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The New Orleans Advocate: Does GN'R still have an 'Appetite for Destruction'?

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The New Orleans Advocate: Does GN'R still have an 'Appetite for Destruction'? Empty The New Orleans Advocate: Does GN'R still have an 'Appetite for Destruction'?

Post by Soulmonster on Fri Jul 29, 2016 7:38 am

Keith Spera wrote:In 1992, Guns N’ Roses lead guitarist Slash turned up at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival and joined singer-songwriter Carole King on the main stage for her “Locomotion” finale.

Earlier that afternoon, Slash threw a brotherly arm around my shoulder backstage. He was shirtless and barefoot, wearing only leather pants, with a cigarette in one hand and a bottle of whiskey in the other.

In short, he was exactly what his reputation demanded.

Authenticity partially explained Guns N’ Roses’ early appeal. They actually were the loose-cannon, rock ‘n’ roll lifers they purported to be.

But that was a long time ago.

“Appetite for Destruction,” Guns N’ Roses’ game-changing debut, dropped in 1987, when I was in college. Nearly 30 years — and, in my case, three kids — later, its power and potency are undiminished.

The lyrics are mostly ugly tales from the L.A. underbelly. Except for “Paradise City” and “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” I don’t listen to “Appetite” around the kids. I may never cue up the misogynistic “It’s So Easy” in front of them, no matter how old they are.

And yet “Appetite” is an exhilarating adrenaline/testosterone rush. It makes you want to drive the minivan too fast and remember, if not necessarily repeat, the risky behavior of yesteryear.

Elements of punk and metal factor into the mix, but at its core “Appetite” is a straight-ahead rock album. From the slippery guitar riff that opens “Mr. Brownstone” to the five-alarm bass and snare drum of “It’s So Easy” to Axl Rose’s paint-peeling “Welcome to the Jungle” wail, “Appetite” never relents. The band, with help from producers and engineers, chiseled raw energy into lean, succinct songs that still endure.

So it was big news when Rose, Slash and bassist Duff McKagan announced they had set aside two decades of bitter estrangement to embark on a lucrative stadium tour. The so-called "Not In This Lifetime" Tour arrives at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Sunday , with The Cult opening the show. The last time these two bands shared a bill in New Orleans was September 1987, when Guns N’ Roses opened for The Cult at the Saenger Theatre.

Recent GNR set lists have featured most of “Appetite for Destruction”; a few cuts from the two “Use Your Illusion” albums that concluded Guns N’ Roses’ classic period; some of “Chinese Democracy,” the album Rose assembled with hired Guns; and a smattering of cover songs.

Based on reviews and fan reports, the shows have been dependably solid. Back in the day, when unpredictability and danger were part of the thrill, that wasn’t always the case.

In the early 1990s, I attended four concerts during the epic "Use Your Illusion" tour. Two were tremendous. Two were terrible.

On June 30, 1991, at the Birmingham Race Course in Alabama, GNR flirted with disaster. The entire production was a mess, starting with a dangerous crush at the turnstiles.

Early on, Rose got hit in the leg with a clump of mud. He wiped it off slowly and ominously, then announced that he was leaving and might or might not return. He eventually did, but his heart clearly wasn’t in it.

Two days later, he triggered a massive riot in St. Louis that trashed an amphitheater and much of the band’s gear.

Fast forward six months. On back-to-back nights in January 1992, Guns N’ Roses played Baton Rouge and Biloxi. Rose was in good spirits. “You people are a nice f------ surprise,” he announced at one point. Both nights, McKagan stage-dived triumphantly, a sure sign of a killer gig.

There was no stage diving when GNR and Metallica co-headlined the Superdome on Aug. 29, 1992. The 35,000 fans in attendance expected to hear two great hard rock bands.

They heard only one. And it wasn’t Guns N’ Roses.

By then, GNR was collapsing under the weight of tremendous success and excess. Various Gunners were mired in shocking levels of debauchery. Rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin, a key architect of the GNR sound, walked away from the madness in the midst of the “Illusion” tour. Drummer Steven Adler, who gave “Appetite for Destruction” its subtle but essential swing, had already accomplished the seemingly impossible task of getting himself kicked out of Guns N’ Roses for excessive drug use.

After the brutal “Illusion” campaign, Rose assumed full dictatorial control. If only a fraction of what’s been written and said about him are true, he was a horrible person to work with or for.

Slash left; Rose would later describe him as a “cancer.” McKagan, weary of it all, also departed.

Rose wasted years and millions of dollars making “Chinese Democracy.” I’ve never been able to listen to it all the way through. Why bother, when “Appetite for Destruction” exists?

A reunion of even part of the “Appetite”-era roster seemed unlikely. Years ago, I interviewed McKagan, by then a member of Velvet Revolver. He mentioned that Rose hadn’t written much of GNR’s music.

That didn’t strike me as odd; many bands divvy up music- and lyric-writing duties. But a few days after the article appeared, McKagan’s attorney called. Rose had read it, and was not pleased. His legal team put the screws to McKagan, who was suddenly eager to “clarify” his comments and acknowledge Rose’s role in composing the music.

That’s how aggressively and obsessively Rose policed his former bandmates’ public utterances.

But time, and many millions of dollars, have a way of changing attitudes and easing tensions. So does growing up.

While in Europe moonlighting as AC/DC’s vocalist earlier this year, Rose sat down for an interview with Sir David Tang, the bespectacled founder of China Exchange, a “dynamic forum of intelligent exchanges with extraordinary people” in London’s Chinatown. Throughout the hour-long session, which is available online, Rose seemed perfectly pleasant, reasonable and accommodating.

McKagan — whose autobiography describes his near-death experience following the rupture of his alcohol-soaked pancreas — is now a super-dad/fitness fanatic/financial wizard.

Slash, whose unmistakable tone and melodic sense are beyond reproach, was underwhelming as one of Ozzy Osbourne’s special guests at the 2015 Voodoo Experience. But on the current GNR tour, he’s been soloing like his old self, even if he is wearing shirts.

It’s remarkable that the original Guns N’ Roses, a gang of scrappy, scuzzy outsiders, succeeded to such an extraordinary degree. When nothing was expected of them — not even their own survival, individually or collectively — they delivered one of the best-selling albums of all time.

Three decades down the road, that album sounds as solid as ever. Its creators, however, have changed. They are better, more fully functioning human beings than they were in 1987.

But they’ll never be a better band.
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Post by Soulmonster on Fri Jul 29, 2016 7:40 am

Interesting how Axl attacked Duff for saying Axl didn't really write much of their music. I see why Axl was upset by that, together with Slash and Izzy he was the band member who wrote most of the band's music.
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