on 19 December 2006
I'd give this album twenty stars if I could, it's that important to me.
With the ubiquity of music TV these days, it's actually quite hard to remember that heavy metal was hard to get a hold of in the late 80s. Pop and dance ruled the airwaves, you only had TOTP, The Chart Show and The Tube (I hadn't heard of Later, or The Old Grey Whistle Test; was but a nipper in those days). I hadn't even heard of MTV - that was an American thing. But one day a music shop opened in my little hometown, which showed MTV, and that's where I first heard and saw "Paradise City" and "Sweet Child O' Mine". A real epiphany; nothing was the same for me ever again, after getting in in 1988 for my 9th birthday. (The only real comparison has been hearing The Beatles' 67-70 album, and "Smell Like Teen Spirit"). I'm 27 now and have never ever tired of it.
GN'R might have lived the life, but musically they knew exactly what they were doing; they knew their musical history, and had a breadth of taste which "Appetite" only hinted at. Their forebears were, as they well knew, were Aerosmith, so much so that they explored Aerosmith's own influences, so that they are far more than 'Smith ripoffs, even on their first album.
GN'R were melded together in the deperate struggle for recognition and success that was the LA rock scene. Then dominated by Motley Crue and lesser bands like WASP and Ratt, GN'R came along and blew them away. Where Motley Crue had acheived success by having a crossover appeal (covering "Helter Skelter", a Beatles song, even on their heaviest album, "Shout At The Devil"), GN'R did it by tapping into an older, heavier tradition. They weren't pop-rock, they were hard-rock - much more visceral, with punk-rock's attitude, rock music's musicanship and with a live show of extraordinary magnetism.
"Appetite" is their purest statement. "Paradise City" is a metaphor for their ambition to be the biggest band in the world - "Take me down to the paradise city". "Sweet Child O' Mine" might have been their crossover moment, but rather than being a schmaltzy soft-rock anthem (as Poison etc had managed), it's a yearning, tender opener which modulates to a storming finale, with I think the most hair-raising guitar solo eve recorded. "It's So Easy" is the ultimate expression of young-man arrogance and testosterone, with Axl singing at the bottom of his range and the riff exploding out at you like a Molotov Cocktail of belligerent intent. "Nightrain", a song about a cheap tonic wine (like Buckfast) tells you about their days - "Said I'm a mean machine, been drinking gasoline and honey you can make my motor hum". "Rocket Queen" is a superb closer, starting with a brilliantly sleazy riff (and supposedly verite sounds in the middle), but ending on a storming, rousing, optimistic closer.
Axl sings brilliantly throughout, Slash's solos are magnificent, Duff's bass sounds much better than on "Use Your Illusion" - but the songs are never dominated by one band-member as they are on UYI. It's always a coherent, band album. It's the greatest metal album I know, and I've been into metal ever since I got this album.
Three decades later and Appetite For Destruction still sounds as fresh, daring, vibrant, and exciting as it did when it was first unleashed upon the world. Say what you like about what Guns and Axl have become but there remains something eternal about their first album. With each new generation of kids, it is this album which they are inevitably drawn to when they want their rebellious kick or taste of anger for the day, this is the album which young guitarists dream of, and the album which aspiring rock stars hope to emulate. Wiping away the poodle rock of the decade, grabbing MTV and the charts by the throat and shaking them within an inch of their lives, it takes a snarling look at 80s America- the excess, the paranoia, the sleeze, and how The American Dream had become something dirty but still attainable for ambitious young kids who knew how to get it. It's rare that an album comes along where every song is a classic- this almost achieves that and those songs which narrowly miss out are still screaming tunes of excellence which would stand out on any number of other bands' albums. Anrgy, raw, confident, with one foot in the gutter and the other in the heavens, Appetite For Destruction is a must for everyone.
`Welcome To The Jungle' opens the album with as instantly recognizable an introduction as your every likely to find. From the first 30 seconds we know most of what we will need to- Axl's screech, the teaming of Izzy's riffs and Slash's uncontrollable talent before the main guitars and vocals crash in. Axl sings a tale of a small town guy landing in LA and having to swim through the grime to prevent drowning in the mud. Everything is sleazy, sexy, and angry, though performed as if they are Lords of it all. The weaving tunes are inventive, shaking up the usual verse chorus format, and the guitar solos are the sort every young musician wishes they had written. The growling grows, the music grows more chaotic, and everything is memorable fist pumping but without the cheese. This is one of the all time great openers.
`It's So Easy' begins with a repetitive and hypnotic bass before Axl's vocals take a dip. This time he sings of how the small town man can succeed so easily with a little bit of experience- you can get everything if you know how. Axl turns this on its head by showing that the ease with which these things are accomplished quickly cheapens them, and soon everything appears shallow and worthless. Masochistic in parts, oddly tender in others, the guitars are once again crushing presenting us again with more classic riffs and solos. Axl's trademark screech soon breaks out, Steven's drums thrust everything forwards, and it all builds towards a big rock climax.
