REVIEW: Guns N’ Roses – Appetite for Destruction (1987)

GUNS N’ ROSES – Appetite For Destruction (1987 Geffen)

The first time I ever heard of Guns N’ Roses was from a rock magazine.  There was a picture of this weird looking lead singer with spiky red hair, and his name was “Axl”.  I immediately decided I didn’t like whoever he was, because he looked absolutely hammered, a complete mess.  And what kind of name was “Guns N’ Roses” for a band anyway?

MuchMusic began spinning their first video, “Welcome to the Jungle”, but only on the Pepsi Power Hour.  After a couple plays, I liked it.  I took Axl off the “banned” list and taped their video.  I asked my friend Scott if he liked Guns N’ Roses.  “They suck!” he answered.  A few months later, another video hit the airwaves and it was even better.  “Sweet Child O’ Mine” came out during the year of Bon Jovi and Def Leppard, but wasn’t like either band.  I loved the tune; this band had potential!  Before I knew it, school was out for the summer.

A funny thing happened on summer break.  Guns N’ Roses became huge.  When I returned to school in the fall, guess what band Scott was suddenly in to?  Guns N’ Roses.*  Everybody was.  And nobody believed me that I liked them first.  “You probably don’t even know the words,” said one kid.

That was 30 years ago.  Jesus Murphy…30 years!

I could yammer on and on about Appetite for Destruction.  For example, we could discuss these subjects:

  • How Guns went against the grain but changed the game.
  • Mike Clink’s sharp anti-80s production.  (Did you know Paul Stanley wanted to produce Appetite?)
  • The iconic album cover.
  • Slash’s immense influence on guitar players, including making the Gibson Les Paul the guitar to play again.
  • The under appreciated songwriting of Mr. Izzy Stradlin’.
  • The unstoppable rhythm section of Duff “Rose” McKagan and Steven “Popcorn” Adler.
  • That Duff McKagan is uber-talented and his backing vocals are a crucial part of Guns’ sound.
  • The single-minded, focused and unified direction of Appetite.
  • How their ample use of the “f word” drove the censors crazy.
  • Cowbell.
  • Riffs.
  • The all-important role of lead singer and frontman W. Axl Rose in their rise to stardom.
  • How Axl and Slash became the Steven Tyler and Joe Perry for a new generation.
  • That ten thousand bands followed in their wake when the sleazy side of the Sunset Strip became the hottest new trend.

We could talk about all those things until we’re blue in the face; each one would make for a fine subject for an article in their own right.  Or, perhaps I could talk about some of my more controversial opinions:

  • That Appetite is great, but Illusions are better.
  • The best song is not one of the singles, but in fact the last track, the sprawling “Rocket Queen”.
  • Even Appetite has filler, in this case “Anything Goes” and “Think About You”.
  • That Izzy was the most talented member.

I could do that, or I could even go through Appetite track by track.  It would be cool to analyze the riffage, anger and rock power of tracks like “It’s So Easy”, “Nightrain”, “Out Ta Get Me” and “You’re Crazy”.  We could discuss that Guns groove that is the basis of the legendary “Mr. Brownstone”.  The simmering , biting intensity of “My Michelle”.  We could, or you could click on any of the numerous articles from rock magazines that do the same thing.

Maybe yammering about Appetite isn’t as important as the memories associated with it.  I’ve shared this story before, but my favourite memory of this album goes back to highschool.  When the album hit it big, virtually everybody I knew had a copy.  One guy named Anand liked studying to Appetite.  He had strict parents.  One day he was down in the basement doing his homework with “Out Ta Get Me” playing.   His kid brother kept coming around to bug him, as kid brothers do.  He hung around long enough to learn the words to “Out Ta Get Me”, and returned upstairs.  When the parents heard the kid singing “They’re out to get me! I’m fucking innocent,” Anand got grounded.  (He got grounded a lot, though.)

Appetite for Destruction has sold 18 million copies in the US, with another few million sold overseas.  It’s one of the select albums to go Diamond (1 million copies) in Canada.  That’s a lot of people with memories of Appetite for Destruction (even though about five copies were actually bought by myself).  I’m not the only one with stories.  So how do I go about reviewing Appetite for Destruction?

