A couple weeks go, Guns n’ Roses’ Appetite for Destruction celebrated its 25th birthday. I saw a bunch of articles worth sharing about the album and band. Who doesn’t love Appetite for Destruction?
5 years ago, Rolling Stone had a long write up on the making of Appetite.
Released on July 21st, 1987, Appetite for Destruction went on to sell well over 15 million copies in this country alone, becoming one of the best-selling debuts ever. The album looked both forward and backward: The punky rawness of its sound and the pained artistry of its lyrics made it a bridge between commercial Eighties hard rock and the alternative music of the next decade. But Appetite was also among the last classic rock records to be mastered with vinyl in mind, to be edited with a razor blade applied to two-inch tape, to be mixed by five people frantically pushing faders at a non-automated mixing board “We used classic instruments and classic amps,” says the album’s producer and engineer, Mike Clink, “Our approach was reminiscent of stuff that was done in the Sixties and early Seventies.” Adds assistant mixing engineer Deyglio, who earned a credit as “Victor ‘the fuckin’ engineer'” on the album: “It could almost be seen as the last of one of those types of records, from Layla to Abbey Road on down. It could be seen as the last great rock record made totally by hand.”
Drew Magary remembered his first time listening…
They sorted tapes according to chart position, and I remember being overjoyed whenever a tape I had purchased moved up on the rack. When Hysteria went to No. 1, I nearly lost my shit. They also had a section for new albums, and it was July 1987 when I went to the store and saw Appetite in the display case for the first time. I had never heard of Guns N’ Roses. I had never read anything about them or listened to any of their songs. All I had to judge them was that cover, with the five skulls laid out on a cross, each skull sporting it own distinct haircut. Skeletons are cooler when they have a full head of hair.
â€¦And then asked some folks for their experiences, too.
Here’s why Appetite is awesome. Everything else I listen to from the eighties is so fucking dated that it might as well come with a picture of Joe Piscopo eating out a woman with a super hairy bush while driving Magnum’s Ferrari. Shit from that era is so laughable, hipsters wear it because of how ironic it is. NOBODY listens to Appetite ironically because it still kicks the shit out of almost everything today.
Billboard.com takes a look back at Appetite.
“Appetite for Destruction” introduced a band that anyone who loved rock’n’roll could agree on. The metal heads loved the aggression, the glam fans fawned over their looks, the punks aligned with their rebellion, and the purists savored their blues-based riffs. It also contributed iconic images to the lexicon (Rose’s head bandana, guitarist Slash’s top hat) and uncompromising, powerful songs that remain incredibly fresh. Nothing quite like “Appetite” has come along in the 25 years since it arrived. And that, folks, is why we’re stuck with Axl Rose for the rest of our lives.
Spin celebrates Appetite at 25 with the worst covers.
Stereogum looks back:
A group full of hard-partying Sunset Strip veterans whoâ€™d all done time on the L.A. pop-metal scene, led by an Indiana transplant that still thought of himself as some sort of off-the-bus hick delinquent and compensated accordingly. And that band happened to have both the ridiculous chops that the pop-metal scene required and a sort of alchemical, otherworldly chemistry that few other bands in history have ever displayed â€” one of the things that makes their quick dissolution so tragic. And that hick happened to have this sensitive sandpaper wail that sounded sensitive when it was trying to sound tough, and vice versa. Thatâ€™s a deep and rare combination, and somehow it doesnâ€™t come close to explaining how an album like this could happen.
Axl’s mugshot from when he was 18. This is a cool post.
Axl’s 1989 Playboy interview.
Here’s the real long Axl Rose GQ profile from 6 years ago that I’ve likely posted before.
Then he was there. And apologies to the nice woman, but people do not go that nuts when Bon Jovi appears. People were: Going. Nuts. He is not a tall manâ€”I doubt even the heels of his boots (red leather) put him at over five feet ten. He walked toward us with stalking, cartoonish pugnaciousness. I feel like all anybody talks about with Axl anymore is his strange new appearance, but it is hard to get past the unusual impression he makes. To me he looks like he’s wearing an Axl Rose mask. He looks like a man I saw eating by himself at a truck stop in Monteagle, Tennessee, at two o’clock in the morning about twelve years ago. He looks increasingly like the albino reggae legend Yellowman. His mane evokes a gathering of strawberry red intricately braided hempen fibers, the sharply twisted ends of which have been punched, individually, a half inch into his scalp. His chest hair is the color of a new penny. With the wasp-man sunglasses and the braids and the goatee, he reminds one of the monster in Predator, or of that monster’s wife on its home planet. When he first came onto the scene, he often looked, in photographs, like a beautiful, slender, redheaded 20-year-old girl. I hope the magazine will run a picture of him from about 1988 so the foregoing will seem a slightly less creepy observation and the fundamental spade-called-spade exactitude of it will be laid bare. But if not, I stand by it. Now he has thickened through the middleâ€”muscly thickness, not the lard-ass thickness of some years back. He grabs his package tightly, and his package is huge. Only reporting. Now he plants his feet apart. “You know where you are?” he asks, and we bellow that we do, we do know, but he tells us anyway. “You’re in the jungle, baby,” he says, and then he tells us that we are going to die.
