Classic Albums – Guns N Roses – Appetite For Destruction
This month’s Classic Albums Column focuses on Guns N’ Roses‘ Appetite For Destruction. Mars Attacks Podcast episode 73 features comments from Doro Pesch, Charlie Benante, Gene Hoglan, Alan Tecchio, Jon Leon(both written and verbal), Dave Reffett, Lonny Paul of the band Adler, author Martin Popoff, journalist Mitch Lafon, Mark Strigl from Talking Metal, and Roch from Radioactive Metal. As we established with the previous podcast we also discuss why this album was selected. You will find the podcast at the bottom of this post.
Before jumping into the standard comments that we post along as part of the column, I wanted to include an excerpt from former Rip editor Lonn Friend great book Life on Planet Rock: From Guns N’ Roses to Nirvana, a Backstage Journey through Rock’s Most Debauched Decade. Here is a small bit regarding Appetite For Destruction:
Appetite unfolded like a prurient postcard depicting the zeitgeist of Hollywood near the end of the millennium-s most dubious decade. “It’s So Easy”, “Nightrain”, “ Out Ta Get Me”, “Mr. Brownstone”, “Paradise City”, “My Michelle”, “Think About You”, “Sweet Child O’ Mine”, “You’re Crazy”, “Anything Goes” and “Rocket Queen” – the LP is a seamless glorification of excess where every recorded moment burns with ball-busting truth.
Producer Mike Clink-who would prove to be the George Martin of GN’R, manipulating the dials to every release the band would create-told me that the female groans of ecstasy during “Rocket Queen” were authentic. “The guys were taking turns fucking this girl in the studio,” recalled Clink. “Those are actual sounds of sex, captured live on tape.” But above all, Appetite signaled the breech birth of the most charismatic, morally corrupted, possessed, and passionate front man since the mike-stand-wielding, loose-lipped junkie Steven Tyler stepped off the Cambridge streets fourteen years before.
Growing up William Bailey in the heartland town of Lafayette, Indiana, W. Axl Rose sang, stalked, swam, and smelled like no other fish in the big-hair, heavy-eyeliner, poseur-polluted L.A. hard rock sea. While he borrowed bits in vocal technique and body language from his heroes Iggy Pop, Elton John, Freddie Mercury, Thin Lizzy’s Phil Lynott, and, of course, Jagger, and Tyler, Axl was a complete and inexplicable original prone to personal misbehavior and public misunderstanding.
To read more check out Lonn’s excellent book Life On Planet Rock!
Here are the written comments that were submitted:
Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal – It was about 3 in the morning, and this video comes on MTV, some new band… was ballsy, groovy, great vocals, cool riffs, not your typical cookie-cutter song arrangements, there were some real roots in this stuff… next day I told some friends about it – they had already heard about ‘em. Within a week everyone knew about ‘em.
Greg Prato – At the time of its release, this album had the same effect on me as Nirvana’s ‘Nevermind’ would a few years later – as both albums were a return back to basics, and a reaction against horrible hair metal. Sadly, G n’ R (like Metallica) would become the same overblown rockers that they were initially a reaction against.
Dave Starr – Huge. Not really a fan, but you can’t deny the impact this record had on millions of people.
Dan Lorenzo – The most overrated band in the history of music. Yes this cd is good. “My Michelle” is vicious hard rock at it’s best. There are a couple of other fantastic songs. Maybe even 4-5. WHY are we still talking about them though?? How the hell could people fall over themselves with a song that rhymes the words “pretty” and “city”? C’mon. Really?? Still?? Yes…it IS a good cd. But since then? You STILL care? Really? I’m going to go listen to Aerosmith ‘Rocks” now.
Peter Ellis – Quite simply, the best Hard Rock album of all time.
Jon Leon – The definitive album of all LA bands of the 80′s. Along with Van Halen 2, it is the most important release by an LA band. It is sunset blvd 1986-7 in all its glory. One of the best sounding records of all time. Like them or not after this release-I can think of no band that can rock a legacy off one album more than this one. The Back in Black of the Hair metal world.
