Use Your Illusion I is the third studio album by hard rock band Guns N' Roses. It was the one of two albums released in conjunction with the Use Your Illusion Tour, the other named Use Your Illusion II, thus they are sometimes seen together as a double album. The album debuted at #2 on the Billboard charts behind Use Your Illusion II. Each of the Use Your Illusion albums have been certified 7x platinum.
Spader Music Magazine listed the album in one of its greatest albums column.
The Use Your Illusion
albums represent a turning point in the sound of Guns N' Roses. Although they did not abandon the hard rock tendencies so vivid in their first album, Appetite for Destruction
, Use Your Illusion I
demonstrated, for the first time, more or less, elements of blues
, classical music
, and country
. For example, lead singer Axl Rose
plays the piano
on several tracks of both albums. In addition, with the Use Your Illusion Tour, both the music and stage presence of the band became more theatrical, in the tradition of progressive rock
. This fact is evidenced by the numerous music videos
produced in conjunction with these albums. Use Your Illusion I
contains two of the three songs, "November Rain
" and "Don't Cry
," whose videos are generally held by fans to be a trilogy. The third song, "Estranged
," is on Use Your Illusion II
A number of songs on the album were written in the band's early days, but were not included on Appetite for Destruction but can be found on the popular bootlegged so-called 'Rumbo Tapes', an album of early demo tapes. "Back Off Bitch," "Bad Obsession," "Don't Cry" (referred to by Rose during the ensuing tour as 'the first song [they] ever wrote together'), "November Rain," and "The Garden" are considered part of this group. There is also a cover of "Live and Let Die."
Besides stylistic differences, another new aspect seen in Use Your Illusion I was longer songs. "November Rain," an epic ballad, is nearly 9 minutes long, and "Coma" is more than 10 minutes long. Another change was the presence of tracks sung by other members of the band (even though certain songs from Appetite for Destruction and G N' R Lies featured other members on duet vocals): lead vocals on "Dust N' Bones," "You Ain't The First" and "Double Talkin' Jive" are performed by rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin (on Use Your Illusion II, Stradlin' sings "14 Years" and bassist Duff McKagan sings "So Fine").
The only difference in the artwork to be noted between Use Your Illusion I and II is the color scheme used for each album. Use Your Illusion I is red, and has, for the most part an angrier, heavier sound; Use Your Illusion II is blue, and has a softer, more bluesy sound.
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 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 acoustics in a couple of nights at his house (the Walnut House), after several months of non-productivity.
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 specific philosopher.
Both these covers are the work of American artist Mark Kostabi.
You Ain't the First
"You Ain't the First" is the sixth track on the album. Unlike most tracks on the album, electric guitars are nowhere to be found in the song - instead, acoustic guitars are used, similar to side two of G N' R Lies
, and also giving the song a folk rock
feel, which is added to by the tambourine (played by Tim Doyle).
Don't Damn Me
"Don't Damn Me" is the thirteenth track on the album. This is the only song on Use Your Illusion I
that was never performed live.
"Bad Apples" is the fourteenth track on the album. It has only been performed live twice. According to Slash, the song was written while the band was rehearsing for an extended period of time in Chicago.
- "Right Next Door to Hell" (Axl Rose, Izzy Stradlin, Timo Caltia) – 3:02
- "Dust N' Bones" (Slash, Stradlin, Duff McKagan) – 4:58
- "Live and Let Die" (Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney) – 3:04
- "Don't Cry" (Rose, Stradlin) – 4:45
- "Perfect Crime" (Rose, Slash, Stradlin) – 2:24
- "You Ain't the First" (Stradlin) – 2:36
- "Bad Obsession" (Stradlin, West Arkeen) – 5:28
- "Back Off Bitch" (Rose, Paul Tobias) – 5:04
- "Double Talkin' Jive" (Stradlin) – 3:24
- "November Rain" (Rose) – 8:58
- "The Garden" (features Alice Cooper) (Rose, Arkeen, Del James) – 5:22
- "Garden of Eden" (Rose, Slash) – 2:42
- "Don't Damn Me" (Rose, Slash, Dave Lank) – 5:19
- "Bad Apples" (Rose, Slash, Stradlin, McKagan) – 4:28
- "Dead Horse" (Rose) – 4:18
- "Coma" (Rose, Slash) – 10:14
- Axl Rose – lead vocals, piano (track 10)
- Slash – lead guitar, acoustic guitar
- Izzy Stradlin – rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar, backing vocals, lead vocals (tracks 2, 6, 9)
- Duff McKagan – bass, backing vocals
- Matt Sorum – drums, percussion
- Dizzy Reed – organ, piano, keyboards, clavinet (track 14), backing vocals
- Shannon Hoon – vocals (tracks 4, 6), backing vocals
- Johann Langlie – synthesizer programming, sound effects (track 16)
- Matthew McKagan, Jon Trautwein, Rachel West, Robert Clark – horns (track 3)
- Tim Doyle – tambourine (track 6)
- Michael Monroe – saxophone and harmonica (track 7)
- Stu Bailey, Reba Shaw – backing vocals (track 10)
- Alice Cooper – vocals (track 11)
- West Arkeen – acoustic guitar (track 11)
- Mike Clink – nutcracker (track 15)
- Bruce Foster – sound effects (track 16)
- Susanne Filkins, Patricia Fuenzalida, Rose Mann, Monica Zierhut-Soto, Michelle Loiselle, Diane Mitchell - bitches (track 16)