When Guns opened for the Rolling Stones in LA in 1989.
First press mention of Guns n’ Roses I could find, July 1986 in the LA Times.
Four days after the five members of Guns & Roses got together in Silver Lake and decided to form a band, they left on a West Coast tour. On the way to Seattle, their car broke down in Fresno and the musicians spilled out onto the road with their gear and hitchhiked for the next 40 hours.
When they arrived in the Northwest, they found out the rest of the tour had been canceled and they were only getting $50 for the show, not the $250 they were promised. They played their set on borrowed gear and then turned around and hitched back to Los Angeles, broke and tired.
Here are 178 Guns n’ Roses articles copied (or in some cases transcribed?) onto a fan site. So much in here. Tons of magazine features and interviews.
And just for kicks, Chuck Klosterman reviewing Chinese Democracy.
I think I read Catcher in the Rye for the first time in…crap, I have no idea when, it was a long time ago. Ever since, I’ve remembered Holden referring to his roommate’s ‘mossy teeth’ in this quote. And every time I use this descriptor, no one knows what I’m talking about. So, if we’re ever talking and I bring up mossy teeth, this is what I’m referring to:
He started cleaning his goddam fingernails with the end of a match. He was always cleaning his fingernails. It was funny, in a way. His teeth were always mossy-looking, and his ears were always dirty as hell, but he was always cleaning his fingernails. I guess he thought that made him a very neat guy. He took another look at my hat while he was cleaning them. “Up home we wear a hat like that to shoot deer in, for Chrissake,” he said. “That’s a deer shooting hat.”
“Like hell it is.” I took it off and looked at it. I sort of closed one eye, like I was taking aim at it. “This is a people shooting hat,” I said. “I shoot people in this hat.”
Also, I didn’t know Chinese Democracy had a song called Catcher in the Rye, did you?
Who else to review Chinese Democracy, but Chuck Klosterman. Not sure how I missed this in November, but here it is and it’s excellent. Makes me want to listen to the album.
Reviewing Chinese Democracy is not like reviewing music. It’s more like reviewing a unicorn. Should I primarily be blown away that it exists at all? Am I supposed to compare it to conventional horses? To a rhinoceros? Does its pre-existing mythology impact its actual value, or must it be examined inside a cultural vacuum, as if this creature is no more (or less) special than the remainder of the animal kingdom?
I can’t imagine it’s any good, but that’s not really what this is about. This is about wondering where Izzy Stradlin is and whatever happened to Steven Adler? I found out Duff McKagan has an Official Fanclub and an unofficial one (incidentally called LAMF, 10 points in the comments if you know what it means and what its significance was. I also cared what Matt Sorum was up to, because of Use Your Illusion I and II, but not so much Gilby Clarke.
My two best Guns n’ Roses stories…
Use Your Illusion I and II came out on either Rosh Hashan or Yom Kipper and my dad drove me down Route 9 to get them in between services at the Strawberries that’s now the Legal Seafood. Remember how CDs used to come in long boxes?
Chanukah 1991. I was a pretty big Guns N’ Roses fan in 7th Grade. Listening to Use Your Illusion II ALL the time. My brother got me the best present anyone has ever given me – tickets for us to see Gn’R. If someone gave me Gn’R tickets now, well, that’d be nice, but it wouldn’t be the best present ever. It was a perfect combination of the right gift at the right time. Imagine the biggest thing in your life and someone gives you a gift that enhances that, that was these tickets in 1991. He’s lucky that Chanukah came early that year (December 2nd) otherwise he would have had to just give me tickets. The show was that Friday, December 6, 1991 at the Worcester Centrum with Soundgarden opening up. I remember buzzing the whole week. I remember Soundgarden playing louder than anything I’d ever heard. I remember a LONG time in between Soundgarden and Guns n’ Roses during which time the camera men scanned the crowd, focusing on women, who would then be jeered by the crowd into lifting their shirts. Then Axl finally finished some temper tantrum or other and they start playing my head exploded. I remember them playing Wild Horses, which I had heard on another bootleg, and Duff (who was my favorite anyway) signing lead on a Misfits cover and swearing a TON.
Woo. Good times. Thanks for letting me share.