Use Your Illusion – My Final Cut

This is the pivotal part of my arduous task to cut the Guns N Roses Use Your Illusion albums into one leaner, more epic record. For those posts, check out where I carved up Use Your Illusion I and then over here for Use Your Illusion II.

Let’s begin with a list of the songs that I have automatically placed onto the final cut.

Live And Let Die

November Rain

Civil War

14 Years

Get In The Ring


You Could Be Mine

This gives me a 44:51 runtime. I have 25:09 I can fill, so let’s review our pretty big pile of “maybes” that I’ll be choosing from.

From Use Your Illusion I

Right Next Door To Hell

Dust N Bones

Don’t Cry

Perfect Crime

Bad Obsession

The Garden

Garden Of Eden

From Use Your Illusion II


Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door

Shotgun Blues

Pretty Tied Up

So right off the bat I see two that are going on – Don’t Cry and Shotgun Blues will make my final cut. This puts the runtime at 52:58.

I can now easily place the top two from the maybe pile on this record no problem. Right Next Door To Hell and Dust N Bones have made the cut. I’m now at 60:58 running time, leaving me 9 minutes of space to make a final decision.

3 songs stick out to me that I would put on here, but one doesn’t make it. The Garden, Yesterdays and Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door. Time constraints won’t allow both The Garden or the cover song on here, though Yesterdays is a perfectly safe runtime and makes the album.

The choices are a cover song that was a single from the record and a signature track for the band for a while, or a second-tier track with a rock god Alice Cooper as a guest.

I see various arguments that could be had here. One cover song is enough. Alice Cooper, c’mon man. But The Garden isn’t really as good as Knockin is. I loaded up with songs from II enough already, let I have a bit more representation on the final cut. My version also has almost all of the album’s singles piled on here. Is it that the singles are the best songs or that I just remember them more and I’m not paying enough mind to the deep cuts?

In the end I did what any person faced with a great, difficult decision has to do – I flipped a coin. Heads to The Garden, tails for Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door. The result was heads – The Garden makes the final cut.

I now have my own version of a definitve representation of Use Your Illusion. 13 songs, a runtime of 69:36 (nice!) and the songs I think stand out and offer the best listening experience.

Now I have one more chore – album sequencing. These songs need to be in an order that flows well. This is gonna take a second.

You Could Be Mine

14 Years

Dust N Bones


Live And Let Die

Shotgun Blues

Right Next Door To Hell

Civil War

The Garden

Get In The Ring

Don’t Cry

November Rain


Ok – being real, I didn’t put a ton of thought into it. I did want You Could Be Mine to lead off the album, I felt like the lead single should kick things off and it’s the perfect opener. I wanted a bit of space between the two real aggro songs, Right Next Door To Hell and Get In The Ring. Of course, Shotgun Blues is also pretty aggro so that didn’t really work out. And I wanted the 3 songs that comprise the video trilogy to conclude the album. I do sort of wonder if Get In The Ring should really be right before Don’t Cry but I’m gonna roll with it.

I noticed something as I was having a pain in the ass time building the playlist for this – I did a lot of unintentional staggering of songs from between the two records. Only the first 2 and tracks 11 and 12 are from the same original album. It was a bit of a headache to jump back and forth between both records to make the playlist. (Yeah, total first world problem, I know)

In the end I feel like I got what I wanted here. The songs that didn’t make the cut could serve as B-sides to the plethora of album singles. Let’s be real – a lot of that stuff should have been B-sides anyway. That’s why I’ve had to undertake this great work.

So there we have it – my definitve version of Use Your Illusion. Let me know what you think – did I curate it properly or did I do a total botch job on it? What essential cut to you did I skip and what bloated carcass of a song that I’m into do you think sucks?

Tomorrow – my five favorite songs from these albums. Spoiler alert – they’re all on the final cut.

