Guns N' Roses Unleashes Chinese Democracy After 14 Years in Production

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The facts surrounding the sixth Guns N' Roses studio record, Chinese Democracy, are straight out of a Christopher Guest mockumentary or a Brian Wilson breakdown. Consider the following: over $13 million spent on production, 14 years of recording and mixing, 3 different record labels, 4 new band members (Axl Rose, sole original member), 4 producers, 17 contributing musicans, a ban on the record in China, not to mention Rose's myriad scandals while in self-imposed exile in the Hollywood hills. The only thing this record is missing is the obligatory Stonehenge track to make it a 'true' rock epic. Whether this overblown release is worth the wait is for the listener to decide; either way, Axl Rose's personal golem has earned its place in the expansive halls of rock egotism.

Nonesuch Releases Philip Glass Box Set

In 1978, classical composer Philip Glass denounced Minimalism -- the term often applied to his work -- saying, "that word should be stamped out!" Thirty years later, as Nonesuch releases the ten disc set Glass Box: A Nonesuch Retrospective the composer may not have razed the word, but he has expanded his work in order to shed such trappings.

That said, Glass' most famous pieces are built around repetitive chord structures and stripped down instrumentation, where the most subtle changes become fault lines that resound in tonal shifts. The first four discs best exemplify this style, the standouts being his ambitious cycle Music in Twelve Parts and the solo piano elegy Glassworks. Also included are selections from Hydrogen Jukebox, his collaboration with poet-turned-librettist Allen Ginsberg, as well as the film scores for Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi, and the indelible opera, Einstein on the Beach. Although each disc contains pieces previously available as stand alone recordings, hearing the spectrum of Glass' work from the early 1960s to today clearly demonstrates the depth and breadth of his singular compositional vision.

Beach Boys Songwriter Brian Wilson at Michigan Theater

The mastermind who created such legendary recordings as Pet Sounds, Surfin' USA, Friends, and other Beach Boys hits is coming to the Michigan Theater on Wednesday, November 12 at 7:30pm. Brian Wilson is best known for his groundbreaking use of lush harmonies and nostalgic, emotive lyrics which contemporary artists such as Panda Bear, Apples in Stereo, and The New Pornographers continue to ape today. Promoting his 2008 release, That Lucky Old Sun, the concert will feature songs from this recording and, of course, some Beach Boys hits as well.

1,000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die

List makers and debaters you have met your match! Music journalist Tom Moon has compiled a list of recordings so exhaustive it could only be captured in a book with an equally superfluous title: 1,000 Recordings to Hear Before You Die. Fortunately, there is also a searchable website where you can peruse the complete list of recordings or browse the fourteen music genres enumerated in the big list. No surprise about the inclusion of six Beatles albums or copious selections from Miles Davis' catalog, but perhaps suspect are the individual record selections of Nick Drake's Five Leaves Left over the stellar Pink Moon, and Elvis Costello's Armed Forces rather than This Year's Model. Let the debates begin!

Gods and Monsters

The rush is on at the AADL to get a few scary movies before Halloween night, but if you're in the mood for something topical that's more riveting and less frightening, then check out Gods and Monsters on DVD. Released to critical acclaim in 1998, actor Ian McKellen plays the aging horror director James Whale, of Bride of Frankenstein and The Invisible Man fame, who is coping with the effects of a stroke when he befriends a young gardener, Clayton (played by Brendan Fraser), who sparks in him a reexamination of his life and work. Both an homage to Whale's pioneering horror films and a heartbreaking story of the deterioration of a brilliant mind, Gods and Monsters is a stirring film that sheds light on the early dark era of filmmakers.

Campaign Commercials

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Tired of all the presidential campaigning that's been going on for so incredibly long? Take a break from all the political ads with some...um, political ads. The Museum of the Moving Image has created an online exhibit that charts the history of presidential ads on television, beginning with Dwight Eisenhower's first commercials 56 years ago. The Living Room Candidate contains over 300 commercials from the last 15 presidential elections, with analysis of the themes that pop up over and over, election after election. Let yourself be charmed by 1952's singing cartoons or reminded that attack ads and calls for change as strategies to win elections are not recent inventions.

What are you reading: Mary Morgan recommends 'Magnetic North' by Linda Gregerson

Mary Morgan: Mary Morgan and her restless housecat, Elle. Morgan recommends "Magnetic North," by Ann Arbor poet Linda Gregerson to AADL readers.Mary Morgan: Mary Morgan and her restless housecat, Elle. Morgan recommends "Magnetic North," by Ann Arbor poet Linda Gregerson to AADL readers.

Mary Morgan's transformation into an entrepreneur probably shouldn't surprise anyone, since she started her journalism career as a business reporter. In August, after 16 years as a newspaper journalist, Morgan gave up editorship of the opinion pages at the Ann Arbor News and became the publisher of an online newspaper. The Ann Arbor Chronicle was born Sept. 2, 2008. It features articles written by Morgan, by her husband Dave Askins (host of another well-known site, Teeter Talk), and by other local writers. The site is supported by local advertising.

We convinced Morgan to take a break from writing, editing and managing the business side of the site, just long enough to recommend a book for library patrons. Here it is.

This Date in Music History

Jazz saxophonist John Coltrane was born on September 23, 1926 in Hamlet, NC. His first major recordings were with Miles Davis' First Quintet (1955-1957), playing tenor sax on such cool era albums as Relaxin', Workin', and Steamin'. After a bout with heroin that resulted in a rift with Davis, Coltrane began recording under his own name, producing Blue Train andGiant Steps, two albums that secured his reputation as one of the most gifted improvisers in jazz.

From '60-'65, Trane recorded with his most prolific lineup, the "Classic Quartet," which featured McCoy Tyner on piano and Elvin Jones on drums. From this period, check out Coltrane's best-selling album, My Favorite Things, and his magnum opus, A Love Supreme. Trane's legacy includes groundbreaking work in modal improvisation, avant-garde jazz, Eastern composition, and influencing a legion of followers, such as Wynton Marsalis, Joshua Redman, and Kenny Garrett who continue to explore the limits of jazz today.

Oprah Knows

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First, AADL picked The Story of Edgar Sawtelle for our Cover-to-Cover book discussion. Then Oprah, obviously noticing the excitement over our selection, made it the latest Oprah's Book Club choice. There are a limited number of books reserved for AADL cardholders who register for the book discussion. Call the Traverwood Branch at 327-4200 if you would like a copy for the discussion.

Today in Music History

On September 18, 1970, rock legend Jimi Hendrix was pronounced dead on arrival at St. Mary Abbot's Hospital in London at the age of 27. The details of this fateful night are the stuff of lore, but the facts are that Jimi took several sleeping pills and later choked to death on his own vomit. Legend has it that the guitar hero left a message for his manager that said "I need help bad man" earlier that evening.

His reign as master showman and songwriter may have lasted only 4 years (1967-1970), but his influence on rock music is perhaps only eclipsed by The Beatles. Known for writing some of the edgiest and most memorable riffs set to wax, one needs only mention the titles Purple Haze, Fire, Foxy Lady, or Hey Joe, and the visceral imprint of the songs immediately returns. If you haven't revisited Hendrix' work with The Jimi Hendrix Experience or with Band of Gypsys, you may be surprised how well these classics have aged.

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