Ed Driscoll

Slow, Expensive, and Definitely Out of Control

The New York Times looks at Axl Rose (former frontman of the long defunct heavy metal superstars Guns & Roses) and his long, long, long awaited solo album, Chinese Democracy. Which, based on the Times‘ description, will probably arrive in Beijing before Axl’s album arrives in your local Tower Records:

Mr. Rose began work on the album in 1994, recording in fits and starts with an ever-changing roster of musicians, marching through at least three recording studios, four producers and a decade of music business turmoil. The singer, whose management said he could not be reached for comment for this article, went through turmoil of his own during that period, battling lawsuits and personal demons, retreating from the limelight only to be followed by gossip about his rumored interest in plastic surgery and “past-life regression” therapy.

Along the way, he has racked up more than $13 million in production costs, according to Geffen documents, ranking his unfinished masterpiece as probably the most expensive recording never released. As the production has dragged on, it has revealed one of the music industry’s basic weaknesses: the more record companies rely on proven stars like Mr. Rose, the less it can control them.

In a music industry that’s evaporating before our very eyes, it’s amazing to see that this sort of 1970s-style excess still goes on.