Use Your Illusion II
|Use Your Illusion II|
|Studio album by Guns N' Roses|
|Released||September 17, 1991|
|Recorded||January 13, 1990–August 3, 1991 at A&M Studios, Record Plant Studios, Studio 56, Image Recording, Conway Studios and Metalworks Studios|
|Genre||Hard rock, heavy metal|
|Producer||Mike Clink, Guns N' Roses|
|Guns N' Roses chronology|
|Singles from Use Your Illusion II|
|Entertainment Weekly||(A) |
|RS Album Guide|||
Use Your Illusion II is the fourth studio album by the American rock band Guns N' Roses. It was one of two albums released in conjunction with the Use Your Illusion Tour, along with Use Your Illusion I. Bolstered by the lead single "You Could Be Mine," Use Your Illusion II was the slightly more popular of the two albums, selling 770,000 copies its first week and debuting at No. 1 on the U.S. charts, ahead of Use Your Illusion I's first week sales of 685,000. As of 2010, Use Your Illusion II has sold 5,587,000 units in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan. Both albums have since been certified 7× Platinum by the RIAA. It was also No. 1 on the UK Albums Chart for a single week. It is the last Guns N' Roses album to feature rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin. It also included the last Guns N' Roses song to feature drummer Steven Adler, who played on "Civil War."
The Use Your Illusion albums were a stylistic turning point for Guns N' Roses (see Use Your Illusion I for discussion). In addition, Use Your Illusion II is more political than most of their previous work, with songs like "Civil War", a cover of Bob Dylan's "Knockin' on Heaven's Door", and "Get in the Ring" dealing respectively with the topics of violence, law enforcement, and media bias. The thematic material deals less with drug use than previous Guns N' Roses albums. Use Your Illusion I featured mostly songs pre-Appetite for Destruction (with notable exceptions) while Use Your Illusion II featured more tracks written during and after Appetite For Destruction.
The band's cover of "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" had been released almost a year earlier on the Days of Thunder soundtrack, while "Civil War" was debuted at the 1990 Farm Aid concert. That concert also featured Guns N' Roses playing a cover of the U.K. Subs song "Down on the Farm," a studio version of which would later appear on the band's 1993 release of cover songs, "The Spaghetti Incident?". "Civil War" was released as a B-side to "You Could Be Mine". The song had also been released on a charity album called Nobody's Child, a fund-raising compilation for Romanian orphans.
"You Could Be Mine" was released in June 1991 and is featured in the film Terminator 2: Judgment Day. The song was not released on the actual T2 soundtrack. The band also filmed a video featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger in character as the Terminator, with a loose plot featuring Axl Rose as its "target". However, he saved from termination as he is deemed a "waste of ammo" by the T-800's lock-on system. The original subject matter of the song dealt with Izzy Stradlin's failed relationship with ex-girlfriend Angela Nicoletti.
The Use Your Illusion albums can be considered a single cohesive work, and certain elements of Use Your Illusion II underscore this intent. For instance, both albums have a version of the song "Don't Cry", and both have one cover song; "Live and Let Die" by Paul McCartney (Use Your Illusion I) and "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" by Bob Dylan (Use Your Illusion II). Each also has at least one track sung by other members of the band: lead vocals on "So Fine" are performed by bassist Duff McKagan - the song, that was dedicated to punk rock musician Johnny Thunders, who died from a drug overdose before the recording of the album.
The song "Get in the Ring" finds the band lashing out at a career's worth of critics and enemies. Among those referred to by name are editors of several entertainment magazines. The industrial flavored "My World," the final track, was written and recorded in three hours, with Rose claiming those in the recording room were on mushrooms at the time.
To achieve the final mix of the album, the band had some difficulty, especially during the mixing stages of the production of both albums. According to a 1991 cover story by Rolling Stone magazine, after mixing 21 tracks with engineer/producer Bob Clearmountain, the band fired Clearmountain when he tried to replace the real drums with samples. According to Slash's autobiography, "one afternoon we discovered a notepad of his where he'd notated all the drum samples he planned to mix in over Matt's drum tracks" the band decided to scrap the mixes and start from scratch with engineer Bill Price of Sex Pistols fame.
Slash has stated that most of the material for the album was written on acoustic guitars in a couple of nights at his house (the Walnut House), after several months of non-productivity. According to Slash "Breakdown" was one of the most complicated songs to record on the album; the banjo, drum, and piano parts were hard to synchronize and drummer Matt Sorum "lost it" a couple of times trying to get the drums just right. The song "Locomotive" was written in a house Slash and Izzy Stradlin rented in the Hollywood Hills following the Appetite for Destruction tours. The song shows the group dabbling in funk metal.
The cover art of both Use Your Illusion albums is a detail of Raphael's painting The School of Athens. The highlighted figure, unlike many of those in the painting, has not been identified with any particular philosopher. Both covers are the work of Estonian-American artist Mark Kostabi. The album's liner notes hide the message "Fuck You St. Louis" amongst the thank you notes, a reference to the band's controversial performance near there at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in July 1991 during the Use Your Illusion Tour.
|1.||"Civil War"||Axl Rose, Slash, Duff McKagan||7:42|
|2.||"14 Years"||Rose, Izzy Stradlin||4:21|
|3.||"Yesterdays"||Rose, West Arkeen, Del James, Billy McCloud||3:14|
|4.||"Knockin' on Heaven's Door" (Bob Dylan cover)||Bob Dylan||5:36|
|5.||"Get in the Ring"||Rose, Slash, McKagan||5:42|
|8.||"Pretty Tied Up"||Stradlin||4:48|
|9.||"Locomotive (Complicity)"||Rose, Slash||8:42|
|12.||"You Could Be Mine"||Rose, Stradlin||5:43|
|13.||"Don't Cry" (Alternate lyrics)||Rose, Stradlin||4:45|
Credits are adapted from the album's liner notes.
- Guns N' Roses
- W. Axl Rose – lead vocals, piano, whistling on "Civil War", backing vocals on "14 Years", rhythm guitar on "Shotgun Blues", co-lead vocals on "So Fine", synthesizer and drum machine on "My World"
- Slash – lead guitar, acoustic guitar on "Civil War", banjo on "Breakdown"
- Izzy Stradlin – rhythm guitar, backing vocals, lead vocals on "14 Years", acoustic guitar on "Breakdown", sitar on "Pretty Tied Up", additional lead guitar on "Estranged"
- Duff McKagan – bass, backing vocals, lead vocals on "So Fine", percussion on "Locomotive"
- Matt Sorum – drums, backing vocals on "So Fine"
- Dizzy Reed – keyboards, piano, backing vocals, organ on "14 Years" and "Yesterdays"
- Additional musicians
In popular culture
The title of the album was the focus of a joke on an episode of the sitcom Arrested Development that aired well over a decade after the CD's release. When magician Tony Wonder (played by Ben Stiller) had to come up with a name for his home video, he decided to name it Use Your Illusion II, citing that Use Your Illusion I had already been taken, apparently unaware of the fact that Use Your Illusion II is also the name of an album. In the end, he used the title Use Your Allusion.
The song "You Could Be Mine" was featured in Terminator 2: Judgment Day in a scene in which John Connor listens to this song while fixing his dirt bike at his foster parents' house. The song was also played during the scenes in which Connor rides around the city with his best friend, and over the ending credits (after the theme music concludes). An interesting reference to the band itself takes place in the movie's plot as well, as the Arnold Schwarzenegger character successfully manages to hide a shotgun in a large box of roses and therefore rescues a co-protagonist. Years later, "You Could Be Mine" appears in Terminator Salvation, paying homage to its being featured in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.