Today Harmonix and MTV Games announced in a joint press release that “Shackler’s Revenge,” a track from the perennially delayed, more-than-a-decade-in-the-making Guns N’ Roses LP Chinese Democracy, would be making its worldwide debut on the forthcoming game “Rock Band 2,” the release date for which is still up in the air. Could this be some kind of an omen that an official release date for the album is imminent?
We’re not about to hold our breath. After all, we’ve seen signs before, and all they’ve gotten us was disappointed. We’ve been duped before into thinking the record would be coming out soon — by frontman Axl Rose himself, no less. In late December of 2006, after several unmastered tracks from the opus leaked, Rose, in an open letter posted on GunsNRoses.com, promised that the album would be released on March 6, 2007. That day came and went with no CD, and we all learned a valuable lesson: Never trust a rocker with cornrows.
But there have been other signs: a number of false alarms and marketing ploys, all of them suggesting the record might finally be nearing commercial release.
Take February 22, 2007, when GN’R’s road manager, Del James, said in a press release that the recording for the album had been completed. While he didn’t even hint at a release date, he said the disc just needed to be mixed and that it wouldn’t be long after that. But a few months later, Axl’s bud Sebastian Bach told a reporter that the disc would be released by Christmas 2007: “I know Axl was very serious about putting something out before Christmas. He was talking to me about it. He was talking about finishing liner notes.”
Christmas came and went, and by the time our trees were dried up, we still had no new GN’R record.
Early this year, the rumor was that Chinese Democracy had been turned in to Geffen Records. That rumor was followed by more rumors, some placing blame with the label for yet another delay; apparently, the label and Axl could not agree on the marketing of the album, which, after this long a wait, is pretty much a moot issue. A month later, in an interview with Classic Rock magazine, Rose’s personal manager, Beta Lebeis, said that negotiations with the label were ongoing but made no mention of the marketing plan being the root of the delay.
Another indicator that the record might be coming soon came in late March, when — perhaps as part of an early marketing scheme — Dr Pepper said it would provide a free can of the soft drink to everyone in America if GN’R released Chinese Democracy before 2008 expired.
Perhaps the strongest signs of a looming release have come in the form of song leaks. We’ve gotten tastes of the demos here and there, but they never sounded finished … until last month, when nine seemingly mastered tracks were streamed on Kevin Skwerl’s blog, Antiquiet. He was forced to pull them down by the band’s management and even got a visit from the F.B.I., leading some to suspect that those tracks were the real deal and that it signaled a possible end to this elongated saga.