Guns N’ Roses’ double album Use Your Illusion I & II was released on September 17, 2021. Use Your Illusion was one of the most anticipated albums not just in 1991, but ever, with the album dropping at midnight on its first day of release resulting in late-night lines at record stores all across the country.

GN’R may have staved off fans with 1988’s GN’R Lies, but the adoring masses were eager for something to really sink their teeth into following the smash success of 1987’s Appetite for Destruction. They got that and then some with a double LP boasting 30 tracks.

Both LPs have been certified 7x platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America, and it still remains beloved by GN’R fans the world over. However, even the biggest Guns N’ Roses superfan would admit that Use Your Illusion certainly has its share of filler tracks.

So, what would Use Your Illusion look like if it were just one album? We’ve whittled it down to 12 tracks, the same amount of tracks on Appetite for Destruction. Scroll through the list below to see which songs made the cut.

  • 'You Could Be Mine'

    “You Could Be Mine” provided two intros (besides the sweet 1:06 one on the song itself): It was the first peek at what fans could expect from the ‘Use Your Illusion’ albums, and it was the first track from GN’R to feature new drummer Matt Sorum who was brought in after Steven Adler was kicked out of the band after infamously taking too many drugs. Sorum’s drum track is outstanding as is everyone on “You Could Be Mine.” It’s big without sounding bloated and polished but not lacking grit. James Cameron couldn’t have asked for a better theme for ‘Terminator II.’

  • 'November Rain'

    “November Rain” is both a sonic and visual epic. Axl and his piano and Slash and his two massive guitar solos are the stars of this nearly nine-minute ballad, which technically qualifies as a power ballad but manages not to cross into the realm of cheese. Of course, even when listening to “November Rain,” you can’t help but think of its decadent music video. From Slash walking out of the church to Stephanie Seymour’s mullet wedding dress, some of the scenes are the most memorable in music video history. Fun fact: “November Rain” was the first music video released before the invention of YouTube to reach 1 billion views.

  • 'Don't Cry'

    When most think of Guns N’ Roses, they think of a badass rock band, but their catalog is filled with plenty of downright sweet love songs, and “Don’t Cry” is certainly one of their best. Plus, when you add in the guest vocals of the late Shannon Hoon (before Blind Melon’s debut was released) harmonizing with Axl Rose, it just puts this song over the top.

  • 'Dust N' Bones'

    Izzy Stradlin was sorely missed on GN’R’s “Not In This Lifetime” reunion tour for many reasons, but “Dust N’ Bones” might be the biggest reason why. While pretty much everything the band released before ‘Use Your Illusion’ dripped with swagger, Stradlin’s vocals added a heavy dose of bluesy sophistication to the equation that no one in the band’s lineup history has been able to come close to breaching. Had Stradlin rejoined the band and “Dust N’ Bones” was part of the setlist, it would undoubtedly be a standout moment every night.

  • 'Civil War'

    The last thing fans likely expected from GN’R post ‘Appetite’ and ‘Lies’ was an anti-war song, but that’s what they got with “Civil War.” The track first appeared on the 1990 compilation album ‘Nobody’s Child: Romanian Angel Appeal’ before being released as the opening track to ‘Use Your Illusion II.’ Its poignancy still resonates today and likely will for many years to come.

  • '14 Years'

    “14 Years” is yet another example to point to at how cool and missed Izzy Stradlin is, especially with the current GN’R lineup. If you’re not convinced, track down the live version of “14 Years” from 2012 when Stradlin made a surprise appearance during the band’s show at London’s O2 Arena.

  • 'Live and Let Die'

    Easily one of the best covers in GN’R’s catalog (and there are plenty), the band’s take on the Wings classic gives the song a heavy dose of edge and attitude. The cover would earn GN’R a Grammy nomination for Best Hard Rock Performance with Vocal, but they would lose out to the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ “Give It Away.”

  • 'Bad Obsession'

    A standout track on ‘Use Your Illusion I,’ think of “Bad Obsession” as the bluesier sister song to “Mr. Brownstone.” Its heavy blues influence makes loads of sense since its primary songwriter was Stradlin.

  • 'Double Talkin' Jive'

    Another song written by Izzy Stradlin, and it’s yet another example of just how damn cool he is and what he brought to GN’R. It can’t be stressed how much he would’ve brought to GN’R’s “Not In This Lifetime” reunion, especially with killer grooves like “Double Talkin’ Jive.”

  • 'Yesterdays'

    A bitter-sweet tune about growing up and moving on, “Yesterdays” is the type of tune that hits right in the feels if you’re not fond of taking trips down memory lane. After all, “Time just fades the pages/In my book of memories.”

  • 'Knockin' on Heaven's Door'

    Before making a big splash with “You Could Be Mine” in ‘Terminator II,’ GN’R’s first big soundtrack appearance came with this recorded cover of Bob Dylan’s “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” for the 1990 Tom Cruise vehicle ‘Days of Thunder.’ Certainly less gritty than the version featured in an MTV GN’R concert special from 1988, but it’s just as powerful.

  • 'Estranged'

    Much like “November Rain,” it’s difficult to think of “Estranged” and not think about its music video. (FYI: It’s the final installment of the Del James-inspired trilogy following “Don’t Cry” and the aforementioned “November Rain.” Personally, I refer to the video as “The one where Axl jumps off a massive ship and swims with dolphins.”) Anyway, this song is good, but it could’ve been great if it just trimmed a verse/bridge or two. I understand excess, but sometimes “more” is “too much.”

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