>Requested Review: "Appetite For Destruction" by Guns ‘N Roses

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see, THIS is the album cover all the kids wanna see

Today’s requested review comes straight from the brain of one Robert Schwartz. I will refrain from making this review personal or confessional in any way, but the truth remains that I have known Mr. Schwartz longer than anyone else who has requested a review from me – since 3rd grade, in fact. We were very close friends for many many years (we traded Japanese Pokemon cards when they were still in vogue, for god’s sake – that is the sign of true friendship!!) until we sadly went our separate ways after Rob transferred to a different high school. And 9/11 and all that. Changed everything.

And yet, despite the incredible odds against our friendship, we have maintained a loving correspondence over the years. Believe it or not, Mr. Schwartz was actually responsible for inviting me to my first rock concert EVER – a Kiss/Aerosmith show way back in 2003. Without that epochal show, I may never have become as obsessed with rock ‘n roll music as I am now (despite the fact that I hardly listen to either band, but that’s null and void). So in effect, I owe the guy this very blog!! But now Rob has entrusted me with the task of reviewing (sigh) his FAVORITE ALBUM IN ALL OF ROCK MUSIC’S EXISTENCE – 1987’s well-regarded classic Appetite For Destruction by the one and only Guns ‘N Roses. And so, once again, I have been forced into the awkward position of telling a dear friend that their favorite 45-minute-long period of music ever conceived is disreputable trash.

Hmm? Hmm. No, no, my bad again. It’s disreputable garbage.

Ha! Ha! A little misdirection there!!

Fun fact: I had never listened to the entirety of Appetite For Destruction before last week. Not even once. The hits I have always known, but nothing else. This is because I am simply not that interested in the folk-rock combo famously known as “Guns And Roses.” Their hits are pretty good but I don’t like Axl Rose too much and his unfalteringly egomaniacal personality never really appealed to me. I have also never been fond of his voice, and then there was that whole Chinese Democracy thing and I wanted nothing to do with that, because the thought of Guns ‘N Roses with Axl as the only remaining original member is just a horrifying concept. So I never actively sought out Appetite until Mr. Rob prodded me to review it for him. So here I am, and I’ve listened to it, and I’m being a total dick about it! Surprise of the century.

Honestly, I don’t have that much to say about Appetite For Destruction. I’m not in love with it, but it’s got some killer tracks. It was obviously a colossal megahit and a lot of people love it to death, and I have nothing against that. I personally find it a little too slick and indulgent – at least on Axl’s part – to find it as enjoyable as, say, AC/DC’s Back In Black. It’s tough for me to give a singular, generalized opinion on this record. I’m just all over the place here!

A few thoughts:

– “Paradise City” is a great song. This is probably obvious to a lot of people, but I haven’t heard it in a really long time and I never realized how good it was until now. It’s the little things: that echoey guitar intro, followed by those heavy drums, kick things off perfectly. Then there’s that cute little synth that doesn’t show up anywhere else on the album, and Slash’s nigh-perfect guitar riff-noodling about a minute in that might be my favorite aspect of the song. And how ’bout that sudden thrashy breakdown during the song’s last two minutes?? Damn, that’s good. It’s a very well structured track. And it’s mostly based around that chanty chorus, so there’s no room for any embarrassing wannabe-badass Axl lyrics! This is nothing but a good thing (time – Bret Michaels).

– I know as a musical critic of music I am supposed to champion obscure album tracks over the more well-known radio hits, but I will say without reservation that the big hits on this album are probably the best and most distinctive. “Sweet Child O’Mine” is still lovely, “Paradise City” tears, “Welcome To The Jungle” is ridiculous fun. The only album track that totally grabs me is “Mr. Brownstone” – most of the rest of the songs here range from pretty cool to kinda meh. At least from my first couple listens.

– I don’t like Axl’s voice much but I kinda dig his lower, goofier voice. It can sound a little boneheaded, but it gives songs like “It’s So Easy” and especially “Mr. Brownstone” a provocative edge.

– I somehow remember Mark Prindle actively registering his dislike for the last couple minutes of “Rocket Queen,” the closing track here. I, for some reason, very much enjoy it. It’s got kind of an anthemic, uplifting edge that most of the rest of the album lacks.

– The well-known MegaMan X3 anthem “My Michelle” has a killer heavy riff but I just can’t get past Axl’s vocal delivery. He tries a little too hard to sound “dangerous” on this one, and it annoys me. I was actually gonna slam the lyrics for being in the same vein (“Your daddy works in porno / now that mommy’s not around / she used to love her heroin / but now she’s underground!”) until I read that they are actually a brutally honest chronicle of one of the band’s friends, named Michelle. She wanted a pretty song about her, and Axl wrote this. That’s just hilarious.

– Why are these guys compared to the Stones so much? They sound nothing like them. They’re more like a meaner Aerosmtih.

– “Think About You” is a cool song.

– “You’re Crazy” is pretty fast! Almost punk-rock!!

– I respect what Guns ‘N Roses represented. They were a bunch of mean drug addicts in a sea of cutesy boy-toy Bon Jovis during the late 80s. Unfortunately, said respect does not guarantee that I will listen to this album all that much. Except for “Paradise City” which I want to listen to all the time now.

-My reviews of the rest of GNR’s discography are as follows. As I have never listened to any of these albums before – and probably never will – I will base my opinions on them primarily on what I remember of reviews I’ve read.

GNR Lies – Axl Rose is a racist!!
Use Your Illusion I – Bloated! Every track is like 10 minutes long!!
Use Your Illusion II – Bloateder! Might have that song where Axl yells at all of his critics by name but I forget, either way that’s kinda silly
Spaghetti Incident?!? – Covers a real cool Damned song! Also a Charles Manson song because Axl is an attention whore.
Chinese Democracy – no no let’s not get into this

Bottom Line: It’s Guns ‘N Roses. You know what to expect.

Rob, I tried to give you a good review here. I really did. I know I’ve failed you. I’ll make it up to you somehow.

Hey you remember that time you emailed me some porn over AOL way back in the day? And your dad found it and called me angrily, thinking that I had sent it to you for some reason? And he wanted to talk to my parents and I started crying?? Yeah I remember that.

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