Ron Scalzo – This was a benchmark album for me. I saw the video for “Welcome To The Jungle” on MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball and I was off to the record store – this was a regular practice for me at that age. One song and I was sold. This was a controversial album for a 13 year old kid in a fairly strict household, but the kicker was that I actually won the album on vinyl from the big Top 40 station in NYC. Once the package showed up at my house, “Appetite” and Def Leppard’s “Hysteria” rarely left my piece-of-shit record player (I wouldn’t even call it a turntable). Sinking into “Appetite” was the equivalent of a kid watching porn for the first time – it was another world, the first down n’ dirty badass sweaty & shirtless album of my teenage years. It was a 12 song fuckfest without a condom. By high school a few years later, GnR were legendary and I put a band together to play at our HS Battle of the Bands. We played “Stairway To Heaven,” Skid Row’s “Youth Gone Wild” and “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” The other guys wanted to do “Paradise City” but I was not yet talented enough on the drums to pull off those Steven Adler hits and fills that bring the song into hyperdrive. Ah well, we won anyway. Fuck you Steven Adler.
Joel Gausten – Axl Rose is a sage. His lyrics paint the clearest, most vivid picture of life in Los Angeles ever committed to tape. “Think About You” is the best song Hanoi Rocks never wrote.
Erik Kluiber – One of the greatest albums of all time even if radio has numbed us from it.
Phil Rind – Took me a while to get over the fact that they looked like posers. Sick record though. You can hear the hunger in it.
Ricky Armellino – If I go back and listen to any of this I’m just going to picture new Axl singing it. He looks like the kind of bum I just don’t want to give any change.
James J. LaRue – I loved this, still do. Schminese Schmemocracy, this was G’n'R. I wasn’t allowed to buy the entire album, but mom gave the greenlight on the Sweet Child single. She was worried about the subject matter. Mr Brownstone was the B Side,
but I had no idea what it was about. Brown colored rocks I thought. Never liked that song as a kid anyway, but now I listen to the entire thing and skip Sweet Child. That’s their signature tune, everyone knows it, I even played it when I was in a disco cover band? It’s a little too popular with everyone and next thing you know Fergie is butchering it.
Scott Middleton – The ultimate marriage of punk rock, blues and rock ‘n’ roll. The benchmark for modern rock music. Appetite sounds like a cross between a less fake version of the Sex Pistols, meets an ultra badass version of Aerosmith. Nearly every song on this record was a hit and still sounds more vital than any contemporary rock record.
Chris Tsangarides – When this little epic first came to my attention I was wondering what all the hype was about, it sounded like music that was a bit dated given the current musical climate. I wasn’t overly impressed that is until I got the album and listened to it in my music room from start to finish… I was amazed at the consistency of the song writing and was left feeling elated and like every guitar player tried to figure out how to play “Sweet child of mine” I was sold on this now Classic Rock album and it’s still one of my all-time faves.
Jim Florentine – Genius. This album alone will put them in the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame.
Raul Galvan – Just from the bombastic opening riffs you could tell this album was going to sweat pure rock n roll. This album impacted my adolescence, and is one of the greatest albums of all time, and contains some of the greatest songs of all time.
JL – Not my favorite album of Guns by sheer stubbornness, but a manual for sleazy rock. To open an album with a great song such as Welcome To The Jungle leaves you god smacked for the rest of listening. My Michelle, Sweet Child ‘O Mine, Nightrain … another one of those debuts that makes history, with Izzy Stradlin in a state of grace, Slash his Les Paul come alive. I think we should thank Erin Everly for having been a muse so propitious.
Gonzalo Leiva – I think that for many people (like myself), it is the best album GNR released. It is an album with twelve songs in which there are very few low points. In an age where most bands used keyboards, this album maintains certain segments that has nothing but a basic foundation of bass, guitars and drums. Another album that you listen to from beginning to end and between songs you say “oh what a good song.
David Lozano – What rock n roller hasn’t listened to this album?
Sean Bryant – I remembered that I really disliked most people that liked this album. I am guessing it was mostly due to the fact that MtV took hold of GnR and blasted it everywhere. Turns out Axl was truly an asshole. Who’d of guessed?
Will Carroll – I saw Guns N’ Roses open for The Cult on the Electric tour at The Warfield in S.F. in 1987. This was a couple of weeks before Appetite came out and I had no idea who they were. By the third song I was trying to return my Cult shirt for a GN’R one. That was one of the sickest live performances I’ve ever seen. And when the album came out I was not disappointed. If someone who claims to be into rock or metal and hears this album and can’t get anything out of it than maybe you should check them for a pulse.
