GUNS N’ ROSES – Use Your Illusion I & II Super Deluxe Boxset
December 11, 2022, 12 months ago
(Geffen / UMe)
In 1991, Guns N’ Roses simultaneously released Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II, the albums debuted at #2 and #1 respectively on the Billboard chart; each of the Illusion albums have since been certified 7 x Platinum by the RIAA. Now, 31 years later, comes the Super Deluxe Boxset. Measuring approx. 12 ½” x 12 ½” x 3”, and weighing 7 ½ lbs., it houses 7 CDs + 1 Blu-ray and is packed full of goodies. The bonus collectibles include a 100-page hardcover book filled with a plethora of photos of Illusion-era memorabilia and previously unseen snapshots, a Conspiracy Inc. replica fan club folder, membership card, and four newsletters, ten double-design lithos with red & blue reveal sleeves, seven band photos, four replica Illusion tour sticky backstage passes, a replica Ritz Theatre concert ticket, and band poster.
The Super Deluxe Boxset features 97 songs, 63 of which are unreleased audio tracks and videos. CD 1 and CD 2 are Use Your Illusion I and II remastered from the original analog stereo tapes. Truth be told, the differences between the original and remastered versions are ever so slight it’s barely noticeable. However, “November Rain” is the exception as it now includes an actual 50-piece orchestra for the first-time ever! Newly recorded, conducted, and arranged in 2021 by Grammy Award winning and Emmy Award nominated composer Christopher Lennertz, an already epic song is now absolutely tremendous.
CD 3 and 4 are Live In New York at The Ritz Theatre on May 16, 1991; the same show that is on the Blu-ray. Given the fact that the Use Your Illusion Tour lasted 28 months, consisting of 192 concerts in 27 countries, this replication of live material is rather disappointing. That being said, according to Axl Rose, this hot and sweaty club show “is like my third rehearsal since I never make it out to jam with these guys.” In fact, Axl is very talkative, and those in attendance are hearing songs such as “Pretty Tied Up”, “Right Next Door To Hell”, and “Dust N’ Bones” – sung by rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin’ – for the first time as this gig took place four months prior to the release of Use Your Illusion I and II. Blind Melon singer Shannon Hoon joins GN’R onstage for “Don’t Cry” and “You Ain’t The First” – what a treat. During the 1988 Guns N’ Roses – Live At The Ritz concert which aired on MTV, Axl leapt into the crowd during “Paradise City”. Keeping tradition alive, Duff McKagan takes off his bass and dives into the audience during the same song. GN’R certainly kept some fuel in the tank for the finale of “Welcome To The Jungle”, as it’s one of the most vicious performances of that classic song ever heard.
CD 5, 6, and 7 are Live In Las Vegas at Thomas & Mack Center on January 25, 1992. By this point, Izzy has been replaced by Gilby Clarke on the six-string. A massive 27-song set captures Guns N’ Roses in front of 17,590 fans who got to enjoy several cover tunes including “Live And Let Die” by Paul McCartney, “Attitude” by The Misfits, and “Wild Horses” by The Rolling Stones to name but a few. Of course, those are in addition to Illusion staples “You Could Be Mine” and “Estranged”, as well as Appetite For Destruction classics “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and “My Michelle”.
As all-encompassing as the Super Deluxe Boxset seems, it’s not complete. There aren’t any demo versions of the songs, and the opportunity to include extensive video interviews with the band members was missed. Furthermore, the bonus discs on the 2CD versions of Use Your Illusion I and II are not present. Those include live tracks from London, Paris, and Rio de Janeiro, highlighted by special guest appearances from Lenny Kravitz on “Always On The Run”, as well as Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith on “Mama Kin” and “Train Kept A Rollin’”. Unlike the lyric, “Yesterday’s got nothin’ for me,” the Use Your Illusion Super Deluxe Boxset has hours of entertainment for all Guns N’ Roses fans.