Cutting Room Floor – Use Your Illusion II

Yesterday I began the daunting task of turning the two massive Guns N Roses records from 1991, the Use Your Illusion series, into one awesome album. I’m playing with a run time of 70 minutes so that I get a bit of a challenge out of it.

Before I get busy on the cutting room floor I do want to cover the fact that the record label already did what I’m doing. There is a version of Use Your Illusion that is a single-disc album that clocks in at 63 minutes.

But their reason for doing it and my reason for doing this don’t line up – I am trying to make an all killer, no filler version of these albums. The record label did it because the big box retail stores wouldn’t stock records with the dreaded “Parental Advisory” sticker so they cut a clean version for retail.

I’m here to tell you – here at The Crooked Wanderer, I like to cuss. I use colorful language from time to time. My records will never be in stock at Wal-Mart or …. oh yeah, the rest of the old big box stores are dead now.

Anyway, back to the task at hand. I’m going to evaluate the songs on Use Your Illusion II and decide what automatically gets included on my final version, which songs will carry on to the next round for consideration and which will hit the cutting room floor right here and now. Let’s rock and roll.

Guns N Roses – Use Your Illusion II

Civil War (7:42)

So Doctor Strange can review 14 million scenarios where the Avengers take on Thanos and find exactly one where the good guys win. But the good doctor can’t find even one scenario where I leave Civil War off of the final record.

This is easily one of my favorite Guns N Roses songs. Not just in relation to the album its on but in consideration of their entire catalog. It absolutely has to be on the album.

14 Years (4:21)

I always dug this Izzy Stradlin-led jam. It’s smooth, rollicking and pretty kick ass. I could maybe it but the fact is it would be the first one on the pile I grabbed to put on the record so let’s just do it now – it has to be on the final cut.

Yesterday (3:16)

One of the double album’s many singles and a very nice song. I am going to maybe this because of time considerations but I have a feeling it’ll work its way on the list in the end.

Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door (5:36)

Of course the band were gonna cover one of Bob Dylan’s most well-known and oft-covered cuts. (GnR had previously done this song live and in studio). This was a well-executed rendition that updated the song for the 1990’s. I don’t know what the whole speech thing in the interlude is about but it’s whatever. I’ll maybe this because things are gonna get tight in the final battle for space on this record and I don’t know if 2 cover songs are the way to go on a single album.

Get In The Ring (5:41)

This is an interesting one. On one hand, it’s petty as all hell and shows Axl’s less than savory side in full light. On the other hand, the media always were, are now, and always will be a total pain in the ass so I can understand where he’s coming from.

And in the end I gotta roll with it. Gotta go with the good, the bad and the ugly and honestly it’s a pretty killer track. Get In The Ring has to be on the final cut.

Shotgun Blues (3:23)

This is a really cool song that I always liked. I have to maybe it due to time constraints but it’ll certainly be a contender when we get to the finish line.

Breakdown (7:04)

Ok so this song is all right. Has some slight callbacks to “Sweet Child O’ Mine” through some guitar inflections and it’s overall a decent tune. But it’s also a hard NO because it doesn’t have the same weight as other stuff here and it’s a bloated corpse at 7 minutes.

Pretty Tied Up (4:47)

It’s a pretty cool song and I certainly can appreciate the subject matter. I will have to maybe it and I kinda feel like it gets lost in the shuffle, it’s a bit meandering compared to the heavy hitters there are to deal with.

Locomotive (8:42)

The song is pretty badass but there really just isn’t room for something nearly 9 minutes long that doesn’t totally rule. This feels like more of a b-side to me, so it’s a NO.

So Fine (4:06)

This Duff-led song is ok but I don’t really need to dwell on it too much – it’s a NO. Don’t really have room for it. I do think the world of Duff though, he seems like such an awesome dude.

Estranged (9:23)

The last video in the Del James trilogy, and the most self-indulgent one where Axl swims with dolphins or some shit.

And it’s also one of the best songs on the album. Epic, powerful and builds to a super heavy conclusion. This absolutely has to be on the record.