Steve Smyth – I actually really hated this band when they came out, because I felt like they were trying to rip off Aerosmith, being that I am a big classic Aerosmith fan. Then I realized that Aerosmith were never going back to their 70’s sound, and this album grew on me. Favorites are Night Train and Mr Brownstone, but to me, I can have the whole album on in the background and not really mind….
David Ellefson – This is one of the most pivotal albums of my young adult life. I remember clearly the day I heard “Mr. Brownstone” on Los Angeles’ KNAC radio station as me, Jay Reynolds and Dave Mustaine were driving to Lake Elsinore to go jet skiing on a day off. You could just tell this was going to be HUGE!!
Bat – This album was huge when I was a teenager, I loved it, Ill never forget the summer when “Sweet Child of mine” came out, Its the only GNR release I like. I still listen to it now and again. A classic.
Chris Czynszak – Appetite for Destruction was like a gateway drug for me. The reason that I say that is due to the fact that my 12 year old self was immersed in the hair band culture. I was completely caught up in the aesthetic of bands like Poison and Motley Crue. I loved the whole mindless culture of party rock that allowed everyone to just forget everything and have a good time. While I still enjoy some of that stuff even today, I was introduced to a whole other sect of rock music when I saw the video for Welcome to the Jungle late one night on MTV. I had never seen anything like it. While Axl was straddling the hair band look a little bit in the video, the song was pure, unadulterated hard-edged magic. I felt like I had been flattened by a steamroller….and loved it. This album truly stands the test of time. Aside from the great songs on the album, it opened me up to check out music by GNR’s influences. Suddenly, I was discovering groups like Nazareth, Hanoi Rocks, and Shark Island. I credit the Appetite for Destruction album for increasing my musical vocabulary and giving me an appreciation for a wider variety of rock music. It’s hard to pick a favorite track from Appetite as I don’t feel that there’s a weak track on the album. I have a special soft spot for It’s So Easy and My Michelle but feel that Rocket Queen encompasses the whole album in one song with all of its twists and turns. I love that the song starts with such a moody, dark sound before erupting into full-anthem mode by the end. I’ve found things to like about all of Guns n Roses albums since but don’t think it’s possible to top Appetite. You hear things about planets aligning and blah blah blah but I truly think that was the case with this album. You had five guys that were at the right point of instability and recklessness that poured their souls onto two-inch tape and left a masterpiece that still holds up today.
Shawn Duncan – What can be said! Appetite came out at the very peak of the Hollywood scene in the 80′s. Everything going on at that time was captured on this record. Sex, Drugs, Aggression it is an explosive record to this day! The impact of this record is historic. They were REAL! Nothing manufactured or pre-conceived about this album. The songs are first rate and always will be. Saw G&R many times in the clubs before the album came out and it was obvious they were going to do well..but when I first heard Appetite I was floored. You can’t mention this record and not mention Mike Clink, he managed to catch lightning in a bottle..A top tier classic.
Grover XIII – I’ve never been a G’N'R fan, although I owe them a serious debt of gratitude just for helping to kill hair metal, and later for giving us a musical equivalent of Duke Nukem Forever.
Jason Bittner – Not much needs to be said here – this is one of the greatest rock albums of all time and I was lucky enough to see the real band open for Aerosmith touring for this album back in 1988. A night to remember for sure!
Davish G. Alvarez – I love every track off of this album. A lot of people have told me that Use Your Illusion is a lot better, but you read Slash’s book, and they were very sloppy and sleazy playing, but it was there thing, and you keep reading the book, and read tales about them being so drunk and high, and you think, how did this gang of junkies record something so good? I love My Michelle, the solo at the end of Paradise City is just beyond awesome, it is perfect. The ways the guitars sound on the album are just unbelievable. I actually think Matt Sorum is a better drummer from his body of work, and love his playing, but Steven Adler just has this feel on the album that is just unbelievable, and adds to the greatness of the album.
