard the language old Axl used. I got Use Your Illusion I a couple of weeks later (cassette again) and by then I was already in love with II. Although I don’t listen to either album much at all now, II is my favourite.

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  10. Nice overview, I love reading those stories! I got Use Your Illusion I first but II became my favourite from the instant I bought it, no contest. I didn’t buy the albums when they came out, I would’ve been negative 2 months!

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  11. Ya know I never jumped aboard the Illusion Train like my mates did (and boy did they) but much appreciation for a good many it’s tunes and count me in convinced had they squashed the best into a 1 disc release that disc while less the double album novelty, would likely have rivalled Appetite even if not the ‘time capsule’ from which it came. What a great period for rock that was and truth be told, wouldn’t want change it even if could the double Illusion was a masterclass decision \m/

    Regardless, Estranged, Civil War, YCBMine the ballads all stellar , proving Guns were worthy the attention and in fact I reckon much the Guns catalog carries more nostalgic value than many other catalogs from that time. Food for thought…

    Great review Mike cheers :)

    Liked by 1 person

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