`Nightrain' is the band's love song to beer, and to night's out in a city which will swallow you if you aren't prepared. This usually opens live shows and is a fast paced, fuel injected mess of frantic guitars and yelling vocals. A fan favourite this nevertheless seems to be less well known as the big singles, unfortunate as this is the band at their defiant, vicious, and humourous best. Huge choruses and catchy verses melded with some of the best guitar twiddling you'll ever find propel this from start to finish.
`Out Ta Get Me' continues the stadium filling anthems with it's gargantuan 80s drums pumping us along. Axl sings of defiance from the law, from those who hate him, from those who love him. This is one big finger up to authority, and to anyone who ever dares question him. Although many have since seen Axl's ego become bloated and self interested, at the time no-one would have challenged the motivation and drive he shows here. Slash knocks another one out of the park with a big blues solo with metal and punk stylings, growing and shifting, fading and returning between chorus and verse. Everything races towards the finish line with a sly grin and a boot in the face of its competitors.
`Mr Brownstone' starts with another classic swirling riff or two before Axl joins in with lyrics about fame, excess, and primarily drugs. The punk and blues swagger is showcased here, the Stones influence given an added metal punch. Wah wah solos and groovy drums ensure this one is a big hitter in the rock bars and clubs, and usually fills the dance floor with swirling hair and shaking booty. The tale of drugs, addiction, and dependence was something which the band knew plenty about with most if not all having some sort of reliance, breakdown, and near death experience with the stuff.
`Paradise City' remains probably the greatest head banging song of all time; there is just something about the beat, the timing, and the feel of the drums which suits nodding your head up and down in a suicidal rhythm perfectly- you just can't help but jump around buck nuts to this. Axl again sings of the American dream in this beast of an anthem- this is as much an American national anthem as Born In The USA or The Stars And Stripes- the flags may be waving, but they're ripped, torn, and bloody. There are plenty of blues solo moments throughout the first few parts of the song, Slash and Izzy causing havoc by never repeating the same note or riff, but it is the last few charging minutes of glorious chaos which mark this as outstanding. Everything after `take me home' is shameless rock `n' roll brilliance, full throttle galloping, insane playing, and frenetic speed with no time to take a breath. And the vocals are pure fist pumping, sing along gold.
`My Michelle' thankfully slows things down for a few moments- a tongue in cheek love song of sorts, a dedication to all the starlovers and dreamers who move to the city with hopes of something better but get dragged down by drugs and prostitution just to get by. No punches are pulled in the lyrics with Axl taking snapshots of the worst parts of town, the darkest alleys, the dankest corners, while once again the guitars are kings. Chunky riffs with a groovy twist are the seedy heart of the song, while the person or people that the song is about should take heart that they have a champion.
`Think About You' has steadily become my favourite song on the album. It's the one everyone forgets, it was never a single, and it's never played live. Maybe it's a favourite because when I was younger I loved the other songs so much and any time you hear anything on the radio or TV it's one of the big songs. Those songs have somewhat lost their appeal and impact, but this one is great every time. It is, like Sweet Child, one of the lighter moments on the album but unlike that epic this dispenses with the mammoth solos and exuberance and instead gets straight to the point. It is quick, packed with feeling, and on top of it all has some truly great melodies. Naturally it is done with a slick and sick dose of humour and sexual imagery if you're filthy enough to pick up on it.
`Sweet Child O Mine' is the big one- the one everyone knows and loves; the one people can name even if they can't name any other song by the band. Beginning with one of the most famous guitar parts of all time it has all the classic Guns trademarks- Axl's harsh vocals traversing big melodies, soulful and electrifying solos, and lyrics which never shy away from the truth. Along with the video we see the tender side of the band- they may be dangerous, but they're still human, and most of the danger was pantomime anyway. The song and video drips of cool, from Slash's rarely seen face under a mop of curls, the cigarettes, the JD, Axl's dancing, and the sheer confidence and style of it all- while all the other 80s bands looked like they were sweating for attention, GNR simply stood they and played, and everything worked effortlessly.
`You're Crazy' on this album is the faster version, better than the one which appears on Lies. It's up tempo, with the usual mix of vicious lyrics and crashing guitars but it lacks some of the melodic quality of the other songs. It lacks anything truly memorable, but is still a great 80s rock song. The energy on display is top notch and there is no sign of any reserve or calming.
`Anything Goes' is the only song that I feel could be dropped from the album- I don't have anything against the lyrics, they're just a bit silly and add to the band's mythos, the music is ok- it just isn't up to the goodness of everything else. Something like Move To The City or Used To Love Her would have worked better, and as such this is the one song I would usually skip. The song has some funky guitar parts and is worth a giggle or two, but doesn't have the 5 star quality of everything else.
