Time and tide wait for no man, but change can happen slowly through evolution and explosively via revolution. Guns and Roses, Appetite for Destruction is just that. A hard rocking musical revolution that at the time was needed to shake awake Rock music from the dreariness of the hair metal ballad band.
Appetite for Destruction is a classic rock album, one of the true greats and an album that changed rock music forever. Pre Appetite for Destruction rock music in the U.S. was dominated by the twin extremes of the “Light on your loafers”, Tom Werman produced sound of L.A Glam Rock, or Bay Area Thrash Metal. Post Appetite for Destruction was the era of the heavier sound of producer Bob Rock, Metallica went mainstream , Grunge was born and a number of traditional metal acts (whose act was based on ethereal dungeon and dragons type worlds) had some thinking to do. The Mob wanted realism in music that reflected their realities and not those of Gandalf and Bilbo, and the Mob Rules.
Guns and Roses are a proper rock band, and there is, and always has been a very large audience for pure uncontaminated rock. High energy, outward looking, loud guitars, drums, and a vocal that is saying something interesting. There is no need for the introverted misery of D minor (the saddest of all keys..LOL) or the sickly slush of a record with three MTV love ballads, padded out with filler.
Pure rock appeals to a global, cross genre audience and when a band delivers pure rock they sell a lot of records. Appetite for Destruction has sold in excess of 30 million copies.
Released in July 1987, album sales were initially moderate. This was pre-internet and media coverage of Guns and Roses was limited. However without the media coverage there was also no negative media coverage. The hype about the several bottles of Jack Daniels a day, the heroin addictions and excitable women providing “services” from below restaurant tables had not been reported. People were judging Guns and Roses on their music alone, and people loved it. Album sales grew steadily and then exponentially as more and more us heard the record and /or excerpts from it.
Musically there are so many great moments on this record. The lyrics are clearly based on some of the darker aspects of the band members lives, the guitar solos are fresh and clear, the riffs significant, and the rhythm playing is tight and non repetitive. There are subtle moments like the bongos on Mr Brownstone and less subtle moments such as the lyrics on Your Crazy, or the full in your gonads riffs of Paradise City and Welcome to the Jungle.
Despite several band members having very positive post Use Your Illusion careers, Guns and Roses was a better band than its sum parts, and on Appetite for Destruction, Guns are Roses were at their musical peak. The Use Your Illusions should have been released as one awesome record, and Spaghetti Incident just does not work for me. I don’t see the point of it. It sounds rushed. Velvet Revolvers’ Contraband is a great record and so is Chinese Democracy but neither are as great as Appetite for Destruction. Despite what Axl and Slash have produced since they stopped working together they were at their best when they were members of the same band.
The record starts with Welcome to the Jungle. The opening riffs give way to Axls “oh my god” and then the main riff. What a great track, catchy chorus, memorable melody, and guitars, lots of guitars. Second track It’s so Easy starts with a different tempo. A very commercial tune but still a hard rock anthem. Track three is Night Train. Not my favourite on the album but a song with a monster of a riff that appears about half way into the track. This song starts slowly and gains tempo, (in the same way that Stairway to Heaven does ????). Out to Get Me, is another high energy rock classic, with a lyric that contributed to the album earning its “PMRC” warning sticker. The highlight for me however on this track is the rhythm guitar. Rhythm guitarist are often overlooked as the guitar player who cant play the solos but quality rhythm playing is an exercise of the mind. An intellectual craft. Instinctively choosing the correct chords, providing variation when its need and keeping the vocal to a speed that makes it more effective.
Mr Brownstone follows. A very different song, with a very original structure based on the different rhythms of the verse and chorus. This is a song written about the bands negative experiences of heroin and again touches on the reality of the band members lives up to that time. And then Paradise City. Again a very original hard rocking classic with the semi acoustic intro that gives way to the famous riff. Side one ends. All high energy, take no prisoners rock and roll.
Side two starts with My Michelle. Another great track with the big riff and the catchy chorus. It sounds so simple but so many bands fail to stick to the basics of hard rock. A song that contains the lyric “ Your daddy works in porno”. Apparently based on a real person, another biographical tune about someone whose life could not be going as well as they planned. Track two is Think about You and then a change in tempo. Sweet Child of Mine. Yes it’s a ballad but it is still proper rock and roll. Great solo, great opening riff. A song benefiting more from the guitarists input and originality and an international commercial hit.
You’re Crazy is next up and the tempo is back up to full on heavy metal. It has been reported that this song was originally recorded as an acoustic but the band made this version specifically for Appetite for Destruction. Thank God that they did. The acoustic version on Lies is interesting but it is half the song of the version on Appetite for Destruction.
Anything Goes follows and the album ends with Rocket Queen. Every classic album should end with a classic tune and Rocket Queen delivers. Hotel California has The Last Resort, Never Mind the Bollocks, EMI and Led Zeppelin IV finishes with Where the Levee Breaks. Rocket Queen is just as great an ending. Mid paced, a sing along of a chorus with a slow down towards the end.
So how good is this album? It is very good. It is Certainly amongst the top 20 Rock albums of all time and probably one of the greatest records of the 1980’s. Like all classic records it has not aged, and the biographical real world nature of many of the lyrics help the album to achieve this. Put it this way. If Appetite for Destruction was released today it would still sell 30 million copies.
If you don’t own it, pay for it and download it. Appetite for Destruction. Classic albums at Find My Band.