Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Guns N Roses - Appetite For Destruction! Tribute To A Legendary Album

1987 was a freakin' good year for Rock 'N Roll and Metal, at least in my opinion. It was a time I remember vividly, a time where music was being explored and new styles of Rock and Metal were coming out of the woodwork. Yes, it was a great time in my life, indeed. Why do I say this? Because it was the year that Motley Crue's Girls Girls Girls album came out, but that year also brought an album from a then unknown group of five misfit outlaws who would turn the Rock 'N Roll and Hard Rock world on its head.

There's no doubt and nobody can deny that when Appetite for Destruction by Guns 'N Roses came out, this album turned the world on its ass so much that critics were already predicting that GNR were set out to be the next Rolling Stones or Led Zepplin. Rolling Stone Magazine even placed Appetite for Destruction as the 20th greatest album of the 80s. It even made 61 of the 500 Greatest Albums of all Time.
While during the era at the time was mostly permeated with L.A. Glam Rock bands and music, Gun's 'N Roses took Hard Rock back to the gritty streets where it was spawned and captured a raunchy, dirty sound that collided Blues-based Rock, Metal, and Punk. What ignited from that formula was a raw and aggressive album like no other.

Steven Adler's loose drum playing gave the songs on Appetite that signature groove and swing that GNR seemed to have lost after Adler was kicked out and later replaced by Matt Sorum. I could hear the difference between Appetite and the Use Your Illusion albums. I think most people can and would agree with me on that. If what Axl Rose admits is true about some of the songs from the Use Your Illusion albums were originally considered to be on Appetite for Destruction, I'm sure glad those songs didn't make the cut on Appetite.

Izzy Stradlin's sloppy guitar playing mixed with Slash's unique guitar style gave the guitars a highly gritty and raw sound that matched Addler's drum playing. The cohesiveness of the songs came from the tightness of Slash's guitar, Duff McKagan's bass, and Axl Rose's vocal delivery.

Lyrics to songs like Paradise City, Welcome to the Jungle, Mr. Brownstone, and my personal favorite – Out Ta Get Me - were as dangerous sounding as the music, but yet both the music and lyrical formatting had sing-a-long hooks without sacrificing their heavy, aggressive sound that was, indeed, dangerous and uncompromising.

Like I mentioned in my previous post about the Riot Brides, it's not easy to combine melody but yet still retain a heavy and dangerous sound. It's actually easier to just play heavy music with little to no melody. Guns seemed to combine both of those elements effortlessly. The band members were a match made in heaven, or hell, depending on who's opinion your getting. However, there is no doubt that each individual within the band and their own unique wreckless abandon definitely was translated into the music.

I can't remember the first song I heard off of Appetite for Destruction. Perhaps, it was Welcome to the Jungle, considering it was the first single off the album and I remember the video quite vividly. Who doesn't? The imagery of that video was just as raw and intense as the song.

I remember getting the cassette tape (yeah I just dated myself) and looking at the cover, that iconic cover with the cross and skulls to represent each member of the band. I thought it was rad and couldn't wait to open the sucker. The 80s brought that kind of tattoo art as viable artwork for album covers. I remember trying to draw it, but even though I was smitten by the cover, it was the insert artwork that made me go bonkers.

 The inside artwork, based off of Robert Williams painting, fittingly also titled, "Appetite for Destruction," was suppose to be the original album cover to Appetite. Of course, retailers were shocked and refused to stock the album because of the controversial cover, and the artwork was shocking. I remember when first seeing it I thought this was either the coolest or sickest artwork I'd ever seen in my entire life.
The cover was replaced with the iconic cross and skulls artwork by Billy White Jr, which was originally intended to just be a tattoo design. Once the final cover was set, Rock ‘N Roll history was made, and was never to be the same.

I took that cassette, slapped it into my tape deck, or ghetto blaster as we use to call it, and pressed play. What came out blew me away. I was just mesmerized and in awe. I played that album over and over until my ghetto blaster ate the tape. Then I would buy the album again and play it over and over until that tape met the same fate as the first one I bought.

I remember trying to sing like Axl, trying to get that raspy, high whine, and then that deep voice that he has on It’s So Easy. I remember air drumming to Steven Adler and air guitaring to Slash. I remember my brother cranking that album in his car as we cruised around with nothing better to do.

Controversial, dangerous, and hungry was the attitude that Guns ‘N Roses translated into their first album Appetite for Destruction, conveying that rawness that Guns N' Roses didn't seem to capture on their later albums. In which Axl stated that he didn’t want to capture on GNR’s future albums and wanted to move on from Appetite.

If you ask me, creating a masterpiece on your first go-around like Appetite is a sure sign that everything from that album on is downward road. How do you top an album like Appetite? Even Axl has told this to the media a hundred times over. However, what if they had tried? Would they have written an album that would top it? We’ll never know, won’t we?

Unlike the Illusion albums, Appetite drips with a street sleaze that was scrapped up like poop from the real, gritty, and debaucherous street life of Los Angeles. The songs meant business, and the topics of drugs, women, and the harshness of a gritty reality that many didn't see or even know about blasted from your speakers and in your face without regret or apology.

What's up with the bands of today? Where are the bands like GNR? It's like the bands today are boring, and new moms listen to the new rock bands playing on the radio. There's no way in hell my parents would've listened to any of the music I listened to while growing up.

Now, Rock 'N Roll is way too safe. It’s unbelievably boring with most of the new bands out there. I don't see too many dangerous new bands out there, bands that are raw, uncompromising, controversial, primal and dripping with intensity like GNR and the bands I grew up on. Bands with a wreckless abandon that you can hear in the music and know it isn’t prefabricated or artificial. It’s how the band is and how the individual members of that band were.

I suppose my still-stuck-in-the-eighties ass will still be waiting. I suppose the rock world will still be waiting. Some say that was then and this now, and thank God then is over, but I disagree. I wholeheartedly disagree.

Anything is better than the stale music of today, and there's no doubt that this generation needs an album like Appetite for Destruction, an album that's perfectly crafted, a masterpiece that’s genuine and intense. An album that sparks controversy and stands the test of time and is still amazing no matter what year or what generation listens to it.

A great album is an album that can stack up against any great album from any era and not be out of place. It doesn’t just hold its own. It stands out like a beckon, a model, an inspiration and example for those who come after to follow. That’s why Guns ‘N Roses’ Appetite for Destruction will always be an ultimate classic album, because it does just exactly that.

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