You Could Be Mine (5:43)

This was the lead single for both albums. A tie-in with the summer movie blockbuster Terminator 2 – Judgment Day brought both the band and movie front and center in the cultural landscape of 1991. The song is a total banger and is probably the most well-executed hard rocker on both discs. It 100% has to be on the final album.

Don’t Cry – Alternate Version (4:44)

As covered in the first part, the original version of Don’t Cry is in the maybe pile. As such, there is no room for the same song with some different stuff going on in it. This one is a NO.

My World (1:24)

The over-wrought albums end with a weird electronic music, quasi-rap thing from Axl. I am overall an album-oriented listener and as such I find little interlude things to be fun and sometimes interesting. But no chance in Hell should an album end on something like that. This is not essential listening by any means so it gets voted off the record. NO

So now I have a pile of have to’s and maybe’s. Adding up the times of my have to’s I get a running time of 44:51. That leaves me with 25 minutes to fill for a 70 minute album. Even with me including several of the longer songs I have plenty of room to work with.

It’s also worth mentioning that yeah, I obviously favor the second album. It does bog down some in its middle section but it picks back up with a few of the best songs on either record. I never really had sat and wondered which of the two I liked more but I think we have that answer right in front of us.

So now I have my lists. Tomorrow the exercise concludes with the work of picking through the maybe pile to see what fills out the record. Then Friday I’ll give some time to discuss my 5 favorite tracks overall. My bloated 4-part exploration of these 2 bloated albums is getting ready to round the bend.

Cutting Room Floor – Use Your Illusion I

Don’t you just love when a band releases a double album? It’s two albums’ worth of stuff, it has to be twice as good as just one, right?


I’m sure good double albums exist that don’t need an editor’s touch. I’m not sure I’d do anything to The White Album. We now have legacy groups like Iron Maiden and Tool offering what are, in any technical sense, double albums.

But often the double album is simply an exercise in indulgence. And I can think of no greater amount of indulgence than that found on the 1991 double set from Guns N Roses, the Use Your Illusion series.

It’s true, these are more two separate albums released at the same time than a double album. But it’s the same difference so we’ll roll with it. It’s also going to be the 30th anniversary of these albums on Friday the 17th so it’s a fun time to go back through these.

My purpose here is to turn these two monster albums, with a total running time between them of 2 hours and 32 minutes, into one album. I have to use a time calculator for the first time in my life for this. Very thrilling.

Now a standard CD can hold up to 80 minutes of music, though in the past many were 75 minutes or something like that. For the purposes of this exercise I’m going to use 70 minutes as a running time cap. No way I can use vinyl as a metric for this, both of these chonkers were each double LP efforts.

What I will do is go through each disc track-by-track. I’ll offer a bit of discussion on each song and decide whether it has to be on the comp, maybe it can be on there, or it definitely isn’t going. After a post for each of the albums I’ll do a third one to reveal my final choices. For fun I’ll also do my own top 5 songs from the records as some bonus content.

Just like these albums, this exercise is gonna run a little long, so let’s hit the cutting room floor.

Guns N Roses – Use Your Illusion I

Right Next Door To Hell (3:02)

A nice opening track, I always like when bands come right in with the heat. It’s funny that the very first song on the biggest band in the world’s monster double effort is Axl bitching about a neighbor but hey, it’s that rage and fire that keeps ya alive sometimes. This is a solid maybe for me and honestly more probable than anything to end up on the final edit.

Dust N Bones (4:58)

Pretty smooth and nice tune. It also goes in the maybe pile because I don’t know how much room I’ll have to work with at the end and I can’t definitely say this song has to be there. But it’s a solid candidate.

Live And Let Die (3:04)

We have a Paul McCartney cover song here and this absolutely works. A fantastic rendition that fits GnR very well. This has to be on the end product. The band always was an exercise in both smooth melody and frantic, balls-out rock and this song showcases both perfectly.