Like anything else, I guess:  on a scale of 5:

4.5/5 stars

 

* Scott responds: “In my defence, I heard ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ first, and wasn’t into the power ballad thing. It was when I saw the video for ‘Welcome to the Jungle’ that I changed my opinion, and after getting the album — the imported banned cover — that I became a huge fan. I didn’t jump on no band wagon!”

 

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40 comments

  1. Totally loved this style of review Mikey!
    Special mention must be the the use of the word “yammering” ….
    Some of the best reviews are the stories behind on how the album impacted you on a personal level and of course on some chit chat about the album itself is always an added plus!
    Rocket Queen is a great track and I love how it shifts gears and lifts off at the end…Axl sounds like he’s looking for a lost lung after it ends!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All her ever wanted was for you…to know that he cares!

      That song was such a surprise because it was so different from the rest of the LP. Proof that Guns were more than just some rock guys playing in a band….

      Yammering (copyright 2017 Deke)!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was lucky enough to catch a muchmusic ‘spotlight’ on them back in the day and like you, can remember taping the videos on VHS!
    I might agree with you about the illusions, I suppose this one might be ‘better’ but I definitely listen to I & II more. In any event, I”d support an article each for those ‘controversial’ opinions!
    Creative take Mike!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not saying Illusions had no filler, but the sheer ambition (and achievement, on songs like Estranged and November Rain) of Illusions is incredible. The diversity…the playing…the uniqueness of directions…I can’t heap enough praise on Illusions and I’d really only edit off a few tracks.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I first heard about Guns and Roses before the year before this album when they were touring the UK. Unfortunately, I was planning for my wedding so I didn’t get to see them, my loss. I remember the metal hating UK newspaper The Sun saying they did horrible things to poodles and my own metal loving sister calling them Motley Crue rip offs and sexist pigs. Even her opinion changed when this album came out. “Sweet Child Of Mine” was the first song I heard on the album and I loved Slash’s guitar work on it. Then I heard other songs and after that, decided I must have this album.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice one, Mike. The iconic cover got me into Robert Williams. The replacement cover is pretty good too, right enough.

    As for your controversial views, I agree with most of them, but can’t get behind the Illusions being better. It’s just not true.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Awesome review. For me personally though, ‘Think About You’ far from filler is my hands down favourite GNR track and that bit towards the end where he says the ‘think about you’ followed by four snare flams (you, pah-pah-pah, oo-oo) is for me one of the single greatest moments in all recorded music.

    I get the initial reluctance thing too. I remember being very anti-GNR for a good few years before I gave in (although this was like 2000-2003).

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I remember this being big in ’89 and everyone thinking… This came out in ’87? As for the controversies: I can’t take the ballads and covers on the Illusion albums. Although Coma might be their most underrated song… This is the only G’N R album I can listen to all the way through. Mr. Brownstone is its best song… Izzy?… Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Awesome review.
    I would grade this album higher though.
    It is perhaps a 9.95 or a perfect 10 for me.
    No need to compare this to Use Your Illusion 1 anf 2.
    Let’s just say all 3 albums kick ass.

    Like

  8. My intro to Appetite was the latter part of Grade 9 through my friend Amanda who was into all kinds of music. She gave me a taped copy of Appetite, and I would listen to it in secret on my walkman, since there were themes that didn’t bode well in my household. Mr Brownstone was a hands-down favourite!

    And BTW, look at you two – Mike and the hubs…making fraands…:)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I agree with you. Izzy was the most talented member. Most of their hits were his songs, and all the good deep cuts were his too. I also like both “Think About You” and “Anything Goes”, but I they’re not as good as the rest of the album. If you look on the Illusions Izzy’s songs are the best there too. “Dust ‘N Bones”, “Don’t Cry”, “Bad Obsession”, “You Could Be Mine”, “14 Years”, “Double Talkin’ Jive”, “Pretty Tied Up”, etc. Him leaving crippled them more than anything else.

    Liked by 1 person

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