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SoulMonster

1989.11.04 - Sounds Magazine - Dancing with Mr Brownstone

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1989.11.04 - Sounds Magazine - Dancing with Mr Brownstone

Post by Soulmonster on Wed Apr 11, 2018 10:34 pm

GUNS N' ROSES are the archetypal rock'n'roll renegades — loud-mouthed American punks fuelled on liquor and drugs as they rampage on a crazed course towards self-destruction.
Paul Elliott enters the eye of the hurricane to cut a path through the mayhem and madness as they crash into the '90s.


ROCK'N'ROLL continues to be sacrificed to the new morality. Watchwords like 'safe sex' and 'say no to drugs' trip off rock musicians' tongues wet with spring water.
Guns N' Roses came as a shock to a cleaned-up system when they hit the ground running in 1987.
Five white punks on cheap wine and bad junk. Guns N' Roses reclaimed rock's spirit of recklessness and rebellion. They drank a lot, they screwed a lot, and they ingested enough hard drugs to make Steven Tyler's balls drop off.
The debut album Appetite For Destruction was a shotgun marriage of classic rock old and new — Tyler's Aerosmith, Sex Pistols, Rolling Stones, Hanoi Rocks, Led Zeppelin, Misfits, AC/DC, Ramones, Rose Tattoo.
Sex and drugs and rock'n'roll — the stuff of trash culture legends. Guns N' Roses are to the '80s what Aerosmith were to the '70s and the Stones were to the '60s — the ultimate rock outlaws. And, as the Stones influenced the '70s and Aerosmith the '80s, so Guns N' Roses — the definitive rock 'n' roll band of their age — will leave an imprint on the approaching new decade.

AS WITH Metallica honesty is at the core of the Guns N' Roses phenomenon. Appetite For Destruction speaks in ugly truths.
'Mr Brownstone' is the inside story on heroin addiction. 'Nightrain' is a wino's tale. 'My Michelle' and 'You're Crazy' are the self-destruction blues of a wasted youth. 'Welcome To The Jungle' is a poor boy's fear and loathing in Los Angeles. 'Paradise City' idealises from death row.
Guns N' Roses are for real — young and screwed up like their audience. Slash, lead guitar, is just 24. He and Duff McKagan (bass) and Steven Adler (drums) are still young and dumb enough to race golf carts across Texan fairways like rock's own Banana Splits. If Guns N' Roses' drug abuse was to end in a fatal overdose, their fans wouldn't merely mourn the death of a star, they'd lose one of their own.
Guns N' Roses lead a reckless life. They're no strangers to intensive care units, rehab, detox, post-party charcoal bags. As the movie warns, in LA there are eight million ways to die and Guns N' Roses only just got out alive. Two weeks prior to the band's debut UK shows at London's Marquee club in June '87, Axl lay under electrodes in an LA hospital's emergency ward.
Guns N' Roses are the City Of Angels' greatest hell raisers. Ozone-hostile Tinseltown is famed for its glam — Poison, Warrant, D'Molls, Motley Crue. It's said that 'glam' is an acronym of Gay LA Metal. Guns N' Roses' music has a rawness closer in spirit to Slayer than Poison.
An eight million seller, Appetite For Destruction kicked and cussed its way to a US number one. Predictably, major record companies clamoured to sign up soundalikes, but more significantly, bands have learned by example that dirty, honest rock 'n' roll can sell as well as sanitised dreck. Appetite renewed public demand for raw rock. The great rock 'n' roll bands of the '90s are emerging now in Guns N' Roses' wake.

