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1988.05.06 - Detroit Free Press - Guns 'n' Roses blazes crude route to the top (Slash)

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Post by Blackstar on Mon 29 Apr 2019 - 3:13

1988.05.06 - Detroit Free Press - Guns 'n' Roses blazes crude route to the top (Slash) 1988_016


Guns 'n' Roses blazes crude route to the top

BY Gary Graff
Free Press Music Writer

For Linda Powers, a buyer for Detroit's Harmony House record chain, it was Guns ’n’ Who? for awhile. Here was a group with no radio play, no videos shown on MTV, but the orders for its album, “Appetite for Destruction," kept coming in.

"It’s amazing," she said. “Before it had any airplay at all, it was selling like hotcakes. I’m ordering hundreds every week. It's been in our Top 20 for the last few weeks. It's been just word of mouth, one kid telling another."

That ground swell has made "Appetite," by the Los Angeles-based hard rock band Guns 'n' Roses, a million-seller and shot it into Billboard magazine’s Top 10, the first hard rock debut album to get that high without a hit single since the first Led Zeppelin album in 1969. But you still won't hear much Guns 'n' Roses on the radio, and although MTV is airing the video for the song "Welcome to the Jungle," it’s clearly being careful about when and how often it's shown.

The reason for all the caution: Obscenities. Guns n’ Roses has peppered the songs on “Appetite for Destruction" with them.

“We’ve gone against the ... grain the whole way," said Slash, the group’s 22-year-old, British-born lead guitarist who won’t reveal his real name. “We don't conform for nothing. We've done it our way from the get-go."

That way has been establishing the same tried-and-true image rock ’n’ roll bands have used from Elvis Presley to the Rolling Stones to Motley Crue, a bad-boys pose that includes trashy denim and leather fashions, tattoos up the arms of singer W. Axl Rose and with titles — “Paradise City," "Anything Goes," “Rocket Queen" — leave that little doubt about the subject matter.

"They’re presenting an image so strong that the music is almost secondary" said Andy Secher, editor of Hit Parader, a leading heavy metal magazine. “They've presented this wild-man image. ... To a lot of kids, that's very appealing."

As Harmony House's Powers said, “I think the language of the album really attracts a lot of the younger crowd. It's a taboo kind of thing."

The dark side of this imaging, however, is that much of it seems to be for real. In interviews, Slash and his band mates have admitted to — and boasted of — wild living, including drug and alcohol abuse. Slash admitted he went cold turkey last year to kick drugs.

“It just caught up with me," said Slash, who admitted he still drinks heavily. “You can’t sustain a drug habit and keep doing good work. ...

“Yeah, it can get out of hand. I do have a tendency to go out by the end of the night and cause trouble, but that’s my personal situation, not a public situation. I’ve managed to separate it from work: I never go out and play a gig if I’m blitzed."

Onstage sobriety notwithstanding, Guns ’n' Roses’ bad-attitude-and-proud-of-it position does create a dilemma for those deciding whether to support the band. Under the heading of “bad examples," it’s made it easier for radio programmers, already prejudiced by the language on the album, to give the group minimal play at best.

The rock press, however, is in a bind. As Hit Parader’s Secher said, “It’s a major dilemma — how do you present these guys without glorifying what they do? You can only hope that they're just an outlet for their fans, that the kids can feel like they’re living vicariously through the wild actions of a Tommy Lee of Motley Crue or an Axl Rose of Guns 'n’ Roses, so they won’t feel the need to do anything nasty to themselves."

But that, said Slash, isn’t a concern to the members of Guns ’n’ Roses. “We fall into the stuff we do real naturally," he said. “There’s no preconception about what we do, and I think that's why kids like us. We're not into worrying about what's gonna happen tomorrow or next month or next year."

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