Jorge Salan – Huge album, my favorite album by the band. Who doesn’t know a track off of this album? The entire thing is full of megahits that made them rock stars. With all of this said, You Could Be Mine is my all-time favorite track by the band. I think it is one of the best hard rock tracks off all time. The solo is just spectacular, how the intro that leads into the solo with the drums, and bass, combined with that sleazy guitar part leading into the solo is just awesome and over the top.
Militia – I was pretty young when this album came out. I don’t remember how I first heard about it but I remember wanting the album so bad. GNR were all over MTV and I has never seen anything like them before- they were strangely erotic to my innocent little eyes.
I asked my dad to get APPETITE for me and he said he would- I was beyond stoked. When the album finally arrived, he wouldn’t give it to me! It had an parental advisory sticker on it and he said he listened to it and decided not to give it to me because of the language in some of the lyrics. ARRRGH! I was crushed. When I see that freggin cassette in his music collection, still to this day, I wanna steal it.
APPETITE is GNR at their best. All the pieces fit- the artwork is killer and now iconic. The songs were varied- heavy, yet, radio friendly. And the intro to Welcome to the Jungle alone… it just makes you turn you stereo on B L A S T. ((Dad, give me my tape, dammit! Yeah, I can buy my own now and I don’t even own a tape player anymore, but still!!))
Patrick Kennison – I remember getting my drivers license & being considered cool by some older girls who were friends with my older sister, for blasting that in my car. That album helped me become a man. Even if it was only for less than a minute. Even though it’s a focused album, the song styles vary nicely track to track. From the jangly Think About You to the sinister My Michelle, it’s a perfectly imperfect album.
Black Paul – I got to sing in my first band, Sweet Jane and the Sugardaddies, when I was eighteen. The other guys were extraordinary players who loved to rock. We only ever played house parties but we had high standards and we hit the classics like the Stones, Led Zeppelin, the Doors, Hendrix and Cream. The only new band we ever covered was Guns and Roses.
When Appetite For Destruction broke, mainstream rock was all about trying to be the next Bon Jovi and the mainstream was all I knew. It was a frustrating time but thankfully, the next Jimmy Page appeared wearing a top hat, in a band that sounded raw and restless and that wrote lyrics about a world beyond vikings and unrequited sex.
When I discovered I could do a fair mimic of Axl’s voice, the challenge was on.
“Sweet Child” was a no-brainer. Hearing the distinctive harmonic opening made the audience’ eyes bug, it has lyrics I could pour all my bitter-sweet yearnings into and you know how amazing that solo is. It should be in the all-time top five.
We also loved “Welcome to the Jungle” with that huge, rocking groove, the violence and desperation in the vocals and that incredible break: “You know where you are?”. We just had to attempt it but always had trouble keeping it all together in rehearsal. We hammered at it, though, and decided we had to play it in front of an audience at least once to justify all the time spent rehearsing it, and because it was such a cool song. We’d never played it right so were looking sideways at each other before launching into it on the night of our first gig. To our surprise, we nailed the fucker and knocked the a room full of 17-18 year olds into next week. We decided not to challenge our good fortune and relegated that performance to legend.
It wasn’t long before I graduated from the recommendations of big brothers and the mainstream and met that cool girl who knew about Nirvana, Sonic Youth and Rollins Band. GnR didn’t seem so cutting edge anymore although I thought it was appropriate that Appetite For Destruction shared a home-made cassette with Never Mind the Bollocks.
I thought I was done but I got another perspective on AFD when I met a girl with a thing for “Rocket Queen”. I got to hear it a lot and found I’d never considered that Axl portrays a strong female role in the song. Respect! And it’s a damn fine song, too!
Aaron Rossi – The first band I joined when I moved to LA was a Guns N Roses tribute band. At the time, I was really into progressive rock and was playing a million notes on the drums. Playing along to Steven Adler’s drum parts on “Appetite” really taught me the true essence of rock n roll drumming, and how to incorporate the cowbell. Every song on this album is a timeless rock n roll classic. To me, Axl Rose is the epitome of rock singers, incredible voice mixed with the bad boy attitude, much like my singer Al Jourgensen from Ministry. Slash changed every guitar players life with his amazing riffs, and stage presence. One of the greatest albums, by one of the greatest rock bands of all time.
Go here to hear the podcast: http://marsattacksradio.com/2013/06/audio/classic-albums-guns-n-roses-appetite-for-destruction/
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