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The Friday Morning Listen: Guns ‘N Roses – Appetite For Destruction

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Everybody has their heads down and are grinding away at work. A deadline (one of many) approaches. To burn off a little stress yesterday afternoon, I listened to some Slayer. I'm not even sure if it worked or not, because there was a lot of tension in my back and hands as I walked out the door. Me and the project manager were chatting just before I left and he mentioned that, earlier in day, he had felt compelled to listen to Appetite For Destruction. He hadn't heard it in years. Hey, he's under more pressure than me so I hope it did the trick.

Come to think of it, it's been a long time since I dialed that record up myself. I sure was swept up with the first G 'n R wave, but that was about it for me. Hmmm, let me start at the beginning.

Appetite came out in 1987. I was just a scant few years out of college, maybe slightly more mature than my early 80s self, but still not 'adult' enough to avoid "The Big Stupid." (OK, I'm still not. You got me there). At that point, I had probably shelved my Quiet Riot and Twisted Sister records, but was certainly not beyond noise for the sake of noise. Frank Zappa used "The Big Stupid" in a political context. I like to use it to refer to rock records that are, well, not exactly "high art," if you know what I mean.

So anyway, this record comes out and "Welcome To The Jungle" comes blaring out over the radio and holy crap, it was great. That song had just about everything you'd want in a great rock anthem-type thing: a great guitar riff, a snarling singer, loads of tension and release, an unforgettable chorus. Oh yes, it came on the radio and you just had to turn it up even if it was your hundredth listen.

I've had this conversation with a friend of mine about Appetite For Destruction, he being of the opinion that it's one of the best metal albums of all time. (You can leave the word 'metal' out of it really, so as to avoid the silly "It's not really metal" harangue….Hey wait, that rhymes with 'Kerrang'! Awesome.) I dunno. After "Jungle" we have the other big hits of "Paradise City" and "Sweet Child O' Mine." I like those tunes, and in fact love the melodic bass part during the latter's intro, but that's were it ends for me. I sort of can't remember any other details from the album.

Thinking back on it, maybe some of Axl's the band's hijinx, particularly after the debut record, soured me on their whole thing. I'm not sure about that either. I will say that by the time the Illusion records came out I just didn't care anymore. Supposed epics like "November Rain" reinforced the notion that they had nothing else to say. And please, don't even get me started on that horrific cover of Dylan's "Knockin' On Heaven's Door." Some folks got their knickers in a twist over Axl's misogyny and paranoia. Sure, it's a nasty record, like that's so uncommon to the genre. Right.

OK, I'll say it now…"Where's Slash?!!!" I have to say that his playing never did much for me. Sorry, just a matter of taste (Yeah, I don't have any…blar, blar…whatever). The interplay between him and Izzy Stradlin is fun, but maybe not enough to sustain ear parts' interest over an hour.

It's sort of too bad that tunes like "Welcome To The Jungle" have become standard issue at NFL football games and the like. Music co-opted for other forms of commerce is never a good time in my book. On the other hand, the shallowness of that aspect of the business can't deter me from torquing up the volume when the need presents itself.

So let's see if any of those other missing details show up this morning. I sure could use 'em. Welcome to the deadline baby, you're gonna die!!

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About Mark Saleski

  • Josh Hathaway

    There was more to Appetite than the “obvious” songs for me and there were also some that seemed to blend into the background. I like the way it hangs together as an album, though, and it stands up 23 years later as exactly what it was always meant to be.

  • http://marksaleski.com Mark Saleski

    i had about the same reaction to it…some songs really got me going, others were just ‘eh’.

  • Josh Hathaway

    And normally “eh” songs would weaken an album but on Appetite those songs feel less like filler and more like placeholders and segues. It works. I don’t go back to that album nearly as often as I used to (and in fact there were several yrs it wasn’t in my collection) but it stands.

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Granted, Appetite is an okay album(Yup…its definitely not Metal)you should have dismissed your friends misplaced nostalgia and stuck with some more Slayer. South of Heaven trumps anything from G’n’R especially in the volume cranking category.

  • Janet

    I think you gottta have alot of patience to listen to guns n’ roses, In appetite for destruction the ‘big’ songs were great, but I prefered songs like nightrain and rocketqueen. and I agree, I never really liked slash, I was more into guitarists like Randy rhoades. But I consider Axl to be one of rocks best vocalists. But yeah, I would prefer GN’R to slayer anyday.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/a-geek-girl/ A Geek Girl

    Great album. I still have it. The actual album, and the cassette… and the CD. Think About You, Rocket Queen–I’ve never gotten tired of hearing those songs.

    I used to drive the streets in the middle of the night when I lived in Germany with Sweet Child of Mine playing in the car– the only way to calm my son enough to sleep when he was collicky. He now plays in a death metal band. Guess I should have seen that coming ;)

    You chose Slayer over G-N-R? Ach. Ach. Patoo. Sorry. Hacked up a hairball. Blech.

  • Greg Barbrick

    I understand how the hype and everything around this band just burned people out. But I never get tired of hearing “Welcome To The Jungle”.

  • Tony

    If you don’t like Slash, only like the singles on Appetite, thought their cover of Knockin’ on Heavens Door was shit, and generally didn’t like the Illusions albums its probably better to just NOT listen to GNR period. They aren’t metal but they sure as hell are one of the last great pure rock bands. Even Lies had its great moments. Awesome band.