Sat Eye Candy: Guns N’ Roses


Rock is full of tantalizing “what ifs” but perhaps no single band has inspired more of them than Guns N' Roses. What if Axl Rose hadn’t become a money squandering, megalomaniac control freak? What if Izzy Stradlin had stayed involved? What if the band that made Appetite For Destruction had gotten to evolve longer before the gold toilets and limos arrived? Ask anyone who was ground zero when the band roared out of Los Angeles in 1987 and the general consensus was one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll outfits ever was being born. But unlike the Stones, Zeppelin, et al. it quickly descended into madness, acrimony, self-indulgence and Olympian scale ego. It’s not to say that Use Your Illusion isn’t brilliant in parts, but in a single album’s time the over-tinkering fussiness that marks almost all of their subsequent work was already evident. The rawness and possessed invention of Appetite never surfaced again, devoured by the fame machine, lawyers, overblown, under-thought concepts and their own big, dumb mouths. And still, there’s more than a few who wonder what might have been for G n’ R if they’d been strong or smart to follow a different path. Would that band have brought us their own Sticky Fingers or Houses of the Holy? Might they still be making rock that reconnects one to the lascivious juju of Chuck Berry, Johnny Rotten and Elvis? It’s a mighty wistful “what if.”

Today is original Guns N’ Roses drummer Steven Adler’s 46th birthday. It’s a bit of a surprise that he’s still with us at all given the life he’s lived, but one thing he’ll always have is being part of one of THE great moments in rock history, brief as it was. Truly a band that internalized the whole “better to burn out than fade away” mentality…and then lost control of the monster, which limps along still, powered by the residual love and excitement that remains from their late 80s heyday. Still, there’s some real moments and we’re gonna celebrate a few in honor of Steven’s bday. (Dennis Cook)

Where better to begin our stroll down seedy memory lane than “Paradise City,” a tune with all the sack swinging perfection of “Won’t Get Fooled Again” or “Black Dog.”

The creepy tingle that went up our collective spine the first time we heard this one is impossible to shake, the whole enterprise ringing with menace and bad intent, the sound of dreams crashing down into harsh reality.

An ugly little gem that evokes both 70s Stones and the New York Dolls.

Oh, Big Hair Axl, you were fun and wrote great, gritty love songs!

A cautionary tale about heroin that’s still so catchy it makes you understand on a non-verbal level why people dance with ol’ Mister.

Like most really great songs, the tunes off Appetite have a lot of malleability. The bands early dip into acoustic territory was one of the best things they ever did.

The ladies were right at the core of early Guns N’ Roses, represented by some of the rankest misogyny ever and an almost school boy sincerity and sweetness. We conclude our lil’ salute to the G n’ R that might have been with two about women, one sour and one as sweet as its title.

[Published on: 1/22/11]

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