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SoulMonster

1995.04.DD - Spin - The Ten That Matter Most '85-'95

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1995.04.DD - Spin - The Ten That Matter Most '85-'95

Post by Soulmonster on Sat Apr 14, 2018 5:11 am

GUNS N' ROSES surprised me in 1987 simply by being search-and-destroy young punks who weren't afraid to sing and dance.
They put energy, humor, vehemence, beauty, and rhythm — the whole wide world — back into rock'n'roll. "I sing in about five or six different voices — that are all a part of me," Axl Rose explained before Appetite for Destruction came out. The New York Times' Jon Pareles said Axl could screech like a car alarm, a chainsaw hitting a railroad spike, or a tomcat locked out of a fish store.
A gasping woman climbs to the height of sexual passion in 'Rocket Queen', but Axl doesn't tell us much about her, so I think the rocket queen is him. "Axl's voice flies Sylvester-high," disco expert Michael Freedberg wrote. "He thinks it's hard. In fact it's soft. Thin. Chiffon. But it's vast." GNR conquered the emotional terrains of both disco and punk rock.
Thanks possibly to their singer's manic-depression, the band's music reflected a tense tug-of-war between contradictory impulses. It constantly switches gears mid-song, schizophrenically changing verse structure, mood, and point of view — from smack-addict anger to junior-high-crush sweetness, from soul bass lines and church pianos to whistle solos and wreckless asides like "I never learn" and "sha-na-na-na-na-na knees" and "you're gonna di-i-i-ie."
Axl Rose can't stay in one place long. His dad boots him out for having long hair, so he escapes his suburban paradise city for the fucked-up urban jungle —"L.A. is where you end up" Izzy Stradlin once said. But though he'd be powerless without the idea that fucked-up-ness is perfect bliss, Axl still gets homesick for green grass and pretty girls "so fa-a-ar away," or wonders in 'Sweet Child o' Mine', "where do we go now?" like all that's certain is that he has to go. He says he feels like a fish out of water down here on the farm, and ain't it fun when you're always on the run and you've broken up everything that you've ever begun. His pre-Appetite Janis Joplin imitation, 'Move to the City', was about an unemployed 16-year-old girl who fights her parents, then steals their credit card and returns to "Where it all began" (Axl is fond of Garden of Eden metaphors). But all she finds there is junkies and Johns and "one big pain."
In 1988, Axl rewrote Rod Stewart's 'The Killing of Georgie', about a small-town homosexual boy who takes a Greyhound to the big city and then gets fag-bashed, as 'One in a Million'. Only he changed the plot, adding ugly thoughts about blacks and gays. And this time, the fag-basher got hassled, too.
Guns N' Roses have caught hell ever since. Everybody assumes they're a washed-up anachronism, and they might be: 'Sympathy For the Devil' is totally pathetic, and the last music they wrote (almost four years ago!) was an artsy mess without enough bongo-funk hooks or Axl high notes to rock much. On the other hand, their ridiculously overblown mini-movie videos are both fun and embarrassing, and The Spaghetti Incident? was one of 1993's best albums. GNR have even done a song ('Pretty Tied Up') about a rock group becoming a joke as time goes by. So it's possible they still have all the bases covered.
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