`Rocket Queen' gets things back on track, an immortal album closer and epic in every sense. All the themes from the album are condensed into the final track, as well as the emotional battles in the band moving from angry, bitter, and sarcastic, to hopeful, affectionate, and loving. Slash lets rip for one final time giving us note after note of genius, while Axl tears out his throat and sets fire to his lungs as he manoevers his own words and music. Everyone shines, from drums and bass, to the slide guitar, up to Axl, and it could be said that this was the last moment of coherence in the band. After this people began to leave, collapse, argue, leaving the pieces to be squished together for UYI. A brilliant ending to one of the best albums ever.
The 80s was the decade when the greatest moments of hard rock and metal were produced, and this stands tall above the rest. Taking their influence from the hedonistic bands of the 70s, mixing in a punk attitude, and adding the guitars of NWOBHM and American metal that was growing in popularity, Axl and Co created a monster which they would struggle to recover from. While there were neverending buckets of dross in the genre and much critical giggling directed its way, Appetite walk to the front of the crowd and declares itself as a work of art, and one which critics could not fail to notice and admire. It showcases one of those rare moments in music, in art, where everyone involved suddenly steps onto the same wavelength causing everything they do to gel into perfection. You already have it, so why are you listening to me?
on 4 June 2007
During the apparent onslaught of the LA hair metal scene in the mid to late 80s (bands like Poison and Motley Crue), one band was formed in 1985 in Los Angeles by two desperate musicians - Axl Rose and Tracii Guns, who decided that it was time for the age of big hair, glitter and makeup to come to an end. And Guns N' Roses did just that. Though Tracii left to form his own band, LA Guns, Axl stayed behind and recruited four talented musicians: guitarists Izzy Stradlin and Slash, bassist Duff McKagan and drummer Steven Adler. Together, these four, along with Axl Rose, literally shoved aside hair metal with the release of their first major label debut Appetite For Destruction and started to bring the "true" metal back to the mainstream. Within a year of its release, it had sold over 25 million copies and went to #1 in the USA. Though they did release a self-produced EP titled Live ?!*@ A Suicide in '86, GNR made rock history with Appetite For Destruction a year later.
Let me start off by saying that every (yes, EVERY) rock fan, from Hendrix to Green Day, needs to own this album. From the gritty sleaze-rock "Welcome to the Jungle" to the trashy headbanger "You're Crazy" to the punk rock "It's So Easy," every song on here is a masterpiece. Though it contains a few fillers ("My Michelle," "Think About You" and "Anything Goes" being the best examples), Appetite For Destruction is one of those CDs that you don't have to skip songs to get to the good ones. Too bad the original band lineup featured on this CD isn't around anymore - now GNR has Axl's whole new set of musicians that just isn't the same. In addition, is it any wonder that Axl can't sing like that anymore. I mean, listen to his vocals on such songs like "Out Ta Get Me," "Paradise City" or "Sweet Child O' Mine." And what about Slash? GNR's new guitarist, Robin Finck (Nine Inch Nails), doesn't play with the same style Slash played with, and doesn't sound like him at all. So I guess that just proves that things just come, go and pass and you should enjoy them while you can. My point here is that Appetite For Destruction is one of THE GREATEST ALBUMS EVER RECORDED and that one like this comes along once in a great while.
But boy am I glad I bought this album when I did. But like most people, the only songs I heard from this album before I purchased it were the three hits that brought GNR to fame worldwide: "Welcome to the Jungle," "Paradise City" and "Sweet Child O' Mine" (sadly the only ones from this album to make it to Guns N' Roses's Greatest Hits CD). But the remaining tracks are NOT to be ignored. Don't get me wrong, those 3 are great - "Paradise City" probably being the best out of the 3 - but the highlights as far as I'm concerned would have to be "Out Ta Get Me," a rebellious, mean, 4-minute explosion that features some of Axl's best growls and snarls; "Mr. Brownstone," one of the songs that could have made it to GNR's Greatest Hits without complaint from anyone; the sadly underrated "You're Crazy," a thrashy tune that will get you "air guitar"-ing in no time flat; and the album closer "Rocket Queen," a great and catchy tune that starts off really grungy but eventually transforms into a great hard rock anthem. So if you can't afford the entire album, buy those 4. And if those alone won't do it for you, purchase also "Nightrain," another great hard rock headbanger.
Guns N' Roses's 1987 release Appetite For Destruction. Absolutely incredible. Amazing, superb, fantastic, any other postive adjective that you can think of will perfectly describe the astonishingly great music of this album. It will blow anyone away, from the most die-hard hard rock/metal fan to a guy who's never bought a rock album in his life. You know occasionally along comes an album that never gets old no matter how many times you listen to it (other examples being Def Leppard's Hysteria, Led Zeppelin's IV and Queensryche's Operation: Mindcrime)? Well if Appetite For Destruction isn't on your list then you are missing out on something that nothing ever has, can or will replace as one of the greatest rock albums of all time. No joke.