HOME OF Guns N' Roses, Geffen Records have a further four acts, three of them LA-based, built to thrill the GN'R way. Little Caesar are ugly as sin and could've just walked off the set of Easy Rider. Their debut EP Name Your Poison mixes ZZ Top, Led Zeppelin and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Junkyard issued their eponymous first LP this year — AC/DC, Texan style.
Best of the LA bunch are Rock City Angels, recently relocated to Memphis. Their debut, Young Man's Blues, cross-fertilizes punk and blues with raggedy songs that tear it up like a stinkin'-drunk Stones. Like GN'R frontman W Axl Rose, Angel voice Bobby Durango is a classic hard-living American folk hero. The only difference is that Durango's still on the street.
Also on Geffen, with an album due next year, are The Throbs. From New York City and recently stripped down to a one-guitar quartet following the sacking of ex-Quireboy Ginger, The Throbs are all china-white skin and bone, shocked ink-black hair and bittersweet punk-glam tunes. Reference points here are The Ramones, Kiss, New York Dolls, Hanoi Rocks and Guns N' Roses. Singer Ronnie Sweetheart is a born star, legs of chicken wire and a back blue with a crude, sore-looking tattoo of Budweiser's bull terrier mascot Spuds McKenzie.
San Francisco's Sea Hags cut their debut with GN'R producer Mike Clink. Head Hag Ron Yocom has one slit eye on the mantle Rock Sex God Of The '90s. If he sells the other half of his rock 'n' roll heart to the devil, the title's his.
Sea Hags is a hard bastard. No love songs — at least, no slow ones — but plenty of grain-fever and libido.
The Guns in Guns N' Roses is now the Guns in LA Guns. Guitarist Tracii Guns formed GN'R with the two Roses, W Axl Rose and Duff 'Rose' McKagan. Apathetic toward a projected West Coast mini-tour, Tracii was ousted by Slash in 1985. Tracii hooked up with Englishman Phil Lewis and hit back with LA Guns.
Their two albums of punk cock rock reek of sex and meths but in the '90s this stink mingles easily with that of green dollar bills.
Yet for every band dubbed The New Guns N' Roses, paydirt will be reckoned by songwriting alone.
For all its bile and invective, Appetite was thick with great songs. Likewise the 1988 EP GN'R Lies. And there's no let-up. Slash and Duff alone have written over 40 tunes for the next record. Axl has at least eight ballads which he considers better than 'Sweet Child O' Mine'.
Guns N' Roses' second album may be a double; their Exile On Main Street?

UNLIKE MOTLEY Crue, Guns N' Roses' music is as wild as their lifestyle. Appetite For Destruction wears the scars of the band's addictions.
Hard drugs alone don't make for great rock 'n' roll but the attendant hearsay has created a mystique around Guns N' Roses unknown since the reign of rock pig gods Led Zeppelin.
Guns 'enjoy' a heavy reputation, Axl in particular. Gifted with an uncommonly high IQ and a manic-depressive disorder, Axl has a volatile persona, prone to mood swings. His enigma is further complicated by bigotry. The lyric to 'One In A Million', off GN'R Lies, is both xenophobic and homophobic.
Axl was kicked out of Guns N' Roses in February 1988. He disappeared before a show in Phoenix, Arizona, which was subsequently cancelled. When Axl finally showed up the band told him he was no longer singer in Guns N' Roses.
The split lasted two tense days before Izzy and Slash decided they'd hear Axl out and let him explain his absence. Clearly, his explanation was a good one.
Ironically, it's Axl who has recently held Guns N' Roses together. The pressures of a hard and fast rock 'n' roll lifestyle began to tell as the band played four Los Angeles as support to the re-animated Rolling Stones.
Early reports said that Axl had wigged out. That before the first show, he'd driven to the backstage area at the wheel of an LAPD squad car, siren wailing. And that he'd announced from the stage that he was quitting Guns N' Roses because too many of the band were "dancing with Mr Brownstone".
The last of these rumours bears the seed of truth. Axl was desperate to shake Slash, Izzy and Steven out of drugged stupors and felt the only way he'd do it was to threaten to quit the band.
It worked.
On the second night, Axl told the crowd there'd be no split. Slash said his piece on the perils of narcotics. He and Izzy and Steven are now in the process of cleaning up so the band can begin new recordings.

