Classic Albums: Guns N' Roses - Appetite For Destruction

The biggest selling debut of all time
Classic Albums: Guns N' Roses - Appetite For Destruction
For a pubescent kid first catching the sensual opening of ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’, the sensations may be alien and profound – like discovering sexuality, liking it, and not understanding why. I was eight-years-old when GN’R’s ‘Appetite For Destruction’ stole my musical innocence. That it should become the most popular listening choice among my classmates years later – at a time of Nevermind and Metallica’s Black album – says volumes about its timeless magnitude.

Recorded at Rumbo Studios, Winnetka, ‘Appetite’ struck out while L.A.’s sleazy hair metal counterculture was becoming mainstream and ludicrous. Poison, joined by New Jersey’s Bon Jovi, were contaminating MTV with family-friendly power ballads. Lipstick warriors Mötley Crüe were still blasting hairspray holes in the Ozone layer, and newcomers Nitro were about to start squealing garish speed-rock anthems off X-shaped guitars that sprouted four playable necks. “The L.A. scene makes me wanna hurl,” bemoaned guitarist Slash in Stephen Davis’ biography ‘Watch You Bleed’.

But GN’R were different to the glam posers they shared West Coast air with. Musically, they infused the Sunset Strip’s ‘tits n’ ass sound’ with the spite of British punk and the swagger of Stones-updated blues. Slash’s southern-soaked soloing meandered explosively across Stradlin’s crunchy riffs. Meanwhile, Rose’s tales of sex, alienation and substance abuse were dank n’ dirty, and inspired by reality. These weren’t exactly the saucy party tunes that Ratt had put L.A rock on the map with.

It was still a miracle that they were ever recorded. Stradlin was dealing heroin, Slash was rumoured to have ‘died’ after one of his daily benders, and label Geffen were threatening to drop them. It took a bollocking from A&R man Tom Zutaut for the band to wise-up – at least inside the studio. Under the guidance of Mike Clink – allegedly the only producer brave enough to work with them (fate?) – these Hollywood hell-raisers worked their aching balls off.

Of the 30 or so tracks recorded, tearjerkers ‘November Rain’ and ‘Don’t Cry’ were dumped, later to be re-done for the ‘Use Your Illusion’ albums. It was agreed that ‘Sweet Child’ aside, ‘Appetite…’ should be a ferocious ballad-free opus. Most of its chosen 12 contributed mini tales of rock legend. There was the sex recording of Rose fornicating with drummer Adler’s on-off girlfriend for ‘Rocket Queen’. ‘My Michelle’ was the stark ode to a “crazy” female friend. And Slash’s ‘Sweet Child’ intro began as a ‘joke’ circus riff, until Izzy underpinned it with three major chords, and Rose caterwauled romantically about then girlfriend Erin ‘daughter of Don’ Everly.

It’s all this youthful urgency that contributes towards the album’s eternal freshness. How ironic that Rose’s ‘new’ Gunners should take 14 years to complete the muddled ‘Chinese Democracy’ in 2008. Appetite was released in summer ‘87 with Robert Williams’ soon-to-be-censored cover art of a robotic rapist, but it didn’t break the UK album charts until nearly two years later, peaking at number 5. But since the world caught on, it continues to be the biggest selling debut of all time.

Words by Stephen Daultrey



GUNS N’ ROSES - APPETITE FOR DESTRUCTION

Producer: Mike Clink
Musicians: W. Axl Rose vocals, Slash guitar, Izzy Stradlin guitar, Duff McKagan bass, Steven Adler drums

TRACKLIST

1. ‘Welcome To The Jungle’
2. ‘It’s So Easy’
3. ‘Nightrain’
4. ‘Out Ta Get Me’
5. ‘Mr Brownstone’
6. ‘Paradise City’
7. ‘My Michelle’
8. ‘Think About You’
10. ‘Sweet Child O’Mine’
11. ‘You’re Crazy’
12. ‘Anything Goes’
13. ‘Rocket Queen’

IN THE NEWS

Aretha Franklin becomes the first woman inducted into the rock’n’roll hall of fame.
Terry Waite is kidnapped in Beirut.
New York Mafia man ‘Fat Tony’ is sentenced to 100 years in prison for racketeering.
Stock markets around the world crash on Black Monday, 19th October.

1987 THE ALBUMS

MICHAEL JACKSON – ‘Bad’
U2 – ‘THE JOSHUA TREE’
THE JESUS AND MARY CHAIN - DARKLANDS
SONIC YOUTH - SISTER

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