Don’t Cry (4:44)

Here’s an interesting case – the same song is on both albums but the version on II is an alternate take. It’s not the greatest thing the band ever recorded but it is a nice ballad and another one I’ll give the maybe card to. Admittedly I do feel like it probably has to be there though, it’s very representative of the band during this period.

Perfect Crime (2:23)

A very nice, short and to the point hard rocker. A very strong tune and a very easy maybe for me. I could almost auto-include it due to its piss-ant length but it’s not top-tier enough to grant an automatic pass to.

You Ain’t The First (2:36)

Another very short song but this time mercifully so. This is what we call “filler,” folks. There’s a hell of a lot of it on these albums. This is a big fat NO, chaff like this is why I’m here culling it down.

Bad Obession (5:23)

A pretty nice bluesy, groovy number that features guest Michael Monroe of Hanoi Rocks fame playing a few instruments. I’ll maybe it because it’s a decent tune but it sits more on the cut line than the add pile. While it’s nice it’s also like the quintessential dive bar song and that aesthetic, while pleasing, doesn’t fit this bombastic album.

Back Off Bitch (5:03)

It’s a kinda cool song but it’s also whining about your ex years after shit happened. Like, get over it Axl. It’s pretty basic shit that we almost all have to deal with at some point. I’m a big NO on this one. The albums as a whole communicate some pretty lofty stuff at points and this petty shit doesn’t really fit. Axl did a much better job of singing about his exes on other tracks throughout these records.

Double Talkin’ Jive (3:23)

Not the worst thing I’ve ever heard but we gotta exercise some quality control around here. NO

November Rain (8:57)

No point in trying to do some verbal exercise to pretend there’s even an argument – November Rain has to be on the final cut. This song is the very definition of the Use Your Illusion albums – grandiose, bombastic, epic and absurd. It’s perhaps the signature song of both records.

The Garden (5:22)

It’s a decent tune and has a guest shot from Alice Cooper, an absolute god of rock music. I’ll maybe it because it’s a nice song and because Alice, but I am very on the fence about it. This one will require some deliberation when push comes to shove.

Garden Of Eden (2:34)

I’m not some expert on track sequencing but I personally wouldn’t put two songs with the same word in them right next to each other on an album. The song itself is pretty cool, total maybe territory. It might squeak in due to its forgiving run time.

Don’t Damn Me (5:18)

I won’t call it bad but it’s total filler. Easy NO on this one.

Bad Apples (4:28)

I’ll give you three guesses as to what pile I’m gonna put this song in.

If you guessed NO way this whatever song makes my final album cut, give yourself an award. It shouldn’t have made the final cut of the record in the first place.

Dead Horse (4:17)

This isn’t a bad tune by any means but I’m not sure it’s what I’m going for here. I can’t maybe every single song so I’m gonna give this the ol’ heave-ho and say NO.

Coma (10:14)

I’m gonna be real – I totally forgot about this song. I haven’t played these albums in their entirety in many years and I did a double-take when I read the running time of this given that I’m on a time cap with this whole deal.

I could maybe this one very easily. It’s a cool track. But let’s be real – a 10 minute song is going to cause problems when I go to make final cuts, and there are two longer songs on the next album that frankly aren’t going to be left out.

Coma just doesn’t really make the cut here. There are too many shorter songs to consider that would get bumped if this time hog were included. It’s a cool listen but not enough for what’s supposed to be an epic look into a huge band’s most prolific creative period. Coma gets a NO.

I’m finally through to the end of this bloated monster. And this is only the first part. Out of 16 songs I’m showing a tally of 2 songs that have to be on the final version. I have 6 I said NO to right then and there, and 8 that are still in consideration as maybes. I’m barely at a run time of 12 minutes right now but some of the maybes here will be added in the end, and I’m pretty sure Part II will offer up more auto-includes than this did. I’ll get into UYI II tomorrow, then Thursday I’ll post my final edit. Friday brings my 5 favorite songs from the albums. See you then.