Saturday, January 21, 2012


I've heard a lot of people arguing that Guns N Roses is getting into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame based on one LP, 1987's Appetite For Destruction.  Normally I'd agree, that no band should get in based on one LP.  I'm cool with it.  I don't really have a problem with The Sex Pistols as Hall of Famers (even if they do), and they only had one album.  (But as Larry Flick rightfully points out, Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols kicked off a movement in a way that Appetite didn't).

That said, I think AC/DC could have been inducted just for Back In Black*, and the only other hard rock album with the impact of that classic is Appetite For Destruction**.

I remember the first song I heard by Guns was "Welcome To The Jungle," and I'm pretty sure I first experienced it on MTV's Headbanger's Ball.  At the time I was in a very "death to false metal" mode.  There were the cool bands, like Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, Suicidal Tendencies and Megadeth. And then there were the lame (hair) metal bands, Poison, Warrant, Motley Crue, etc***.  Guns seemed to fall somewhere in between. They certainly weren't thrash.  They had a lot more of a Stonesy groove than the thrash bands (or the metal legends like Maiden and Priest) that I loved.  But they also seemed to have a little in common with the pop metal scene. I wasn't hugely into punk rock at the time, but I knew they had a punk influence going on.  They didn't sound totally original per se, but they definitely sounded different.  I got Appetite right after that Headbanger's Ball episode.

I was BLOWN AWAY. I could not believe how badass this album was.  The guitars were amazing, but never annoying like the shredders who were all the rage at the time. The bass was funky and cool. The drums swung (even though the drummer looked like he could fit into Ratt). And the singer: I'd never heard anything like this guy.

Most of the songs were like a fist to the face.  But then there was "Sweet Child O' Mine."  It was tender, but not wimpy, and had one of the coolest riffs I'd ever heard.  The only song I didn't like was "Paradise City," with it's synthesizers and chorus that kind of sounded like something Bon Jovi would do. To this day, I don't really dig that one, but I can tolerate it, and it doesn't ruin the album.

I don't listen to Guns as much these days, I don't know why.  I think Axl has lowered their status in my eyes, by turning the band into his solo project.  I don't mind when Trent Reznor does that with Nine Inch Nails, because that group was always Trent's project.  But I think Guns without Slash and Duff McKagan just isn't Guns.  I was OK with Gilby Clarke replacing Izzy Stradlin', and totally OK with Matt Sorum replacing Steven Adler. But no Slash and no Duff?  That's a dealbreaker.  I wouldn't buy into Guns without Axl either, of course. I know Axl's current version of Guns is touring and playing all of the Appetite songs, but I just can't imagine it sounds nearly as good as it would the original guys.

Anyway, I'm listening to the album as I write this, and it is still incredible.  Even, I must admit, "Paradise City." If you haven't heard it in a while, check it out.

* That said, I prefer Bon Scott-era AC/DC to Brian Johnson's era, but you just can't deny Back In Black.
**By the way, I'd argue that Guns did have a good handful of classics from after Appetite: certainly "Patience" from Lies, and "Dust N Bones," "Bad Obsession," "Civil War," "14 Years" and especially "You Could Be Mine" from the Use Your Illusion albums.
*** I've mellowed a bit on the hair metal thing.  I don't own any of their records, but I can definitely acknowledge that most of the hair metal bands had some good songs.  And, full disclosure, I wrote liner notes for some Warrant reissues, the younger me would have considered that a major "sell out."

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