FOR THEIR early LA club shows. Guns N' Roses were billed "fresh from detox: only the strong survive". They are nothing if not survivors. They're also a puzzle of personalities.
A great talker, all hands and mouth, Axl dominated the band's early press. Deep, dry, close to a whisper, his voice is soft but his tongue is sharp. He talks straight and bruises easily, yet for all the bitterness of 'One In A Million' and 'It's So Easy', Axl's poetry isn't all venom. 'Sweet Child O' Mine', 'Patience' and 'Think About You' are the simplest of love songs.
W Axl Rose is an explosive character, unpredictable; one of the last great wild-hearted rock 'n' rollers.
"He's just another version of The Ayatollah," joked Slash back in '85.
Slash drinks so much his tongue is stained brown-black with Jack Daniel's. The bottle, he argues, helps him deal with people. Slash is something of an introvert. When he's not hiding behind a fifth of whiskey he hides behind the loudest Les Paul in rock. He seems surly onstage but Slash has a ready, vicious sense of humour. He keeps a snakepit full of ten-foot-plus boas and pythons, yet checks into hotels as Mr Peter Cottontail — lunch to his pets.
There's no mystery to Duff or Steven. Married to Mandy Brix of LA's Lame Flames, Duff lets all the chaos and controversy shoot past. Easy going as he is, when Duff mixes a vodka and orange you'd think he was gearing up for a street riot. Nobody dares smoke when they're draining one of Duff's nightcaps.
Steven lives for his drums and for the road. Too carefree for nerves, he jabbers and plays fills on flightcases right up until the first kick of the first number. Steven, too, is married, but is on a free rein.
Izzy is Guns N' Roses' loner. On tour, he'll often use his free time to hire a car and just drive, alone. Izzy could be the unsung hero of the band. He's hard on that big old Gibson, sucking Marlboros and spitting ash, hammering the chords. Izzy was the one buying Rolling Stones tapes on London's Kensington High Street on the Guns' first visit to the UK. Next thing you know, the band have cut four acoustic tracks.
'Patience' and 'Used To Love Her' sound like 'Wild Horses' and 'Dead Flowers' off one of those Stones tapes, Sticky Fingers.

THIS RAGBAG of characters adds up to the most electrifying live rock 'n' roll band of the '80s. The live fast-die fast mythology, part of it their own making, sticks to Guns N' Roses like a cold sweat, but it's not just the possibility of one of them suddenly dropping dead that makes Guns N' Roses so compelling.
Guns N' Roses are everything rock 'n' roll was born to be — young, wild, loud, reckless, shocking, anti-establishment. Alive and dangerous.
If they'd split after releasing 'It's So Easy' — their debut single and the meanest punk song of the '80s — they'd still have been remembered as one of the definitive rock bands of the decade.
As it is, in Appetite, GN'R made one of the great rock albums. Its influence will snowball long into the '90s.
The second Guns N' Roses LP could prove even more influential. At the rehearsal stage, Duff reckons the new songs to be the equal of anything on Appetite, both in terms of songwriting and bite.
Guns N' Roses rode their luck on many crazy nights. It could be argued that with better luck Hanoi Rocks would be where Guns are now. But whereas Guns N' Roses are a great band with two great records, Hanoi were a great band who only ever made it good in the studio.
Incidentally, Axl, a good friend of ex-Hanoi singer Mike Monroe, bought the entire Hanoi back catalogue for GN'R's own Uzi Suicide label.
Guns N' Roses have the 'bad' attitude that fires so much of the best rock 'n' roll. To hell with sobriety, authority, morality. Guns N' Roses are misfits who've caught the mood of a restless, estranged youth. No other band better embodies these hard, mean-spirited times.
They'd influence the '90s even if they never lived to see them. Kids picking up guitars want to spit in society's face like Guns N' Roses do.
Guns N' Roses may not outlive the '90s. They've never lived for tomorrows. They haven't fought their last. Equally, they haven't cut their last great record.
Talk of rock 'n' roll in the '90s will talk of Guns N' Roses. This band bleeds for its music like no other. It's only rock 'n' roll. It's only a life.
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